Freedom of Speech

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by Pastor_Bob, Dec 17, 2003.

  1. Pastor_Bob

    Pastor_Bob
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    Amendment I
    "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."

    Do you think the Founding Fathers intended the First Amendment to include all of the vulgarity and obscenity that is filling our TV and radio mediums, or do you think they intended the First Amendment to protect political discourse and religious discourse?

    According to a FOX NEWS ARTICLE I read this morning, "polls show that many Americans now favor restrictions of some sort on free speech. It might happen. Perhaps it should. Perhaps restrictions are a price we deserve to pay. Perhaps the Founders would even approve. They gave us the First Amendment that we might rise to intellectual heights. Today, we invoke it that we may slop through gutters."

    Do you think that the Founding Fathers would have endorsed the freedom of expression philosophy that so many states allow?

     
  2. Pennsylvania Jim

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    The Founders were concerned about freedom to express ideas. I think if you read their writings they were referring mainly to political speech, at least in conjunction with what they put in the First Amendment. In fact the wording of the amendment sort of bears that out.

    They CERTAINLY did not mean that all sorts of profanity and vulgarity should be protected. In fact, in those early days people could be arrested and tried for blasphemy. But political speech as far as I know was unbridled.
     
  3. Robert J Hutton

    Robert J Hutton
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    I am writing from England and my advice is be very careful before you seek for the 1st amendment to be restricted. In England free speech is rapidly disappearing, not the "freedom" to speak profanities, but the freedom to preach the truth of the Bible. I have often wished that we had a 1st Amendment in this country.

    Bob
     
  4. Jim1999

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    We have certain rights or privileges in Canada, but it excludes defaming another person on religious or social issues. If we desire protection for our particular brand of Christianity, then we too must respect other conflicting views. Protecting one, protects the other.

    We have absolute freedom in our individual pulpits, contrary to what some seem to think. In fact, it is a violation of law to interrupt a worship service.

    In England, we used to have a public forum where we could speak about whatever we pleased without legal interruption. It was called Hyde Park. We everything from communism, to Nazi's, atheists and Christians (all brands). The only censure there was by the people gathered who, no doubt, would be prepared to heckle. Since I don't live there anymore, I haven't a clue what is true to-day. When I do go home, I preach in a number of Anglican Churches and have no problem with what to preach. I am generally well received, but then most think I am still English, rather than a transplant....must be the accent....

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  5. Dr. Bob

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    Freedoms all have limitations. Some explicit, some implied.

    If I limit someone's speech, who will then limit mine?
     
  6. fromtheright

    fromtheright
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    Great question and I agree with Penn's response, but let me complicate it a little, perhaps. At the time of the Founding, the obscenity that is now almost passe', was, to my knowledge, simply unfathomable. It seems to me certain that the Founders meant for the term "speech" to be political speech. If moral standards have slipped to the point they have today, does pornography become protected speech? If "speech" meant protection for unpopular ideas, would porn fall under that protection because it represents a controversial worldview?

    My own answer is no, that states still preserved under the police powers of the Tenth Amendment the power to regulate the health, safety, and morality of the citizens within its borders. This was well-recognized by the Supremes quite early. Whatever speech or ideas may be represented by pornography, it also is indicative of immorality, which is well within the states' rights to regulate and to ban. Also, in my view, the interstate commerce clause gives the national government the power to regulate, control, or prohibit its distribution among the states.

    And let me toss out another one to chew on: the First Amendment controlled Congress. Many, if not most or all of the states, had their own bills of rights, which protected speech. What if a state decided to intrude on what is unquestionably political speech (under such an originalist construct, not 14th Amendment incorporation)? The "republican form of government" clause of the Constitution which guaranteed this to all the states has only to do with republican form of government, not the specifics of rights within the states. James Madison's said that the states represented the greatest threat to our liberties and proposed a in the Federal Convention a Council of Revision which would have the right to control state legislation, an idea that was of course voted down.
     
  7. Dr. Bob

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    Might also depend on what you call "obscene". I grew up thinking four-letter words were evil, crude, vulgar and obscene. NEVER use them in public and just a step below taking God's name in vain.

    To Ben Franklin, et al, far before the Victorian conventions that now influence our thinking, they were NOT obscene at all.

    Have you ever read Franklin's Fart Proudly? And use of other words - NOT even gonna try to use them on the BB lest it offend the sensibilities of some (and get me kicked off) - was likewise not deemed obscene.

    So as socieity and definitions change, it throws the proverbial monkey-wrench into the works.

    BTW, to me Playboy Magazine of the 1950's (on which I as a hormone-crazed teen grew up) seems to be rather blase and innocuous compared to the vile filth that "pops up" on my internet EVERY DAY!
     
  8. fromtheright

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    Robert J Hutton,

    I am writing from England and my advice is be very careful before you seek for the 1st amendment to be restricted. In England free speech is rapidly disappearing, not the "freedom" to speak profanities, but the freedom to preach the truth of the Bible. I have often wished that we had a 1st Amendment in this country.

    What I would caution conservatives eager to protect religious speech to avoid is to confuse it with the political speech protected by the free speech clause of the First Amendment. In many of the cases where the Supreme Court has purportedly protected free religious exercise, they have done so by referencing the free speech clause and not the free exercise clause, which tends to render the latter an anachronism; BTW, this effectively equates nude dancing with preaching, in the Court's view.
     
  9. Ignazio_er

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    What's the big deal? If you don't have free will why should you have free speech?
     

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