Thursday, July 2, 2009

At What Cost: Free Speech

I recently viewed an HBO documentary on free speech. After watching this, I have to ask myself; Do we really have free speech? Can I truly say whatever I want in this country? The answer sadly is no I cannot not and no we do not.

Since 9/11 this has been more predominate than in previous years. But... if you will look back over our country's mistakes or falters or whatever you choose to call them, you will see that people have always paid a price for speaking freely.

The first amendment of the Constitution states:
"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."

If you read this carefully, you will notice that this only applies to Congress. However, the Supreme Court has taken it upon themselves to also interpret it to apply to the executive and judicial branches. I am not going to get on my soapbox about the Supreme Court and what their job really is. I'll save that for another post.

My point is that since the beginning of our country, someone/group has paid for expressing themselves through speech. Be it signs, verbally, letters, etc. This is especially true in times of war. We seem to be willing to give up our rights in order to "feel" safer. I don't know about any of you but I don't feel any safer now than before. In fact, I feel less safe now. Between The Patriotic Act and Homeland Security, I am just waiting for the black suits to come knocking.

I am not so naive as to believe that you can get something for nothing. There is always a price to pay. But is this what we are willing to give up? The right to speak our minds? By giving up this one thing, we no longer have a voice in how we are governed. Are you really free with all the new laws in place to "protect' you?

As a veteran, I have very strong views on God, country, the flag and my freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. I don't see those same things in today's generation. They are not being taught about the sacrifices of the men and women that came before them. They don't comprehend the amount of suffering and anguish that the people endured so they could become illiterate and ungrateful for the freedoms they have. I hope they get it soon before we are all censored.

“Free speech is intended to protect the controversial and even outrageous word; and not just comforting platitudes too mundane to need protection.” Colin Powell

"If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. " George Washington

"Intellectually I know that America is no better than any other country; emotionally I know she is better than every other country." ~Sinclair Lewis


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