The Only Thing I Stand For

Monday, December 10, 2007

There is only one thing in my room which is even remotely politically charged -- O.K. I mean other than books. Let me rephrase. My apartment-mate has a tactfully decorated room with framed pictures of sunsets and national parks on her walls. My room, which has purposely unaligned photos of smiling friends, looks a bit more like a dorm room. She wears a bracelet that says "pro-life," I cannot, and would not, by virtue of my profession wear anything that overtly political (I wouldn't wear a pro-choice bracelet either. I wouldn't take a public stance on the issue, and this blog is not about my personal beliefs).

The only thing hanging in my room that has a political tinge is a napkin. Yes. A napkin. It is from the Freedom Forum, which I know nothing about except that it is somehow related to the Newseum (the opening of which I await with bated breath). The napkin says "Freedom Forum" and underneath it says "Free Press. Free Speech. Free Spirit." The napkin was a recognition that I am a journalism dork, and the friend, referencing The West Wing suggested that I hang it next to the "Writer for America" napkin. (Clearly using my actual name).

Here's the thing. There will not be a "Writer for America" napkin, because I am always going to be publicly indifferent. Publicly, I will have few opinions, and would therefore make a terrible political candidate. Publicly, I will only have one napkin. Publicly, I will be staunchly for free press, free speech, and free spirit. Oh, and probably also publicly for the rest of the first amendment -- free religion, right to petition the government, and freedom of assembly. (In case you were wondering, free spirit is not a right). I will swear by the cause of free press, live my public life by it. And that'll make me happy.

Of course, privately, there are lots of other things I stand for and believe in and live my life by. It's inevitable, and makes me human. And, while some would argue that being unable to free myself from convictions altogether makes me a weaker journalist, I would argue that the empathy it allows me makes me a better person and thus a better reporter.

One could also argue that journalists have a hard time covering debates that are framed in questions of free speech. I probably agree. The press probably will be pro-press. But nine times out of ten, I trust the press to realize what the debate is really about and cover that.

Still, publicly, if the only statement I can make is one for freedom and the right enshrined in that first amendment, which when I see at the National Archives will always send chills down my spine, that's O.K. with me.

Here's to the freedoms I'll live for and allow me to make a living.

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Written Pyramids is a blog written by a journalist living and working in Washington D.C.

I have left my real name off of the blog so as not to imply that the blog is somehow linked with the journalism I get paid to do. (Still, I never write about my beat on this blog, and rarely express opinions about the day's news regardless of its relationship to my beat).

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Books pyramid image originally from the British website, Explore Writing.