The recent controversy in Everett School District over the performance of “Ave Maria” has people up in arms on all sides of the issue. Every person has an opinion and a consensus must be reached — that’s why our public courts exist.
Some have said that this disagreement is a waste of time and money. But this kind of discussion is important enough to warrant the legal fees and courts’ time. This is the type of battle that the courts were meant for.
Free speech is a gray topic in a nation that likes “Dr. Phil” black and white decisions. People advocate different levels of speech regulation, from rigid speech codes to the ability to use hate speech anywhere, for any reason.
As we get nearer to the “Ave Maria” case’s court date next spring, we must remember that free speech is a difficult topic. We must remain open to hearing viewpoints with which we disagree. It’s what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the Constitution.
We also need to be wary of letting emotions get in the way of logical debate and discussion. Since religious expression is involved in this case, it’s easy to let the heart get in the way of the mind.
Is it important for people to freely express themselves? Yes. Is it important to treat every person with equality and fairness? Yes.
But what’s most important is that the “Ave Maria” discussion will continue. Our democratic society is built on the right of the people to bring difficult situations to the courts of public debate.