Thursday, August 28, 2008

Granpa's Political Corner: The 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".

Should protestations and demonstrations be legal or illegal? Are there any limitations that apply to protestations and demonstrations? Do protestations and demonstrations go beyond the limits of free speech? Does free speech include the provision that the "free speecher" has the right to harass people by making them hear the "speecher"? Does an individual have the right not to have the "speecher" interfere with that person's life by harranging them with things they prefer not to listen to?

These questions came to mind when I read of a planned veterans memorial service nearby. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church (A Topeka, Kansas-based church) had targeted the memorial service for protest. Signs with slogans such as, "Thank god for dead soldiers", "God blew up the troops", "God hates America", "America is doomed" and others were to be hoisted at the service. Adjacent to the article a piece by a columnist who advised people at the memorial to stand in line with others, turn your backs on the protesters and ignore them. I respectfully disagreed in a letter to the columnist but received no reply.

I haven't looked it up but I believe the concept of "free speech" originated by designating an area where one could go, mount a soap box, and tell anyone who would listen their opinion, but only in that area. For me the problem of protestations began with president L.B.J. when he came on television and allowed that it was all-right for people to go out and lie in the streets to demonstrate their protesting.

To me "freedom of speech" means you have the right to express your opinion but it does not include the right to force other persons to hear or listen to you. You are free to peaceably meet with persons of like belief and speak your piece but you do not have the right to speak your opinion in situations which prevent others from going about their business and avoid hearing your opinion. Protestations and demonstrations can be held in situations that do not infringe on the "rights" of others to conduct their lives. To ignore the intrusive protestations simply encourages more agressive behavior. I remind myself that when someone gains a "right" usually someone else looses a "right" and I think our permissive society has allowed protestations and demonstrations to go too far.

We will have the opportunity to witness protestations and demonstrations when the two political parties have their conventions.

Granpa Graham


Cary said...

I agree 100%! They are trying to totally neutralize the U.S.A.

Kyle said...

Amen brother!

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