by cheryl glenn
Why in the world would people not want Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (President of Iran) to come to the U.S. and speak?! This is America and free speech is one of the cornerstones of our democracy. The moment we begin to censor people — whether it's a student at a university assembly, a book that's just hit the shelves, a musician who happens to have a different perspective than our own, or even a maniacal leader from another country. In that moment that we choose to shut down the freedom of expression, we cease to trust the American people to decipher things for themselves.
Time and time again, the conservative Right-Wingers wield their reductionist agenda in a way that threatens the celebration of intellectualism and free thinking. Constantly attempting to eliminate the opposition all together. They want to reduce our speech down to only hearing their side of the story. They want to reduce our rights down to the things that they deem correct. Abortion: You should not have the choice. Gay marriage: You should not have the option. In schools, they want to make sure that students learn their version of the truth, so they attempt to simply take evolution out of the picture. And heaven forbid our children have sex before marriage, so, let's take sex ed out of the curriculum while we're at it and surely this will stop them from their sexual escapades.
All things that the religious right and their non-religious conservative counterparts get a hold of, they reduce down to the lowest common denominator. They appeal to the non-thinking person, who would rather be spoon fed the answers to all of life's questions. They would rather be able to look at the world in black and white in a way that leaves no room for the gray areas and immediately creates a world view that is simply good vs. evil — you're either with us or you're against us. We've heard this rhetoric before from our leaders and it's proof that the Right would simply expect us to roll over and submit to their simple-minded policies and plans.
Well, that's not going to happen. You see, even the Right-Wing folks cannot stomach the crazy dictator that is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but I look at him and I see the most heinous of conservatism. And during his speeches at Columbia University and the U.N., we were able to get a glimpse of the way he thinks. He's not only on record of condemning and torturing homosexuals in his home country, he now is in denial of their existence.
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Should we sit back and not stand up for justice in this situation? Of course not. This guy is an obvious whack job and when people want to censor him and people like him, I just take the approach that I take with other conservatives that rub me the wrong way. I sit back and let them speak. I simply give them enough rope to let them hang themselves. But as we hear the words of this dictator as he denies the homosexual "phenomenon" even exists in his country, I challenge you to two things: One: That we would be reminded that LGBT folks do indeed live in Iran and they are truly a persecuted people. Remember them and speak truth to power whenever given the chance. And Two: Choose today as the day to stand up for your freedoms. The freedom of speech and expression. And the freedom to think as we choose to think. As I write this post I am struck by the reality that in some countries in our world I wouldn't be allowed to publish my thoughts in this manner. But here, in America, we have this freedom. And I will do all that I can to exercise this right.