This week has been declared by the American Society of News Editors as "Sunshine Week," a time to shine the spotlight on the rights of the people to open government and freedom of information.
One of the saddest days for the American press was when Glenn Beck got canceled on Fox News.
I made sure my face was in front of the television at 4 p.m. everyday to watch that silver-haired little man with the shiniest glasses I’ve ever seen spew what seemed to be over-the-top political commentary at me for an hour. For me, the fact that Glenn Beck could be on TV drawing incoherent diagrams on chalkboards and inexplicably breaking into tears is what makes this country great.
I'm talking about the First Amendment.
I didn't watch Beck because I agreed with him, per se. I watched because I agree with the American philosophy of an uncensored, unregulated free press. Sure, I believe I’m right and that my opinion matters. To silence someone else, no matter how outlandish, however, shouldn't be an option. The freedom forces us to be conversational with one another (although it may seem like rampant arguing) and, in essence, makes for a more civilized culture rather than a mass of brutes following the command of one.
A free press not only benefits its producers but also its consumers. Everyone not only has a right to opine but also a right to freely choose which voice to hear. You can decide to either be challenged by a different perspective or be affirmed in your own beliefs. People often say there are two sides to every story. Well, from those two sides spawns an innumerable amount of opinions. This creates an open forum for people to discuss, listen, debate, question and make informed decisions.
Would personalities like Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly be as compelling or thought-provoking if only one or the other wasn’t allowed to speak freely? Probably not. Then again, if we did live in a society that promoted one way of thinking, we probably wouldn’t know the difference, much less care. We need the marketplace of opinions open to us so we don’t close down progression.
Glenn Beck made me a more well-rounded, thoughtful person. Maybe it wasn’t in the way he was hoping (i.e. persuasion), but nonetheless he forced me to contemplate and question my beliefs. He is a crusader for the First Amendment in more ways than he knows and has effectively kept us from spiraling down into one of the horrible dystopias he so often prophesied. Thank you, Glenn. Your service was honorable. May you find solace in your cable network silence with Internet loquacity.
Kelsey Carroll is a journalism major with an emphasis in magazine design at MU. As she is a senior, most of her days are filled by counting down the hours until graduation in May. She comes to Missouri from the south suburbs of Chicago, raised by loving parents and annoyed by one younger brother. Her best friend is her slightly rounded black and grey tabby cat, Abbey.