FREEDOM OF SPEECH, that sacred 1st Amendment right that sits upon a marble pedestal, polished into a brilliant sheen by the courts, has taken on a less honorable meaning these days. Freedom of speech is all-inclusive, like a cruise to the Bahamas. It includes freedom to lie, to dissemble, to exaggerate, to spew disinformation with not one whit of effort to verify validity. Freedom of speech is, to its essential core, freedom to make stuff up and dress it in the latest, most expensive fashions. Freedom of speech in today’s hyper-unethical world hands out expensive dinner tickets to the maladaptive and the malicious, the malevolent and the malfeasant. What they do with this freedom doesn’t seem to matter, for we will, according to historical myth, defend to the death their right to cheat and lie and swindle, to the lasting minimization of some other things to which we thought we had a right, such as the right to honesty, truth, and a truly democratic government. Freedom of speech is money in unheard of, excessive amounts, contributed to the coffers of the candidates preferred by those rich enough to talk in the currency of affluence. What FREE SPEECH has become, in its present state of despoliation, is a rotting canker on the surface of our cultural and political life, where anything goes and, hey, if you repeat it enough times, it sits upon a marble pedestal of its own.