Scottvoight's NASCAR Blog

April 18, 2010

The first ammendment

Filed under: 1 — Scott Voight @ 12:04 pm

A frank discussion about the First Amendment rights and freedoms

Oliver Wendell Holmes said, what most people really believe is, free speech is the speech that we agree with. The test is, do you believe in the right to speak freely by the people whose speech you hate?
When is speech considered offensive, who determines this and how do we protect everyone equally, both the rights of the speaker and the listener. Where do we draw the line and treat everyone with dignity and respect, be it in the Arts or Freedom of Speech.
Most people don’t know their rights and freedoms in the United States. This subject is the worst covered topic in high schools and colleges. Since the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti- War Movement society is slightly more informed.
A guest on the television show Speaking Freely, hosted by Ken Paulson the Executive Director for the First Amendment Center, Nat Hentoff was introduced as the foremost expert on civil liberties and writer for the Village Voice, in addition; to being a syndicated columnist. Discussed on the show was the First Amendment and its rights as it pertained to the arts and free speech. The question raised by Paulson is there a difference between freedom of the arts and the freedom of political speech. The freedom forum survey revealed that a majority of people feel, art that offends should not be permitted and should not be seen. However, as far as freedom of political speech, a majority felt newspapers had the right to expose and criticize candidates. The minority said that newspapers did not have that right. They were for censorship and do not realize this topic was broached with the 1798 Alien and Sedition Act, where reporters and editors were thrown in jail by John Adams and Federalist for putting congress up to ridicule.
When it comes to high school censorship, the only students involved in emancipating their First Amendment rights, are the kids who work on the student newspapers. It is difficult to get main stream reporters to cover this topic.
Jazz was another art that was censored, not only in America but in Europe too. In the United States preachers said it was the devils music, In Germany, it was considered Jewish and Black music, and Russia, Jazz was totally forbidden. William Conover’s radio show Voice of America had quite a bit to do with changing public opinion, by making it available worldwide. This trend continued when Rock and Roll became prominent too. The freedom forum survey also indicated 40% of Americans believe you should not be able to sing a song if the music offends someone. Lenny Bruce was another example of the censorship this freedom too, when he was jailed for colorful language and anti-cat holism against the Catholic Church in one of his skits. Powerful people used their office to shut him up and violate his freedom of speech.
When people try to take away the right of freedom of speech, from someone they do not like they are actually silencing their rights to free speech too.


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