Last week brought a ‘Times in Which We Live’ presentation by Jeff Kinley to the St. Croix Falls Library. Titled ‘The Death of America,’ he raised concerns about our country’s losing its spiritual moorings and its moral values. Sadly, this does not seem to bother people today.

Instead, we may be focusing on other pressing threats to our freedom. Publisher Tom Stangl recently cited an often-used saying: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”  He further asserted, “We may not agree on issues, but we all understand the value of the right to be able to express what we believe.” Yes, but do we? This U.S. heritage may now be under siege.

Consider firstly the national level, with these abuses of Constitutional rights to freedom of speech: Masked ANTIFA gangs clubbed those who disagree with them, even beating up journalists. Colleges effectively blacklist speakers (this did not even happen during the infamous McCarthy era). Social media screens opinions and uses skewed algorithms to block politically incorrect postings. Politicians frequently slander ideas with the oily ‘Hate Speech’ mislabel. Name-calling overshadows any worthwhile ideas’ debates.   

Locally, does this sort of thing happen? Maybe in these more restrained ways: In two years of attending political listening sessions, I saw broad participation suppressed as partisans monopolized limited speaking time. The Polk-Burnett Indivisible campaigned to dominate, resist, and protest the results of an election. They flaunted their own right to freedom of speech, but not necessarily for others. So local listening sessions became, and remain, a waste of time. In addition, the Osceola Sun stands alone as a paper that usually publishes any counter-responses to Progressives’ letters.

Will our country crumble from a spiritual breakdown or from a loss of liberties? Albert Tyler theorized that it would take both. See Time will tell.

Lisa Erickson and Kim Gearin deserve special appreciation for their recent letter showing ways to use respect and active listening for searching out why some think differently than others. This is vital.

Doug Wellumson


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