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The Virtue of Self-Restraint in Expression

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Commentary Two or three generations ago, a common parental admonishment was, “Hold your tongue!” There’s a lot to be said for controlling that impulsive little bodily member (see James 3:1-10). It shows both consideration for the feelings of others and demonstrates mastery over one’s own reckless and destructive impulses. Social standards often swing like a pendulum between extremes—from repression to licentiousness, from modesty to vulgarity, from politeness to boorishness, from respect for others to self-indulgence that ignores the sensibilities of others. In recent decades, traditional social morés that frowned upon, discouraged, and suppressed public expressions of sexual licentiousness, profanity, rudeness, and abusive language have given way to an ethos that individual self-expression is an absolute right. The First Amendment Here, a word about the First Amendment is needed. When the founding generation adopted the Bill of Rights, their overriding concern was to protect people from despotic political controls. A free …

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