This is an interesting yet difficult entry to write. I am amazed sometimes at the audacity of the claim that North Americans hold to regarding freedom of speech.
Last month James and I saw an interesting documentary called "Expelled", regarding the theory of Intelligent Design in the world of science. The basic idea is that the genesis of all life was begun by some sort of creator. The community does not necessarily saw "God", but simply that the very first spark of whatever needed some sort of designer to put it there. Even evolutionists cannot agree on how that very first spark of cell could have appeared. The documentary explores the suppression of this theory in the scientific community, and how professors and researchers are having their careers ruined by even considering the idea. It is not an argument about the theory of evolution, it is an exploration on freedom of speech and expression.
This past US election gave birth to a new controversy regarding freedom of speech. You likely have heard about Proposition 8, which asked Californian voters their thought on the definition of marriage. By a slim margin (about the same that Barack Obama won the Presidency), the Proposition was passed, defining traditional marriage as a union between a man and woman.
Many religious voters organized themselves to campaign for this proposition, expressing their personal beliefs in traditional marriage. Likewise, many people campaigned against the proposition also. Now, after it passed through the fair and long-standing way of voting, people are rioting against communities who voted for it. What I'm specifically referring to are the acts of defacement, destruction, and threatening against members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The church has pulled out thousand of volunteer missionaries, fearing for their safety. Religious church buildings and temples have been seriously vandalized. People attending the churches have been warned: "Let this be a warning to the Mormon church: Dissolve completely or be destroyed."
I believe opponents of Proposition 8 have every right to express their feelings on the subject, but I am in awe that they feel these tactics are justified. I think this quote sums up exactly my feelings on the subject: "To place anyone in fear of threat to their houses of worship or their personal security because they have expressed deeply held religious views is contrary to everything this nation represents."
Sometimes I think Western countries sit on high horses, staring down their noses at countries who put others' lives in jeopardy for expressing their beliefs. Just last week there was another attack on girls in Afghanistan trying to go to school. The acts were condemned by the West, and I doubt you could find many people in North America who would agree with the perpetrator's actions. And yet....
This isn't a journal entry on whether or not Proposition 8 should have been passed or not. This is about the freedom to vote according to your conscious, and not to live in fear because of your beliefs.
It will be interesting to look back on history 100 years from now and see how "archaic" our lives today seem. I think back to the mid-1800s in the US when an extermination order was issued against people of the Church of Jesus Christ (the Mormons). An extermination order. I would hope and pray something like that wouldn't come about today, but it seems, according to some (small, marginal) groups, that the warning "dissolve completely or be destroyed" is not that far away.