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Freedom of Expression has always been the foundation, the very backbone, of the American Ideal. It's the Right most often lauded in dissertations on the unique and powerful structure a democratic form of government affords the people. It's what sets democracy apart from all other forms of rule, this freedom to express. It's guaranteed in the Constitution under an array of inclusions: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to worship as one chooses, freedom to bear arms, and freedom to vote. All forms of individual expression.

Obviously, due to the innate idiosyncrasies of most human beings, this much 'freedom' could lead to chaos! Hence, we must enact a myriad of laws to temper the more robust expressions, you know, like guidelines not to cross. In turn, this creates a whole profession of legal minds required to interpret infractions falling somewhere between the right and the line not to cross. Which then, gives birth to another huge system of judiciary to monitor the deliberations of alleged infractions. Aaah, only in America!

For the purpose of this column, however, I'll focus on freedom of the press, or now more aptly called, freedom of the media. Rather than exploring the realm between the right to express and the forbidden line not to cross, I propose an implementation of that oft-forgotten guideline called 'common sense'. Sure, the people have a 'right' to know, but how much do they need to know? Do they even care? Should the right to know obliterate the responsibility of dispensing pertinent information? Should sensationalism override relevance? Should circulation or ratings circumvent consequence?

This past week, I was hoping that in the break afforded us by the running of the Olympics, we'd have a respite from the negative. We'd get to witness the inspiration, the dedication, and triumph of the human spirit in intense competition, but guided by mutual respect of endeavor. We'd witness the world coming together in a unity of humankind. I literally craved the positive energy that would be the result.  

Now, I have to wonder, cynic that I've become, why the timing of the announcement of Senator Edward's adulterous betrayal?  Why on the very day of opening ceremonies in Beijing? Why the escalation of tension in the former Soviet nation of Georgia at this precise time? Why as much emphasis on what the Chinese have done wrong in the hosting of the Olympics as on the monstrous effort they've put forth? Why are negative campaign ads being run on the breaks when millions are watching? Is there anything that political power and money cannot buy?

Do I want to know, or even care, if Edwards' lapse into immorality is as, or more, devastating than John McCain's or Bill Clinton's, or any other plethora of public figure's? Frankly, there simply isn't anything new here! It's been going on since Alexander the Great! Politicians, no matter how capable or astute in their aspirations of public service, do not rise above their humanity into sainthood. If as much emphasis was put on the exposure of underhanded dealings in the halls of Congress and the backrooms of the White House, not to mention the Supreme Court, perhaps I'd want to know more. But, it seems that information of that nature, if it comes out at all, it comes years after the event when not much can be done about it.  

This is not to say the public shouldn't be informed of these behaviors, especially if public funds or donations are involved, but do we need the almost non-stop analysis by pundits and fellows who might be not so lily pure themselves? This, at the expense of taking precedence over the issues we SHOULD be hearing about? Report it, yes. Demand an accounting, yes. Store it for future decision making, yes. But then move on! I want to know about the policies being put forth on energy independence and the economy. I want to hear the pros and cons in discernable debate, not negative attack sound-bytes and empty rhetoric. I want to know what policies the candidates propose in the achievement of a calm in the world when another potential war zone is about to erupt! John Edward's love life just doesn't seem that crucial to me right now. My sympathies lie with his family and their right to privacy. The prognosis of his future political chances don't mean squat to me. Dancing usually demands payment to the fiddler as it should.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to hear some jerk's evaluation of Obama's choice of vacation destination, either. I don't want to hear why he should have stayed in the states, Atlantic City, perhaps. Have we all really forgotten that Hawaii is a state in our more perfect Union? That Mr. Obama was born and pretty much raised there? That his grandmother lives there and is no longer able to travel? Frankly, if we've forgotten, or didn't know, that Hawaii is a state, or folks like to visit their grandmothers, perhaps we shouldn't even be allowed to cast a vote that could affect national policy! Don't voters have a responsibility to be somewhat cognizant of these things?

I'm sure all of you could think of many more pet peeves in the pursuit of freedom of expression. Here, my only intent is to provide a couple of examples for thought food. Here, I'd only request that we, as recipients of this barrage, analyze for ourselves just what is relevant and what the spewed information will mean to the future of our country, our own lives, and the lives of our progeny. When does information become sensationalism and diversion from the significant? Meanwhile, since hope dies hard, for a few more days I'm going to focus on the great achievements, the positive energy, and the promise of our Planet's youth in the arenas in Beijing. Good wishes to each and every one of them, nations aside. They are the future of the world!      

  

Susan Haley



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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Yana Berlin wrote Aug 17, 2008
    • I agree with Susan that we should all focus on positive energy and not on the infidelity of our running mates.

      Like you said what was done years ago can not be changed. I myself don’t see any point of discussing it. Yes, I’ve heard that this goes directly to the character and shows their true colors....well, I don’t agree...at least not always.

      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t support infidelity, but I also know that many men and women have been unfaithful on and off for centuries.  

      With the current technology in place that allows us to google everything, twitter, social bookmark and keep in touch by cell phones, computers, etc. In a very short time this country will run out of candidates that don’t have any “skeletons” in their closets that are willing to run for office.



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