Free speech and civic participation are cornerstones of democratic society. Individuals who take part in public debate, governance activities, or personal expression through blogs, letters to the news, or yard signs are not only enacting their rights, they are strengthening our social institutions. They bring the perspective of the citizenry (“the average American”) to inform policies and programs. Even when individuals have personal investment in a given cause (more dog parks for the pet lover, safer neighborhoods for the homeowner) their involvement enhances our communities. In doing so, these civic volunteers typically give more in time and effort than they reap in influence and change. Sometimes, they and their employers pay a price for their civic duties.
A recent article in The New York Times outlined the repercussions