GYC Village

blog posts from GYC's participants, alumni, & staff

Free Speech in the USA

We are curious to know if you have any thoughts about the issue that is described in this link.

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/03/03/picketing-funerals-when-free-speech-feels-wrong/?hp
Wherever you are from, how would you and your culture/society respond to this issue?
In the your context, how do you think that the court would have ruled? And why?
We would love to get your thoughts about this and then be able to compare them on our blog.
Please comment or feel free to just email us your response and we can post it for you (contact@globalyouthconnect.org)
Best Wishes!
Jesse Hawkes
Executive Director & Rwanda Program Director
Global Youth Connect (GYC)
http://www.globalyouthconnect.org
Empowering youth to advance human rights and create a more just world
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2 comments on “Free Speech in the USA

  1. Anuj Gurung
    March 4, 2011

    I read the article this morning and I wasn’t surprised by the US Supreme Court ruling. The US draws a lot of pride from its freedom of expression and ironically seems too nervous to criticize any part of it.

    This ruling reminded me of the crass media stunt of burning Quran that was planned by pastor Terry Jones. No one explicitly condemned Mr. Jones for an action that was utterly wrong, because they didn’t want to be the person to oppose an individual’s right of speech. It is not truly freedom of speech if it can’t be challenged for the sake of sensibility and fairness.

    My society in Nepal is unlikely to face such a situation – while freedom of speech is not uniformly distributed (or understood/accepted) in my country, but a sense of decorum is maintained at funerals at least. And if a day comes when a similar case is brought to the Supreme Court I am inclined to believe that it won’t be passed 8-1 in favor of freedom of expression and at the expense of the bereaving family members. I can’t imagine the court not considering the impropriety and opportunism exploited by the church group.

    I admire the pluralism and independence promoted by free speech in the US. Unfortunately, some people and institutions appear to interpret it as the license to say whatever they want without a modicum of regard for others. This is also encouraged by the US political culture – defined by two polar opposite parties – as well as the entertainment industry where anything controversial is welcome. It is no right but more of a privilege that everybody has learned to abuse since there is no disciplinarian who can warn you before you cross the line. Maybe there is no line in freedom.

    Was freedom of speech envisioned as a tool of spreading hatred and phobia? Is there no consideration for the people who might be at the receiving end of the exercise of freedom of speech – especially if they are people who can’t defend themselves adequately? If so, this doesn’t really appear very democratic to me.

  2. Erica GYC Alum
    March 28, 2011

    I saw this earlier this morning, and think it’s terrible. Of course I value our free speech (especially after being on the flip side of it recently in Egypt — with the internet/cell phone shut down), but I think this is just ridiculous. I feel like the ruling set us back about 50 years. If people feel so strongly that they need to picket about the horrible shape America is in, then they should set up a reasonable protest site. Funerals are not the place for that.

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This entry was posted on March 4, 2011 by in #HumanRightsUSA Program Posts, Alumni in Action, Human Rights.

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