To the Editor:
On May 18, 1963, President John F. Kennedy addressed the 90th Anniversary Convocation of Vanderbilt University in Nashville. I was honored to be in his audience that day, and I'll never forget it.
Two of the main points of his remarks that day are very appropriate today as we face turmoil concerning threats, murders, computer hacking, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press.
Here are some of Kennedy's timely comments: "This Nation was not founded solely on the principle of human rights. Equally important, though too often not discussed, is the citizen's RESPONSIBILITY. ......
The protection of our rights can endure no longer than the performance of our responsibilities. .......
All Americans must be responsible citizens, but some must be more responsible than others, by virtue of their PUBLIC or their PRIVATE position, their role in the family or community, their prospects for the future, or their legacy from the past. Increased responsibility goes with increased ability, for 'of those to whom much is given, much is required.' "
Hollywood and the press have tremendous power to influence people. If we agree with Kennedy's words, because of that power, they both share tremendous responsibility. We would hope that that they would use that responsibility for the good of mankind.
Yet, is it responsible behavior to make a weak movie degrading the President of North Korea who seems to have mental problems and a hand on nuclear weapons? Is it responsible behavior to draw " humorous?" cartoons of a religious leader of millions of Muslims, providing a minority of them who have no regard for human life an excuse for murders in retribution? Have people confused the "right" to do something with the "wisdom" of doing it? We have the "right" to crawl down Main Street on our knees. Does that mean that it's a good thing to do? Yes,we have the right to offend people; so do we have to do it to prove our "right" with actions that inflame passions and provoke crimes?
Would we want a funny movie made about the assassination of our president? Whether we be Methodist, Catholic, Baptist, Buddhist, Hare-krishna, Muslim, or Jewish, would we like to see derogatory cartoons of our religious leaders published and distributed to 3,000,000 people? Would some of our own home-grown "nuts" kill somebody over this? I wouldn't want to find out. So, how can we preserve our rights and at the same time assume our responsibilities? Maybe something as simple as applying an adage found in every religion since the time of
onfucius--The Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
John R. Duke