Monday, January 2, 2012

First Amendment: Freedom of Speech...........

  In my opinion, this freedom is the most important. Yet, it will induce the most anger of any other Amendments. It also requires the most tolerance.
  Someone (H-Nox, I believe) brought up the burning of our flag. This is a perfect example, because it infuriates me, yet I have to respect the rights of this so-called person.
  Of course we have also heard many court cases involving free speech. Check out U.S. v Eichmann (1990). The Supreme court said, Government's interest cannot justify its infringement on First Amendment rights. This conclusion will not be reassessed in light of Congress' recent recognition of a purported "national consensus" favoring a prohibition on flag-burning, since any suggestion that the Government's interest in suppressing speech becomes more weighty as popular opposition to that speech grows is foreign to the First Amendment. While flag desecration -- like virulent ethnic and religious epithets, vulgar repudiations of the draft, and scurrilous caricatures -- is deeply offensive to many, the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.
  So, there it is in black and white (Red in this case).
  Free speech protects flag burning, hate-speech, and even groups such as NAMBLA are protected to some degree. But, it has to be tolerated. As much as it pains me, you can not suppress somebodies rights, because if you do, you are opening the door for your own rights to be suppressed.
  And that my friends, is the hard part of living in a free society.

34 comments:

  1. Johnny,
    Well stated. Yes, it was me that brought up the flag but it not about burning it but rather about shitting on it as was the case with some OWS protestors.

    We are not free to yell “fire” in a public space or to threaten the life of a politician but we are free to desecrate the flag.

    This would be the flag that represents this country, its people, and all those that defended what the flag stands for. By my count over 1 million soldiers died under that flag.

    Go ahead and try that shit in a different country then see what happens.

    In my view, desecrating the flag is a hate crime and should be dealt with accordingly. Try shitting on or burning the NAACP flag or the Israeli flag. You would be arrested and prosecuted before the sun set.

    So which is it, Freedom of speech or hate crime?

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  2. I agree with respect to the flag. I once pummeled a hippie burning the flag and got grabbed by a Berkeley cop (I was on leave and working a job site). The cop gave me a lecture on the 1st Am and he was right. Much as I hate to say it, they have the right to burn the flag and I have the ability to pay the fine for kicking their ass! haha The system works.

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  3. Gunny,
    Thank you for your service with regards to the hippie tune-up. I do not disagree with you that the hippie did not have the right under the law at the time.

    My question was would it fall under hate crime law? I submit that it would under the equal protection clause.

    Of course no one has tried it yet...

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  4. Everyone,

    I completely disagree with this issue as a freedom of speech issue. The law they are breaking is inciting the people to riot, and they should be punished accordingly.

    After the Supreme Court decision ruling it was free speech, a small town in Georgia passed an ordinance that fined people $1 for hitting flagburners. The fine was set so high to discourage violence.

    I believe the recent ruling about the Westboro wackos is also wrong, based on the same rules.

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  5. Hello J.O.B.,
    Speaking about my Mother’s cousin (the weight lifter and retired Police Chief) I just got an e-mail from him tonight and thought I would pass it on. Hope it is not too long and I cannot say that Warren Buffett really said this but if nothing else we can file it under Joke Friday.

    Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling:

    "I could end the deficit in 5 minutes," he told CNBC. "You just
    pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more
    than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible
    for re-election/

    The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds)
    took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple!
    The people demanded it. That was in 1971 - before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc.

    Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one (1) year or less to become the law of the land - all because of public pressure.

    *Congressional Reform Act of 2011*

    1. No Tenure / No Pension.

    A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they're out of office.

    2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social
    Security.

    All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the
    Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the
    American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

    3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all
    Americans do.

    4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

    5. Congress loses their current health care system and
    participates in the same health care system as the American people.

    6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the
    American people.

    7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void
    effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this
    contract with Congressmen/women.

    Congressmen/women made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers
    envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

    If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will
    only take three days for most people (in the U.S.) to receive
    the message. Don't you think it's time?

    THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!

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  6. Hello All,
    Back on the current topic, I too find it very distasteful to see someone burning the flag as a protest.

    I cannot tell you the lump that I got in my throat when I was in Argentina during those “Military Junta” ruling years. When their Naval Base where we were anchored played their National Anthem over loud speakers while raising their flag, then raised the American Flag and played our National Anthem. The thought that would go through my mind was this must be what American Olympic Gold Winners must feel when they play our National Anthem while the Stars and Stripes slowly are raised for everyone to see.

    But is it an expression of free speech to burn an American Flag that they own? I guess it is...but I do not promote taking physical violence on the person even if I disagree with then. That is even more wrong to beat someone whom you disagree with……But I could easily want to because the person is obviously an ASS.

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  7. EOK,

    I think I could get behind that proposed amendment. I am disgusted that the Senators and Congresscritters get paid a full time salary, much less all the bennies and perks.

    I will respectfully disagree with you on inflicting bodily harm on flag-burners. The idea of doing something like that is so vile that my mother would have encouraged me to assault them, and she was not a violent person.

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  8. Guys- I should have included a link for the site I read the above caption from. So, here it is. http://www.anarchytv.com/speech/eichman.htm

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  9. H/Nox- Good question my friend. Now before I reply, I must tell you that I'm not an attorney.

    Personally, I don't see how it could be a hate-crime. Only because, the flag is not a human being, and is not afforded the rights of Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness, as afforded us under The Declaration of Independence.

    Your statement about yelling fire in a theatre is something I was thinking about during this post. After some research I discovered that this case started in 1919.(I can get into specifics in a later post if anyone prefers). I can tell you that "Yelling fire in a crowded theatre" is only a metaphor, and there is no case on file (That I found) that mentions a ruling on that exact phrase. What I did find, is that their is a case in 1969, which limited the scope of banned speech to that which would be directed to and likely to incite imminent lawless action (e.g. a riot). As I said, we could broach this subject in a separate post if anyone prefers.

    I totally agree with you on the dispicable nature of burning, shitting, pissing, or wiping your feet on our flag. But the Document that gives people this "right", is what makes this country what it is, and not a country like Israel, Iran, or any country which this act is illegal. As far as the NAACP goes, if they have a flag, feel free too shit on it. The ACLU would probably defend you, if you were charged with a crime.

    As far as the Equal Protection Clause, that falls under the 14th Amendment. I would prefer to deal with that on a post regarding the 14th Amendment. If you want to do that right away, I can make that my next post. But, I would like to go through the Amendments in order, so that I don't leave one out. Just let me know what you'd prefer.

    In closing, the desecration of the American Flag sickens me, as much as anyone, but it must be tolerated. If it's not, there may be a freedom of ours, that we enjoy, that is no longer a freedom.

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  10. Gunny- LOLOLOLOLOL............You are correct, sometimes the system does work. But it sounds like that might have been in the 60's, or 70's. Tuning someone up is no longer, just pay a fine.

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  11. TGP- You bring up an excellent point, as you can see, after my comment to H-Nox. I almost think, that point could be argued in front of the Supreme Court, since their is Case on file involving inciting riots.

    As for the Westboro ruling, I agree, but I think stuff like this will always be an issue, unless they approve an Amendment, that makes dispicable actions, and appalling behavior illegal......

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  12. EOK- What's up Bud? That's a long e-mail. I researched the CNBC interview, and yes it seems like the e-mail is correct, at least the first paragraph of your statement. It is something Buffet said in an interview in October.

    The rest is an added chain e-mail segment that started in '09. Back then it was "The Congressional Reform Act of 2009". It is a great idea, but it is a piece of legislation, that has never been introduced.

    You are correct, this would be a great way to fix Congress, however it will be more difficult than we think. But it is possible, I will explain how we go about this, when we get to Article 5 of the Constitution. If you don't mind? I just don't want to get too much off topic from the original Posts to come.

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  13. EOK- I don't know if you like Hockey, but last year I went to a Blackhawks/Canucks game. They played the U.S. & Canadien National Anthems. They also had both flags up. Actually, the United Center (The Chicago Blackhawks stadium) always has the Canadian flag up. Personally, I find it fulfilling to respect another countries anthem, and flag, in this regard.

    As for the personal violence against flag desecraters, I don't promote it either, but I certainly understand it, and I'm only one persons Father. So I won't preach.

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  14. Johnny,

    I had to give this one a great deal of thought and I have two points:

    1. Isn't it fascinating that in our discussion on religion and the "free exercise thereof" all of the dissenting views were about imposing obstacles or limits on the "free exercise" of religion? Or at least our National religion - Christianity. I would again note that this is a modern issue brought on by liberals in the court system and has never been the will of the American people.

    America was just fine with the "free exercise" of religion until 1947 and the liberalization (dumbing down) of our legal system.

    Conversely, in any discussion about "abridging the freedom of speech" it appears that we have extrapolated "speech" into forms of expression including deranged art, pornography, destruction of property, and yes - flag burning.

    Why is "free" when it refers to religion not as "free" as it is when we refer to speech?

    That's a rhetorical question - the point is this is illustrative of the double standard at work that attacks the free exercise of religion but promotes the unbridled expansion of "speech" as a protected "right."

    2. We have made reasonable abridgments on speech in our history and some that are not so reasonable. It should be noted that in the shadow of the Constitution the same people passed the Alien and Sedition Act in 1798 that severely abridged some categories of speech. It was controversial in it's time and contained a sunset clause expiring in 1802 (Side Note: Sunset clauses are a much better solution to some of our legislative problems than term limits). One Party imposed it and one Party publicly opposed it, but both Parties made use of it.

    The point is that the Founding Fathers were torn on the abridgment of speech.

    Further we do have laws that abridge speech. Bill Clinton and Martha Stewart can tell you a thing or two about perjury - it is not protected speech. That goes for libel as well. If we ever get our hands on Julian Assange of Wikileaks, he's going to learn a thing or two about the abridgment of speech.

    Again - the point being that reasonable definitions of speech are entirely possible and Constitutional. Cretins burn our flag because it is hateful and divisive. I don't consider it "speech" and therefore have no problem with a ban on flag burning nor should the Supreme Court.

    It is also interesting to note that both cases that support flag burning were narrow votes (5 to 4) which supports the split over the issue.

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  15. Johnny,
    Personally, I don't see how it could be a hate-"crime. Only because, the flag is not a human being, and is not afforded the rights of Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness, as afforded us under The Declaration of Independence."

    OK, neither are any other hate crime offenses. Please explain the difference if one was to paint a swastika on a synagogue. It’s a building not a person.

    My point is that there are many examples of hate crime prosecutions for a host of offenses but not one for the desecration of our flag.

    More simply put, if shitting on our flag is not a hate crime then what is?

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  16. CS- Your first point is very well written.
    I think that the freedom of speech is more free than religion, because the government seems to do a better job of not infringing on our religious rights. I know it was a rhetorical question, but it was a great question, that I feel deserves some time, and attention.

    2- Another excellent point. But if we fight to add wording, or to pass laws that are constitutional, we should probably be prepared to defend other amendments.

    In closing, I do not think the Founding Father's were torn on free speech. At least when it comes to the burning of a flag, that they worked so hard to adopt, and defend.

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  17. H/Nox- AH-HA, kudos to you. I honestly didn't even think of it on that level.

    I would like to start by saying that the whole "Hate Crime" legislation is bullshit. I had to deal with it once on a personal level, and trust me, it's a bullshit term made up by the likes of the NAACP, and the JDL.

    Your point is well taken, and I thank you for that Brother. If a Swazsticka on a building is prosecuted as a hate crime, I do not see why flag burning shouldn't.

    I am now in full agreement with H-Nox. Flag burning should be a Hate-Crime. Anyone care to argue against, or have a different opinion?

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  18. Not me. Flag burning is vile behavior and should be promptly punished by all who witness it.

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  19. Tenth,
    I don't disagree with the punishment. I myself have been the issuer of such punishment earlier but that's another story.

    The mere fact that this is tolerated in our society is beyond my ability to accept it.

    Do you accept burning the flag as a "hate crime" prosecutable as such under the present laws, which was my original point?

    Personally, I am more reviled by the likes of William Ayers standing on the flag (which is on the cover of his new book) or some OWS protestor shitting on it in public then I am with burning it.

    Burning the flag is still the acceptable way of disposing of it after it has served a useful purpose as opposed to it being thrown in the garbage and treated as commom trash.

    In my view, shitting on the flag and wiping ones feet on it, grafitti, urinating, etc. is another matter. It's a process that requires forethought, malice, and time... therefore hate.

    In the context of "Free Speech" some speech and behavior is unlawful courtesy of various "hate crime" legislation. In other words some speech is more equal than others depending who the offended party is.

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  20. Hardnox,

    I agree with stepping on and shitting on being punishable by death. I think burning the flag, in a proper ceremony, is a respectful way of disposing of a worn out flag. I don't believe the SCOTUS decision was based on that type of burning though.

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  21. H/Nox- Do you think an arguement could be made that a swazticka painted on the side of a building, is an assault on a specific group of people? Where, the defiling of our flag is a protest against this country?

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  22. TGP & H/Nox- Since we're are on the topic. I have a flag outside my building that has worn out it's purpose. A friend of mine in the Army told me a should burn it, instead of just throwing it away. Am I suppose to fold it up neatly, or anything? Is there any proper "Procedure" to follow.

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  23. Johnny,

    Yes, there is a proper procedure. If you have a connection at AmVets or the VFW, or even the DAV, they'll do it for you. Some of them may even provide a replacement, if you are strapped for cash.

    The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning

    http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/flagcode.htm

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  24. Johnny,
    In an attempt to answer your question, I guess that answer is in the eyes of the hater. I don't doubt an argument could be made but to me there is no difference.

    The flag represents as much to me and (CS and TGP, if I may) as any symbol that is highly revered by anyone else. What makes their symbol untouchable but ours defilable?

    I'll ask you a question. What's the difference between defiling the Israeli flag and defiling the American Flag?

    answer: five years in the pen.

    Further, what makes it acceptable to put a crucifix in a jar of urine and call it art but a hate crime if I pissed on a Koran or used it for target practice?

    Free speech is free speech but our laws have been twisted to pander to a few at the expense of the many.

    I say that you cannot legislate or regulate common sense and common decency anymore that you can regulate the weather but that doesn't stop congress from passing totally unconstitutional laws.

    Getting back to the flag, I don't have a problem with congress enacting it as a crime for desecration of the flag. Recently, under the Bush admin, there was such a measure but it was defeated by the democrats and only by a thin margin. It may have even been a constitutional amendment but I'm not sure.

    I suspect we'll be discussing the first amendment for a while as there are other parts.

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  25. This is a fascinating post and thread, J.O.B. My compliments. While I don't have anything to add at this time, know I will be back to read through again. The concept of "free speech" and what that does and does not entail is an important one and clearly you and those who have commented here have given this serious thought.

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  26. Gang,

    I think that the measure might be harm. Does that "speech" cause harm? In my examples above, perjury and libel cause harm. In the case of hollering "Fire!" in the proverbial crowded theater - it is the potential for harm that pushes it from free speech into illegal speech.

    However I am sensitive to Hardnox's argument. Perhaps we should try an experiment that combines our various thought processes. I suggest we grab Michael Moore. We'll defecate on him, light him on fire, and then extinguish him with a bucket of urine. If anyone on the left is insulted, then we'll have another data point.

    Hollywood Road trip anyone?

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  27. TGP- Thanks brother. Talked to a friend at the VFW today. I didn't even think to ask him.

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  28. H/Nox- I am definately pickin up what you're laying down. That piece of legislature was never passed as an Aemendment. As far as I can tell,(through google) I don't think it was even considered. I could be wrong though. Like I said, I wouldn't mind a law against it. I hold the flag in the highest regards.

    Yes, we have three more parts to discuss, but I don't think it will be as time consuming, but you never know.

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  29. Mrs. Al- Welcome. Thank you for the lovely comment. Please click on the "Coming in 2012" post, as well as "Religious speak" to get caught up. We'll be doing it all year, as well as other things.

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  30. CS- LOLOLOLOLOLO, that is some funny shit. Actually, if any Democrat were to be offended, they would be guilty of Moronacy. Considering that Moore cost Gore the 2000 election. At least that's my theory.

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  31. CS- I forgot to tell you. While all this is being done, make sure you don't call him a fat fuck. That would be a "Hate Crime".

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  32. Johnny,

    We are on the same wavelength on this one.

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  33. CS,

    I would love to come along, an my schedule is fairly open, but could you swing down here and pick me up? Its a little out of the way, but we can hit I40 about 35 miles from here.

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  34. Good, CS can pick me up on the way to Tenth's. It will be a good trip.

    I'd love to stare that fat bastard in the face and give him a piece of mind before we commence.

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