Is there Free Speech in Freemasonry? by W:.Tim Bryce, PM, MPS
There is a rumor circulating on the Internet that there is a resolution being prepared by a grand jurisdiction in the U.S. Southeast ("Dixie") that would, in effect, censor all forms of Masonic communications, including publications, blogs, discussion groups, e-mails, web pages, etc. This would mean that virtually anything pertaining to Freemasonry in the grand jurisdiction would have to first be reviewed and approved by the Grand Lodge prior to publication. If this is true (and I hope it isn't), this would be setting up a preposterous situation whereby Masonic communications would be grid locked at all levels. Such controls would be reminiscent of those enacted by Hitler and Goerbels in Nazi Germany.
There has always been a certain amount of censorship in Freemasonry. For example, some jurisdictions prohibit the publication of proceedings and any correspondence pertaining to Masonic charges. There have been instances where Masonic web sites were shut down and Masonic publications suspended simply because Grand Lodges wanted absolute control over what was written and said in their jurisdictions. Is this a violation of First Amendment rights? Undoubtedly. Nonetheless, this has occurred on several occasions around the world.
In my case, when I was censored by my Grand Master last year, I was given no warning and ordered to shut down my Masonic publications and web pages. To this day, I am at a loss as to exactly why this was done (nobody spoke to me about it before or after the order was issued). Based on the letter I received from the GM, it was obvious to me that he was unfamiliar with my work and was acting on some bad advice by his handlers (my detractors). Nonetheless, this forced me to find new venues for my work which is now published by Brothers in other jurisdictions. Interestingly, as a result of the censorship, my stock rose radically while the GM's plummeted. I am now asked to write for a variety of publications and speak to groups outside of my grand jurisdiction.
So, is there free-speech in Freemasonry? Only as much as allowed by the Grand Lodge. Constitutions are interpreted and enforced at the discretion of the Grand Masters which basically gives them broad powers to censor whoever they want. In other words, Masons must walk gingerly on egg cartons or face repercussions. Inevitably, this is causing Freemasons to go underground in their communications. Vehicles such as the Internet provide a convenient means for Masons to cloak their identity and whereabouts. When you think about it, this is barbaric as Masons should be allowed to identify themselves and speak on the level without fear of retribution.
To me, censorship is another indicator of how the tables have turned in Freemasonry. Instead of the Grand Lodges serving the Craft Lodges, it is just the other way around. It means Grand Lodges want nothing less than absolute power.
In a way, it reminds me of a chapter from Ayn Rand's acclaimed novel, "The Fountainhead," about a brilliant architect who dares to stand alone against the hostility of unimaginative conformists. In the book, Howard Roark, the protagonist, is brought up on charges of destroying a building he designed. In the courtroom, he offers an eloquent defense which ultimately leads to his vindication. Although space prohibits me from including his complete courtroom testimony here, there are several passages which have a bearing on the subject at hand. In the courtroom, Roark explains to the jury....
"Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received — hatred. The great creators--the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors — stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won.
"Man cannot survive except through his mind. He comes on earth unarmed. His brain is his only weapon. Animals obtain food by force. Man has no claws, no fangs, no horns, no great strength of muscle. He must plant his food or hunt it. To plant, he needs a process of thought. To hunt, he needs weapons, and to make weapons--a process of thought. From this simplest necessity to the highest religious abstraction, from the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and everything we have comes from a single attribute of man — the function of his reasoning mind.
"But the mind is an attribute of the individual. There is no such thing as a collective brain. There is no such thing as a collective thought. An agreement reached by a group of men is only a compromise or an average drawn upon many individual thoughts. It is a secondary consequence. The primary act — the process of reason--must be performed by each man alone. We can divide a meal among many men. We cannot digest it in a collective stomach. No man can use his lungs to breathe for another man. No man can use his brain to think for another. All the functions of body and spirit are private. They cannot be shared or transferred.
"We inherit the products of the thought of other men. We inherit the wheel. We make a cart. The cart becomes an automobile. The automobile becomes an airplane. But all through the process what we receive from others is only the end product of their thinking. The moving force is the creative faculty which takes this product as material, uses it and originates the next step. The creative faculty cannot be given or received, shared or borrowed. It belongs to single, individual men. That which it creates is the property of the creator. Men learn from one another. But all learning is only the exchange of material. No man can give another the capacity to think. Yet that capacity is our only means of survival.
"Rulers of men are not egotists. They create nothing. They exist entirely through the persons of others. Their goal is in their subjects, in the activity of enslaving. They are as dependent as the beggar, the social worker and the bandit. The form of dependence does not matter.
"But men were taught to regard second-handers--tyrants, emperors, dictators — as exponents of egotism. By this fraud they were made to destroy the ego, themselves and others. The purpose of the fraud was to destroy the creators. Or to harness them. Which is a synonym.
"The only good which men can do to one another and the only statement of their proper relationship is — Hands off!
"Now, in our age, collectivism, the rule of the second-hander and second-rater, the ancient monster, has broken loose and is running amuck. It has brought men to a level of intellectual indecency never equaled on earth. It has reached a scale of horror without precedent. It has poisoned every mind. It has swallowed most of Europe. It is engulfing our country."
The legislation proposed by the Dixie jurisdiction is frightening. If enacted, it sets into motion the enslavement of Masonic minds and, consequently, the erosion of this great fraternity. Freemasonry must remain free.
Keep the Faith.
NOTE: As with all of my Masonic articles herein, please feel free to reuse them in Masonic publications or re-post them on Masonic web sites (except Florida). When doing so, please add the following:
Article reprinted with permission of the author and www.FreemasonInformation.com
Image: Gary Cooper as Howard Roark, in Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead
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