First Amendment Protected Right to Freedom of Speech
by Catherine Bleish
In the first three articles of this five-part series, I described several government abuses that led me to question whether or not speech is truly free in these United States. Wrongful arrests, political profiling, and censorship are all examples of the ways in which my personal freedom of speech has been negatively impacted by the violent forces of government. Despite those experiences, I find it important to mention that there is a positive side to this dialogue about our supposed “First Amendment Protected Right to Freedom of Speech.” I would be doing the reader a terrible disservice to only mention these negative examples.
As you read this, all across the country, brave souls are standing up in the face of these growing abuses and proving that no force of violence or threat thereof can silence one who has a message burning from within. These individuals should be exalted and celebrated across the nation as it is their fearless love for humanity that pushes the forces of evil back from the front lines of society. One such example can be found here in the Kansas City-area. Her name is Tracy Ward, and she is a candidate for Kansas City City Council, 6th District at Large.
Tracy is the living breathing embodiment of free speech. You might recognize her from her bright pink hair, a bold expression in and of itself. Perhaps you saw her on the local news protesting the Federal Reserve long before the Wall Street bailouts or maybe you saw her protesting Transportation Safety Administration body scanners six months before the national media picked-up on the story. Perhaps you may have been one of the hundreds of drivers whom she handed an educational pamphlet on red light cameras, fluoridated water or community gardens? Yes, that was Tracy you heard testify in Jefferson City in defense of your right to privacy. No matter the issue, Tracy knows how to use her freedom of speech to influence positive changes in our community.
In a society where back room deals influence all levels of government - and where those speaking out against the growing threats to our individual liberty are often brushed aside, ignored or ostracized - it is refreshing to see someone like Tracy being embraced by our local community. You don’t have to agree with Tracy’s personal opinions on issues to feel confident supporting her as a person or as a candidate. She doesn't want to force her views on anyone. Rather, she just wants to be free to provide an optimistic future for her posterity.
Yes, there may be risks involved with what Tracy is doing. Petitioning for redress of grievances, peacefully assembling in protest and disseminating her message through the media are activities that often result in one’s name being placed on a watch list, arrested or otherwise negatively attacked by the powers that be who want to maintain their status quo. With so many reasons to question how free our speech really is in these United States, I think it is important to rally behind the brave souls fighting to protect our rights and thus proving that NOTHING is free, even speech.