Free speech still in peril

The fight to preserve self-expression is never over

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Freedom is like a well-tended lawn. The work is never done.

You would think that we could rest comfortably on our First Amendment, for instance. It’s been there since 1791. It’s almost in the American DNA.

Yet, the fundamental human rights recognized by the First Amendment are neither globally accepted nor secure.

Did you know that you could be charged with a crime for expressing the “wrong” opinion even in Western Europe?

And as news reports put it, a recent judicial paper on the press in Britain “urged Parliament to pass a law creating a new voluntary regulatory body for the country’s newspapers.”

While participation in the regulatory agency would be voluntary, Prime Minister David Cameron spoke for many when he cautioned, “For the first time we would have crossed the Rubicon of writing elements of press regulation into the law of the land.”

Such a law is strictly forbidden in the United States, thanks to the First Amendment, which says in whole: “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.”

Even so, our free speech rights often are in peril. Lamentably, some of the most active battlefields in continuing struggle to retain the right of free speech are on college campuses. The political correctness movement has led over the years to restrictive, and quite obviously unconstitutional, speech codes aimed at eliminating speech that offends someone, particularly those deemed to be in protected classes.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (www.thefire.org), for instance, features a “speech code of the month” – last month, the speech code from the University of North Dakota, which is so vague that, as FIRE puts it, “is so vague that students have no way of knowing whether their speech or expression might inadvertently run afoul of the policy.”

While preventing harassment, racism and sexism is an important goal, it’s still constitutionally dubious to outlaw “offending” people.

This is not a mere academic concern. These cases involve real people and their right to free speech. Washington Post columnist George Will recently highlighted one case in which a student-employee at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) was actually rung up for racial harassment for quietly reading a book – one that celebrated the defeat of the Ku Klux Klan at Notre Dame University.

The book in question was said to be available in the school library.

Student Keith John Sampson’s record was ultimately cleared, but not without a titanic public relations and legal battle.

We shouldn’t have to fight so hard for rights enshrined in our Constitution since 1791, but there it is.

Nor is everyone in politics a fan of the First Amendment. U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., was recently quoted as saying, “We need a constitutional amendment that would allow the legislature to control the so-called free speech rights of corporations.”

Wow.

Here’s to your “so-called” freedom of speech. Long may it live.

Comments (41) Add comment
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fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 01/01/13 - 06:06 am
5
5
Welcome ACES (Look who just caught up.)
Unpublished

(It only took you 12 years ...)

The 2001 PATRIOT Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 ACT enacted under George Bush was widely discussed in 2001 ... it expands the official definition of terrorism, so that many domestic groups that engage in nonviolent civil disobedience could very well find themselves labeled as terrorists.
- The Government may now prosecute librarians or keepers of any other records if they reveal that the government requested information on their clients or members in the course of an investigation.
- It has become a crime for these individuals to try to safeguard your privacy or to tell you that you are under investigation.
- Government agents may now monitor First Amendment protected
activities of religious and political institutions, and then infiltrate these groups with no suspicion of criminal activity. This is a return to domestic spying on law-abiding religious and political groups.
- You may now be the subject of a government investigation simply because of the political, activist, or advocacy groups you are involved in, or the statements you make within these groups.

Wiki the rest of the Act if you're interested, it's all from 2001: Look at the rights we've relinquished as a nation. And to the Augusta Chronicle's Editorial Staff - what took you so long?

Young Fred
18262
Points
Young Fred 01/01/13 - 06:43 am
9
2
This is the world that the

This is the world that the left has wrought.

The open exchange of ideas are no longer tolerated in some areas, and those areas are increasingly IN THE US of A.

In our colleges, the very places where a free and open debate should be taking place!!!!! The “proving ground” of our youth, our future.

What have we become? This, THIS, is a better world?

Riverman1
87585
Points
Riverman1 01/01/13 - 07:10 am
10
1
My best example is MSNBC

My best example is MSNBC calling Tea Party members racists, nuts and extremists when they have the most simple and logical message. Cut spending.

Young Fred
18262
Points
Young Fred 01/01/13 - 07:32 am
6
2
I'm with you 100% on this one

I'm with you 100% on this one Riverman1 . Time and time again, I've seen the leftist media trot out popular, yet ignorant “spokespeople” defaming the tea party.

A group of people that have one simple message, “fiscal sanity”. Why is this so threatening to some? Why must “they” miss-characterize and paint the only sane people on the national stage as racist and radicals?

Because these people are bringing to the light of day the malfeasance of our leaders and so-called spokespeople. We can't have that!

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 01/01/13 - 08:33 am
3
7
A nice little shadow group

A nice little shadow group that sounds innocuous. Like many far right groups, the name reflects exactly the opposite of the actions of the group. They're not concerned that all free speech is protected, only far right and pro-corporate speech. What do you expect when they're funded by the same group of far right billionaires:
Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
Sarah Scaife Foundation
F.M. Kirby Foundation
Castle Rock Foundation
Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation
And, of coursem the ever lovable Koch brothers

You really have to love a group that fights in favor of hate speech and against anti bullying rules. As long as we're free to harrass minorities and spout racial slurs, goad gays, call them names, (they seem to think it's your religious right to provoke them to the point of suicide) and make sure you throw in some Friedman neoliberalism, and pro-corporate propaganda) America will remain a free nation. Bull manure.

Riverman1
87585
Points
Riverman1 01/01/13 - 08:45 am
6
1
MSNBC played many times the

MSNBC played many times the black Congressmen walking right through the center of the Tea Party crowd trying to say they were spat on. No evidence was ever found that was true. But, let me ask this...do you think a well known conservative could have walked into the Occupy Wall St crowd without being attacked?

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 01/01/13 - 08:54 am
6
1
Dem. Rep. Hank Johnson

What a Nut! It still amazes me that this man could have gotten elected. Anyone that thinks an island is going to tip over because of a large number of sailors, really needs to have his education and common sense checked out....................and now he, and some other nut-jobs want to "muzzle" our 1st Admendment!! As long as there are people like this guy Johnson and the others in Washington, trust me folks, America is in big-time trouble!!

Young Fred
18262
Points
Young Fred 01/01/13 - 09:16 am
6
2
Techfan, Your rant is so

Techfan,

Your rant is so typical. Call me a liar if you wish, but I've met these people, and this country would be a better place if there were more like them. You've totally miss-characterized their views and wishes. Methinks YOUV'E something to hide. These people are our grand-mothers and grand-fathers. These people only want reasoned intelligent debate, which is something you seem incapable of.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 01/01/13 - 09:20 am
2
5
Nut? Michele Bachmann Allen

Nut?
Michele Bachmann
Allen West
Paul Broun
Ron Paul
Rand Paul
Joe Walsh (I used to like him in the James Gang and Eagles)
Todd Akin
John Shimkus
Joe Barton
Jack Kingston
Steve King
Renee Ellmers
Vicky Harztler
Tim Walberg
Virginia Foxx
Louie Gohmert
and the list goes on and on and on

effete elitist liberal
3167
Points
effete elitist liberal 01/01/13 - 09:24 am
2
3
Keith Sampson

The Purdue official was an idiot. I am sure the conservative posters here, to say nothing of the ACES staff, will be pleased to learn that the ACLU supported Mr. Sampson: "American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana attorney Ken Falk said the accusations were ridiculous:'I am sure you see the absurdity of a university threatening an employee with discipline for reading a scholarly work that deals with the efforts of Notre Dame students in the 1920s to fight the KKK,' Falk said." Imagine that! ACES and the ACLU together in the defense of free speech!

Young Fred
18262
Points
Young Fred 01/01/13 - 09:28 am
6
2
WoW

Can I make a list of howlng, foaming at the mouth, extreme moon-bats?

There is not enough space. Not to mention that many you've listed are nothing more than semi-lone voices of reason in a sea of insanity.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 01/01/13 - 09:30 am
2
5
Trust me, Charles and David

Trust me, Charles and David Koch are not related, and are not interested in any debate. They just want to buy what they want. These people are the folks that claim they have the right to hate and belittle people if they don't agree with their lifestyles, all in the name of their religious beliefs. It's hogwash. You know it, I know, everyone knows it, it's just that these kind of groups are flooded with $$$$ from the right wing billionaires so they have tons of cash to fight a college rule that says you can't call a gay person a ****** because their weird religion thinks it's ok to hate, and to cherry pick bible verses that were written in the bronze age to jusify it.

Young Fred
18262
Points
Young Fred 01/01/13 - 09:36 am
4
2
Wow, Effete, you really had

Wow, Effete, you really had to reach back to find that one.

Let's just say for the sake of argument that you're correct. Do you have no problem with the inhibition of free thought and open ideas in today’s so-called institutes of higher learning?

Rhetor
1026
Points
Rhetor 01/01/13 - 09:38 am
2
2
speech codes

I am against all campus speech codes. Colleges do have an obligation to maintain on orderly environment, but the freedom to express controversial opinions in college should be absolute. Please note that these speech codes and the notorious "free speech zones" on college campuses were mostly set up at the behest of conservatives to limit anti-Vietnam war protests. Now, conservatives fear that they will be used to suppress conservative opinions and want to get rid of them. I agree that they should be abolished, and thank you, conservatives, for re-joining American values. Welcome back. Have a great new year.

Young Fred
18262
Points
Young Fred 01/01/13 - 09:42 am
5
2
But don't you see Techfan,

But don't you see Techfan, that in an open, free, and reasonable society we can debate the so-called merits of Charles and David Koch's ideas.

We as a free people should be able to debate ANYONE'S ideas
.
It is YOUR people that wish to shut down certain debate. Not only that which you deem dangerous, but that which is inconvenient for you to debate.

COWARDS!

effete elitist liberal
3167
Points
effete elitist liberal 01/01/13 - 09:47 am
2
4
Young Fred

As a liberal, I oppose most campus speech codes. While it will not work in some instances, I think we should rely on old-fashioned good manners in restricting speech. The government should not censor offensive speech; the speaker himself or herself should. And as far as "reaching back," I am just following ACES's lead. MR "forgot" to mention the Purdue incident happened in 2007....

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 01/01/13 - 09:47 am
1
0
hank johnson,
Unpublished

jealous, rangel, clintons, boxer, pelosi, murray, warren, sotomayor, ginsburg, daschle, reid, obama, holder, kerry, blumenthal, krugman, jackson's sr. and jr., trumka, rice (susan), lowery, kennedys, lbj, hhh, carter, berry, hoffa et al. All standard bearers for the swastika. Would or would have rather climbed a tree and lie or lied than stand on the ground face to face and tell or told the TRUTH. Some of you here could well be placed on this list but for decorum I'll leave that to other readers to determine.

Young Fred
18262
Points
Young Fred 01/01/13 - 09:50 am
4
1
Rhetor, et al You go back

Rhetor, et al

You go back forty plus years to scrounge an example of conservatives restricting free speech, and this is supposed to somehow belittle, or diminish what has been happening in our classrooms for decades?

Unlike you and yours, I have no problem debating the merits of the superior political philosophy. History is like that.

Young Fred
18262
Points
Young Fred 01/01/13 - 10:05 am
4
1
effete says: “I think we

effete says: “I think we should rely on old-fashioned good manners in restricting speech”

Who is we?

The so-called leaders of higher education have already defined “old-fashioned good manners”, their definition is woefully lacking, or ignorant if you want to get technical. As always, the superior argument that has little if any counter argument is shut down.

It's much easier to ignore than debate in some instances don't ya know?

carcraft
27307
Points
carcraft 01/01/13 - 10:38 am
6
2
If it is old fashioned then

If it is old fashioned then it must be based in slavery and racism so we can't consider it! Since fiscal sanity is old fashioned then it promotes racism and slavery and so is obvious racist. Criticisms of Obama are also suspect! Get the logic? The Koch brothers have no rights to free speech only folks like Maxine Waters who wants to send the Mars rover over to the luner landing site have rights to free speech,! Yep I got it, thanks to my liberal friends. I am glad the navey has kept Guam from tipping over.

DanK
784
Points
DanK 01/01/13 - 10:48 am
1
3
Congress shall make no law ...

As a person who has been censored on these very pages, my post deleted because it contained ideas that were not popular, I have direct experience with my speech being throttled.

HOWEVER,

I do not consider it a violation of free speech. It did not involve Congressional legislation. It is not a violation of free speech to limit speech on university campuses. It is not a violation of free speech to delete posts on websites. It is not a violation of free speech to take sides in the broadcast media or the press (some networks are more liberal, others are more conservative in their viewpoints).

What part of Congress shall make no law is confusing? That is the extent of free speech in this country. We can ask for greater tolerance in the expression of ideas from universities, the media, our neighbors, but that is all. We can ask. They are not obligated to provide anyone a platform for speech that they do not approve of.

"Congress shall make no law..." Even though my words have been censored here before, it is not a violation of free speech. It is just obvious evidence of the bias of ACES.

Grow up. Quit whimpering.

Sean Moores
768
Points
Sean Moores 01/01/13 - 11:05 am
7
0
Check your email DanK

As I told you in the email I sent you, Your removed comments had nothing to do with the opinions. Don't insult other commenters, employees of the paper and LTE writers and you won't have comments removed.

Young Fred
18262
Points
Young Fred 01/01/13 - 11:13 am
4
1
DanK

Ah, the machinations that some will go through in order to support that which is nonsensical!

You are correct DanK, wait, no you aren't. If the universities were truly private, then we could just bemoan their lack of common sense. Seems how they're not private, but publicly funded, we can caterwaul to our hearts content.

Do I need to spell it out for you? My tax dollars are funding cesspools masquerading as institutes of higher learning. If these institutes were merely training doctors and engineers, I'd have no problem.

But the sickness, the cancer, goes much deeper. Social engineering and purposeful distortions are the new standard. Of course “those” that know best, are doing it for the greater good. Any person with a modicum of common sense knows the “greater good” is code for subjugation.

Spare me your definition of “greater good”. As a free man I reject all you stand for.

myfather15
55794
Points
myfather15 01/01/13 - 11:15 am
6
1
Dank, when will you realize

Dank, when will you realize this is a privately owned website? You can still go out and blather your opinions in public, whereever you want. Feel free to start your own political forum website if you don't like your comments being removed. Many of mine have been removed as well, probably because I went over the line. I take responsibility for that. When I first started commenting, I was quite blunt and did attack certain commentors and their vile words. Just like Techfans obvious mischaracteriztions of the Tea party. They are just outright lies to defame a good group of people. Used to, I would have attacked straight on, but I mainly ignore it now, not letting it get to me. I just disprove people with truth and common sense logic. That works better anyway. You can't defeat truth with lying rhetoric.

nofanofobama
6856
Points
nofanofobama 01/01/13 - 11:41 am
6
1
Dank ..as a conservative I

Dank ..as a conservative I have been referred to as a racist and other vile degrading names. As a person who believes in the message of the tea party, we have been called everything under the sun by politicians and news commentators to name a few.. Personally I don't give a big wall holding back water what they think, but there is a double standard about conservative being free game in the public venue. But as this site i have been removed also so there seems to be equal treatment.

nofanofobama
6856
Points
nofanofobama 01/01/13 - 11:55 am
4
1
Please site where the free

Please site where the free speech zones where set up to counter anti Vietnam war speech..I missed it. Of course I was only a student at the time and remember on many campuses, administration building being stormed and occupied. Large demonstrations etc.. On campuses. Rhetor it's the conservative who believes in strict interpretation of the constitution not the liberal and that means the 1st amendment in particular and especially on college ad universities campuses.

dichotomy
34789
Points
dichotomy 01/01/13 - 12:21 pm
6
1
I sometimes wonder what

I sometimes wonder what planet Techfan lives on. A "shadow group" ???????????

I've been to quite a few TEA party rallys. I heard three things. Cut spending. Balance the budget. And "we are taxed enough already".

Never heard a racial slur, and anti-gay remark, or pro-corporation rhetoric. In fact, most wanted corporate tax loopholes closed.

Techfan.....have you ever actually tried telling the truth? If you really want to discuss a "shadow group", let's talk the Soros financed, union organized, Occupy (something) movement whose members could not even tell you why they were there except "somebody gave me $5 to carry this sign" and which were marred by violence, rape, robbery, and fecal matter on both public and private property.

dichotomy
34789
Points
dichotomy 01/01/13 - 01:00 pm
4
3
"While preventing harassment,

"While preventing harassment, racism and sexism is an important goal, it’s still constitutionally dubious to outlaw “offending” people."

I know this is a private website but this editorial seems a might hypocritcal from an organization that, in effect, outlaws offending people. Don't get me wrong, I do understand why you do it. But this editorial, juxtaposed against your rigidly enforced commentor policy, makes it seem that you want to have your cake and eat it too.

I had a comment removed yesterday that had a tad of a sarcastic humor, which I included because the AC did not report all of the already known facts. The comment apparently offended a member of the local MAJORITY, but what I said was later proven to be quite correct. So I must conclude that being factually correct has no bearing when it comes to offending someone.

I have a hard time reconciling your Editorial position with the policy you enforce. But I will endeavor to keep my remarks dry and boring if I can remember to eat my milktoast

allhans
24148
Points
allhans 01/01/13 - 02:34 pm
3
1
Are we having fun yet? HAPPY

Are we having fun yet?

HAPPY NEW Year everyone!!

myfather15
55794
Points
myfather15 01/01/13 - 02:37 pm
3
2
dichotomy

At any of the Tea Party events you attended, did you see a single piece of trash on the ground when you left? Did you see any of the Tea Party members, not just disrespecting other people, but disrespecting the venue where they were demonstrating? Nope, I bet your answer will be no. I've attended one Tea Party event but watch many others. Very respectful group of people who clean after themselves and use the trashcans provided.

Now, Occupy crowds? Thats a different story. Everywhere they've went they leave an enormous mess that takes days to clean up, costing thousands of dollars. They defecate on the streets, grass, police cars and anything else they can find to disrespect. I've talked to people that have attended them and been told the odor around them is repulsive, enough to make a person sick. They are funded by vile person's who openly despise America, like George Soros. And the left wants to talk about the Koch brothers? George Soros is the most vile man in existence, but he is their god. Believe it or not, he is more important to the committed left than Obama. Techfan just likes to get on here and spout a few demeaning comments, with no factual backgroud to support their claims. The occupy crowds are disgusting at best, but more like offensive in their beliefs and smell.

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