Saturday, July 18, 2009

First Amendment - ?

Yes, it’s a question mark. I came across a documentary about how free speech part of the First Amendment can be easily put aside during times of national security. It is an age-old question examined throughout history because while the constitution of the United States ensures our civil liberties, the safety of our nation and of its people cannot but aside and must be protected. Hence, the First Amendment becomes a little sketchy. But at what point does “for our own good” go too far?

I cannot imagine being a Japanese-American after Pearl Harbor. I cannot imagine being a person of interest during the Red Scare. I cannot imagine being an Arab-American after 9/11. Our country is built on the fundamentals of democracy that gives every American certain inalienable rights. The first and foremost of these is the First Amendment. But not always or at least, it isn’t always that black and white. Often in the name of national security the line blurs where rights are concerned. Sometimes the media has a hand in it; sometimes a person’s colleagues from a differing viewpoint have a hand in it; sometimes the government has a hand in it. Whatever the case, it is clear that our country has little tolerance for those who speak out and use rhetoric that might be considered controversial or incendiary. We can quote and use the First Amendment, but it will not always protect you. Free speech is free speech, right? It should go both ways, but human natures shows that it is never that simple. Differing points of view must also be respected, argued yes, but ultimately regarded as what makes this country a great nation – a country with a free flow if ideas and thoughts. A country of truly free speech. That's the beauty of the First Amendment. Unfortunately, we have become intolerant, self-promoting and have stopped listening to each other choosing instead to accuse first, ask questions later. Our actions will have consequences. Our actions have had consequences. Just look at the paper, turn on the news, listen to a web cast. Free speech?

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