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  • Writer's pictureTimothy Davis

Mike's Musings: Free Speech, Censorship, and the Power of Words

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

Whoever said that lied. Or was made of different human stuff than I'm made of.

Because words hurt.

Words are powerful.

And so, we need to be mindful of what we say. There is a role for self-censorship.

Ideas are powerful too. Along with concepts, facts, values, beliefs, visions, dreams. I'm a "free speech-er" when it comes to this kind of expression. I'm suspicious of anyone who wants to "protect" me from such.

Their protection is paternalistic. They assume that I'm incapable of sorting out the wheat from the chaff, the true from the false, the con artist from the straight-shooter.

I am alarmed at the efforts underway to ban books from libraries and school curriculums. I've been surprised to hear that even the Bible is being banned by some. I've maintained that the only reason it hasn't been banned previously is because it hasn't been read.

Of course, there is literature that is age-appropriate. That's not censorship. That's using good judgment.

But age-appropriate, of course, is relative and requires discernment of age development. Count on differences of opinion and the need to compromise.

When our kids were young, we never knew how much information to give them about sex. Their mother and I decided to answer their questions by telling them the truth. What we discovered is that they took what they were developmentally ready for and left the rest.

What was most important was that they knew we trusted them with the truth.

And they could trust us to tell them the truth.

Our relationship was what mattered most.

I suspect that at the heart of much of the controversy and conflict among us today is a lack of trust.

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