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Free speech is for everyone, not a select few

Free speech is for everyone, not a select few

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When fellow columnist Stu Bykofsky said Black Lives Matter Pennsylvania’s Asa Khalif should not be allowed to interrupt government news conferences while protesting the killings of black men by police, I was flummoxed.

Last time I checked, the First Amendment granted every American the right to free speech. It’s what protects my right to pen this column, voice outrage at governmental corruption or speak up against an emerging culture of hate. In short, that precious right to speak freely is what makes us all Americans.

But for blacks in this country, there seems to be a separate set of rules. We can protest, as long as it doesn’t make our white countrymen uncomfortable. We can speak up, as long as we do so in a respectable manner. We can sit down, just not during the national anthem. We can stand up, just not for the right to be treated equally by those whose salaries we pay.

I’m tired of that double standard. So let me be clear. I don’t care whether a black man’s demand for equal treatment makes others uncomfortable. In fact, I hope it does. It is only when we are uncomfortable that we change.

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Photo: Asa Khalif (right) leads a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Philadelphia. By Joe Piette/ Flickr Creative Commons