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  • Free Speech

    Freedom of speech, and by extension, expression!

    A nice concept, that, in a utopian society, could be practiced unchecked without fear of harm or legal repercussions. Alas, the USA is a long, long, LONG way from being a utopian society. I can walk down the hallways of the community college where I work and see several examples of that. That, however, begs the question: "Where should the line be drawn?" I do believe that what is being expressed and/or advocated should carry weight in that question.

    Objectionable to the "powers that be"? No way. First off, it would give incumbent government entities too much power to squelch opposition. Second, there are many groups of "powers that be" and most of them individually are opposed to most of the others. In these groups of "powers that be", I include the restrictively conservative religious groups that make up the so-called "family values" lobby.

    Those forms of expression often labelled "lewd", "offensive", and/or "pornographic"? No, I don't think so. I've read and heard too many disparate definitions for these terms to consider them adequate terms in a legal setting. Also, the fact that many things labelled offensive merely fall into the preceding category of simply being disagreeable to someone with power and/or influence. That doesn't mean, however, that such expressions should be allowed in all settings, but should be restricted to adults-only or non-public, adult-regulatable settings, however.

    How about genuinely harmful? Yes, on certain subjects, different people have different ideas about what is harmful. That said, on a great number of objectionable subjects, I believe that we could find 99%+ of the US population believing physical violence, child molestation, presenting falsehoods as truth and would be for making illegal a website, newpaper, newsletter, or other media that advocates such acts.

    This last category is where I would place the website of a group that advocates sexual abuse of children, which is why I think the ACLU is over the line on its support of such a group's website in court. Into this category is also where I would place Al-Jazeera's showing of Al-Qaida broadcasts advocating acts of violence against anyone who opposed them is highly reprehensible.

    Free speech is a great concept, but left COMPLETELY (and I emphasize COMPLETELY) unchecked, in the long run, it actually undermines the freedoms that it seeks to protect.

    Doug H.

  • #2
    Freedom of speech, and by extension, expression!

    A nice concept, that, in a utopian society, could be practiced unchecked without fear of harm or legal repercussions. Alas, the USA is a long, long, LONG way from being a utopian society. I can walk down the hallways of the community college where I work and see several examples of that. That, however, begs the question: "Where should the line be drawn?" I do believe that what is being expressed and/or advocated should carry weight in that question.

    Objectionable to the "powers that be"? No way. First off, it would give incumbent government entities too much power to squelch opposition. Second, there are many groups of "powers that be" and most of them individually are opposed to most of the others. In these groups of "powers that be", I include the restrictively conservative religious groups that make up the so-called "family values" lobby.

    Those forms of expression often labelled "lewd", "offensive", and/or "pornographic"? No, I don't think so. I've read and heard too many disparate definitions for these terms to consider them adequate terms in a legal setting. Also, the fact that many things labelled offensive merely fall into the preceding category of simply being disagreeable to someone with power and/or influence. That doesn't mean, however, that such expressions should be allowed in all settings, but should be restricted to adults-only or non-public, adult-regulatable settings, however.

    How about genuinely harmful? Yes, on certain subjects, different people have different ideas about what is harmful. That said, on a great number of objectionable subjects, I believe that we could find 99%+ of the US population believing physical violence, child molestation, presenting falsehoods as truth and would be for making illegal a website, newpaper, newsletter, or other media that advocates such acts.

    This last category is where I would place the website of a group that advocates sexual abuse of children, which is why I think the ACLU is over the line on its support of such a group's website in court. Into this category is also where I would place Al-Jazeera's showing of Al-Qaida broadcasts advocating acts of violence against anyone who opposed them is highly reprehensible.

    Free speech is a great concept, but left COMPLETELY (and I emphasize COMPLETELY) unchecked, in the long run, it actually undermines the freedoms that it seeks to protect.

    Doug H.

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