Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Resistance and Transformation: An Adult Program on Unitarian Universalist Social Justice History

Taking It Home: Free Speech

We consider the House Committee's inquiry into speakers, meetings and activities of the church an attack upon our institution and on all organized religion and our nation's tradition of the free conscience and the open mind. — Paul Kelley, chairman, in a statement from the First Church Los Angeles Board of Trustees, September 1951

Although the accusation of being a "Communist sympathizer" may not lead to a prison sentence anymore, it still could ruin a politician's chance at elected office. Keep your ears open for other words and phrases that people use today to silence debate—words that discourage an open exchange of ideas. Hot-button issues like race, class, and political affiliation are breeding grounds for terms that provoke an immediate emotional response. Take note of when and where you hear such terms, whether you think they can sometimes be useful, and when you might use them yourself.