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This I Believe

KUHF-Houston Public Radio’s “This I Believe” with Roslyn Berger

Roslyn Berger spent her entire professional life as a teacher. As a result, she values the power of words and the freedom to speak them, but she adds her own qualifier. In her essay for Houston Public Radio’s “This I Believe”, Roslyn explains her deeply held belief.



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Roslyn Berger is a native of New York and she moved to Houston in 1977. Despite having lived in Texas for 30 years, her New York accent and sensibilities remain intact. In her essay, Roslyn’s passion for her heartfelt beliefs, are on full display.

Here’s Roslyn Berger with her essay for Houston Public Radio’s This I Believe.

“I believe in freedom of speech. From my earliest days in school, freedom of speech was almost synonymous with being an American, and I never gave it much thought. Now, after thinking about it, I believe in freedom of speech, but not unconditionally.

I heard Osama bin Laden and his second in command and saw how speech can be used as a threat and a weapon.

On television I heard of a girl who was going to discuss the benefits of polygamous families, speaking for the children of such families. As a believer in free speech I have to accept her right to speak.

If someone were to represent the children of narcotics dealers, or the children of serial killers, or the children of Alqaeda terrorists, am I bound to listen to them too? The only caveat is they cannot incite others to violence.

Fortunately, my belief in freedom of speech also includes freedom of listening. This is my right at the other end of free speech.

Yet there are certainly times when someone says exactly what you are thinking but cannot put into words. Someone complains or argues against a situation, and awakens or informs other people. This is freedom of speech as it was meant to be. But in order to have the gem, a person has to sift through all the clogging soil around it, to put up with the dross.

I have only to think of the possibility of strict censorship and the loss of free speech to feel its importance. Fear of saying what you think results in the choking and sputtering that interferes with breathing. How could you breathe if you were fearful of every word you spoke? Yet people in many parts of the world have been forced to do it.

They suppressed their thoughts, their allegiances, and their alliances. The act of doing so strangled their voices, ruined their digestions, and raised their blood pressures.

Free speech may be noisy at times, often unproductive, but it is certainly healthier than the alternative.