The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Monday, September 17, 2012

But I will defend to the death your right to say it

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.

Why did I post this? Because recent events have shown me there is a lack of understanding by many American citizens just what it means. Some of these citizens appear to be generally thought of as "leaders."

In so many countries around the world, this amendment contains something completely foreign to them. Something called Freedom of Speech. We cherish it here. Or, rather, we should but do not. We are vexed by it, we resent it at times, we resent those who defend it... at times. But we also demand it for ourselves. Or, actually, demand what we think it is for ourselves while wishing to deprive others of it.

And, I admit, I viewed it that way myself once.

Simply put, Freedom of Speech is the right to speak one's mind and not have to worry about being put in jail. Some people think it is the right to talk back to your employer, to call people names, to insult others. It really isn't those things.

At one time, it only applied to political speech. Here's a good explanation of how it was viewed at the time of the First Amendment's adoption:

Freedom of speech and of the press served one purpose in America: To remove the fear of the common law doctrine of seditious libel so citizens could freely speak or publish without license their grievances against public policy or conduct of public officials. One of the distasteful things found under the common law was the government practice of criminalizing or shielding itself through requiring license to publish of any criticism it felt made people dissatisfied with their government or government established religion.

During the early years of this nation, books were banned and speech was curtailed... not because they criticized the government or political leaders but because they were deemed salacious or socially unacceptable. Pornography in art and letters, for example, was banned without any concern that this was an infringement of speech. It was only in the last century that these bans were deemed unconstitutional. And there was much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth as these bans were lifted. Many saw the bans as necessary in order to prevent the fall of social cohesion and decency.

But the courts decided that all speech was protected, not just some.

What the protestors throughout the Muslim world do not understand is our culture and its view of speech. We are asked by our leaders to understand why other cultures feel such strong offense by written words, attitudes, movies, even cartoons.

Yet our leaders need to ask (perhaps demand) those other cultures  respect our culture, or understanding, our feelings of offense. Respect should be given to other cultures but it should also be given to ours. Equally.

No comments: