Tag Archives: Free speech

Free Speech Revisited

Free Speech

I recall in my high school civics class when discussing free speech, the teacher used the example of yelling, “Fire”, in a crowded theater as something that is not protected by free speech.  That’s an extreme example.  A more realistic example would be this question:

Does someone have the right to harass someone verbally?

This becomes very relevant during Hill Cumorah Pageant.  Hecklers arrive from out of town for the purpose of harassing those attending Pageant or activities during pageant.

I believe the answer to my question is yes, they have a 1st Amendment Right to harass, but within certain parameters.  As a member of the board of the chamber of commerce, I got a phone call regarding such harassment which should not be protected by the 1st Amendment.   It is this…

If your verbal harassment of Person A results in a loss of business to Person B, Person B’s rights have been violated.  This is the reason why many communities have a “free speech zone”.    Free speech zones have been established to keep protesters and demonstrators from trespassing and interfering with commerce.

Here’s an example.  You can’t stand in the center of the freeway holding a protest sign.  It’s illegal.  It has nothing to do with free speech; it has to do with public safety.

Another example would be you can’t start yelling on a bull-horn at 2am in the morning, waking the entire neighborhood.

I’ve got several complaints from business owners about the hecklers impacting their business.  One employee says one of the hecklers told him he was going to hell.   The heckler, a protestant minister claiming to be from Newark, New York, accosted him on the sidewalk.  His point in telling me this was he felt that if this guy did this to him, what if he does that to someone heading to his store, and because he’s in front of his store people might not shop at his store.

He’s got a good point.  So, should free speech be protected when it has unintended consequences for people not involved in the protest?

Pageant Tonight

Elizabethe and I went with our friend David to Pageant.  This was David’s first time, and we had a great time visiting with David.

copyright 2014 db walton

Me and David

We ran in to Sister Lewis (who served in Palmyra), and Sister Sharp.  They spent time talking to David.  It was golden hour, so as a photographer I couldn’t pass the chance to get this picture.

copyright 2014 db walton

Sisters Lewis and Sharp

Pageant, as always, was spectacular.  I love this scene where Jesus calls the little children to come unto him…

copyright 2014 db walton

Hill Cumorah Pageant

Prior to pageant, there was an obnoxious guy yelling on a bull horn about how bad we are.  I believe in free speech and it should be protected.  I wonder if this guy realizes how obnoxious he is and rather than alienating people against Latter-day Saints, he’s alienating people against himself.

I guess sometimes you’ve got to let people show their true colors.

Free Speech

Free Speech

We’ve all heard free speech is on attack, and we’ve heard it for some time.  Things still keep getting worse.  And, so, here’s my claim:

Nobody is forced to read my blog, nor anything I post.  My blog is just that — it is my blog.  I can say what I want and how I want to say it.  You, the reader are free to stop reading, agree, or disagree.

I bring this up because I posted my opinion about college degrees (of which I hold a couple).   I basically said there are colleges where a student can attend, pay tuition, and complete assignments and they will get a degree.  Note, I did not say ALL colleges do this, but there are SOME that do.  In fact, there are some that make it even easier.

Well, someone took offence, complained, and my post was removed as being “offensive”.

If my opinion is offensive, then what about yours, or the next guys?  Where does the offense stop?

There is a lot in the press (print and on-line) that I do not agree with.  In the case of the press, I don’t purchase the magazine or newspaper.  On-line, I don’t visit the web site.  (Heck, there is a ton of stuff on MSNBC that I find offensive and disagree with, but I don’t try to shut them down.  Instead, I just don’t read it.)

Offensive, to me, is more than someone voicing their opinion.  Offensive, to me assaults the very core of decency.  In fact, trying to silence those who disagree assaults that core of decency.

I find it hard to understand that a man who claims to have a graduate degree from a prestigious university wouldn’t understand that concept.  At the same time, I’ve seen people like this who are offended because someone wants to start a high school graduation with prayer, and on the other extreme, those who are offended because someone says they don’t believe in God.

The way Facebook handles this is quite good.  As much as I dislike Facebook’s management style, they have a good model in this regard.  A while back, people were complaining they didn’t have a “dislike” button.

Hey, folks, it is easy!  If you don’t like it, don’t hit the “like” button!

They have now allowed people to filter what they see.  Like life, not everything you see is going to be agreeable.  This Facebook model allows you to make choices like, don’t show responses from this person, don’t show this response, notify this person why you don’t like the response, etc.

Does this mean I am against censorship?

I am against censorship of people’s opinions.  In the early days of on-line chat rooms, the phrase, “IMO” (In my opinion)  or “IMHO” (In my humble opinion) were quite frequently used to let people know you were stating your opinion.  However, it has got to the point where too many people think if you go against their opinion, you should be quashed.

I am for censorship if it is harmful to society — especially children or the vulnerable  who cannot discern what is good and bad, or who can be easily swayed in a bad, evil way.

Here’s a real funny example.  Again, it had to do with education…

A while ago, I quoted an article from Kiplinger regarding degrees that could be harmful to your financial future.  This guy contacted me and threatened to file an ethics complaint against me.  (Obviously, the guy who took offence must have had one of those degrees.)   What?  For quoting a newspaper story?  Seriously?  But, this man felt I should not be quoting newspaper articles.

Along this line, I seldom visit Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, Huffington and many other news sources.  But, when I do, I often visit the comments.  While complaining to the host service that a post is offensive and asking for its removal is passive aggressive, there are the more aggressive attacks.  These show a display of immaturity that adds to the reason I don’t visit such sites.  For example, if someone says it is their opinion that ____________ (fill in the blank) is wrong, their post is met with vicious attacks of name-calling.  Such name-calling, again, defies free speech and is a vile attempt to shut up the other person.

Years ago, about the only thing that would rile this type of attack was religion.  Now, there seems to be a vocal minority who fight hard to censor people who are against such things that only decades ago were considered wrong by most people:  pornography, homosexuality, body disfiguration, tattooing, fornication, etc.  This vocal minority is relentless in their movement to silence those who disagree with their lifestyles and habits.

When religious freedoms come under attack, which they have been for years now, the next step is to silence the opinions of others.   The next step, will be the silencing of those whom you simply don’t like — for whatever reason.

So, the next time someone disagrees with you, be thankful you can still disagree.