It goes without saying that we are an interesting country. We have freedoms that so many would die for. Actually, many have. And these freedoms are so valuable, so fragile, and so powerful. Oftentimes, it's amazing to think what these freedoms are: words, thoughts, opinions. That's really all it comes down to. That's what protects us - someones thought. Someone who said: "Why can't we speak our minds?" Someone who felt that the way things were could be better. And then they had the courage to speak them. They had the courage to take that feeling, and grow it to a battle cry. (Thank you Regina Spektor)
So let us begin with the recent shootings that we have seen. It is very interesting to view the fallout of these actions, because they highlights the diverse nature of the human mind. Or indeed, the diversity of opinion. Take for example, many of the opinions from the recent shootings of Von Brunn. The opinions of the person himself are varied, ranging from the harsh statement that"This animal was a hater of Jews, African Americans and so much more,..." - carolg. Or to the more comedic assertion that "This guy is stupid as he is crazy." - LDA_76.
But let's go beyond what people have said about the shooter. Let's look at the shooter himself. But not so much what he stands for - rather, let us look at the tool he used to assert what he stood for.
The First Amendment To The Constitution Of The United States of America.
Without repeating what the actual amendment stands for, let's think of the powerful tool that this amendment is. It enabled, inspired, protected his ability to say, mull, think, create, opinions. You can argue that he abused the first amendment so badly that DCFS would cringe.
So let's assume that he abused the first amendment. OK. What do we do about it?
The problem that we face is that we are fast approaching a place where we need to define the constitutional right to 'Freedom of Speech.' What does it mean?
Does freedom of speech really mean that a person can say whatever they want?
Does it mean they can say whatever they want, even if its vile, hate-speech?
Does it mean that they can lie, and mis-inform people to further an agenda?
What if we were to say: "No. This type of speech leads to violence, it is not protected by the Constitution."
Well, OK. But how do we monitor these activities? No, this isn't a 'tinfoil hat' argument. It's an honest question... in a world of Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Cell Phones, Podcasts, and god-knows-what in the future... How do we monitor all of that information without crossing a dangerous line while still maintaining the integrity of the ruling?
Then the next question we must ask is: Where do we stop? OK, we say that violent hate-speech is not protected by the constitution. Well, we know people are going to tap-dance around that. OK, let's ban that.
In a perfect world, it would stop there. Specific laws for specific actions, and words.
But then does freedom of speech really apply anymore?
Does our right to rebel against the Govt still stand? (As guaranteed in the constitution.) Violence would be involved. And it would be spoken. So there's a complication.
We live in a very interesting time. We are going to soon find ourselves asking these questions.
Where is the limit in free speech?
Where does it begin?
What topics should be taboo?
What if future incidents come up?
Where would it stop if we enact such limits?
Does it undermine the the constitution?
What does it say about American society?
What would our Ancestors say, think, do?
Etc... etc... etc...
It's nearly 3AM... and I thank God that I am able to even be able to ask, or think about these questions. Apologies if this seems stream-of-thought, or haphazard... it IS 3AM =)