Free Speech and Bigotry

The Constitution, First Amendment

  • Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The free speech part is a vitally important part of our heritage and national law.  It’s what enables us to allow even the most reprehensible forms of speech to be allowed in a variety of public places.  However, legally allowed is one thing and toleration is another.  There are forms of speech that are vicious, hate filled and incite the worst of human behavior and thought.  We are accustomed, at least to the idea, that Christian leaders must, in some way, stand against such forms of speech, and we see that in response to Klan and white supremacist rallies that are held from time-to-time and in place-to-place.  

So what kind of response is called for when such a voice gains a significant place through a nation wide platform such as AM talk radio?  I’m not talking about the ordinary right wingers who fill the airways with their ranting every hour of the day and night.   I may vigorously disagree with almost everything they say as being utterly inane, but for the most part, it is not pathologically toxic to the well being of our society.  There are a few radio talk show hosts, such as Chicago based Michael Savage, who are.  Savage is broadcast in our area over at least two different local stations, and his program is a cornucopia of hate filled racism, egregiously twisted versions of the news, and language intended to incite the very worst in human behavior by appealing to the very worst in human prejudice and bigotry.  Under the Constitution he has every right to speak, and we are compelled to defend that right, but that is not the same thing as entitlement to a nation wide radio audience.  I suggest that you listen to a couple of his shows – listen all the way through and then tell me what you think.

3 thoughts on “Free Speech and Bigotry”

  1. While in Lincoln the young man who was a Rabbi and I were talking about some Nazis in Wisconson who staged a parade in front of a group of Holocaust servivers. The Nazis were defended by the ACLU. I was discusted but he said that the freedom granted to the Nazis was a guarentee of Jewish freedom. He always seemed to have wisdom!

  2. How I wish I could embrace the simple interpretation of freedom of speech as anyone being free to say anything, consequences and truth be damned. Constitutional literalists are in my view just as short sighted as biblical literalists, and even more damaging. Two short readings that are popular with both, by faith alone, and the United States is a democracy, can lead to the failure of the institutions they claim to describe. A full reading of the text, in context, in full, of the documents on which this country\’s freedoms are based and on which our government is formed will point out that the concept of freedom to deny the rights of an other human being, to insight fear and terror, are not protected. On a full reading the reader will notice that the branches of government, of which a free press is one, is responsible for protecting all inhabitants of this land from the tyranny of religion, commerce, the people and any branch of this government. There is in these documents an implied and presumed desire of the populace in general and the elected in specific to be truth seekers and people desirous of the betterment of all over the special interests of the powerful be it a majority or a minority. One will also notice it is specifically stated in these documents that this government shall be a protector of the disenfranchised, the powerless. There is also implied, the belief that those elected to represent ALL the people of the land and those electing these representatives will have in mind the awesome responsibility that is freedom and the fragility of such a structure and will have in mind the selfless notion that is better to look toward the future than to dwell in the present alone. CP, you state that under the constitution he has the right to speak, and we are compelled to defend that right, I would argue that under the constitution he has the right to speak TRUTH, and we are compelled to defend his right to speak TRUTH.Which brings us back to this last week, when Pilot replies to Jesus\”Truth, what is truth\”A strong question for followers of the way.

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