that wouldn’t even have gone over too well 30 years ago. Most people —
no matter their particular viewpoints, perhaps based on their
unenlightened upbringing or their personal negative experiences — make
it a point to generally not go “too” public with their rather
antisocial or even noticeably racist comments (especially politicians,
entertainers, or other “big name” individuals, who more or less know
there will be a public price to pay), usually only sharing them with
their own circle of friends, or on the down low — at least when they
are conscious of what they are saying. Yet words slip out all the time
— whether over a mic that the speaker thought was off, or over the
social network, when it was supposed to be “private,” or through some
other means — such as someone overhearing something and passing it on
or wanting to start the gossip ball rolling for whatever reason
(revenge?), knowing it will hurt the one who let such words out of his
Yet just a minute! Isn’t such unpopular and even hateful speech
protected under our Constitution? And aren’t we all endowed with free
will (as long as we’re old enough to not be under the jurisdiction of
our parents or guardians, and have not done something to put ourselves
under the jurisdiction of the penal system in some way)? And quite
frankly, which is really the bigger “crime”? Expressing one’s true
feelings, whatever they may be, or exposing someone else’s true
feelings so they can be held up to ridicule and cause that person much
misery and/or harm? The answer is not that easy, is it? The question
seems simple enough — until we hear the things that some people say!
People who today still desire a separation between Blacks and Whites
and do not have any real and personal friends of the “other” color,
are not about to change thanks to any articles in the news or any
criticisms, even from the President of the United States!
Feelings do not change because of logic or pressure… or even the
passage of time — unless new input can somehow remove the reason(s)
for the ongoing feelings that got in there in the first place. Knowing
that, we know that many harboring such ill-conceived thoughts and
feelings will eventually be found out and will possibly suffer
criticism, ostracism or worse for their viewpoint, except within their
own circle of like-thinkers.
The very fact that we (any of us) can still feel hurt, outraged,
amazed or any other such feeling when hearing comments that border on
ignorance, prejudice or hate when it comes to public (or “made
public”) comments shows us that we (probably most of us) know better.
We know better than to say such things in a public arena, or to the
public in general — BUT — do we know better than to feel that way?
One’s true feelings will eventually, some day, reach our lips and slip
out — if the feeling is in there, it can escape! Better to consider
why we might have those feelings — which are based on our thoughts and
our beliefs, whether outdated, outmoded, or downright outrageous —
than to have to monitor every word that comes out of our mouth every
For me personally, I would find it difficult to be active friends with
someone who has a narrow or bigoted mind. We would not have a good
basis for our friendship. Yet if that person were a surgeon, and the
best in his field, and I needed an operation that he could perform
best of all, I wouldn’t hesitate to accept his services. However, if
he needed me as a character witness, that would be a different story.
We’ve been exposed to two individuals just this past week making
statements that have not gone over very well. One rather intentionally
and one who might have made such statements without his intention of
having them be made public. Whether either one of them have been
making such statements all their life and they just didn’t happen to
make the news until now, or whether those kinds of remarks have been
overlooked by those who had something to gain by staying associated
with them for one reason or another, it’s only for those so involved
We know that racism — as well as everything that goes along with that
kind of mindset — is not the sole domain of any one race against any
other race, or even any small group of individuals against any other
small group of individuals: it is open territory for all who wish to
play in that field, a sad equal opportunity for those who never
learned any better and those who choose to hang on to their useless,
hurtful, and divisive feelings, keeping the world from making any real
progress toward brotherhood and peace among all men.
Yes, we all have feelings. Yes, we are all free to express those
feelings up to the point that we are not breaking any laws. And yes
again, there will be many things we will continue to hear from others
that will not sit well with us (to say the least). The good news is
that we live in a country where we are still “allowed” to have our own
feelings, and state our own opinions. And better yet, we are not
forced to think and feel alike, even though certain leaders of certain
organizations might wish to inflict that uniformity upon us.
Therefore, when we hear things that stir us to our core, and possibly
even make us cringe, we can be thankful we live in a country where
those who think and speak along totally different lines from the
majority will not be hung for their own differing viewpoints and
Some day the prevailing popular thought may go against you, or me, or
any of us. We will so appreciate having the right to our own unpopular
view at such a time.
So while we may secretly or openly disagree with anything that’s said,
whether privately to us, or in the media, I suggest we stick with
Voltaire, and confirm our belief in the right to say it!
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She
writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email
her at email@example.com.