Freedom of Expression is Easy to Take for Granted
You know, in this time of turmoil as we debate and fight amongst ourselves, create fear, and consider who to vote for this November, whether it be Hilary, Trump, or Johnson, it’s easy to forget what basic freedoms we have as Americans to express ourselves in speech, in writing, and, of course, in film. The fourth of July is a good time to step back and remember how good we who express ourselves still have it in these United States.
Much has been made of potential restricted freedoms and perhaps governments that wants to take away our basic rights, but the reality remains that in America today, we are free to criticize, to offend, and to satire our leaders, policies, and other things we writers find to be disturbing.
One of the beauties I think that we writers take for granted is that almost all media is within our reach. Major newspapers are dying. Television viewership is down. Major movie companies are griping about how few people go to movies anymore. But why is this so? Have people rediscovered the outdoors? Is there a transcendentalist revival going on? I don’t think so.
Fact is, media is becoming run by average people. Anyone can create a TV show and put it on YouTube or Vimeo for all (most) of the world to see. Anyone can create a blog and get more readership than the average local newspaper, able to connect with readers the world over. This is an exciting time, but instead of taking advantage of these populist outlets for ideas, we tend to just gripe to our friends, feeling helpless in the wake of Washington decisions.
The Founders Would be Proud
I think the Founders of this country would be proud … save, maybe, John Adams. But I think there’s nothing more American that having a situation in which the People can have their say, can voice their thoughts, the minority opinions in this country can have a place to speak their minds or produce content that is free for anyone to see.
We have a lot to be thankful for this Fourth of July. But what good is a tool in the garage, no matter how convenient or advanced it is, if it never gets used. Take advantage of your freedoms. Take advantage of the technologies that this country has afforded to us. If you are a writer, if you are a content producer, you have no one but yourself to blame for not reaching an audience.
The Fourth of July is always a good time to reflect and be thankful for what we have instead of grousing about what we don’t. I hope everyone out there has a happy and safe Fourth. (Don’t blow off any fingers!) And remember, while we still have it, what it means to be free.