“To say that he who holds unpopular opinions must hold them at the peril of his life, and that, if he expresses them in public, he has only himself to blame if they who disagree with him should rise and put him to death, is to strike at all rights, all liberties, all protection of the laws, and to justify and extenuate all crimes.” (New York Post c. 1837)
It you walk around the lobby of Tribune Tower, you will see several quotes in the marbled walls about freedom of speech, expression, and the press.
Chicago newspapers, including the Tribune, have a history of what would be considered offensive reportage and editorial writing today. Competitive hyperbole was profitable at one time.
Some of the best political writing and cartoons over the past two centuries would be considered offensive in our so-called modern age. It was biting criticism and satire. The creators would be banned and blacklisted today.
Pam Geller is purposely repulsive in her criticism of "radical" Islam. Geller, the president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, won battles to place anti Islamic advertising on public transportation in New York.
Recently, Ms. Geller and her organization held a draw Mohamed contest in Garland, Texas. Two armed men were killed by police when they tried to attack the contest.
Some most offended by people like Ms. Geller are journalists, who vigorously protect their rights under the First Amendment. Their reportage and editorial opinions go beyond criticism and into the realm of blackout. They use the First Amendment to advocate depriving others of their rights under the same amendment. This is especially true in television news.
They use couched language, code words, and propaganda in an attempt to interfere or ban what is considered by some to be offensive or repulsive.
War has been declared on the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Some journalists, news media organizations, and even government officials have enlisted to fight in this illegal and unconscionable war.
Recently a supposed Chicago journalist was offended by "Target Bums" posters made to look like the city's "Target Rats" posters. He purposely made himself the story and darling of every media outlet he could talk to.
The city sent out workers to "arrest" the posters, lest they offend the tender sensitivities of the professional perpetually offended.
In 1988 an intrepid student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago entered a painting, "Mirth and Girth," in a student competition at the school.
The painting depicted the recently deceased mayor, Harold Washington, wearing lingerie.
Chicago's black aldermen and police officials stormed the school and removed the painting.
The public officials defended themselves by claiming the painting might have caused a riot.
It was an egregious criminal violation of the First Amendment. Jay Miller, head of the Chicago ACLU stated at the time, "If there was a threat, the way to prevent a riot would have been to protect the painting and arrest the rioters and hecklers. What they did was arrest the painting."
No one called for the arrest of the pubic officials. The city later settled with the artist for $95,000.00. One of the aldermen was now Congressman Bobby Rush. Bobby Rush is a former Black Panther, who used his rights under the First Amendment to advocate violence during the 1960's.
Instead of protecting freedom of speech and expression, those who would deny and violate people's rights under the First Amendment are being lauded and celebrated. They are champions of protocol, etiquette, and propriety.
Creators are being persecuted to protect tender sensitivities. The protection of tender sensitivities trumps the Bill of Rights.
Criticism is also part and parcel of free speech and expression. The news media prodigiously uses criticism in its editorials and opinion pieces. Criticism is a vital component of free speech, expression, and freedom of the press.
Criticism is not meant to ban or blackout expression or speech. Unfortunately criticism is being used to do just that. Worse, this type of criticism is becoming socially acceptable.
What the abusive critics fail to understand is, at some point others will arise to ban or black them out.
The concept of giving up rights to speech and expression out of concern for safety is more dangerous than any threat of harm, unless there is an imminent or clear and present danger.
No one should fear government repression, harm, or murder while invoking their rights. People who invoke their rights under the First Amendment should be protected not dissuaded. Government officials have a duty and obligation to defend and protect any and all speech and expression, no matter how offensive or repulsive.
Under the First Amendment there is no such thing as offensive, repulsive, or hate speech and expression. There are only free speech and expression. America cannot allow others to threaten the right to free speech and expression no matter who they are. That includes members of the press who join the hordes of the perpetually offended.
There is no criminal speech and expression in America, no matter how hard people are working to advocate criminalizing what they consider hateful or offensive.
Freedom of speech, expression, and the press are not privileges. They are unalienable rights.
There are forms of speech and expression that offend or even repulse each and everyone of us. Some consider forms of speech and expression as hateful. We have every right to criticize. We have no right to ban any speech and expression. We have a duty and obligation to vigorously and diligently protect and defend the rights of any and all who speak and express themselves.
"The right to free speech includes the right to offend, to blaspheme and even to infuriate — without fear of being murdered. What’s so hard to understand?" (New York Post)
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