Freedom of Speech

Tuesday, August 5th, 2003 | Soapbox

Just found this article over at Electric Venom. My favorite quote from that article is this:

Austin told the judge Monday he “wasn’t really thinking” when he created the Web site. “I’d be devastated if someone used this information to harm others,” he said.

Read on if you want to hear my rant – but I’ll spare the rest of you! 😉

My take is this? I don’t like the idea that government has the right to prosecute people for what boil down to free speech issues. I don’t like the idea of the government watching what I write or anyone else writes on their blogs or anywhere else. There is plenty that we all write that might be deemed offensive or controversial to any particular administration or governmental body. Thats the beauty of the right to free speech – it leads to free thought. We have the right to express our beliefs and ideals in order to bring about change – for better or for worse..

But c’mon… This guy was also COLOSSALLY STUPID. Why would you post information about bomb making with detailed instructions and ingredients without the expectation that it would be used? If he was sincere in saying that he would be devastated if it was ever used then WHY THE HELL DID HE POST IT? Was it just for fun? Was it just to get a rise out of people?

We are all responsible for the consequences of what we write and what we say. We aren’t allowed to yell fire in a crowded theater – not because such words are restricted – but rather because of the consequences of such words and the actions taken based on those words. We may be held responsible for the results of such words.

When we write, speak, or otherwise communicate we must have the courage of our convictions to stand behind what we say and defend those words and recognize that they may garnish a response and potentially consequences. We learned this on the playground when we got our teeth knocked out for calling someone’s sister ugly.

When we write we must ALWAYS remember that there is a human being on the other end reading. A human who may react – with anger, with hurt, with joy, or with action. Hiding behind a keyboard is not a defense if you ask me.

( Here is some more information on that story )

6 Comments to Freedom of Speech

August 5, 2003

I straddle this issue – and don’t know where I fall. On the one hand, there is no need for bomb making. We have Ragin’ Rumsfeld for that! On the other hand, free speech is the hallmark of our nation.

August 5, 2003

A widespread perception of free speech, perhaps, but nowhere else in the world is libel so rife, with people prosecuting one another for saying just about anything the other party doesn’t like to hear.

It’s free speech with a caveat; you might be screwed for all you possess if you offend the wrong party. The notion of being sued for expressing an opinion – whether right or wrong – is markedly less fathomable in Germany, France, the UK and many other developed countries, yet it is practised freely in the United States; true freedom of speech is clearly a hallmark of many other nations.

This chap probably spoke as he did in an attempt to diminish his responsibility, but if he didn’t, then let’s hope that his time in prison will go some way in tempering his idiocy. It really is a common sense issue.

August 5, 2003

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe that it is acceptable to sue people simply because you don’t like the nature or content of what is being said and I believe our judges have the responsibility to throw such cases out without blinking.

What I do believe is that people need to be aware that there is a potential cause and effect to what they are saying. When you post information on the web regarding the formulation of explosives you need to be ready to take responsibility for the fact that you’re helping someone construct a bomb with the intent to hurt and kill.

This isn’t necessarily something that should fall to the courts in all cases – I think its just something people need to keep in mind… How the judicial system handles it is in some respects different… We definitely have too many law suits in our courts and suing someone because they’ve offended you isn’t an acceptable solution…

August 6, 2003

Pete, I’m just going to slip into my “I agree with Pete” t-shirt and nod and smile a lot.

I do have to say, though, that the whole U.S. Constitution has gotten y’all in a lot of trouble. This attachment to Free Speech at all costs and the Right to Bear Arms are two issues that you may want to re-visit in the future.

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