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Passions in Poetry

What is Freedom of Speech?

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Ron
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0 posted 10-23-1999 08:20 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


While it surfaced in another thread (thank you, Elizabeth and Brad), I think this one deserves some attention of its own. The above quote is the First Amendment of the US Constitution, later amended to include the State legislatures. (14th Amendment). Many, many other countries have similar (if not identical) passages. What does it mean?

Or, perhaps more importantly, what does Freedom of Speech mean to you?
Elizabeth
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1 posted 10-23-1999 08:34 PM       View Profile for Elizabeth   Email Elizabeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Elizabeth's Home Page   View IP for Elizabeth

To me, it's being able to express yourself in the way your thoughts should be expressed, provided it doesn't get *too* offensive to others.

Bringing us to another point (sorry, Ron, for getting off the subject) but if you are offended by someone, what do you do? Do you tell that person their expression was not acceptable, or stay away from them or what?

Confusion reigns!

------------------
*Elizabeth*

"Dwelt a maid belov'd and cherish'd by high and low,
But with autumn leaf she perish'd, long time ago..."

"Something sweet, something sort of grandish, sweeps my soul when thou art near..."

Starman
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2 posted 10-23-1999 09:01 PM       View Profile for Starman   Email Starman   Edit/Delete Message     View IP for Starman

The Founding Fathers did not mean for their stipulations to be inflexible. Neither did they mean them to be absolute under each and every circumstance. If they were, then much injustice and abuse of other citizens' freedoms could easily be justified via freedom of speach. But, as the laws concerning libel and defamation clearly show--such is not the case. As with every other freedom we enjoy under our democracy, this one too can clearly be abused. So this freedom is a relative one--and is not a Carte-Blanche permit for all types of comments which can only be described as abusive.

------------------
Starman
Elizabeth
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3 posted 10-23-1999 09:05 PM       View Profile for Elizabeth   Email Elizabeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Elizabeth's Home Page   View IP for Elizabeth

Well said Starman.

------------------
*Elizabeth*

"Dwelt a maid belov'd and cherish'd by high and low,
But with autumn leaf she perish'd, long time ago..."

"Something sweet, something sort of grandish, sweeps my soul when thou art near..."

Systematic Decay
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4 posted 10-24-1999 03:30 AM       View Profile for Systematic Decay   Email Systematic Decay   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Systematic Decay

I think that freedom of speech is overrated in this country. People tend to look at a person, make a quick judgement, and then base their opinion on everything they say on that judgement.

Even this wouldn't bother me, but I have gotten in trouble for saying certain things, that while possibly offensive to some, were not threatening. However, based on the fact that I am different looking than the majority of my school, I am judged, to be in some sort of counter-culture cult, or to be the next school shooter.

In fact, last year, for no reason but PAST things I had said and done, and some graffiti in the bathrooms that I did NOT do, after the Columbine shootings, I was subjected to frequent searches through my personal papers, locker, and pockets. I felt this was unfair, and irritating too.

I think this country grants freedom of speech to those whose words do not exceed the accepted norm in any way, and this is discrimination. In my opinion, I think we should be free to say what we want, providing it doesn't cause any sort of injury to others. But, in this country, what does my opinion mean?

Thanks for listening to me vent.

------------------
"Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage."
-Billy Corgan-
Munda
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5 posted 10-24-1999 04:20 AM       View Profile for Munda   Email Munda   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Munda's Home Page   View IP for Munda

Freedom of speech...what does that mean to me ? If I think about it, I am very glad to be born in the country I live in. It means, I am allowed to speak, without fear. Did you ever think about it ? Not being able to say whatís normally on your mind ? Always living with a fear someone may Ďoverhearí, risking jail time or, in some countries, even your life ? Never being able to be yourself ? Would you still trust all your thoughts onto paper? Would you still write at all ? Would I write this ? Sorry folks, I donít want to sound like a teacher. : )

Words have such a power and we are so used to this freedom of speech, we donít even think about "what" we say anymore. When I listen to all the "names" people call each other every day I am sometimes shocked ! When I hear all the "false" words, I am amazed ! I try to "say what I mean and mean what I say" and believe me, I am no Saint, I make mistakes and am learning along the way.

To me freedom of speech means: being able to speak without fear, but it also gives me the responsibility to use language in a respectful way and think before I speak, as it is a rare gift.

I hope I didnít ramble, but living in a country where youíre allowed to your own opinion, you are free to choose to ignore this completely, or reply. Isnít that a great thing ! : )

Munda : )
fjones
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6 posted 10-24-1999 02:34 PM       View Profile for fjones   Email fjones   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fjones

Freedom of speech gives me the right to voice disagreement with policies of the government.
I can voice my ideas, my religious beliefs and my allegiance to a cause.
I can do all these things without worrying the government will take adverse action against me.
If I abuse my freedom then I should be restrained as not to infringe on othersí rights.
Brad
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7 posted 10-24-1999 07:07 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Well, most people who have commented here seem to see that their 'right' is not absolute. Yet, what constitutes an abuse and what constitutes legitimate use? Of course, this is not an absolute choice as well, changing with time and situation. It is the people that you disagree with that the 'right' is supposed to protect.

On another note, what about the social pressure to conform (SD has a point); I remember a famous media guy (I think it was Tom Brokaw but I get all those guys confused) who argued the problem of 'disfunctional teens' or something along those lines. 'Disfunctional teens' is another term for people who don't 'fit in'.
So, do people have to 'fit in' in order to avoid adverse action against them?

Kinda defeats the point, don't you think?

Elizabeth, your hypothetical on the other thread is a toughy. I have the tendency to become preachy myself on that one. Give me a couple of days and I'll try to answer honestly (without preaching I hope).

Brad

PS Munda, love to know more of the history of free speech in the Netherlands. Know nothing about it.
Robin Goodfellow
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8 posted 10-25-1999 05:12 PM       View Profile for Robin Goodfellow   Email Robin Goodfellow   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Robin Goodfellow

This isnt my original idea but I still agree with it.
"If you want to preach about the freedom of speech then find the person you hate most in this world and listen as he screams at the top of his lungs all of the things you find to be wrong and offensive on every level. After calmly listening to everything he said stand up and compliment him for envoking his rights. Only then can you be considered one of the few who know what the freedom of speech implies."

It makes sense. To often we think that the Bill of Rights and so forth were written to specificly aid us personally. No one seems to realize that all of their rights apply to everyone. They are made completely equal no matter what their station in life is. As far as the goverment goes the poorest man has the same rights and freedoms as the richest. Now given, the legal system and every other aspect of the world is corrupted towards the rich but as far as american rights they're equal.
Michael
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9 posted 10-25-1999 06:00 PM       View Profile for Michael   Email Michael   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Michael

This is so very difficult to step into, mainly because I have many points I'd like to express and not near enough time. First of all, I do believe everyone is entitled to his/her opinion and a right to express it. It is when that opinion becomes of a harmful or abusive nature that the "right" is being abused. No human has the right to inflict harm upon another and, IMHO of course, should be allowed to. I will have more to add later.

------------------
Michael Anderson

Is all that we see or seem
but a dream within a dream?




[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 10-26-1999).]
Munda
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10 posted 10-26-1999 04:00 PM       View Profile for Munda   Email Munda   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Munda's Home Page   View IP for Munda

Brad,

you ask me for some more information on the history of free speech in the Netherlands. Iím really NOT the person to ask anything about history at all, but Iíll gladly share what I do know.
Free speech in my country is just as common as in any other "free" country. However, as this country has been in a War, we may be a little bit more aware of the true meaning of free speech. Especially people like myself, a child from parents who were teenagers in the War, hearing lots of stories first hand. Of course there is also a lot of time spend on the subject in schools and by the media during the weeks before Memorial -and Liberation Day. The Second World War still "lives" in my country, although I fear my generation is probably the last to feel a connection with it. What I learned most, from all the stories and other information, is how people lived in fear those days. You could end up in prison, or even be shot, for saying something "wrong" and of course there were the Jewish people always living in fear just for being who they are. It touched me deep in my soul, to realize how much fear and suffering there must have been and it still does. I think thereís no need to to go into detail about this. I just hope everybody can imagine what that must have been like.
After the War there was of course a period of poverty, but also an enormous growth in our economy and people were happy with their freedom, worked hard to get back on their feet, and happy to express their thoughts again as they liked.
Today we still honour free speech. A little too much for some folks, especially for those whoíve been in the War, as true free speech also means people with nazi thoughts are allowed to speak their mind and have demonstrations. Do I agree with this ? No I do not, but I honour free speech and therefore can not say it should be forbidden. I simply choose to say as little as possible about it, as every word spend on something like this is only publicity and I do not wish to make any kind of contribution to thoughts so dark.
Of course Amsterdam is the "paradise" of free speech in the Netherlands. I know this, as Iíve lived there most of my life. : ) I donít think thereís anything I have NOT heard of, but I can understand that lots of things may be "weird" for other people. It doesnít mean I agree with all of them, it just means I respect an other personís opinion, because if I learned something through the years, the thing I learned most is: there is a human story behind every opinion.
Nevertheless I regret it that most people donít see the power of words. You donít have to love somebody to say a kind word and make another person feel good, although it is just as easy to say something awful and hurt someone right there where it hurts most. If weíd all use our right of free speech with respect, which doesnít mean you agree, the world would be a much nicer place. Even though I fear this to be wishful thinking, I will always at least try to use my words respectful.

As I read this over again, I don't think it gave you much information on the history of free speech in my country. : ) Well, I warned you, I am NOT the person to ask anything about history ! : )

Munda



Brad
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11 posted 10-26-1999 07:56 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Nevertheless, you do shift the terms of discussion in a significant way. The only thing I worry about is given the extremes you describe, does that mean we should accept offenses against free speech (including cultural suppression) because they are no where near the horrors you describe?

Yes, Nazis have to be allowed to speak but I also believe that they must be nuetralized through speech. It seems dangerous to ignore them or to stay silent (although I think you can make an interesting case for ignoring obvious attention seekers). Silence can easily turn into apathy or even disbelief -- 'They don't really mean THAT!'.

Should Nazis be allowed to speak in a predominantly Jewish community? I think not. Should they nevertheless be allowed to speak in some sort of 'free speech zone'? Yes. Curious: How many people have read "The Turner Diaries"? I read it (and yes it took some effort) but I felt I had to. Know your enemy or something along those lines.

Brad
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12 posted 10-26-1999 08:12 PM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

I've always believed that there were two parts to free speech: the first to be able to speak, the second - to know when to listen.
Brad
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13 posted 10-26-1999 08:17 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Sunshine,
Excellent point. Most people seem to worry about their own speech rights but does free speech matter if no one listens?

I'm still waiting for Michael to continue his comments.
Marilyn
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14 posted 10-29-1999 11:39 PM       View Profile for Marilyn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Marilyn

My opinion runs along the same lines as Munda's. I was born and raised in Canada but my parents and grandparents lived in Holland during the war. I was raised by poeple who shared experiences with Munda's family. We were taught to use our words wisely and repectfully but that we were free to use them. Could you imagine a world in which a simple phrase could end you up in prison?

We are privilaged to live in countries that are free. What people ned to understand is abuse will only cause us to fall. I believe in open mindedness but also believe in the fine line that should not be crossed. Our society lacks respect in general. We are a "ME" driven society and that will ultimately be our downfall.
Brad
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15 posted 10-29-1999 11:57 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

But what is that fine line? What constitutes abuse? I live in a country where you can be put in jail for speaking your mind. You can be put in jail for speaking your mind in America(If you advocate the violent overthrow of the government, it is a punishable offense).

It wasn't too long ago that you couldn't get a job if you were labeled a communist (let alone actually being one). There have been attempts to silence people who burn flags.

In college I used to talk to all the fringe socialist, communist party guys (just for fun) and was told to be careful (from an unrelated person who I told what I was doing). I was being watched.

I've been beat up by cops at a Ramones concert when one of my friends asked "What was going on?" They were in riot gear; no badge numbers.

Free speech is a tricky thing, I think.

Marilyn
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16 posted 10-30-1999 12:15 AM       View Profile for Marilyn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Marilyn

This is why I enjoy having conversations with many different people. I learn much! I speak from my limited knowledge. These revelations are very new to me and I would need some time to let the reality sink.
Munda
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17 posted 10-30-1999 06:43 PM       View Profile for Munda   Email Munda   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Munda's Home Page   View IP for Munda

Hmm, this is a very difficult topic. : ) A friend of mine just returned from Kosovo and told me some stories that are really horrible. Can you even imagine people returning to their homes and find the heads of family members staked on their fence ?
Can you imagine, that after this, one word in the wrong language will get you killed ? It gives me the shivers and I wonder how I would react. Probably the same, I'm afraid. So you see, free speech is very hard to describe. It depends a lot on where you live and what's happening in your country.

Do nazi's have a right to speak....yes. Do nazi's have a right to speak in the middle of a Jewish community....no ! Free speech is for everybody, but free speech is not meant to hurt others intentionally. Personally I think it's best not to say too much about people like this, as everything I say only gives them publicity. That doesn't mean I should ignore it. Nothing worse than ignorance ! I do teach my kids respect for others and to respect someone's opinion, but I also teach them to make up their own mind with their own values and based on that to form their own opinion and not agree with something or somebody just because.

The more I think about it, the more complicated it gets. : ) I guess all I can say is what free speech means to me, living in a free country, because I realize very well that my opinion could be very different if I lived somewhere else. : )

Munda
Ron
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18 posted 10-31-1999 01:07 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

You guys have taken this thread into many directions beyond what I imagined, and raised a whole lot of valid points. I've been delaying my own response (waiting for Michael, too), but I think tonight's turmoil makes this a good time to add my own thoughts.

First, though, I'd like to comment on some of the remarks others have made. Elizabeth said freedom of speech was being able to express yourself, "provided it doesn't get *too* offensive to others." Starman echoes that by saying, "is not a Carte-Blanche permit for all types of comments which can only be described as abusive," and even Michael agreed with his comment that "It is when that opinion becomes of a harmful or abusive nature that the 'right' is being abused."

The problem is, no matter what you say or how fairly you say it, it's going to be offensive to someone. I know most of you were thinking about the majority, or large minorities, or special groups. Or, perhaps, about yourself. But it seems to me that the second we put any kind of "offend not" limitation on freedom of speech we have hobbled it to the point of impotence.

And, of course, I have almost an identical problem with Brad's and Munda's suggestion that Nazis shouldn't be allowed to speak in a "predominantly Jewish community." Should our freedom, then, be curtailed to only those who already agree with us? Should the Christian missionaries then only minister to the converted? (Bad analogy, but you know what I mean.) Again, this is a dangerous limitation to accept to our freedom of speech.

I think Robin and Faye were the two who probably hit closest to my own thoughts on freedom of speech. Robin, of course, suggested that if we want uncurtailed freedom for ourselves, we have to be willing to grant it to everyone else. Not almost everyone, but absolutely everyone. And Faye, at least indirectly, raised the very point I was trying to make when I started this thread.

Notice that my quotation from the American Constitution has certain phrases highlighted in bold? Read it again. Read just those words, together. The only guarantee we have of freedom of speech in American (and it's true of every other free country I know, as well) is that the government will pass no laws to curtail it. Freedom of speech, outside of government laws, simply does not exist. Your school, your employer, your church, your spouse and family and friends - everyone can and does limit your speech to whatever extent you allow them. And it will always be that way, because nothing else could possibly work. If you had true freedom of speech you could force your daily newspaper to publish your views along side those of Clinton. If you had true freedom of speech you could tell your company's customers what you REALLY think of your boss - and do it on the nightly news channel.

Freedom of speech, beyond the non-intrusion of the government, does not exist. Except - and this is a really big except - as an agreement between you and I. Uh, and of course all those other people out there, too.

Way back on July 4th, with a lot of other people at Passions, I posted a poem that probably explains my concepts of freedom a lot better than I can do here. It also, I think, touches a bit on what Munda and Marilyn mentioned. And while this isn't a forum for poetry, I see no reason to reinvent the wheel either.


Freedom

I was fifteen when Grandfather died,
his twisted body vanquished by too many years,
his mind confused by too many diluted memories,
his spirit still as strong and indomitable
as the day he first killed another man
to protect the life he loved.

It was hard for me to see the war hero he had been
within the wasted remnants of a wispy old man,
his flesh sunken between fragile bones,
his smooth, soft skin bleached paler
than the sheets that wrapped him
like a premature burial shroud.

It was hard to see the war hero he had been
until Grandfather opened his rheumy eyes,
the blue as pale as a winter sky,
as hard and cold as tempered steel.
When he opened his eyes and looked into your soul,
only then could you see it. Then you would know.

Those eyes were a pool of profound strength,
with unwept tears of pain and death floating
just below their placid, unbroken surface,
like ocean debris trapped within swift currents
and forever forbidden to emerge,
forbidden to pollute the sea that was his life.

But, still, the soiled debris was a part of him.
Grandfather survived the German occupation of his land,
fought life and death struggles in an Underground
that would not, could not accept the domination of others.
And when it was over, when he had outlived the death,
he had moved to a new land, a land of new-found friends.

In America, Grandfather built a new life,
while never forgetting the lessons of the old.
His melodious French was replaced with broken English,
the rifles with shovels, the knives with hammers.
But nothing ever supplanted his implacable courage,
nothing ever usurped his enduring strength.

Grandfather was a warrior, but he was also a teacher.
I listened to his words, saw his examples,
learned from the stories and histories he shared.
He showed me that courage and strength aren't independent qualities,
but rather are the inevitable results of abiding love.
"What you truly love," he would say, "can never be surrendered."

And Grandfather, more than most, loved Freedom.
I have since learned there are many who say it,
but few who really feel it.
And fewer still who understand it.
Grandfather once told me he never fought for Freedom.
He said, instead, he fought against domination.

We were sitting in the old wooden swing,
its paint as wrinkled and weathered
as the skin of my grandfather's aged face,
the sound of the river flowing through his yard
a backdrop for a classroom
with neither desks nor chalk boards.

"A man can never take away your Freedom," he told me.
"They can only take power and make you pay a higher price
when you choose to exercise it.
Hitler wanted to make that price a man's death.
There is always a price to be paid for Freedom,
but when the price becomes too high, a man must fight."

I remember he paused then, his irregular breath
like a clipped whistle as it wheezed past swollen nostrils.
I was used to his long lulls, a habit so many found irritating.
Grandfather was giving me time, I knew,
to ponder, to absorb, to believe.
And I knew, too, in knowing him, there would be more.

When he finally continued,
Grandfather's voice was almost a whisper.
"It works both ways," he said, leaning closer,
his minty breath an envelope around my face.
"A man can never take away your freedom,
and a man never grant it either."

Grandfather's voice had many tones within it,
and I had learned them all through the years.
"The laws of this country are good ones, mostly,"
he said in a reverent tone, an awed tone
that spoke of important lessons
to be learned.

"But you must always remember that its Constitution,
and all the laws Congress has passed since then,
don't give you one bit more Freedom
than you already have.
Laws are made by men. Laws change.
Your Freedom is part of you. It's forever."

I remember nodding my understanding,
and I remember Grandfather's hand falling to my shoulder.
He squeezed briefly, and I can only assume he was pleased.
It would be another two years
before he would lay in a death bed of virgin white,
and another two decades before I would really understand his words.

The Freedoms written within our laws are always conditional.
Freedom of the Press is amended by libel statutes,
and Search and Seizure laws are cast aside for Probable Cause.
All the laws, all the guarantees,
exist only at the whim of the courts and Due Process.
Grandfather understood.

Any government based on unconditional Freedom
would necessarily be a government of unconditional anarchy.
Our laws don't grant people Freedom.
Our laws only set the price that must be paid
when a citizen chooses to exercise our Freedom.
But the Freedom comes from within.

Grandfather was not a religious man, but he was a Godly man.
And I think he knew.
Our Creator gave us not only our existence,
but he granted us Free Will,
that we might choose between good and evil.
And that power of choice is what Freedom is really all about.

There will always be a price to pay for Freedom.
The price is set by the hand of man, by the laws we make.
When we are wise and good, the price is one we can bear.
And when we are neither wise nor good,
there will always be men like Grandfather,
with the courage and strength to fight for what they love.





[This message has been edited by Ron (edited 10-31-1999).]
Angel Rand
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19 posted 10-31-1999 02:39 AM       View Profile for Angel Rand   Email Angel Rand   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Angel Rand

"Any alleged "right" of one man, which necessitates the violation of the rights of another, is not and cannot be a right."
Ayn Rand
So, with this in mind you have the right to say anything you wish to say. But you also have the right to not listen to what is being said.
Should a Nazi be allowed to speak in a Jewish community building? Yes (as long as it is public and not privately owned no one has the right to ban him from doing this). Will he get any listeners? Doubtful.
Should you be allowed to voice your political opinion along side to Clinton's in any newspaper? Yes of course. No law may ever be passed that PROHIBITS this. But it is also the right of the newspaper owner/publisher to not print your text. If you want to publish something that offends ppl and therefore a newspaper/publisher refuses to print it, your right has not been violated. Would the government persecute you for printing your opinion, THEN your right WOULD be violated. Censorship is against the constitution. (Of course things like child pornography and such is not freedom of speech but is violating the rights of the child).
Slander only then really becomes slander when someone's opinion of you in some way results in a restriction of the rights that are granted to you under the constitution. And these very basically are what were stated as your inalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence out which all laws of the constitution are born. Only this has to be the measure to which you and any so called free country should hold your/its principles of ethics and laws.
"...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

Angel

[This message has been edited by Angel Rand (edited 10-31-1999).]
Munda
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20 posted 10-31-1999 10:47 AM       View Profile for Munda   Email Munda   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Munda's Home Page   View IP for Munda

I am a little confused here, Ron. I thought the question was; "What does Freedom of Speech mean to you ?" and not; "What is Freedom of Speech ?"
When you say, and I quote "Munda's suggestion that Nazis shouldn't be allowed to speak in a "predominantly Jewish community." Should our freedom, then, be curtailed to only those who already agree with us?", I say OUCH that hurts. : ) I never said Nazis are not allowed to speak in public (even though I do not agree with them), only that I have a problem to let them speak in a Jewish community.
Believe me, that will not curtail their freedom to only those who already agree. Thank goodness NO! : )
Wouldn't it be the same to allow the KKK to have a demonstration in Harlem ? I hope you see my point, it would only be asking for more trouble and is freedom of speech really meant to hurt others intentionally ?
I think you explain it best yourself in your reply to the question of a regilious forum, and I quote again: "On the one hand I really want to practice the tolerance I believe in, but on the other I can't willingly support something I believe strongly against." That says it all, doesn't it. : )

Anyway, you end your reply here saying: "Freedom of speech, beyond the non-intrusion of the government, does not exist. Except - and this is a really big except - as an agreement between you and I. Uh, and of course all those other people out there,too."

My question to you is: Is this what you think Freedom of Speech is, what you'd like it to be, or what it means to you ? Or maybe all of that ? : )

Furthermore, I loved the poem, it has a great message and I think your Granfather was a wise man.

Munda
Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


21 posted 10-31-1999 09:57 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Ron,
Don't suppose you'll let me get a crack at that poem in the CA forum? Got some suggestions for you and believe it or not they stem from a Poe essay.

Angel,
Again, I encourage you to start another thread here and let's start talking about objectivism. Without a clear definition of 'rights', the Rand quote goes nowhere. To my knowledge, at least in America, property rights are not absolute, even in America. Censorship has been around as long as the constitution. Remember the recent debates about TV and movies?

Munda,
Ron did say what you read (I checked). The answer, it seems to me, is both though. Seems to me we should let the conversation flow and when people arbitrarily feel it is necessary, start another thread.

Isn't chaos fun?

Brad

PS Have some ideas about the Nazis and KKK thing. I'll try to get back to it later.

PPS Where's Michael?

Ron
Administrator
Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US


22 posted 10-31-1999 10:31 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Munda questioned:
quote:
I thought the question was; "What does Freedom of Speech mean to you ?"


And you're absolutely right, Munda. I didn't meant to suggest your interpretation was any less valid than mine - just slightly different (and only slightly). In the poem I indicated that total freedom was tantamount to total anarchy; and I believe that. But I also think that the more limitations we put on a freedom, the closer we move towards tyranny. Because right after we agree that Nazis and Jews should be separated, lest someone get hurt, we can agree that blacks and whites should be separated, and maybe children with disabilities will be emotionally damaged by mainstreaming. Gee, now that I think about, maybe we should separate males and female - there's a battle if I ever saw one!

In the US, one of the "partial solutions" to this type of problem has been a requirement to get permits for assembling. In some cases, the permits are refused (which I think is wrong), but in many more cases they are issued - and more police are put on duty to insure peace. Doesn't always work. Costs us a lot of money. But it's one solution to a problem that really doesn't have any easy answers.

Again, I apologize if it sounded like I was trying to change the topic. Rather, I was just trying to express what Freedom of Speech means to me...
Munda
Member Elite
since 10-08-1999
Posts 3629
The Hague, The Netherlands


23 posted 11-01-1999 01:58 PM       View Profile for Munda   Email Munda   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Munda's Home Page   View IP for Munda

No need to apologize, Ron. I was just a little confused. Thanks for the explanation. : )

Munda
roxane
Senior Member
since 09-02-99
Posts 519
us


24 posted 11-01-1999 05:43 PM       View Profile for roxane   Email roxane   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for roxane

Freedom of speech? Hmmm... There are several points that I could make concerning this one.
First of all, a right can only be abused if it infringes on the rights of others, namely we have the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If someone says something offensive to you, will it end your life? hinder your liberty? make you incapable of being happy? The answer is obviously no. As children, we are taught that "sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me". How is it that now, more and more adults are coming forth, oppressing and abusing their rights in order to make something "less offensive"? Case in point: In Kentucky, it is now against the law to say the word "evolution" in classrooms. It has been replaced by "change over time". Are the two not the same thing? They certainly are, but the word "evolution" is so taboo and often thought of as "evil", that they Board of Education bowed to the pressures of Christian citizens and changed it, infringing on another right of the American people: the complete separation of church and state. My ninth grade anthropology teacher was a devout Southern Baptist, but he could stand up in front of the class and tell us that he believed in the FACTS of evolution, despite what his religion dictates.
Second, the right to freedom of speech was established by a group of radical patriots in order to prevent a tyrannical government. One does not have to scream obscenaties in order to exercise that right, they just may not infringe upon those who do. For example, I personally would never have an abortion and would lose respect for a woman if she did. Am I Pro-Life? Certainly, however I do not condone the government regulating a woman's body, or whether or not she chooses not to have children. As soon as we, as citizens, and particularly women, allow the government to control our bodies, what's next? Every woman must take responsiblity for her actions, but she must also be allowed to do so on her own terms.
As I am a fan of Sartre, I most whole-heartedly agree with his "definition" of freedom. In "The Age of Reason", a man named Mathieu is struggling to be truly free, yet one of his friends says of him that he is not without his passions, he just doesn't care about what other people think. The only true freedom anyone can ever achieve is found through being comfortable with themselves. If you believe what you say, if you stand up for what you say, no one can stop you from saying it, unless you let them.
However, Mathieu only finds freedom when he loses everything, and realizes that freedom is not without its price, or its responsiblities. Truly, people will try to rob you of your freedom of speech if they are offended by what you say: that is the price. You may end up lonely, and in extreme cases, people have died for their freedom. That should prove that freedom is a valuable commodity and should not be taken away.
There is, however, one exception: Let's suppose that I adamantly despise people from Arkansas. I could drive to Little Rock, stand on a street corner, and scream vulgarities about the inhabitants, just as long as I wasn't violating any noise or disturbance code. I could do the same in my own home, or my state, or in Delaware, but I can't go into someone's home and insult them and say that I'm free to do so. That is their home, not the government's, but theirs. The only rights that I have are ones made by the goverment, therefore, I may not attempt to use them on private property. Similarly, students are not protected against search and seizure in the school. Why? Because schools are run by states and may make their own rules, even if it includes daily cavity searches, as long as the state allows it.
Okay, I've reached the end of my reasons. I'm anxious to read more on this.




------------------
"Come night, come darkness, for you cannot come too soon or stay too long in such a place as this." Charles Dickens


roxane

 
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