Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Freedom of Speech?

I have had a running debate on a few other sites about the nature of our guaranteed of Speech. I thought I would post a few thoughts here and see if there is anyone out there who disagrees.

All of our rights are guaranteed up to a point. We have our freedoms so long as they don’t infringe on the rights of others. I have the right to criticize anyone in the government I see fit too. However, I don’t have the right to walk into a crowded movie theater and scream “Fire” at the top of my lungs unless there really is a fire. If someone says something about me, or prints something about me that they can’t prove, I have the ability to sue them in court. I wanted to point this out first to show that our freedoms are limited.

The press is an important watchdog in today’s world, and always has been. However, I feel they get away with a lot under the “Freedom of Speech” clause. If the N Y Times or any other media outlet decides to print classified documents, there should be consequences. If I decided to stand on a street corner and hand classified documents out, plenty of people would rightly be upset. Why should a group of people whom aren’t elected, have the ability to decide what is in my best interest?

There are those who say we need the press to protect us from abuse in government, and I agree. However, if the press finds something that they feel the American public needs to know, they should hand it to one of the other branches government if they can’t legally print it. If someone found something incriminating about President Bush, there is a long line of Senators standing at the ready to do something with that information.

We as Americans are found of saying, “No one is above the law.” The President, Congress, and the Supreme Court are all held accountable just as your average John Doe. So why should a newspaper be any different? I write a blog, does that make me above the law? Many don’t like to talk about it, but our freedoms do have limits. Most of these limits were set forth in the Constitution, and have always been there. I feel those limits should be enforced equally.

I am interested to see what others think. Feel free to drop me a comment.


Rose said...

I’m all for freedom of speech and the right to an opinion, however let us look at blogs. The blogosphere has become a haven for defamatory, hatred and cyber harassment with no fear of legal consequences.

Something has to be done and bloggers must be held accountable for their actions. When do we say enough is enough?

Andy D said...

I agree that bloggers (like writers anywhere, or any other person) should be held accountable. However, the law is pretty clear on what you can and can't write about someone. I am free to write on my blog some pretty insulting things, just as you are free to decide never to read my blog becuase of the hate things I may write. If I write something on here that breaks the law, I should be held accountable. There have been successful lawsuits against individuals for things that were done on the internet.

Do you think we need to take things further than that?

Rose DesRochers said...

Why yes I do and I think that I'm not the only one. Judge Edward Fadeley retired associate justice of the Oregon Supreme Court states, “today’s blogosphere is a veritable Wild West of verbal ambushes and shootouts, with very little fear of legal recourse to keep character assassination, defamation and dirty business tricks in check.”

The truly sad part of the blogosphere is that bloggers can post whatever negative attacks or libel drivel they want and then hide behind a document that was intended for far nobler purposes than defending their idiotic childish behavior.

Andy D said...

I agree with you to some extent. It doesn't take long if you are looking at blogs to find many people constantly insulting each other. Of course, if you look at a newspaper you can find some of the same things.

However, I think the protections and punishments laid out in the law apply to the internet the same way. There have been successful lawsuits against people for things posted on the internet. And while many of the types of things you complaign about are little more than the babblings of cowards who are afraid to say the things they post in public, they still are free to say what they want up to a point.

What would you like to see different in our legal system?