Teen Citizens & Consumers: Speak Up!
In the United States, citizens are blessed with the right to speak freely. But we do not have an unlimited right to free speech. In the public arena, we have a personal and social responsibility which transcends our legal right to free speech. We have a moral responsibility to use good judgment and show respect for the rights and feelings of others. No matter how strongly we believe in our cause, we have no right to deny others the ability to express their own views. Certainly, we cannot use threats of violence, spoken or implied, to silence dissent. We must all guard against the use of inflammatory language that serves to divide rather than strengthen our society.
Recent publicity regarding a rash of church burnings across this nation, as well as acts of vandalism in South Dakota, have shown us first hand what bigotry and hatred can do. Community leaders need to recognize that words and symbols of hate that are allowed to remain in public places send out a negative signal that easily vetoes all the money and efforts spent to present the community in its best light. Most importantly our children, who are being exposed to such vile ideas, must also be exposed to a swift response that is unequivocal.
Preventing vandalism is impossible. Preventing racism is also impossible. However, there are ways to combat it and show the community that such behavior is neither acceptable nor tolerated.
Let's all speak up and denounce discrimination in every form.
" In Germany they came first for the Communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew."