Thursday, April 24, 2008

Free speech isn’t really free is it?

The Freedom of Speech is granted by the Kentucky Constitution, the U.S. Constitution, as well as the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Free speech isn’t really free is it? Millions of people have died to protect it in both Worlds Wars alone; I wouldn’t call that free, it came with a large price attached to it. Does a responsibility come with the Freedom of Speech?

After seeing post after post about Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church (
www.godhatesfags.com) finally getting what they deserve (a federal court has ordered liens against the Westboro Baptist Church, which recently lost a $5 Million Dollar civil suit).

The church expresses the idea that nearly every tragedy in the world is linked to homosexuality – specifically society's increasing tolerance and acceptance of the "Homosexual Agenda." The group maintains that God hates homosexuals above all other kinds of "sinners" and that homosexuality should be a capital crime.

The Kentucky General Assembly enacted legislation to protect Kentuckians from the Phelps clan during funerals; the ACLU however did not agree with the legislation, sued the Commonwealth, and ultimately the law was considered unconstitutional.

The United States First Amendment grants absolute freedom of speech, placing the burden upon each state to demonstrate when (if) a limitation of this freedom is necessary, such as the examples below:
  • Defamation (slander and libel)
  • Product defamation (criticism of commercial products; sometimes called product libel or product disparagement)
  • Threats
  • Lying in court (perjury)
  • Public use and/or disclosure of anything covered by a confidentiality agreement
  • Talking out of turn during a trial, or talk that causes contempt of court
  • Speaking publicly without a permit (not enforceable in Kentucky; see the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky)
  • Speaking publicly outside of a free speech zone (not enforceable in Kentucky; see the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky)
  • Company secrets (trade secrets), such as how a product is made or company strategy.
  • Lies that cause a crowd to panic or causes Clear and present danger or Imminent lawless action, such as shouting fire in a crowded theater
  • Fighting words doctrine: "insulting or 'fighting words', those that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace"
  • Treason: to talk publicly of the death of all citizens or the overthrow of the state (the act of treason against the state of punishable by death in the Commonwealth of Kentucky).

Should the Westboro Baptist Church be permitted to protest funerals and gay pride events? Don’t the people present have the right to assemble without being interrupted? What about the mental anguish involved in being protested against (which is why the Westboro Baptist Church has been ordered to pay out $5 Million Dollars)?

If we don't believe in free expression for people we despise, does this mean we don’t believe in it at all?

Do we have a responsibility to use the freedom of speech in a responsible way?


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

After all, if freedom of speech means anything, it means a willingness to stand and let people say things with which we disagree, and which do weary us considerably. Zechariah Chafee

Anonymous said...

Nothing in this world is FREE. Everything comes with a price.

Queer in the Cincy said...

"I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

I think it's objectionable that, after years of disgusting displays against a range of people, suddenly they hit soldiers and now we have a problem with them.

Blah. Phelps is old. He will die and WBC will disappear forever.

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