Think it. Mean it. Say it.
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Transcript of Think it. Mean it. Say it.
A WORLD FULL OF
“People have a hard time seeing outside their own established framework, but in my mind, that is all the more reason to have no regulations of speech.”
“People need to have their views challenged and there should be nothing stopping anyone from raising their own views.”
“Although I tend to think freedom of speech has to be taken as far as possible, I have to say information and knowledge is the basis of "speech".”
“People should always be allowed to speak their minds and be true to who they are.”
“You have the freedom to say what you want but you're held responsible for what you say.”
from political convictions or political opportunism. Those with political ambitions know well that lewd pictures and loutish talk leave few people dispassionate.The urge to cover other people’s eyes and ears is as ancient and robust as the urge to shock, defy, or annoy, and words and symbols matter deeply to most people, even when lan-guage or art is peripheral to their lives. Which ones we get riled up over may vary, as will the manner , intensity, and so-phistication of our response. But words cut close to the bone, and the umbrage taken at offending speech may be one of the few things that unites across race, gender, class, and all other categories we’re not supposed to speak disparagingly about.
There are costs to this culture of liberty that we claim for our-selves. At times, putting up with expression that is ugly, crass, wrongheaded, bad manners, bad taste, or just plain dumb is one of them. Some objects of the censor’s wrath are meant to be in-your-face challenges: rock ‘n’ roll is all about rebel-lion, dissent courts the hereodox, profantiy aims to belittle, and pornography is supposed to turn us on. That’s their ap-peal and their usefulness. Defending espression that over-steps some line by asking what all the fuss is about misses the point. The necessary question is what kind of fuss we will have. Will we meet speech that unsettles with the catharsis of response - discussing, debating, debunking, deflating - or will we impose ever more elaborate limits on the speech we don’t want to hear?
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right in-cludes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech . . .- First Amendement to the U.S. Constitution
A Democracy of Voices
Americans used to like the First Amendment. Sometimes we added “but” at the end of our declaration of faith, but we had a real soft spot for the idea that speech should be safe from interference by those in power. The first of our rights, freedom of expression, was almost a civic religion, fundametal to how we defined ourselves as a nation and as individuals.
Not Anymore. Sometime in the mid - 1980s, we began to hear angry citizens announce that they would accept this or that outrage no longer; something had to be done, and that something was shutting people up. Throughout the following decade and spilling into the present, we learned of more and more targets: teachers who assigned books with profanity, Websites that mentioned sex, artists who got grants, movies that provoked, songs that challenged, books that acknowledged ambiguity, anything that encour-
aged independent thought, and nearly everything on TV. How commonplace it has all become.
The First Amendement used to be the province of lawyers, civic teachers, the ACLU, and the occasional politician in need of a tidy stump speech. Now, we live in a time of talk: rap, memoir, news headlines that read like experimental fiction, conversations that erupt into blame mongering and moral certitude. When this logorrhea spills over intot the public arena, we turn ourselves into a nation of buttonhol-ers, all insisiting that attention be paid to our story, our be-liefs, our gripe. This, we tell ourselves, is democracy: one big call-in show where fervor is a guarantee of truth and having an opinion is practically a civic duty. Through it all, we stalk words, making numerous and noisy claims for their ill effects: dirty ones cause licentiousness, sexy ones cause rape, rabble-rousing ones cause, well, roused rabble.
In this riot of word blame, not all motives are political, nor are all speech desputes played out on the political stage. Other countries kill their dissidents. We frustrate ours into silence, trivializing deeply held convictions and turning their advocates into cranks, or bribing discontent with stardom and spots on talk shows and the covers of glossy maga-zines. Offending Artist of the Week. Teacher Who Can’t Teach That of the month. All the easier to dismiss their com-plaints. Still, the bulk of free speech controversies arises
Rosa ParksAfter a day at work at Montgomery Fair department store, Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus at around 6 p.m., Thursday, December 1, 1955, in down-town Montgomery. She paid her fare and sat in an empty seat in the first row of seats reserved for blacks in the “colored” section. As the bus traveled along its reg-ular route, all of the white-only seats in the bus filled up. The bus reached the third stop in front of the Empire Theater, and several white passengers boarded.In 1900, Montgomery had passed a city ordinance for the purpose of segregat-ing passengers by race. Conductors were given the power to assign seats to accomplish that purpose; however, no passengers would be required to move or give up their seat and stand if the bus was crowded and no other seats were available. Over time and by custom, however, Montgomery bus drivers had adopted the practice of requiring black riders to move whenever there were no white only seats left.So, following standard practice, bus driver
section. Blake then said, “Why don’t you stand up?” Parks responded, Blake called the police to arrest Parks.
When recalling the incident, Parks said, “When he saw me still sitting, he asked if I was going to stand up, and I said, ‘No, I’m not.’ And he said, ‘Well, if you don’t stand up, I’m going to have to call the police and have you arrested.” I said, “You may do that.”
Parks detailed her motivation in her auto-biography, My Story:“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in. I did not want
to be mistreated, I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. It was just time... there was opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being treated in that manner. I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. But when I had to face that decision, I didn’t hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more op-
pressive it became.”Rosa Parks played an important part in internationalizing the awareness of the
plight of African Americans and the civil
Blake noted that the front of the bus was filled with white passengers and there were two or three men standing, and thus moved the “colored” section sign behind Parks and demanded that four black peo-ple give up their seats so that the white passengers could sit. Years later, in re-calling the events of the day, Parks said,Blake said, “Y’all better make it light
on yourselves and let me have those seats.”Three of them complied, but I didn’t.” The black man sitting next to her gave up his seat. Parks moved, but to-ward the window seat; she did not get up to move to the newly repositioned colored
When someone speaks up for what is rightKitty GenoveseThe Killing of Kitty Genovese. Her public slaying in Queens becomes a symbol of Americans’ failure to get involved.It was just after 3 a.m. Kitty Genovese drove home from work and then began the 100-foot walk toward her apartment house at 82-70 Austin St. She spotted a man standing along her route. Appar-ently afraid, she changed direction and headed toward the intersection of Austin and Lefferts Boulevard -- where there was a police call box.Suddenly, the man overtook her and grabbed her. She screamed. Residents of nearby apartment houses turned on their lights and threw open their win-dows. The woman screamed again: ``Oh, my God, he stabbed me! Please help me!’’A man in a window shouted: “Let that girl alone.’’ The attacker walked away. Apartment lights went out and windows slammed shut. The victim staggered toward her apartment. But the attacker returned and stabbed her again.
The attacker entered a car and drove away, but soon came back again. His victim had crawled inside the front door of an apartment house at 82-62 Austin St. He found her sprawled on the floor and stabbed her still again. This time he killed her.It was not until 3:50 that morning, March 13, 1964, that a neighbor of the victim called the police. They identified the vic-tim as Catherine Genovese, 28, who had been returning from her job. Neighbors knew her not as Catherine but as Kitty.Kitty Genovese: It was a name that would become symbolic in the public mind for a dark side of the national char-acter. It would stand for Americans who were too indifferent or too frightened or too alienated or too self-absorbed to “get involved’’ in helping a fellow human be-ing in dire trouble. A term “the Genovese syndrome” would be coined to describe the attitude.
Detectives investigating Genovese’s murder discovered that no fewer than 38 of her neighbors had witnessed at least one of her killer’s three attacks but had neither come to her aid nor called the police. The one call made to the police came after Genovese was already dead.Assistant Chief Insp. Frederick Lussen, commander of Queens detectives, said that nothing in his 25 years of police work had shocked him so much as the apathy encountered on the Genovese murder. “As we have reconstructed the crime, the assailant had three chances to kill this woman during a 35-minute period,” Lussen said, “If we had been called when he first attacked, this wom-an might not be dead now.”When detectives asked Genovese’s neighbors why they had not taken action, many said
When no one speaks up for what is right
Voices From the Past
“When that white driver waved his hand and or-dered us up and out of our seats, I felt a deter-mination cover my body like a quilt on a winter night.”
“I don’t think I should have to stand up.”
“I was afraid”“I didn’t want to get involved.”
Values served by the protecting of Free Speech
The Discovery of the TruthWhen truth and falsehood are allowed to freely graple, truth will win out.
Facilitating Participation by Citizens in Political Decision - MakingCitizens will not make wise and informed choices in elections if candidates and proponents of certain policies are restricted in their ability to communicate positions.
Creating a More Adaptable and Stable CommunityA society in which angry and alienated citizens are allowed to speak their mind will be more stable, as people will be less likely to resort to violence. It has also been pointed out that allowing the alienated and discontented to speak freely enables government to better monitor potentially dangerous groups who would otherwise act more clandestinely.
Assuring Individual Self-FufillmentFree speech enables individu-als to express themselves, create and identify and, in the process perhaps, find kindred spirits. Freedom of speech thus becomes an aspect of human dignity.
Checking Abuse of Governmental PowerAs Watergate, Irangate, Clintongate (and all the other “gates”) demonstrate, freedom of the press en-ables citiznes to learn about abuses of power and then do something about the abuse at the ballot box, if the feel so moved.
Promoting ToleranceFreedom of speech, especially through our practice of extend-ing protection to speech that we find hateful or personally up-setting, teaches us to become more tolerant in other aspects of life - and that a more tolerant society is a better society.
Creating More Robust and Interesting CommunityA community in which free speech is valued and pro-tected is likely to be a more energized, creative society as its citizens actively fulfill themselves in many di-verse and interesting ways.
Freedom of Speech in America means that the
government bodies do not have the right to censor speech. I think American free speech is just fine, and is one freedom I will
fight tooth and nail to maintain.
True freedom of speech allows the ex-pression of ALL points of view – not just the
ones supported by the majority (or loudest).
I have to say information
and knowledge is the basis of
Freedom of Speech is a human yearning - insistent, per-sistent, and universal. Speech may be uplifting, enlight-ening, and profound; but it is also degrading, redundant, and trivial. Speech may be abstract and theoretical, a near cousin to thought; but it is also concrete and imme-diate, filled with calls to action, intertwined with conduct. Speech may be rational, contemplative, orderly, orga-nized, and soft; but it is also emotional, raucous, chaotic, untidy, and loud. Speech may be soothing and comfort-able; but it is also vexatious and noisome. Speech may confirm and affirm; it may be patriotic and supportive of prevailing values and order; but it may also be challeng-ing, threatening, and seditious, perhaps even treason-ous.
Yes, all speech should be free regardless of content.
Maybe, it depends on how indecent/shocking the speech is.
No, some things like racist and derogatory speech is better left unsaid.
I am undecided.
Do you believe in total free speech?
Do you think Americans take free speech too far?
think it. mean it. say it.
SPEAKwhatever is TRUEwhatever is NOBLEwhatever is RIGHTwhatever is PUREwhatever is ADMIRABLEwhatever is YOU.
A WORLD FULL OF VOICES. www.thinkmeansayit.com
Free Speech is very important and is something that we need to use more to better ourselves and our world. You have a voice and you have a Freedom; use it! Be true to who you are, and don’t be afraid to stand up and say what is right. Think it. mean it. Say it. Think it through, then make sure you mean what you say, then say it. Everyone has a time in their life when they should have said somehting, they should have done the right thing. But they were afraid, embarrassed, thought no one would listen, their voice wouldn’t matter, or didn’t want to get involved. This is a group of people who had that time, but they are not afraid anymore. They are proud of who they are and of what lessons those experiences have taught them. They have re-pented and used their voices and taken action. Chemise McDaniel - Goode
There was this girl at my High School. Everyday this group of girls would make fun of her and pick on her until she cried. And Everyday, along with everyone else, I would just watch pretending not to notice or hear what was happening. I never stood up for her or told the group of girls to stop. I didn’t want them to pick on me too if I said something. I always thought about that girl, and regret-ed not helping her. Later in life I was confronted with a similar situation and this time I knew I wasn’t going to sit back and do nothing . I spoke up and helped the girl who was being harassed. I knew the truth; of the regret i felt from the past and the right thing to do now. We are still friends today.
Moriah MendezMy friend and I were leaving her apartment complex. As we were walk-ing we saw a couple acting strangely in their idling car. The girl seemed upset, and it wasn’t just that she was acting strange, but there was some-thing more, something not right with the way he was treating her. So we felt compelled to stop and ask if ev-erything was all right. She said it was fine, but would not look at us. The guy seemed irritated with our con-cern. So we just walked away. I have never been able to forget that night. I knew there was something wrong and I didn’t help her. That girl who I knew needed help. I know that I will do everything in my power the next time. I will help the person in need.
Sammi LangIt was my senior year of high school and I was going to the district tournament to qualify for state in wrestling. I was in charge of the scale that everyone would weigh in on at the tourna-ment. I messed with the scale so that it would tell me I was lighter than I really was, because I was tired and didn’t want to cut weight anymore. It also showed that everyone else was lighter too. So they thought they were fine and they stopped cutting weight. We go to the tournament and two of the guys didn’t make weight because of what I did, so they didn’t get to wrestle for the state tournament. One of them was a senior and it was his last opportunity, the other was a junior who was doing so well everyone thought he would have won. Two years later I finally confessed and apologized to both of them. It affected these two guy’s lives, and I felt so much remorse for what I had done.
Vincent MaynardWhen I was a kid my mom started seeing this guy. He never treated her right, but one day he took it too far. He hit my mom and beat her while I just watched quielty not sure what to do or how to help. I felt so many emotions of anger, guilt and sadness. I saw my mom going through so much pain and I just sat quiet, alone and afraid. As I grew older my mom went through different boyfriends but none were as bad as that guy. Until one day she brought him home. This guy not the same as the one from before, but he treated her in the same way and hit her too. I knew I had to stop him and stand up for her. I wasn’t afraid anymore and he would not do this to my mom. I stood up to him, and he left. My mom has never been hit again
Luke SherwoodI had this friend. This friend that I had always looked up to and respected. As we grew older we changed so much in who we were, our morals and character. My friend started treating people differently than I did, mainly he treated girls differ-ently. I sat back and watched him treat his girlfriends with no respect. He cheated and took advantage and I didn’t say or do anything to stop it. Finally I decided that I couldn’t do that anymore. He was a good friend yes, but what he was doing was wrong. I told him I didn’t agree and I was going to tell her the truth. I did. I stood up to my friend and now that girl is with a great guy, very happy and grateful for me speaking up.
“To speak his thoughts is every freeman’s right, in peace and war, in council and in fight.” -Homer
“Give me the liberty to know, to utter,and to argue freely according to con-science above all other liberties.” -John Milton
“The most tyrannical governments are those which make crimes of opinions, for everyone has an inalienable rightto his own thoughts.” -Baruch Spinoza
“Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such thing as Wisdom; and no such thing as public Liberty, without Freedom of Speech.” -Cato
“In a free counrty we punish men for the crimes they commit but never for the opinions they have.” -Harry S. Truman
“Freedom of speech, if it is to be real, must be extended to all and not be the prerogative or specialgift of anyone.” -Luis Aguilar
think it. mean it. say it.“Free Speech is the matrix...the indespen-sable condition of nearly every other freedom.” - Benjamin Cardozo