Throwback Thursday, where, essentially I post old writing samples, essays and short stories that I dig up from my pile of hoarded papers and school assignments or from the depths of my computer. So everyone can see how my writing has changed/improved over the years.
In America today, information and opinions can reach millions in minutes, the spread of information has never been easier; though for much of history this was not the case – the spread of information was limited to personal interactions and letters – opinions could not be easily shared. This changes the access to, and role of, opinions in America – it does not change their worth. Opinions, ideas, thoughts, information all have worth – even if not equal in weight or worth – in a democratic nation like America. In fact, the first amendment protects the freedom of speech and expression, every opinion may not be correct or agreeable but every opinion carries worth by fostering democratic values – every voice given a chance to be heard.
Democracy relies on equal consideration to all, and acquiescence to the majority. But the majority cannot truly be found if not all voices can be heard – this makes all opinions worthwhile in furthering democracy. This is why the very first amendment made to the constitution ensured free speech. When information and opinions spread, more can be learned. The opinion of the majority can shift – as history shows it does – on the grand scale, to progress. Accessibility of information has always been important, even back in world War One with FDR’s Freedom of Information Act – the keeping of information and opinions aids no one. If an opinion is wrong or infactual, by being voiced and listening to other voices, progress is made as people can learn. When wrong or unfavorable opinions are not allowed to be expressed, there can be a bias – progress can standstill when discussion is curtailed. Those with factually wrong opinions never have a chance to be corrected and wrong information continues to fester and influence. Though often, there is no possible objective truth, the truth in democracy is the will of the majority – which cannot be reached if all opinions are not considered worthwhile, even if to varying degrees, no opinion is worthless.
The first amendment shows a central tenant of democracy – if public opinions are stifled, democracy is stifled. But there are always considerations to be made – some statements are not permitted by the freedom of speech, as established by the supreme court with the “clear and present danger” clause – you cannot shout “fire” in a crowded theater for example because of a physical safety hazard. With public opinions, there is a greater threat in preventing opinions than in allowing them. Especially in today’s world where opinions are shared on social media – physical safety is not the primary concern. Whether an opinion is personally deemed worthwhile or not, in general, public opinions are worth something because they further the conversation and can influence or add to change the majority – which is how democracy functions. By allowing the spread of ideas, the change of ideals, and the voices of all to determine the majority is how democracy functions.
Public statements of opinion have differing value based upon the value assigned by the person hearing the opinion – but all opinions do have value, have worth – even if not equal worth. They have worth, because every voice must be heard – allowed to speak – for democracy to function – because hearing every voice is how the majority is found and allowing every voice to be heard is one of democracies central tenants.