Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

Keeping my Monday Promise

December 20, 2010

I promised that I would always try to have a new post at least every Monday, but with Christmas shopping and a special Christmas card I am planning for you, my plate is full, as it were. (Ever wonder what the heck “as it were” means?) But, full plate or not, a promise is a promise. 

Then again, maybe Mark Twain had the right idea. Here’s what he says about promises in The Innocents Abroad, which I am just getting around to reading.

 
 
 

Mark Twain, as photographed by Mathew Brady

  “I never could keep a promise. I do not blame myself for this weakness, because the fault must lie in my physical organization. It is likely that such a very liberal amount of space was given to the organ which enables me to make promises that the organ which should enable me to keep them was crowded out. But I grieve not. I like no half-way things. I had rather have one faculty nobly developed than two faculties of mere ordinary capacity.”

As I said, I am just getting around to reading it, and at the same time sampling the Autobiography of Mark Twain, the new autobiography that contains a lot of material just released, because he stipulated it not be released until 100 years after his death.  Sampling seems appropriate to this highly publicised book because it is pretty much a stream of consciousness affair.

On top of all of that reading, I am really engrossed in Ken Follett’s new epic, Fall of Giants, the first volume of his 20th Century trilogyAfter reading Pillars of the Earth, I decided that I would immediately read anything  he writes.  He has to be one of the world’s greatest writers. His style is contemporary, which makes it easy to read because he makes no attempt to impress us with long, convoluted sentences, but he does throw in a word we have to look up occasionally, which I like, because I like learning the meanings of new words, as long as there are not so many as to drastically slow down reading.

Before I started reading Fall of Giants, I read John Franzen’s highly touted Freedom. Critics who proclaimed its greatness say it reflects the current society. I agree, but I really don’t think his writing is as engrossing as Follett’s.  He really gets into long, convoluted sentences and weighs us down with tedious detail.  That is, of course, just my opinion, but it’s the one I value the most when it comes to books, movies, music, plays, and art. Let’s face it, reviewing is a subjective endeavour.

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In Defense of The Hell Raisers

August 30, 2008

  The Ledger-Enquirer’s Ben Wright writes that Columbus Council may move the public agenda to the end of the meeting again. Naturally, the gadflies who make weekly appearances are raising hell about it, which is fine. It’s the hell raisers who often right wrongs. To name a few: Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Voltaire, and Martin Luther King, Jr. for a start. That’s not to say that any of the weekly complainers who come before Columbus City Council are in that league. It’s only natural to get the idea that they are seeking attention.  Whatever their motive, it’s their right to speak in my view.

  Which, brings us, as you knew I would get around to, the First Amendment, which guarantees the right of free speech to all Americans.  But, the big catch to that is that, as a number of thinkers have said, free speech isn’t free. What good does it do to speak freely about an important issue if nobody hears what you say? If you are T. Boone Pickens you can buy millions of dollars of TV commercials to tell the country that drilling is not the answer to freeing our country’s dependency on foreign oil. “Drill, drill, drill, but it’s not going going to stop the flow of American dollars to countries that don’t even like us.” He’s selling wind power and natural gas and he has the right idea, in my view, but that’s not the point.  The point is that he is being heard because he has the money to be heard. Also, I like this definition of freedom of the press: “Freedom of the press only belongs to those who own the presses.”

  One great answer to this inequity is what I am doing right now.  People all over the world can read this – that doesn’t mean they will, because I don’t have the money to promote the website address – however, some people are reading it and the cost is almost nothing. That’s why the Internet is so important to the concept of free speech and we can really be thankful for it.

  Power does need to be spoken to, because the old saw about power corrupting and absolute power corrupting absolutely has a lot of truth to it. So, we have to put up with those who sometimes seem to be gratifying their egos, and who were probably sent to the principals office a lot when they were young kids because they acted out to get attention, but that’s one price we have to pay for free speech.  It’s worth it.

  Council can move the public agenda to the end of the meeting, but it will be considered a move to stifle free speech, to prevent the speaking to power which is very important in keeping a society free, especially when it is speaking truth to power.