“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for redress of grievances.”-The First Amendment
While the first amendment is clear and simple it is also very vague. Freedom of speech comes down to “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.” So that should mean everyone can say whatever they want. Well, it’s not that simple. Let’s take the second amendment for example. “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” If everyone interpreted this amendment like they do the first, it would mean everyone could have a gun and use it however they want without any laws about it. However, there are tons of laws related to owning a gun. If you own a gun and run around shooting it at people you would loose your right to own a gun and you’d most likely go to jail. If you killed someone with your gun you could even get the death penalty in same states. No one seems to think these laws are “infringing on the right to bear arms.” So why is it that people think they can shoot off their mouth? If there are laws about using a gun as a weapon then there can be and should be laws about using words as weapons.
There are laws on free speech known as defamation of character. Slander, which is spoken defamation of character, and libel, which is written defamation of character. I don’t see that anyone is against these laws being in place. Then why is it so much to ask for common decency? Why can’t people understand that there are things that just shouldn’t be said? Free speech should also include the freedom to be free from having other’s opinions forced on you. Like this article I am writing. You know what this newspaper is about and if you don’t like my opinion then move on to the next article. With things like what happened at the Super Bowl in 2004, no one was expecting such a vulgar display. Our expectations were a lot of football, some cheerleaders (yes, in very little clothes, but we have come to expect that), and some kind of songs being sung. A vulgar display during the Super Bowl was forced on people who were watching with the above expectations. Freedom of expression shouldn’t be forced on people and there should be repercussions for doing so, especially if it also involves indecent exposure. As for the people with TiVo that replayed it, well that’s their problem. No one can stop them or punish them for doing that (even if I think it’s perverted). However, the fact that some people liked it doesn’t make it okay that it happened.
The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable right, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…”
When people use free speech to hurt or offend they are interfering with a persons right of the pursuit of happiness. You may be thinking “It makes me happy to hurt and offend people.” If that’s true then you need to seek counseling.
I think that with this uncertain time of war and violence people are looking for safety and comfort. There’s nothing wrong with wanting these things. President Bush knows this. Television executives know this. Everyone knows this whether they are people of power or the salt of the Earth. People want to go back to family values and it’s hard to do that when sex, violence, and hate are being shoved down people’s throats. I think it is admirable that people are stepping in and saying stop, things have gone too far. It’s about time! People are abusing the freedom of speech. Let’s stop them from taking advantage of the first amendment.
By: Sarah Eve Nichols