Our forefathers were pretty smart fellows. They came from a country without democracy, and started something new and exciting over here in the new world. They drafted documents that would seal our fate as a democratic nation; "one nation, under God" ... and now 200 +years later, the great scholars of every street corner USA are trying to put their own spin on those "guidelines".
My favorite, aside from all men being created equal, is the Free Speech banner. The 1st and 14th amendments lay it out in relatively plain language. Nothing too glamorous. We, as an over analyzed, overly sensitive, nation have somehow take the forefathers intent of free speech and pretty much washed it in too much debate to the point where it no longer is a true reflection of what the forefathers were probably trying to convey.
Common sense. Thomas Paine wrote about it, but apparently some were absent the day common sense for the every day man was being taught in 7th grade social studies class. That seems to be the major idea lacking in current society. How many people back in the days of a new nation would have ever thought that someone whack job might take a fancy to screaming "FIRE" in a crowded movie theater, and then further add insult to injury by trying to defend that ridiculous level of stupidity with free speech.
Brandenburg v. Ohio, took on the free speech argument in 1964. Again some level of common sense needs to be allowed to filter through the dense, thick skulled minions of the KKK, and surely a reasonable and sane person would perhaps realize that making inflammatory remarks about "niggers and jews" in the 1964 racial movement of segregation, and civil rights, would most likely incite other followers/hate mongers to possibly act in a violent manner. Thus the argument of a clear and present danger. No, I'm not talking Harrison Ford and Tom Clancy novels here. (Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919)
Last weekend, The Steamboat Institute hosted a dinner which included conservative writer, political pundit, lawyer and public figure, Ann Coulter. I attended the engagement. It was fantastic. Prior to her arrival, some citizens were up in arms that our community would be hosting someone who is a "hate monger", a "racist", just to name a few choice name calling and highly bland comments uttered by the people in the back row of a free speech class in high school. Why, we even had a few "Occupiers" out in the cold winter air, 8 of them, voicing their freedom of speech as to how they found Ann Coulter.
The question does beg for an answer though.. What if Maureen Dowd, James Carville, Alan Colmes or even Rachel Maddow were the speaker that night? Would these figures who are equally polarizing and offensive to the more conservative viewpoint, been met by the same occupiers? No, I doubt it. The freedom of speech thing seems to swing only one way; and that is usually against a conservative speaker. I had to laugh that the libbies were hell bent on making sure Ann Coulter not come to Steamboat, yet they failed to see the most important part of this social studies lesson - the free speech argument. Ms. Coulter was allowed to come here speak, not inflame anyone, and enjoy the beauty of Steamboat. Isn't that a gift of free speech? It would appear to me that liberals only look at one side of the story.
Tonight, NBC Nightly News (OMG- A conservative such as myself watching the evil NBC, a liberal news program) featured a story of a man who falsely portrayed himself as a war hero and Medal of Honor recipient. His attorney was arguing his right to free speech. Has society really slipped into this dark hole? Come on, really? Are we to presume that the dishonest man in question has so little opinion of himself, that he then seeks out an attorney, who will actually take the case and defend it under the guise if freedom of speech? Has society slipped so far away from common sense and what our forefathers had in mind when they were having a "get together" to scribe out our future "guidelines", that its turned into an "anything goes, freedom of speech" soiree?
This country has turned into a love fest of white bread speakese, where no one gets hurt, the truth is never told because we are afraid to hurt feelings, and there are thousands of lawyers who will take these silly cases, when really, the notion of free speech had nothing to do with what our fore fathers were facing back then.
In my perfect world, I say what ever I want, in a respectful manner, with some consideration for how it may offend someone else. I try to be respectful towards someone who has a view that is 180 from mine. I listen to their free speech, they listen to mine. Maybe we might meet in the middle, perhaps even come to come sort of common ground. Other times, the argument becomes about as hot and miserable as sitting in a un-air conditioned station wagon in 1964. Once we take away freedom of speech, this country loses some of its greatness, and one of the forefathers turns over in his grave.