Voltaire Re-Imagined

Today President Barack Obama addressed the 2012 UN General Assembly for the fourth and final time of his first term in office. His speech was compelling and relevant; mixing geopolitics, international relations, and foreign policy. In a strong message to the world concerning recent developments in the Middle East, Obama reiterated a strong and lasting component of the United States of America. Furthermore he tactfully framed his remarks to fit nicely into the 2012 Presidential Election dialogue. The direct quote from the speech was:
"I know there are some who ask why we don't just ban such a video. The answer is enshrined in our laws: our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech. Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense. Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs. Moreover, as President of our country, and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so."                                                                  - Barack Obama, UN General Assembly, 25 September 2012
The principle that President Obama highlighted was made famous by the 18th century French writer, playwright, and philosopher, Voltaire. [Wikipedia Entry] The exact attribution of the quote is shadowy and not concrete. However, Voltaire is known to have actually said - or rather written in his Essay on Tolerance, "Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too!" While the famous quote that has been attributed to Voltaire is, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

For an outspoken and verbose person like myself, I very much admire this principle. I rely on the liberty of free speech for the vast majority of my endeavors. Thus I value the gravitas of freedom of conscience and cannot fathom denying that right to anybody. Although I do withhold and often exercise the option to influence a person's opinion and worldview as I see fit. So in appreciation of Voltaire's principle and Obama's leadership on the international stage, I wanted to commemorate this re-imagining for the 21st century in the form of a graphic:

Please feel free to share on the internet!


Here is a 5 minute clip of Obama's speech today. Thanks to C-SPAN I was able to cut a specific clip. The quote I highlighted in today's post is only a few seconds in, but I included the larger context to fully paint the positive and liberating message President Barack Obama is re-affirming in the United States of America and re-iterating to the world.

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