Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Speak to Me!!

I'm writing, yet again, in response to an article in the opinion section of The Daily Watermelon, written by Graham Dart, entitled "The true meaning of freedom of speech: College Republicans miss the point for I-FA Week." First, I would like to honestly give a hand to Graham for writing what was a well written article, though I don't agree.

Mr. Dart comes out immediately to state that the College Republicans had the 1st Amendment Right to present the video "Obsession." Thank you, Mr. Dart. He also acknowledged that the counter-protesters (he didn't actually say their name in his article, and I'm not giving them any free advertising either) had that right as well. That's great. I, The Red Knight, agree. He states that some people take free speech to extremes, sometimes recklessly so. Cool.

Then Mr. Dart blew it.

He accused the CRs of "hid[ing] behind free speech and attacking those who dare to disagree with them," and trying to stifle debate. I strongly disagree. On the contrary, what we didn't like was a WSU department attempting to force us to advertise for another (and opposing) group on campus. If anything it was Campus Involvement that tried to violate our free speech rights. Imagine the FCC telling AT&T they had to advertise for Sprint.

And we did not try to stifle debate. We didn't encourage it very strongly, but we certainly didn't try to stifle it. Many of the CRs, including myself, attended the counter-protester's discussion session after the video in good faith. We were there in the spirit of debate and free speech. But what did it turn into? A CR-bashing. Did many of the counter-protesters respect our right to have a healthy share in the discussion? Not really. I thought they were very disrespectful, seeming to imply that if we had an opinion, it had to be compatible with theirs or it was wrong. Were the CRs polite when listening to another's talking points? Yes. Did they receive the same courteously? No.

Perhaps commentators of the more left-leaning persuasion should consider these things when chastising the CRs on an almost constant basis. If they did, I really don't believe they'd have to wonder why we are so suspicious of "discussions."

Now, as to the title of this article "The true meaning of freedom of speech," I don't believe Mr. Dart fully understands it either. He speaks of "free speech" as being the same as a First Amendment Right. It is not. I know that sounds strange, but it's true. I don't even believe that's an opinion: That's the way it is. The federal government has not authority (according to the constitution) to protect your right to free speech. Not a word. All the First Amendment says is that government cannot tell you what you cannot say:

"Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech."

That's all it says!!! Does it say a school can't prevent you from saying certain things? Noooooo. How about when a mother tells her son or daughter not to cuss? Should federal agents arrest her for violating little Johnny or Sally's freedom of speech? That's ridiculous.

So, essentially, if the College Republicans did do something to prevent the counter-protesters from speaking, it wouldn't be a violation of their First Amendment rights. It would be a violation of their freedom of speech, but not how the First Amendment defines it. Unless the CRs can be equated to Congress.

1 comment:

Unisex said...

You point about the first amendment is correct. I had a discussion with a graduate student on campus (completely friendly discussion) and pointed out to him that no where in the constitution are any citizens given ANY rights. The entire Bill of Rights just stipulates what the Fed. Govt. CAN'T do NOT what citizens are actually entitled too.

Govt. can't create laws abridging the freedom of speech etc,

Govt. can't deny you the vote based on sex, creed, etc.

The Second Amend. is the closest that actually lays out the "right" to anything.