The 4th of July is celebrated to mark the time in our history when the residents of the thirteen colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. But it was not until 1781 that the colonists defeated Cornwallis and the British Army at Yorktown and it was another eight years before our Constitution was ratified—the document that spells out our rights and the limits of government. One of the rights spelled out in the First Amendment was the right of free speech.
The dictionary defines ‘Freedom of Speech’ as ‘the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint.’ Of course, there are exceptions such as obscenities, defamation, child pornography, perjury, blackmail, threats, and inciting lawless actions. Other than these exceptions, people, including the ‘free’ press, have the right to say anything they want. But, just because you have the right to speak your mind, does not mean you have freedom from the consequences of your words.
When Roseanne Barr ‘tweeted’ insults about Valerie Jarrett she was well within her constitutional rights, but exercising those rights had consequences for Ms. Barr—her popular TV show was canceled. Although Barr’s insults didn’t physically hurt Jarrett, it did hurt the people who lost their jobs when Barr’s show was canceled. Barr obviously didn’t think before she spoke (or tweeted) and there were serious consequences.
Unfortunately, the Internet and social media make it all too easy for anyone to immediately ‘speak’ out before thinking through their choice of words, their context, and their intent. And, before you know it, one has said something childish, immature and hurtful —just like our days on the grammar school playground. It is one thing to have a reasoned, thoughtful, and articulate response to someone or something you do not agree with, it is something entirely different to respond like an eight-year-old ‘spoiled brat.’
As we celebrate this 4th of July, I hope everyone will take a moment to appreciate their constitutional rights and to exercise those rights in a manner that enables our society to enjoy a vigorous debate about today’s issues without descending back into childish insults and name calling. Those who have gone before us gave us our freedoms, let’s not abuse them.
About Pamela Jones
Pam is president and CEO of Tyger Healthcare, Inc. specializing in innovative solutions for hospitals and large single-specialty groups. She has also served on the Arizona Medical Board since 2016.
Outside of her healthcare career, her interests are politics, philanthropy and writing. She volunteered on the George W. Bush 2000 Inauguration Committee, as a volunteer in the Bush White House Visitor’s Center, and locally as the President of the Republican Women’s Club of Prescott. She currently serves a Trustee of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Prescott and she and her husband support various Holocaust initiatives at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
In the 1990’s, after encouragement from friends, Pam began writing humor articles. She then began writing humor articles on a daily basis which were available by subscription through her own website. She has also written newsletter articles for a number of different organizations and publications.
Ms. Jones earned her degree in Business Administration from Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida and her M.B.A. with special certification in Health Sector Management from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.