OPINION

Green: Freedom of speech is beautiful and requires responsibility

RENAE GREEN

(Editor's Note: This column was first published in October, 2008. I stand by its message today.)

Renae Green column

Did you know that in some parts of the world, people are thrown in jail, or even executed, for speaking against their leaders?

Silly question. Of course you knew that. I’m so glad I live in a country where freedom of speech is encouraged.

Sometimes.

But I think we cross the line, way too often.

I get tired of people complaining about our president. We think that any time is open season on whoever holds that office, and we badmouth and slander and call him a fool, and we say he’s the worst president ever.

If a Republican holds the office, many Democrats do everything possible to make him look foolish.

If a Democrat holds the office, many Republicans do the same.

Then, our words are broadcast all over the world. And we have the audacity to say that our president makes us look bad in the world’s eyes. Now, I don’t often climb onto a political soapbox. But come on, people. Our president doesn’t make us look bad. We do a pretty good job of that, all by ourselves.

The reason many countries take it so seriously when citizens speak against their leaders is because it shows a lack of patriotism, a lack of pride in one’s country. It undermines what that particular leader is trying to do, and it makes the entire nation look bad.

I don’t think we should be a bunch of mindless, fear-driven robots spouting our leaders’ praises. But I do think that, out of love for our country, out of patriotism, and out of a respect for the highest offices in our land, we should be required to exercise some self-control. We ought not be allowed to undermine our leaders’ credibility in the eyes of the world. In my humble opinion, that’s downright treason.

With a little self-control coupled with pride in our nation’s heritage, we can learn to express our opinions in respectful ways. We can show support for our leaders, and pray for them, and honor the office, even if we don’t agree with all the policies.

For example, there is nothing disrespectful about saying, “I disagree with so-and-so’s economic plan, or his foreign policies, or his views about our immigration laws.” But it is just plain wrong to call our leader names and accuse him of being a rotten leader. After all, we’re the ones who put him there. And even if he isn’t our preferred candidate, I refuse to believe that anyone who makes it to that office is unqualified. To the contrary. If he had the fortitude and the perseverance and the desire to be president, and he rallied enough support to put him in the oval office, I think that journey alone separates him from the rest of the yahoos out there who do little but sit on their sofas and criticize.

Yes, I called them yahoos. But they are not my president.

So here, in black and white, for the whole world to read, I’d like to get one thing straight. I think George W. Bush has served his country well during one of the most difficult periods our country has seen. He has made difficult choices, choices I would not have been able to make, for I would have buckled under the pressure. Every choice he’s made, every direction he’s taken has been out of the greatest sense of duty and love for country. I am proud to have had him as my president for the last eight years. Mr. President, thank you for the sacrifices you have made, the stresses you have endured, and the criticisms you have ignored. May God bless you.

And no matter who wins the next election, I will be a proud American. I will respect my country’s leaders, and I will pray for and support each office, even if I disagree with the person. I will show that person the honor that is deserving of the title.

Thank you, dear readers, for allowing me to exercise my freedom of speech here. May God bless America.

1 Timothy 2:1 – 3 “I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior.”

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly perfect children, and far-too-many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.co