Consideration means being thoughtful, courteous, reflective, taking others into account, having good manners, and showing respect for the expression of different ideas even if one does not agree with them.

In a society that guarantees free speech, individuals and institutions must be considerate. The government cannot simply ban words or ideas that it does not agree with. Consequently, citizens have a responsibility to give consideration to others’ points of view, and people exercising their First Amendment rights to free speechpress, and assembly have a responsibility to do so in ways that are within the law and considerate of others’ rights.

Citizens can also show consideration by not saying hurtful things, by being quiet when others are talking, showing good sportsmanship, doing kind things for others like offering senior citizens seats on public transportation, and respecting others’ words, actions, ideas, values and backgrounds.

The Founders knew that giving consideration to new ideas was beneficial to both individuals and society. Benjamin Franklin said, “I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions…” Furthermore, Thomas Paine observed, “New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.”

Individuals who exercised and urged consideration include William Penn, John Dickinson, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, and Mary Beth Tinker.