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Letter to the Editor

I was watching the news the other day and felt sorrow for those in Egypt and Libya. These people have been ruled by the same oppressive regime for over thirty years. For those bold enough to speak out, the end of a gun barrel awaits them. In the case of Libya, their own military showers bullets on to the crowds of people who disagree with its rule. I know a college professor from China who, while standing on U.S. soil, still fears to speak of the issues facing China because he fears his family at home will face "political rehabilitation". History is filled with these stories.

Our founding fathers were fully aware of this fact. They, too, had to overcome the tight grip of authority. This is what the Constitution was designed to prevent. There is not much talk of what the government can do, but it is very specific about what it can't do. The first ten amendments are known as the Bill of Rights. Of all the ideas and amendments, the very first one to come down on paper protects our freedom of speech and press. Since then, untold thousands have given the ultimate price to protect these core principals.

The press's role in our government is just as important as the Senate or the House. Its job is to inform the people on the facts and actions of its government, not to persuade or coerce. Many foreign governments have absolute control over the press. Limiting the voice of dissent allows their reign to go unchecked. Instead of the press being an instrument of truth, it's used as a tool to control people's thoughts, thereby controlling them.

It is my fear that leaders in the U.S. are taking a page out of China's playbook. They have learned that the press can be used as a weapon or as a shield for their agenda.

To all who call themselves members of the press, think of the 16 year old Iranian girl that was shot in the face while protesting Iran's leader. She had no free press to tell her story. The next time you pick up your pen, ask yourself two questions: Are these words being used as a weapon? Are they protective of government? The freedom we know and enjoy was very expensive in terms of life. You have been entrusted to not unravel the fabric of our society. We need the press to be free, unaffiliated, and objective. Without a free press, there is no hope.

-- Tony Rast

Published March 15, 2011

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The opinions expressed on this page are the personal opinions of the writer and not necessarily the opinions of the Knoxville Daily Sun.


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