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What does Freedom of speech, mean to me?

Discussion in 'Other Hot Topics' started by Becky Stevens mom, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. Becky Stevens mom

    Becky Stevens mom Approved members

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    Im learning, more and more that it means different things for different people in the United States. I know that they are much more then words written on a piece of paper long ago. They are a right that people have fought and died for and continue to do so. I will never forget that and will make sure my children understand that as well.

    So what do those words mean to me ? Freedom of speech. First off, they mean that I can state my opinions, out loud, without fear of violent retribution . I fully realize that in some countries expressing an opinion that is different then the governments can land a person in jail or they disappear in the night. So I can state my opinions and I can ask questions. I can say who I think should run our country and who I think would run it into the ground. I can tell a person that I am displeased with them and that I think they are an idiot and useless piece of crap.

    Should there be any boundaries to this right? THAT is where many people disagree. If not legal boundaries, what about moral ones? Are there legal boundaries though? What about hate crimes? The Patriot Act? Can I, if I choose, go into a crowded airport and loudly proclaim that I think that Osama Bin Laden is the 2nd coming of Christ and that I worship him and that I hope all the planes taking off that day will blow up? What will happen after I say these things? Can I go to a public official and tell him I hope he gets killed because I cant stand him. We also have Freedom of the Press but I have seen many newspapers and rags like Star magazine be sued for millions for slander. If there really is Freedom of Speech with absolutely no boundaries whatsover, then there would be no slander, no defamation of character because people could say ANYTHING that they wanted to without risking consequences.

    To me, Freedom of speech brings responsibilities, the responsibility to know the boundaries. To be respectful of others and mindful of how my words can affect others. To remember the privledge and pride of living in a country where such freedoms are guaranteed by my government.

    Disclaimer: I do not in any way worship Osama Bin Laden nor will I ever. I abhor everything that he stands for
     
  2. Alex's Dad

    Alex's Dad Approved members

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    You couldn't have said that better, sometimes people forget the boundaries of freedom of speech.
     
  3. Lakeman

    Lakeman Approved members

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    There are indeed some well defined instances in which freedom of speech can be restricted. The criteria is that it represents a clear and present danger to others - thereby denying them of their own rights to be unharmed.

    Too many people also forget that the restrictions of free speech also have restrictions.

    The vast majority of hate laws that have been proposed are designed to limit speech for the sole reason that it is unpopular speech. And that is the very kind of speech that needs protecting. If you say the sky is blue your speech does not need protecting but if you say that you do not in any way worship gay people and you abhor all that they stand for you have said something very unpopular and will need the protections that the state is supposed to offer to all blindly and without prejudice. I do not in any way worship people who do not worship gay people and I abhor it when people say that gay people are abhorent:) OK, enough with the play on words that will probably get my into trouble when I am misunderstood.

    Anyway, the main thing I would add to what has been said is that free speech is suppose to include the idea that the state has a responsibility to use the powers we have given it to protect speech of all kinds -popular or not. However, if a person says something unpopular and everyone gives them dirty looks; shaming them into conformity, the state has no responsibility to stop the dirty looks.

    Additionally, any media intended to convey a message is speech. It does not stop being speech if I write it down. It does not stop being speech if I pay someone else to say it. And it does not stop being speech if it includes flag burning, Bush-effigy burning, Palin-effigy burning, or contributions to a political group that will use the money to make a website putting crosshairs on certain political districts. The vitriol in public political speech is not only unpleasant but it is still to be protected and is probably a strong reason that here in the states where people express themselves in speech they do not express themselves by burning actual politicians. Compared to much of the world the political violence we have is tame and I credit that to the vitriol in speech where we can blow off steam in harmless ways. I prefer speech that edifies personally but will defend others rights to be crude and offensive because that is important speech too.
     
  4. Brensdad

    Brensdad Approved members

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    Freedom of Speech, along with the rest of the Constitution, protects people from tyranny imposed by any government; but it does not protect people from other people, employers and other institutions.
     
  5. swellman

    swellman Approved members

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    On these boards it means you can say whatever you like to whomever you like up until the point Jeff says you can't.

    Note I said "can" and not "should".
     
  6. MommaKat

    MommaKat Approved members

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    Beautifully stated Becky!! I came here today to post a snippet about the House and Senate Bills SOPA & PIPA in honor of the internet black out today by many non-profit websites and bloggers, including wikipedia.

    I realize it's a hot topic, and some may here may support SOPA & PIPA. While I do believe we need legislation regarding piracy on the internet (just yesterday I discovered yet another of my lesson plans and lesson work sheets pirated by a teacher without credit given to the original author - me), these two bills don't do that. Instead they limit our open access to information on the internet, disenfranchise our 1st amendment rights... the list goes on.

    I don't feel it's my job to try to sway anyone. The above represents my educated opinion. There are a number of us here who blog, and others in the DOC who do so as well, relying on that passion for an income. SOPA and PIPA promise to make that continued endeavor impossible for many of us. So, it's a problem in my eye, but one that goes well beyond my own financial stability. It's about not joining China and Syria as one of the only nation's to block citizens access to the internet. Sound worrisome? I encourage you to do your own research...
     

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