I honour the man who is willing to sink
Half his present repute for the freedom to think
And, when he has thought, be his cause strong or weak,
Will risk t'other half for the freedom to speak.
~James Russell Lowell
Free speech. In Canada, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms recognizes that Canada was founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law. Canadians have the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.
As a Canadian, I take freedom for granted. The only real threat historically to our fundamental freedom as a country came during the second World War, when Hitler planned to conquer our Allies. Of course, during the first World War, we were a British Colony, and were expected to join the war as Britain's ally and subordinate. It wasn't until the second World War that Canada flexed its muscles of independence when this country declared war on Germany.
Canada was a place of freedom when the United States of America still had many slave-owners. I recently watched a movie, "Twelve Years a Slave", based on the life of Solomon Northup, a free man who was captured by cruel men and sold into slavery in the South. You can read this book here.
One of the things that caught my imagination was the fact that Solomon was not permitted to express himself. He, an educated man with many talents, had to pretend to be uneducated and dull. He was never allowed to express an opinion. To do so meant a whipping, or even death.
"Freedom has a thousand charms to show,
That slaves, howe’er contented, never know."
~William Cowper (1731–1800)
Even in the best families, a slave was still a slave. Less valuable than the owners and their kin, unimportant and without the right of free expression. There was no justice. No freedom. No joy.
"Truth is its [justice’s] handmaid, freedom is its child, peace is its companion, safety walks in its steps, victory follows in its train; it is the brightest emanation from the Gospel; it is the attribute of God.
~Sydney Smith (1771–1845)
In a truly JUST society (--> shades of Trudeau there for those of you who know Canadian History) people are free to say what they want to say, go where they want to go, and do what they want to do as long as their actions break no laws.
"A democracy,—that is a government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people; of course, a government of the principles of eternal justice, the unchanging law of God; for shortness’ sake I will call it the idea of Freedom." ~Theodore Parker (1810–1860)
Notice that the principles of eternal justice come from the unchanging law of God.
That is true freedom.
How about you? Are you willing to risk your reputation for freedom of expression? Do you thank God for the principles in His law that led to the freedoms you enjoy in our North American societies? Are you aware (painfully aware) of groups like ISIS or ISIL that do not respect basic freedoms of expression or religion or association?