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The Rev. Dr. Kimberleigh Buchanan The Rev. Dr. Kimberleigh Buchanan

The Rev. Dr. Kimberleigh Buchanan is senior pastor of First Congregational Church (UCC) in Asheville, NC.

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First Congregational United Church of Christ, Asheville, NC

Free Speech--At What Cost?

August 18, 2010


When I read this morning about Dr. Laura Schlessinger's resignation from radio, I was reminded of these words from the apostle Paul:  "'All things are lawful,' but not all things are beneficial.  'All things are lawful,' but not all things build up."  (I Cor. 10:23, NRSV)

After uttering the N-word several times in response to a caller's question on a recent show, Dr. Laura apologized, then immediately defended her right to say what she thinks.  In resigning, the radio personality said this:  "I want to be able to say what's on my mind and in my heart and what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry, some special interest group deciding this is the time to silence a voice of dissent and attack affiliates and attack sponsors.  I'm sort of done with that." She said she wants to "regain my First Amendment rights."

Does Dr. Laura have the right to say whatever she wants?  Outside of obscenities and hate speech (which this came close to), absolutely.  Does she also have a responsibility to think about the repercussions of the words she speaks?  Absolutely.  For one who said in a 2008 interview that  "every day I go on the radio and help people, and that's the most important thing to me," it would seem that she, above all others, would choose words that would be "beneficial" and that would "build up." 

We are privileged to live in a country where our words are not censored.  May we all live our gratitude for free speech by using it always and only to be beneficial and build up our fellow citizens.

Peace for your journey,


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