Freedom of speech

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.
- U.S. Constitution, Amendment I, Bill of Rights

At the university newspaper, we had long-sleeved T-shirts made up with cartoon cop Dick Tracy on them, with the slogan “Freedom of Speech is Ever’body’s Freedom.” It was a swipe at the police, who had withheld information in a murder case that involved a university student; a swipe at not taking the student press seriously (even though we did help break the case).
Freedom of speech is everybody’s freedom. Especially in the United States, where free speech is a fundamental right; it helps define us as a nation, as a people. But freedom of speech is bigger than a nation.

"The essential support and encouragement comes from within, arising out of the mad notion that your society needs to know what only you can tell it." – John Updike

I do not intend here to give you a dissertation on free speech, the U.S. Constitution, actual malice, the Miller test for obscenity, fighting words, slander or libel. Go here and here for interpretations, discussion, discourse.

I just feel the need, on this day, to express my respect and awe of the freedom of speech I enjoy.

The explosion of the Internets has made it so anyone, anywhere with a computer and a connection, can have their voice heard. Whether is it be a woman in Sri Lanka who discusses politics or a kid in the Midwest who rants about the music scene, many have discovered a new bullhorn in which to shout out their ideas.

The media industry both embraces – and supremely fears – this new medium. As it should. It is the future of an industry, and it is petulant child. When do you spare the rod and spoil the child?

"To speak his thoughts is every freeman's right, in peace and war, in council and in fight." – Homer, “The Iliad”

I blog. I love and respect the right to do so. And I do so in a manner that fits my personal and professional ethics. And I respect those who do the same. I do not respect those who would use this power under false pretenses or a sense of entitlement. Not without the personal ethics to rein in the power of words.

I may not respect your position, but I will celebrate it.

"I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it." – Voltaire, 1764

3 comments:

Phil Fountain said...

Hear! Hear! Once again, a thought-provoking post. Thanks Bwana!

Large Marge said...

Yeah, last time I checked this was still a free country. Here's to freedom of speech, and dissent! Blog on, T Daddy!

Queen Of The Valkyries said...

I commend you, my friend, for your most excellent ethics and your most eloquent way of saying what's needin' to be said in the most appropriate way. You're the gobstopper!