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Freedom of Speech - life without it is no life at all

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    Freedom of Speech - life without it is no life at all

    Freedom of speech (FOS) is as important as the air we breathe. The FOS is not a “free for all” concept as many perceive it to be. In the country that I call my 2nd home (USA), it is the same law that protects the rights for an Azan (Muslim prayer call) to be called on a loud speaker or a religious figure depicted having engaged in a homosexual act in a theatrical play. I am sorry to have used the above examples, I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I think for the purpose of this debate it is helpful to present two opposing extremes that the FOS covers. In other words, if you don’t like pornography, you may kiss your freedom to pray good bye as well!

    .” - First Amendment to the United States Constitution, goes like this:
    “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”.

    The First Amendment (I will refer it as FOS for the purpose of this discussion) provides legal protection to its citizens from prosecution for using their right to protest or use voice against any deed or act that they might find objectionable. The framers of the constitution realized that the freedom of speech was critical to the well being of the society at large. Every now and then there are amendments to the constitution to reflect the current mood of the public. The FOS law has worked well for over 200 years.

    The First Amendment guarantees the freedom of speech. The debate is where does one draw the line. One of the biggest issues concerning the argument of the First Amendment is pornography. Should it be Legal? What exactly do the courts have to say about pornography? There are the different reactions toward pornography. There are two types of pornography: soft core or erotica, and hard core. Erotica really is defined as literature used to provoke sexual arousal. Should it be Legal? This debate of obscenity dates back to a case in which the first judgement was ruled by the definition of the court. This was the obscenity case of Regina v. Hicklaa in 1868. The best line in the ruling was "when it is necessary to distinguish the type of pornography to which we are referring we will be specific". Then there are other trials with the one of the most famous government squabbles of porn. The case of Miller v. California ruled that obscenity is not protected under the First Amendment.

    I sited the above two examples to demonstrate that there are technical aspects of this law that can only be very confusing to apprehend (to put it mildly). Lower Courts are given fair amount of latitude in making judgements what is and what is not covered under this or any other law. Plaintiffs and Defendants are also given lots of choices to appeal the decisions, all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. The Supreme Court has the “final” word.

    Lets first talk about some undesirable possible outcomes of this law.

    - It gives pretty much a free ride to everyone to express him or herself whatever comes to their mind. Please note that physically harming people is not protected under the FOS.

    - The media that disseminates information is owned by only a handful of big business. (News Corp of Murdoch –Fox Networks; GE owning NBC, MSNBC, etc.; Disney owning ABC, etc.; CBS Corp; and Turner Networks). Together these businesses own over 90 % of the media (print and electronic). The information coming out can easily be tainted (and often it is!) and biased. These companies contribute large amounts of money to political parties to gain favors. Their reporting can be biased. For example, an NBC correspondent will think twice before doing an investigative report on GE selling engines for Jet Planes in a contract administered by the Defense Department.

    - The FOS law makes closet racists come out to express their biased views (e.g., The Bell Curve).

    - There are lots of other dangers.

    Now some benefits:

    - Everyone is allowed equal rights to express their views/beliefs (or lack of them). If I don’t like something I am free to express my dislike in writing, or by protest without any fear of being prosecuted under the law.

    - It allows media outlets to do investigative work to expose misdeeds of the society. FOS in addition with Freedom of Information Act (to access Public sector data, with only exception being information concerning the national security) provides an excellent framework for free and un-biased journalism.

    Despite all the dangers it may pose, the FOS is very dear to me. I would not like to live in a place where I am not offered a protection from prosecution to express my views (religious, artistic, personal, political and other).

    Some people confuse this law as an issue dealing with moralities. Morality is something that comes from within (an internal fight with one’s conscious) and therefore should not be legislated. Laws should not apply towards morals. No one has a right to decide what morals are good and what are not good. Some morals may appear good at one setting and not at another. Morality is also not the same as communal values of the society. Those are different.

    Finally, what makes USA a superpower is not its military might, but the freedom of speech for its citizens. Even though USA was 4th on the list compiled by Late Dr. Mahboob ul Huq, an outstanding and globally respected Pakistani economist. He devised a method to rate how developed a country is using socio-economic indicators. He argued that USA was not all that free as it claims to be. His results indicated that Sweden was the most developed country, and the least developed countries were the ones of the Indian Sub Continent. I have great respect for Dr Mahboob Ul Haq, but USA in my opinion is numero uno!



    #2
    fine, let me now show you another aspect of how your numero uno censores something new, everyday of the week in the American media. Programs are being denied funding for fear of offending advertisers, subscribers, mainstream patriots, mainstream religious zealots, powerful Jews, powerful Gentiles. Otherwise, reputable publishers turn down manuscripts, edit out ideas, or surgically remove chapters likely to offend powerful groups in the nation.

    You must come to your sense. Curb on freedom of speach is mostly and basicaly privatized, as befits a private enterprise system.

    Comment


      #3
      Good point Baykhtar, the way capitalist system works. The media is in the hand of people who have money and want to make more. It is hand in gloves with the major aims of political system. So there are sacred cows which can not be attacked.

      Comment


        #4
        At least there is a constitutional framework to work with. How many countries you know that have even that? Surely there are powerful groups that control information, but no one stops you to start your own powerful group. Try doing that in one of your "Less free" countries.

        I mentioned that in my post that big business does control media, so I agree with you. But freedom of press in only one element of the First Amendment, which deals with all kinds of freedoms of expression. Please continue your comments, your contribution is appreciated.

        Comment


          #5
          But Mr. Ahmedi, you are confusing many issues. Surely no one stops me from starting a new 'powerful' group. All I need is millions of $ and strong connections to the powerful Jewish lobby.

          and also you must refrain from asking others to site examples of other countries. As if other countries had certain facilities, I am sure you must would have taken abode there.

          Let me tell you what freedom of speech 'MUST BE' and then ask you if that is available here. And that is

          'Fear God!'

          it includes advice, enjoining good and preventing evil and all this is part and parcel of freedom of speech.

          And please dont go away by saying that I am tainting this topic by some kind of Islamic color. The above phrase is very relevant as life and death are with Allah and not in the hands of anyone else.

          Please dwell on the above and come back with your thought.

          PS I am new to these boards. Can someone tell me how to past already prepared posts to these boards. And use of color/fonts etc if any? It takes me so long to sit on these on boards to write and type. There got to be some easier way. someone? please!

          ------------------

          Comment


            #6
            Dear Baykhatr,

            You said:

            “…and also you must refrain from asking others to site examples of other countries…….”

            Yes Sir.

            You also said:

            “'Fear God!'”

            No way Jose! Don’t tell me who to fear. Keep your fears to yourself, I know who to fear.

            Now if you have any thoughts about why the “first amendment” is not a good piece of legislation, lets hear that.

            Comment


              #7
              Ther is no freedom of speech. Anywhere. It is nothing more than an evil term to seduce the gullible. Even the rules of this Forum are a perfectly good example of this basic truth. Freedom of Speech if it was actually practised anywhere(which it isn't) would cause absolute anarchy.

              Freedom of Speech is a Liberal Fanatic lie. I can prove it to you any time you want.

              Comment


                #8
                I agree 100% with Mr Xtreme's vies about the freedom of speech. He says:

                <<Freedom of Speech is a Liberal Fanatic lie. I can prove it to you any time you want.>>

                Well my friend it is proved here by the poster own cries. He says in an another folder as follows:

                NYAhmedi...in mannerism of others members

                <<I have noticed that some member here show a lack of respect for other members. Disagreements over issue aside, there should be no need to call people names, or misstate their names. One member consistently refers to Adbulmalik as Abdul Maghrib. I have been called "Ham Eating Mushrik" at many
                occasions. As much as I like this name, it is not my real name.
                Doing so shows their narrow mindedness and also tells other about their own
                insecurity about their own abilities/beliefs.

                Sincerely,

                Ham Eating Mushrik>>

                Now why not those who bad mouth other persons, mistate ideologies, creeds, concepts, be protected by first amendments?? This is what he preaches. You are defeated by your own arguments.

                Or should one have fear of God, before emptying one mouth? That was my point.

                Reflect.

                Comment


                  #9
                  There is a difference. NYA has protested against those who call him 'ham eating mushrik', but has not asked to ban them. so where is question of freedom being restricted?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    zz,

                    NYA himself declares that he like this name. He ends his post by saying that he is 'ham eating mushrik'. He has said on these boards that he loves to feed swine to his kids. Just go back and read b4 coming for his defense.

                    Why not confess that freedom of speech without any responsibility is law of a jungle and it should end as soon as it becomes an instrument of harm??

                    Be honest to yourself.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Dear Baykhatr,

                      Tell us what it is that you find objectionable to the first amendment. You haven’ t given a single reason. Let me ask you one easy question: Would you like to live in a country that doesn’t allow you to pray to your God (if you believe in one)?

                      Stay well



                      [Note: This message has been edited by kashmirigirl]

                      Comment


                        #12
                        NYA

                        If you choose not to read my responses to your question-that is your problem-I have repeatedly said that first amendment is without any responsibility. Freedom of speech without any limitation is herd instinct. Read again below:

                        A general restriction that must limit the use of all rights is that there should be sincerity and fairness of objectives and the desire to obtain the pleasure of Allah and justice and benefit to the society.

                        Does Ist amendment contains such implications? No, thus I dare not to agree with it. YOu want me to write this with neon signs??

                        As for living in a country which does not allow me to worship my God. You bet not.

                        And why did you have to assert things which have no basis at all. You said:

                        <<don’t just agree with Mr. Xtreme on every issue, you will make it easier for people to laugh at you.>>

                        Prove to me where I have agreed with others on EVERY ISSUE. And if fail then you must retract your alleges.




                        [This message has been edited by kashmirigirl (edited June 13, 1999).]

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Freedom of speech would lead to the need for next level of freedom , i.e freedom to punch each ther silly...
                          Cause that is where, at least, this thread is heading...

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Members
                            The above posts were deleted since they have nothing to do with the thread.
                            If you have personal issues with what another member is saying…that's fine…but personal attacks or attempts to flame aren't condoned here.

                            In addition, yes I know this a thread about freedom of speech…and before you get into 'my rights of freedom of speech' spiel. You can say what you want … the thread is a great topic and I have the responsibility to make sure that the thread stays on topic…instead of derailing to yet another I can say 'you're an idiot' in this many words.


                            [This message has been edited by kashmirigirl (edited June 13, 1999).]

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Has anyone read naom chomsky's manufacturing consent?

                              It speaks about the media and government actions that are used to control the populace.

                              Comment

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