Friday, December 07, 2007

You said what?!

“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.”

I was just over to Hippie’s spot (He’s back on the blogging scene. Yeah, you have me to thank for that.). In his latest piece, he posted a YouTube clip of an old episode of Crossfire; the political and social debate program. On this particular episode, there is a heated exchange between Washington Post columnist John Lofton and the late recording artist Frank Zappa about free speech. Interestingly though this clip is quite a few years old, the debate over free speech is still brewing today; with a different cast of characters, of course.

I make no bones about it; I’ve always been a fan of the 1st Amendment. In fact, it’s the very concept of free speech that has allowed me to host this blog for as long as I have. In other nations, having this type of clearinghouse for discussion would likely get me dragged outside of the city walls and stoned. Whether my commentary has centered around spirituality, social/cultural happenings, politics, or just your average Monday morning water cooler discussion, the Constituition does its job in allowing me a considerable forum to speak and be heard. As it does with the rest of you...

However, what the First Amendment does not…and I repeat…DOES NOT do is protect us from certain types of consequences we might face for expressing ourselves; namely criticism from other people. I can post virtually anything I want on my blog (at least anything not in violation with security); citing my first amendment rights in the process. But similarly, my readers -- barring any censorship I can do as this site’s administrator -- also have the rights to call me out for what I say. Future employers have the right to use the content of this page to make decisions on my employability. My mother has the right to be pissed and knock me upside the head if she read some of the stuff I’ve written on my blog. Simply put, the First Amendment protects our rights to speak freely. It does not shield us from the backlash that may occur from doing so. When Don Imus, for example, was fired because of his comments about the Rutgers Women’s Basketball team (only to later be rehired, as I predicted), it wasn’t because he broke any free speech laws. The government didn’t detain and convict him on charges of violating the Constitution. He simply lost his job because of the consequences of his free speech. Supporting sponsors -- fearing public boycotts -- pulled out of him faster than (insert dirty insertion jokes here).

So whether you're a complete free speech advocate, only in favor of free speech when it applies to you, or a loon out to censor EVERYTHING, we all need to take a chill pill. Let's not get things twisted: the government can’t constitutionally barge your door down and arrest you for having an opinion (though, the Patriot Act is freakishly close to allowing that). But before you try to cloak yourself in the First Amendment, that doesn’t mean that your brother, sister, or best friend can’t attack you in a different way. It is within a their rights to challenge you on different things; even if those things were a product of you exercising your rights.

Attack my comments all you want. It's a free country...

...at least for now.

-ACL

8 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

Saved Sinner said...

You make a pretty good point here. People tend to support ideas like free speech until it goes against an agenda they have or protects things they don't like. Can't have it your way all the time, right?

Andre said...

"Can't have it your way all the time, right?"

As much as we'd like for that to be the case, you're right: it doesn't happen.

saved sinner said...

I wonder if the Daily Kos and Fox News read the first ammendment since they seem to rip into each other about what they can and can't say.

Andre said...

"I wonder if the Daily Kos and Fox News read the first ammendment since they seem to rip into each other about what they can and can't say."

They probably read it often, but can't seem to figure out how it doesn't apply to just them.

The H.C. said...

Hey Dre,
An excellent assessment of our right to free speech. Too often people don't understand the restrictions that come with free speech. (I know that sounds contrary) But for example, while you have the right to free speech, you DON'T have the right to restrict other people's by disrupting their venue. I see this a lot. Let others have their say and then counter with your own points. Disrupting a function because you disagree is bad form on your part. Also, I liked your answer to Saved Sinner. Great post Andre!

HeiressChild said...

good post, good points. i always say if people don't like what you write or say, then go to a different blog, or turn the station, or turn the channel, etc. you get my drift. however, as you said, it doesn't make you exempt from backlash, but it sure makes you feel a little better for putting it out there.

KC said...

Well if some people get their way (cough, Newt) freedom of speech will be curtained to stop the so-called "enemy".

Joanne said...

Andre you made a very interesting point. It's amazing to see how some people use their right to free speech in an attempt to deny others of their right to free speech. Can someone please make sense out of that for me?