The Blog of Dabido (the Baka one). Everything in this blog is copyrighted. Copyright 2004, 2005, 2006 by D. Stevenson.

08 August, 2005

A Little on Free Speech

'Freedom of Speech', citizens of the US of A supposedly have it. First Amendment of the Bill of Rights: "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." Other countries say they believe in it, yet when push comes to shove, most of them don't. I remember about ten to twenty years ago, someone pointed out to me, that NO WHERE in Australian law/constitution did we have a guarantee of 'Freedom of Speech'. Yet, so many Australians think they have it. Recently, what 'freedom of speech' we did have was degraded in the name of 'public safety'. Both Australia and the US used terrorism to do this. After all, with terrorists around, apparently being able to freely say what you believe on something might lead to ... um ... people actually thinking about a subject. Don't get me wrong. I am perfectly aware that there are many issues surrounding 'freedom of speech'. It means you get the lunatic fringe speaking their minds just as much as the rational and decent people. At the end of the day though, anyone capable of logical thought will see the lunatic fringe for what they are. Now, some things are NEVER covered under 'Freedom of Speech'. A lot of people don't realise this. That's why LIBEL and SLANDER are against the law. It is when someone either WRITES or SPEAKS untruths about someone in order to cause defamation to them. I know I've run into people from time to time who claim they can say what they like whenever they like about people. It's not true, and never will be. (Unless you happen to be a dictator/despot of some country somewhere where you can do what you friggin' like!) Even on the internet, you CANNOT write nasty untruths about people, just because you don't like them. You are still under the laws of the respective countries that the post affects. (That is, if you are in Australia, and you write something, you are still under Australian law. If the person you are writing about is in another country, then their laws also come into affect). This includes things like threatening behaviour and harrassment. INTERPOL is there for a reason, and if you report something to your local police which is pretty serious (ie like a death threat or something), then you can be sure INTERPOL will look into it. If they find you are not yanking their chain, then they will turn up at that persons door and kick them in da nuts! (Figuratively speaking). Of course, the problem which really worries politicians (and some others), is the ability of people to use words well. (Called Rhetoric). The hypcritical part being, that politicians use it all the time. Combine it with carisma and you have a volitile mix. People like Adolph Hitler, David Koresh and others possessed this ability. Read any of Hitler's war time properganda speeches, and you would probably believe all he ever wanted was peace. (That nasty Poland was picking on him again!) He mentions it again and again. Yet, we see from his actions, that his actions and words did not match. In fact, many people use rhetoric in order to pursuade people to their ideas/way of thinking. Sometimes, they include bits and pieces of what they really want in their speeches. That way, at a future time, they can point out that they were very up front about what they'd said. It's really the ignorant masses as a whole who don't seem to catch on that they're being hoodwinked. The intellectuals have a habit of leaving before things get worse. Other times, I've seen people state one things, and then argue in such a way that it really says the opposite. They might claim that are 'Not against "A"', but then go on to argue "B". When you point out that they are actually against "A", they point back to the bit where they said they weren't. It becomes a tricky thing, becuase it's where a lot of racists/sexist and other 'ists like to hide. Try these on for size: I'm not against, (men/women),gays/straights),(whites/blacks/asians),(cats/dogs)etc BUT ... (insert defamation here). Here is an example: I'm not against Martians, but they roast their children alive, smell like durian and none of them should be allowed into the country. Now, if you accuse me of being racist against Martians, I of course just point to the first bit I said. "I'm not against Martians!", where the frig did you get that idea? Just because I said it, doesn't mean I didn't have another agenda. Reading William Shakespeare's, "Julius Caesar" will give you a good example of this sort of thing. That speech of Mark Antony's that starts famously as: Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. In it, he claimed he would not speak against Brutus and Cassius (I got to play Cassiu sin this play). Yet, without actually calling them liars, it is exactly what he did. [Note: It's in Act III towards the end if you want to find it. There are plenty of free copies of it on the internet. Just Google for it.] So, where do we all sit on 'Freedom of Speech'? I know a lot of people are for it. Some people are against it. Begin for it means letting the racists/crazies/politicians/religious/etc have their say. On the other hand, it allows you to express your point of view equally. Squashing it will only lead to the racists/crazies etc being driven underground, where they will generate a groundswell of support and sympathy as martyrs to their cause. Keeping speech as free as possible will always allow a person access to all sides of an arguement even if they can't or won't listen to the opposing side. Obviously some things should be kept secret. Police operations against criminals should be secret until after the operation. There are many other examples. Only, the things which are secret, really shouldn't be at the expense of the people. People tend to believe what they want to believe anyway. Like I keep pointing out, people are idiots (the Dilbert Principle). Even some of the greatest minds of our day have been hoodwinked, confused, incorrect and just out right dumb at times. [Myself included]. There are other times though, that people have been one hundred percent right, and yet couldn't get anyone else to believe them. Freedom of speech. Keep it as open as possible, and use it wisely.