Mr. Speaker, history tells us that President Thomas Jefferson had a love hate relationship with the press. At times Jefferson detested them, but he truly believed a free people required a free press.
‘‘The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right,’’ words spoken by Jefferson to Edward Carrington in 1787. ‘‘And were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.’’
Patriots, like Jefferson, secured these rights that folks enjoy today. Just because we may not like what we read, does not mean that it should be silenced.
It’s no big surprise to me that the folks over at Facebook don’t know the first thing about freedom and rights. Their latest attack, using digital censorship, has stirred up a firestorm.
Just in case you haven’t heard, the Liberty County Vindicator, a newspaper that publishes news for the City of Liberty, Texas and Liberty County, Texas posted the Declaration of Independence in twelve installments leading up to the Fourth of July. Casey Stinnett, managing editor, said that the first nine parts posted as schedule, but part ten, of the historic document did not appear.
The Liberty County Vindicator received a notice from Facebook saying that the post ‘‘goes against our standards on hate speech.’’ I’m a fierce advocate of the First Amendment protecting freedom of speech and press.
This is, without a doubt, a flippant disregard and assault on the First Amendment by Facebook. For over 131 years, the Liberty County Vindicator newspaper, has told the story of everyday America.
It has documented community history in a way that will forever be available to future generations. Since the newspaper began operations in 1887, it has covered local events, business happenings, politics, tragedies, civic improvements, and so much more.
The paper recently followed and covered Liberty High School’s Lady Panthers Softball Team who won the Texas UIL State Class 4A Softball Champions. It has also followed wars and has told stories about our young freedom fighters from the area who returned home and some who did not return.
It is everything a community newspaper should be. The Vindicator has always had its finger on the pulse of folks in Liberty, Texas.
Liberty’s rich history of rugged Texas pioneers who settled near the Trinity River spans more than 180 years. Today, Liberty continues to live up to its rich legacy and community spirit of patriotism.
One such family epitomizes the spirit of Liberty County—the patriotic Ripkowski brothers. Twelve brothers from Liberty County, Texas served in our military in various branches spanning from World War II to the Korean War.
And they all survived the wars and returned to Liberty County, Texas. According to a pentagon spokesperson, there has never been another family with that many sons from the same parents to join the service in American history.
The Ripkowski brothers believed their service in the military was their duty as an American citizen. To them it was not performed for heroics or to gain medals, but to answer the honorable call of duty for their beloved country.
Reality is that freedom doesn’t come free. It is the United States military that has always been on the front lines to defend the liberties of all Americans, even the folks over at Facebook.
It is an honor to have represented the citizens of Liberty County in the United States House of Representatives. I commend the Vindicator for challenging its readers to read the Declaration of Independence.
Freedom of speech and freedom of the press must ever be protected. Thomas Jefferson, who was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, said, ‘‘our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.’’
The Founding Father and the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, undoubtedly believed deeply in the freedom of speech and of the press. Jefferson must have turned over in his grave when he heard that the Declaration of Independence was censored in America.
America’s defense of freedom and liberties is a struggle that never ends, and the Vindicator should continue to exercise the right to free speech and press, whether those that hate the First Amendment like it or not.
And that’s just the way it is.