Rights, Privileges and Responsibilities

Posted on 10/13/2014 by John Poland CEO, Town Hall Foundation

The Constitution of the United States grants its citizens certain rights as have been defined from time to time. The first is set forth in the First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The other twenty six Amendments contain other rights but this editorial will restrict itself to the First Amendment rights.

The Rights guaranteed in the Constitution separate America from other countries where these rights don’t exist. We honor the men and women who have given their lives protecting our freedoms, and we grant these rights to non-citizens residing in America. A terrorist bent on killing Americans has the same set of rights as do we all, and they use those rights against us.

Congress and the states have granted Privileges to our citizens and continue to pass laws that impact those privileges. The privilege to drive an automobile, to a basic education, to marry, to pilot a plane, to use government owned airways, to broadcast TV and Radio and so on are privileges. Congress and the states can limit or modify these privileges at any time in accordance with the Constitution.

Responsibilities are different. They come in many flavors, but examples such as child labor laws, laws affecting human trafficking, protecting the homeless, providing health care to those who cannot afford it, and providing foods stamps to the less economically enabled are part of our social-economic fabric.

I have talked to twenty plus "Gen Y"ers regarding the THF and the children we serve. I was dumbfounded by the overwhelming feeling that Freedom of Expression over-weighed the need to protect our children. Even with Academic (scientific) evidence, they stood their ground and wanted unfettered freedom of speech to prevail for the small minority of musicians who violate the THF review criteria.

It is my view that this is a narcissistic view and an example of the “I want it, and I want it now” attitude. As a society, we must work together, not to limit our rights but to use our rights to convince those who would harm our children to back off.

This small minority of artists have the right to write and sing whatever they feel moves them. The THF recognizes that and accords them that right. BUT, as responsible members of society, we want to educate parents and let them make the decisions what music is appropriate for their children.

We can, and do, limit the broadcast of offending music, a privilege. Now we must unite together and take responsibility for protecting our children during their formative years. We will see more violence and killings on a day-to-day basis and, unfortunately, the mega violent actions of deranged individuals. We can take a step forward together and stop the offending artists. That is what the Town Hall Foundation is all about; protecting our children, not limiting Freedom of Speech.

That’s the message for today, more coming.