Life is about discipline. Almost from day one, we begin to learn what we should and should not do and that there are consequences to be faced if we don't comply with society's etiquette and rules.

Take yourself back to school and your memory of homework. At my school, if it wasn't done, I faced detention - the rules are that simple.

In an adult world, it is pretty much the same except we are provided with more rights and, as our experience of life grows, we make more decisions in light of what we have learned. Freedom of speech is, perhaps, one of the most essential rights that are given: without it, all others deteriorate are devalued.

In real life, there is no black and white on freedom of speech. We may yearn for simple principles that tell us what is right or wrong, but they do not exist.

We must be prepared to grapple with the complexity of the world and the competing demands of sometimes incompatible values.

This has to be taken into consideration when we speak out about potentially controversial issues. We all have a right to say anything we want to in public and in private but few actually support unrestricted freedom to say what we want at any time.

What we have to responsibly decide is when and what we want to say and, above all, how and where we say it. It's part of the responsibility of being a grown-up.

After all, how can we uphold the right of free speech while preserving social order if we don't consider others at least some of the time? Somebody somewhere nearly always has to compromise.

Those that speak out are often passionate about the issues they raise but, with freedom, comes responsibility. You take responsibility out of freedom and society becomes disfunctional.

Among the controversial issues being hotly debated, I agree with the Post's editorial comment last week that we should express our views in the context of one overall objective - all pulling together for this city's future.

* Kay Cadman is director of Core Marketing