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Myth of the First Amendment
The concept of "Big Brother" surveying all our actions and censoring what we hear and what we know is something that goes against the very conception of American society. The centuries old fear of control motivates the people such that they believe in the ideology of freedom of speech over anything else. The First Amendment to us, is right up there with all the we hold Holy, un acceptable this may seem but the respect we accord to this issue can have no better comparison. Yet, are we as free as we believe or is the freedom we have just an illusion that the media and the government present so that they can manipulate our beliefs and perspective of the life we are living in the manner in which they deem correct? Horrendous as this thought may seem the fact is that if we look closely at the dynamics of our society we will realize that there is no such thing as the freedom of speech.
The concept of freedom of speech is merely an illusion presented to the people so that the different facets in power can control their thoughts through media manipulation and other such strategies of control.
The first amendment of the United States constitution states, "Congress shall make no law...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." [Author Not Available, 2002]
This is the clause that the people of America are so proud of and one, which they regale the world over. When we hear of the plight of the women in Afghanistan we thank the founders of the constitution for granting us the right to live in the manner that we deem right-without government interference. The individual is important to Americans and we are proud of it. We do not have religion in our schools and if some Muslim girl wants to wear a scarf to school we suggest that she not wear it because she would be promoting her religion. If a honors graduate wants to bring God into his or her speech we protest that an educational forum is being used for religious propagation. We are after all, free, and would not want anything to interfere in this freedom. However, the freedom that we are so arrogantly proud of is a mere illusion and a simple analysis of the society we have today will prove this.
Consider here the above-cited case. A graduate is asked to avoid religious notes in his speech. As the person who has been chosen to represent the graduating class does he not have the right to choose what he wants to say? This suggests that the policy makers do not trust the speaker to say the right thing as they conceive it. They are here interfering with the individual's freedom of speech and persuading the society that they are right. It's merely a propaganda that creates the illusion of public policy. How? Let me explain. The fear of institutional religion is predominant and in order to avoid that the government has created laws that interfere with the individuals right to speech. It's a paradox in itself. If in the above case the school officials had forced the student to make a speech with a religious base that would have been intolerable for all. There would have been a hue and cry because the society has been programmed to believe that the interference of religion in the various aspects of society is dangerous. Yet, when the same officials interfere in the same students speech and force the student to not state any religious perspectives in the speech it is considered acceptable. Simply because the public blindly accepts that 'religion is bad.' (Americans United for Separation of Church and State, 2002) Psychologists would call this a conditioned reflex. We have been persuaded unconsciously to accept the media and government message that religion is unacceptable so without any logical thought we behave in the expected manner. Our thoughts are controlled and programmed by the media message. We are then, not as free as the government intends us to believe we are for the clause of the amendment prohibiting the free exercise thereof is being opposed.
Remember the past when the Ku Klux Klan created havoc in society? It was banned by the government and could not 'assemble' as the government had taken their right to speak their bigot thought or act upon them. (Krath 2000) When someone burns an American Flag we are enraged at the atrocity and the government attempts to apply a law that would prevent the desecration of the flag. Desecration, a strong word implying biblical images. Yet, according to the First amendment the burning of the flag comes under the note of freedom of speech and cannot be made illegal. [Detweiler, 1996] Yet, because it goes against all thoughts of decency as we conceive it we would prevent someone from behaving in that manner. Then we come to the media. [freedomforum.org: 2002] Controlled by a few individuals the monopoly of the media over the minds of the people is astounding. Researchers are being done on the affect of media violence on children, the influence of gender issues as portrayed by the media and the sexual objectification of women in advertising are all coming under fire. The media bias is strong and its influence of our subconscious minds cane be seen from this observation. After the September 11, 2001 attacks the society spiraled into a series of violent attacks on its own citizens. As the media used words like 'Islamic terrorist' 'supposedly' 'it is believed' and other such insinuations as to the causes of the events the citizens of America began to attack the people they perceived to be responsible for the attacks. Sikhs in turbans were attacked, as they were believed to be Muslims. Arabs were not allowed to board planes. (Author Not Available 2001) Women in scarves were abused. Why? All because the media had been suggesting that these sort of people were the enemies. This was not in a very obvious manner. It was mere insinuations subtly presented within their news stories. If the media can exercise so much control on our actions how can we believe that we are free to say what we want? That's a mere myth, actually we say and act as the media deems it necessary and the government becomes the ultimate control. Big Brother is here!
The statement is promoting the war on terrorism that the people of America support it. The Talibans must be eradicated to prevent another attack. That is why the government is destroying the homes of the Afghanistan people, that is why their human rights are being abuse and that is why the people of America are quiet or are they? Does the opposition not being shown on the media mean that there is no opposition? One of the things that separate the United States government from the Taliban is the fact that it provides our citizens freedom of speech. If there is to be free speech in this country, we must embrace it fully, including the people criticizing our government for its actions against Afghanistan after the attack. It is hard to imagine that all 285 million people in this country are fully supportive of President George W. Bush in his response. It is not realistic. [LEVENDOSKY, 2001]
Consider that a Kansas student scrawled a Confederate flag in a notebook during class. According to a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the school was well within its right to suspend the boy for such an outrageous... doodle. I mean, this wasn't even a political speech case; the kid was daydreaming and could have written some girl's name a hundred times, but drew the rebel battle flag instead. Said the court, "[a] school need not tolerate student speech that is inconsistent with its basic educational mission even though the government could not censor similar speech outside the school."(Author Not Available 2000)
Freedom of speech and expression are our most sacred rights and need to be protected to the full extent of the law. Unfortunately, while protecting the freedom of expression sincerely we must protect even the most irresponsible, deplorable, pathological and offensive expression. The temptation to suppress such rudeness is noble, but unbridled, it can us lead down the poorly lit road of oppressive, totalitarian government. To believe in the protection of freedom of speech and expression implies being in favor of allowing speech and expression we disagree with or despise. Otherwise what is there to protect? Views we want to see or hear? Or what the media and government deem it right? (Pollock, 2001)
Throughout this century, the concept of free speech had a unique power to unite liberals. The "freedom to think as you will and to speak as you…[continue]
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