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Freedom of Speech, Expression, and Thinking

Article By: Mistress of Word Play
Editorial and opinion

Some thoughts and facts on freedom of speech, writing, and expression. I have also cited times when books were either banned or burned by certain sects in society.

Submitted:Jan 4, 2010    Reads: 252    Comments: 11    Likes: 19   

There have been numerous discussions on Booksie.com and other writing sites about what people should or should not be writing. I myself feel writing, speech, a person's way of life, and a person's spirituality should not be judged and criticized by others. If you do not like what is there have your say if you must but then get down offyour soap box.

I do not believe in censorship. This type of mentality and trying to foist one's own beliefs on to someone else is not the correct procedure. There have been many times throughout history were books were burned and certain thoughts were banned because a group of people deemed them inappropriate.

I was in my teen years through a period in America's development when a new wave of music and life started to emerge. The older generation frowned on groups such as Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osborne, Kiss, and other dark groups of my generation. They also did not like hippies or the weird strange Gothic type children who made an appearance for the first time.

Most of the people I see complaining or making comments about the type of writing and music our young adults are reading and listening to are about my age. I am grown now and still love many of the groups I idolized in my youth. I still enjoy reading the authors I grew found of and worshiped in my teen years. I guess I have learned tolerance because I remember how the older generation made me feel.

If too much is said to try and discourage a trend it causes a rebellious nature to grow. I remember listening to certain groups if for no other reason except that my parents disliked and loathed them.

I have included several articles to refresh people on certain things which I hope will not change.

First what freedom of speech is and also freedom of expression:

Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak without censorship and/or limitation. The synonymous term freedom of expression is sometimes used to indicate not only freedom of verbal speech but any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used. In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, such as on "hate speech".
The right to freedom of speech is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The ICCPR recognizes the right to freedom of speech as "the right to hold opinions without interference. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression".[1][2] Furthermore freedom of speech is recognized in European, inter-American and African regional human rights law.
Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by many state constitutions and state and federal laws. Criticism of the government and advocacy of unpopular ideas that people may find distasteful or against public policy, such as racism, are generally permitted. There are exceptions to the general protection of speech, however, including the Miller test for obscenity, child pornography laws, and regulation of commercial speech such as advertising. Other limitations on free speech often balance rights to free speech and other rights, such as property rights for authors and inventors (copyright), interests in "fair" political campaigns (Campaign finance laws), protection from imminent or potential violence against particular persons (restrictions on Hate speech or fighting words), or the use of untruths to harm others (slander). Distinctions are often made between speech and other acts which may have symbolic significance. Efforts have been made to ban flag desecration, for example, though currently that act remains protected speech.

Second the times in history when groups of people burned books because they felt them the wrong thing to read:

259-210 B.C.-Good old Shih Huang Ti, emperor of China, had a nice little BBQ. 460 Confucian scholars got to be the fuel for the fire.
A.D. 8- Ovid wrote about love and got the heave ho from Rome. His book Ars Amatoria caused him to be exiled in Greece until he died. they burned all of his books in Florence.
(oh and a nifty bit of more current news......his book was banned by U.S. Customs in 1928.....he must have had some wicked words)
35- Roman emperor Caligula decided that the ideas of Greek freedom of Homer's The Odyssey were not a good idea.
640- There was a big bonfire in Egypt. Omar burned all the volumes at the library in Alexandria . "If these writings of the Greeks agree with the Book of God they are useless and need not be preserved; if they disagree, they are pernicious and ought to be destroyed." The good news here, the books provided heat for the city's baths for six months.
1497-98- The season of Florentine bonfires was given to us by Savonarola. He invited artists and authors to join in by contributing their works to the fire. Ironically, in May of 1498 another great bonfire was lit-this time under Savonarola who hung from a cross. With him were burned all his writings, sermons, essays, and pamphlets.
1525- Latin rules! William Tyndale's English translation of the New Testament was printed 6,000 times and smuggled into England to light up the night. The church said the Bible had to be in Latin.
1597- Richard II that little play from Shakespeare had a scene that ticked off the Queen. Key word, had a scene. It was removed.
1614- The History of the World by Sir Walter Raleigh was deemed to saucy. Way to go Walt!
1624-The Pope ordered the burning of Martin Luther's German translation. Gee whiz don't those kids ever learn?
1616-42- Galileo had views not becoming the church about the solar system and his support of the discoveries of Copernicus. He got jailed at 70.
1720-Robinson Crusoe was banned by the Church.
1843- English plays started being censored by the Lord Chamberlain. That ended a few years later, 1968.
1859- The year of Darwinism! Charles Darwin's Origin of Species was published. Anyone up for movie time? Inherit the Wind is on somewhere I bet.
1864-1959-The Vatican strikes again. This time Les Miserables gets the no no ruling.
1881-Walt Whitman gets the last laugh. When Boston's district attorney threatened to ban Leaves of Grass the public went wild for it. the profits paid for Whitman's house.
1885-Huckleberry Finn started getting booed. First by the library of Concord, Massachusetts. By 1907 it's said the novel by Mark Twain had been banned at least once a year by some place in America.
1929-62- Papa Hemingway's books have been banned worldwide. Heck the Nazi's hated him so much they did that old bonfire thing with his works.
1931- Alice in Wonderland is banned in China. Why you ask? Because animals shouldn't have human voice.
1937- Quebec came up with the Padlock Act. The statute empowered the attorney general to close, for up to one year, any building that was used to disseminate "communism or bolshevism." (These two terms were undefined.) In addition, the act empowered the attorney general to confiscate and destroy any publication propagating communism or bolshevism. Anyone caught publishing, printing, or distributing such literature faced imprisonment for up to one year without appeal. In 1957, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the Padlock Act in a case called Switzman vs. Elbling.
1954- That evil Mickey Mouse was banned from East Berlin. You know he's an "anti-Red rebel."
1980s- Beatrix Potter's bunnies were banned in England. The novels The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny only showed middle class bunnies. How very non PC!
1983- Alabama's textbook committee ruled that the diary of Anne Frank was too much of a downer for kids to deal with. Oops, I guess impending death is too big a subject for kids.
1987- If you close your eyes it doesn't exist. Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was removed by the Wake County, North Carolina reading lists. The reason? She described being raped at seven.
2001- The U.S.A. PATRIOT Act allows for the collection of information of every book an
American checks out of a library. Hi Big Brother.

Now you decide for yourself if you want your name added to the second list or if you want your name on the first list. I want my name on that first list.
Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech


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