July 4 Marks the Freedom to Celebrate

July 4 Marks the Freedom to Celebrate

The United States will soon celebrate its 248th birthday. Judging by the feverish war protests, political dissension, and other kerfuffles erupting by the week, it appears not everyone is happy about the occasion. The bitter critics accuse the nation of crimes galore.

July 4 Marks the Freedom to Celebrate blog post by Ken Walker Writer. Pictured: A man with his mouth taped shut in front of a split wall painted with the Russian and Ukraine flags.Yet no better reason to celebrate our freedom exists than this story I saw in March. It concerned a Russian journalist sentenced to seven years in prison by his government for articles he wrote about alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

Online reporter Roman Ivanov was convicted of publishing “fake news” about the Russian army, under censorship laws passed shortly after the 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

“Russia has used those laws to crack down on journalists and activists who report information that counter Kremlin narratives of what Moscow calls its special military operation in Ukraine,” Reuters news service reported.

“The charges against Ivanov stem from articles he wrote about a massacre in Bucha, Ukraine; a U.N. war crimes report; and Russian military strikes on Ukraine civilian infrastructure.”

Second Jailed Journalist

Reuters also noted that Ivanov was the second journalist jailed on such charges. A  month earlier, colleague Maria Ponomorenko was sentenced to six years for accusing Russia of bombing a theater in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol in the early months of the invasion.

Given the frequency of “fake news” claims that go hurtling around our nation, it isn’t much of a stretch to imagine some American politicians itching to take similar action against journalists here.

Fortunately, our founding fathers saw fit to pass a Bill of Rights 13 years after the onset of the Revolutionary War, clarifying the rights that belong to we the people.

Heading the list is the First Amendment. It guarantees us freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, and freedom to petition the government for redress of grievances.

As with any laws or legislation, the application of those rights is fodder for an unending series of controversies and lawsuits as we seek to decipher their deeper meanings and applications.

Yet, we are free to argue, discuss, and fret over those issues without fear of getting tossed in the slammer or watching Uncle Sam take away our property. The kind of freedoms we may take for granted, but not the folks in Russia.

Accountability Hated

The whole point of the fate suffered by these Russian journalists is that powerful people never like their actions or policies questioned.

Pictured: A hand putting a card that says Veto into a ballot box.In that respect, the U.S. is still a revolutionary experiment, one where leaders are subject to getting tossed out of office or having their plans rejected by the voters.

I think of it as the veto power unhappy citizens can exercise every two or four years, depending on the particular office. When we don’t like something a political leader has done or a policy they have instituted, we can say so at the ballot box.

We can also complain about it, in letters and emails to various publications, in online forums, and via other venues.

In addition, the news media is free to poke, probe, and ask embarrassing questions that those in power would prefer to avoid or ignore entirely. There’s a basic reason for this: nobody likes accountability.

Yet because we are a free people, we are free to question authority without losing our head. If you don’t think that’s worth celebrating, talk to a Russian victimized by their government.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: