Monday, March 26, 2012

Not so free 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 of the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Congress shall pass no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.

That sounds pretty straightforward.

Which of these words did Congress not understand? Where is the part that the Supreme Court thinks implies, "Except when we think the speech is something we don't like or Americans shouldn't hear?"

Every time the Supreme Court rules some speech or some writing is obscene or a detriment to the morals of Americans, is that not changing the words and intent of the Constitution? Does the Supreme Court, or any federal court, have the right to pass new laws under the guise of interpreting existing laws?

Perhaps more importantly, is restricting the kinds of words a person can write and publish on a press, or speak in public, not the same thing as restricting the very thoughts of that individual?

Did you know there are cases where people have been convicted on obscenity statutes (which are themselves contrary to the directive of the Constitution that "Congress shall pass no law") when all he did was write his thoughts down in a private unpublished journal kept in his house? Or that people are being convicted of sex crimes because they have "obscene" cartoon drawings on their computer -- even though the search warrant was to look for drugs in the house?

Cartoons include Anime and Manga, in case you are not sure. Manga often portrays underage sex, you see, and so the entire genre is suspect. Fantasy drawings? Who cares; you'll still go to prison for owning them.

Just a reminder: it's ok to put a crucifix into a jar of urine and put it in an "art" display in such a way that the viewer has to walk on a flag on the floor in order to get close enough to see what it is. "Piss Christ", remember?

And it's certainly within the bounds of free speech for a group of fanatics to harass grieving families at cemetery services with hate speech during a soldier's funeral. So has said our courts recently.

I suppose that most people don't care that they can't write about anything at all that they can conceive in their minds. Perhaps I shouldn't either.

What follows should probably be in a separate post, but let me just say that my open-mindedness doesn't extend to photographs and films of actual people doing actual things; I think that needs to be regulated. I am only talking in this post about writings and thoughts. For adult consumption. (Parents decide what their children can read.)


  1. I nominated you for a major award. I can only pick 5 blogs, feel honored but don't let it go to your head. I didn't read this post yet, I have things to do. Go to View of Sue to claim it.

  2. Free speech! Fine unless you say something bad!
    What is bad?
    The US concept of free speech sounds good until you disagree and consider the others free speech erroneous, and dangerous.
    In the end free speech to put forward your opinions but without encouraging hatred of another is the way.
    UK press consider free speech whatever makes them money.

  3. I'm with you there.

    Writing in a journal was considered obscene, are you kidding me? No, I know you're not.

    And I agree about drawings, speaking and writing in general. Some of the great writers in history were persecuted for obscenity. Heck, there's plenty of horrible stuff, violence and sex going on in the bible.

    I even agree about the real stuff in that, if people are doing something illegal like involving children, rape, torture or murder, definitely needs to be regulated.

    I'm less spun up about pornography involving consenting adults, but then it doesn't interest me either.



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