Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tread carefully, the first amendment is not a toy...

March 6, 2011
Colorado, USA



Freedom of Speech...

No matter what is said...
No matter how it is said...
No matter who is saying it...

It is for me...
It is for you...

It is for us...
It is for them...

It is the law...

True, there are those who practice free speech with malice in their heart. As heinous as that may be, malicious thoughts and words are not illegal. It is not against the law to be stupid or vile or hateful in speech or expression in this country. Some people find the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and other documents of U.S. law offensive. Some people find the words of the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance offensive. Some people call the flag, a soldier's uniform, the statue of liberty and other emblems of this nation an eyesore. Some people do not appreciate certain words in a novel, or the colors on a biker's back, or the prayer on a Christian's lips. Some people say women must hide their faces and other parts of their body, because their personal idea of God demands it. Still others demand we make unlawful the horrendous speech practiced by members of the Westboro Baptist Church Cult. Shall we allow those who fear freedom of expression to censor or abolish that which they find distasteful for so arbitrary a reason as that? Shall we allow those who seize upon the opportunity to exploit our disagreements to further their own agenda the power to do that in order to validate our own self interests?

First Amendment
So -- who gets to say what is socially acceptable speech and what is not? Who gets to decide who must follow the law of the land and who will not?

Not you.
Not me.
Not them.

I do not tolerate anyone dictating what I choose to see and hear, or read and write. I could not in good conscience practice that type of oppression on another. There are enough tyrants in the world.

The ideology behind Freedom, Liberty, and Justice for all is an open-ended concept, all inclusive, if you will. The law has the final say.

If the sad day ever arrives when this is not so in America, then we have lost one of the most precious freedoms known to man - the right to speak our minds - the right to be heard without fear of punishment - the right to agree with the masses or the right of a lone individual to dissent. In this country if you do not like the speech of another person or group of people - you have the right to stand up and shout disagreement. You may shout them down, you may drown them out, you may tune them out, you may expose their speech as loathsome or false, fanatical or idiotic, but you do not have the right to silence that person's speech simply because you do not like what they have to say. Thank goodness for that, or there would be a nation-wide shortage of duct tape and half the politicians I know would be trying to match their ties to a certain shade of silver.

I, for one, prefer to know the mindset of a person who disagrees with me. I can deal with exposed stupidity or mindless hate on my own terms. I'd rather it not come at me from out the shadows of discontent.

This is a cautionary tale. Freedom of speech is not a toy. The spirit of free and open debate and exchange of ideas (even stupid ones) is something I support with all I am. Lose this one freedom, even a tiny smidgen of it and all other freedoms will soon follow.

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