cheers and jeers (free speech)

Marius Johnston (mariusj@NETCOM.COM)
Wed, 4 Jan 1995 08:47:39 -0800

>Message 32/60 From Cliff Sloane Jan 3, 95 12:21:30 pm -

>>Marius Johnston <mariusj@NETCOM.COM>

>> Those who dictate speech restriction in the name of "good" are no
>>different and surely should earn swift justice. They are robbers of
>>choice too. Of all the freedoms, freedom of speech is the most
>>important. Yet (in hoc signo vinces) you would rob us of this!
>> Ain't Truth grand.

>I hope others on the list would recognize the severe ethnocentrism of
>Mr.Johnston's above comments. If we've learned anything at all from
>linguistic anthropology, semiotics, et al., it is that all speech is
>social behavior, and that no speech is free. The above comment
>represents, to this humble reader, a particularly disingenuous form of
>classically American individualism.
>Am I being too harsh?

>Cliff Sloane

"Severe ethocentrism"? I am supposed to go to bed without my
supper now? tsk tsk.

On a more serious note, speech is many things. As Ruby Rohrlich has
demonstrated, speech can be manipulative and political. The political
aspect of speech is also recognized in the First Amendment. Justice
Holmes summed it up nicely when speaking of the Constitution: The
Constitution embodies "the principle of free thought - not free thought for
those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate." Yes,
the First Amendment is not without restriction (time, place and
manner). Recent cases involving protesting abortion are an example, So
is libel an example. In our system we have courts (ultimately the
not individuals, to render societal judgement.

Is speech social behavior? Yes, but why limit your imagination with such
a passive definition. Speech can be a novel, a poem or a painting. These
embodiments of speech are *not* merely examples of social behavior but
spring boards into the unknown, the unthought-of. Perhaps a vision quest
is a good way to think of speech in its finest moments.

You in your way, Mr. Sloane,you wish to rob us of speech, speech that *you*
disapprove of. You do it by the fine art of name-calling. Name-calling like
"severe ethnocentrism" or "disingenuous form of [get this] *classically
American individualism*". What you seem not to realize is that this form of
censoring can come to haunt you in the future. Maybe not tomorrow but
someday. Given your post, I doubt you will ever understand why. Ruby
Rohrlich never will.

Now, what is your argument against the First Ammendment?

Marius Johnston