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Posts Tagged ‘First Amendment’

When I was a young writer, my mother gave me good advice: “Never put in writing what you don’t want people to read.” Now that I am employed in a law office, that advice is reinforced on a daily basis. Every word must be scrutinized with the matters of law and interpretation firmly in mind.

This is a hundred times more critical on the Internet.

However, the freedom of speech is too important to be undermined by the actions of those who disagree with any given personal opinion. As Voltaire declared, “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

The recent vilification of Brendan Eich for expressing his personal opinion in the form of a political donation is only the latest example of the infringement of freedom of speech by those who disagree with him. In my opinion, this can only be seen as another form of fascist bullying.

No matter how much our opinions may differ, none of us have the right to silence anyone. Neither do we have the right to hound another person into submission. Those who do this are guilty of the same behavior of which they accuse others.

The more we attempt to silence one voice, the easier it becomes to be silenced ourselves. And if we allow others to be silenced, we have no right to claim the freedoms granted by the Bill of Rights for ourselves.

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I found a scrap of yellowed paper from a paperback book among the various keepsakes I have carried with me from year to year.  Though it is torn and crumpled, I will keep it with me always.

In light of all the news regarding leaks and espionage, the dubious terrorist warnings designed to make all Americans feel universally hated and constantly fearful, the lack of truly free and honest reporting and investigation in main stream media, this reminder of the purpose of the Free Press is timely.

Because this scrap has surfaced now, I believe it is my responsibility to offer these words from a past Supreme Court decision since, in this century, it is unlikely that such remarks would be made.

“Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the Government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell. In my view, far from deserving condemnation for their courageous reporting, The New York Times, The Washington Post and other newspapers should be commended for serving the purpose that the Founding Fathers saw so clearly. In revealing the workings of government that led to the Vietnam war, the newspapers nobly did precisely that which the founders hoped and trusted they would do.”
–From Justice Hugo L. Black’s concurring opinion in the Supreme Court’s historic decision in favor of The New York Times & Washington Post the right to publish the Pentagon Papers. 1971

Daniel Ellsberg spoke this weekend in the Bay Area about this continual assault on freedom of the press and of speech. Since the 1960s, the deterioration of our freedom to express our thoughts, ideas and beliefs has been constant. The attacks on these freedoms have been devious and perpetual.

In my opinion, the happier we are to give up our liberties in the name of ‘security’ the closer we come to a Marxist-dominated totalitarian government. If not for the actions of Daniel Ellsberg, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, we would not know what our government is planning for us. If we give up even one freedom in the name of security, we will be signing our own warrant for destruction.

The latest terror warnings are desperate attempts to keep us fearful of the rest of the world, so that we accept being herded like cattle through stock pens. So that we accept the continual assaults on our Constitutional Rights. So that we fear speaking our minds. So that we remain silent in the face of tyranny just as so many people before us have been silenced because we fear reprisals from our own government.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” — Franklin Delano Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address, 1932

I am not brave or courageous but I love this country and my fellow Americans. I hate to see this great nation and its people cowering behind fences that are being built to divide us. Ask any person you meet what concerns them, cheers them, frightens them and you will find we all have much more in common than anything that divides us.

Our greatest enemy is ignorance. Know that enemy. Main stream media do not answer to us; they are not responsible to us. They are paid to drive fear and distrust into our souls, to confiscate our history and our freedom.

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