Saturday, February 15, 2003

Freedom of speech doesn't mean you can't be called a fool.



College opened my eyes in many respects, and I distinctly remember that my community college had a much smaller bullshit factor than the publically-funded university that followed it. Fortunately, both my basic political science courses were at the 'CC, so I learned more facts and less spin. (Learning what the rights mean in practice is still considered a fact, right?)

One of the clearer points the professor made was the distinction between having the right to say a thing and the "right" to be granted air time, a conference hall, or even a soapbox upon which to do so. Just because you have an opinion doesn't guarantee you a spot on the Larry King live show. Hell, even Larry isn't totally free to make his own agenda, ignoring the hot issues. And most especially he is not free to get bad ratings. Why even the average citizen gets edited. Its no secret that reporters often come up with their stories before they go out to get sound bytes from 'the man on the street', and they do NOT go with the first 5 they talk to... they go with the 5 that support the story. (Often 4 left-leaning opinions and a token black man... I mean token republican)

So, with all the people screaming about McCarthy leaping out of his grave and coming to get them, they fail to make the distinction between having the right to an opinion and having the right to force it down the unwilling throats of others.

When musicians/poets/actors go to Europe and state that they can't speak freely here, they do not mean that they will be put in jail if they do. They do not mean that their names will be put on a disloyal celebreties list deep in the area 51 'plausible accidents' section, or even just simply blackballed. They wouldn't escape these things by going to Europe anyway, since their words make the papers back home. Their words (I'm censored!) and actions (I speak!) do not agree.

What they DO mean, and what they do not say, is that they don't find as many sympathetic audiences back home for their words. Fans may boo them if they make their concerts an anti-war political platform, and they may actually be criticised by the media! Or even the plebes! if they say something particularly outrageous. Oh, the humanity!


Lets be very clear: People disagreeing with you, even in public, is not censorship. I can call you a liar, a fool, and a puffed up moron without infringing your rights one little bit. Shouting someone down is more problematic, but shouting down what amounts to a slogan with another slogan is, at worst, two evils cancelling each other out. So you say I just shut up and listen to you, and in return you will tell me what to think? Screw that notion.
Well, this is the beginning. Of what? Who knows. I have a couple ideas: To make this a spinblog (my term for blogs that take existing news and offer a differing or expanded viewpoint), and possibly in the future to start creatively writing sections of a online book, using my helpless slaves as grunt labor... oh I mean showing my loyal readers what I'm working on and let them add insight.

About the book idea: It used to be, that authors worked with only other books and close family/friends as input. And the first time it got exposed to a larger audience (who may not share the same attitudes as the author), it either flopped or flew, depending on how well the author communicated with a larger audience (and of course, on how well the book's cover grabbed attention).