2015 ERC Scholarship Essay Program $500 Recipient
Clark Ellis, Kirkland (Juanita High School)

Freedom of speech is essential, as you know, for the advancement of civilization. The liberty to express ideas not only exposes Americans to more ideas, it also allows them to pick the best ideas from as wide a range as possible. If you have never been offended by an idea in your life, how are you supposed to grow and clarify in the understanding of your own beliefs? When the Republicans, the party founded specifically to end slavery, talk about free speech, they talk about liberty as was demonstrated during Reconstruction. Educating all people regardless of previous servitude does wonders to reverse the dehumanizing mess that is slavery. As more and more people have their first amendment rights recognized across the globe, their practices of slavery are being eradicated because reasonable citizens can finally talk about it. “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” -Voltaire

The Colonists were reminded of the value of free speech when the Royal Government tried to take it away. The loss of petitioning rights and assembly rights in Boston after the Boston Tea Party was the canary in the coal mine for the Minutemen. They must have known that martial law, censoring and patronizing control would soon follow. This comes to the crux of the issue: if a government cannot trust The People enough to say, write, believe what they want, or join the organizations that they want, what, if any, things about that government should The People trust? Freedom is not free, as shown by the thousands of Veterans who died for some ungrateful protestor’s privilege to burn flags and hurl abuse at Veterans.

But tyranny is more expensive.

Now, more than ever in our history, freedom of speech is directly under attack around the world, like the shooting at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris, and especially in America. As a strong conservative Christian, recent events make my blood boil! From Free Speech Codes in “forward-thinking” colleges to Free Speech Zones cordoned off in major public places; from massive electronic surveillance by Federal Agencies to organized bully tactics against business executives; from rigged Presidential press conferences to the IRS targeting the Tea Party wing of our Grand Old Party; and massive Federal cover-ups along with using the long arm of the law to dismantle the moral compass of our religious institutions, it appears that our government is out of control! Yet the Mainstream Media has kept silent! If we don’t get our act together, God Help Us, we will soon have to pay the real price for our politically correct verbiage.

Perhaps one negative price to pay concerning free speech is the descent into barbarism when free thinkers refuse to defend it.

 “As long as I am an American Citizen and American Blood runs in these veins I shall hold myself at liberty to speak, to write, and to publish whatever I please on any subject.” -Elisha Parish Lovejoy (1802-1837)