Incitement: Finger Pointing Politics
When a finger is pointed at another, there is said to be three more pointing back at the pointer; we have all heard this sentiment in one form or another. Another good analogy is, “sweep off your own back porch before you ride your broom to mine”. The American Government and politicians must have not heard of this concept yet. It seems that America is in a new generation of diversion and denial. A lot of finger-pointing has been going on across America since the January 8th attempted assassination of Congresswoman ‘Gabby’ Giffords. Politicians are blaming the tragedy on incitement, and some are naming names. Have they heard of the Constitution and Freedom of Speech? America needs to put the accountability where it belongs, on the offender. Dictionaire Philosopique, 1764, suggests, “We have a natural right to make use of our pens as of our tongue, at our peril, risk and hazard,” (Guillemets, 2010. p.2). All Americans have the moral responsibility to speak appropriately and responsibly; Freedom of Speech allows Americans to speak freely, no matter the content.
Talk of the Nation host Neal Conan, interviewed Law Professor Gregory Stone from the University of Chicago in 2006; the Professor suggests, it would take an extreme case of clear association to the criminal’s activities for a conviction to occur in the United States. Professor Stone goes on to state that;
“As long as the [offender] is thought to have sufficient opportunity to make an independent decision about whether or not to commit a criminal act or not…the law will essentially say, punish the [offender]…not the speaker” (Conan, 2006.p.5).
Are we just upset because we do not like what was said, or did the words or phrases really promote that criminal action (Conan, 2006.p. 1, 3, 5). With over 360 billion Americans invoking their right to free speech, someone is bound to get offended. We should teach tolerance, patients, and responsible behavior, instead of limiting Free Speech? If Americans now let our words be governed, may none of us ever speak again!
We must beware of the finger pointers, more so than the one’s being pointed at. We should ask why they are so quick to point out someone else’s behavior. Most of those doing the pointing have had a shady past themselves. Bill Clinton has opened his lying pie hole again accusing others of inappropriate language and behavior, the Tea Party, Republicans, Sara Palin, and many others; boy does he have his nerve. It was not long ago, he stood in front of the whole country and lied like a tacked down rug. “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”, stated then President Bill Clinton during an investigation into his conduct. Others, like Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh are pointing fingers as well; while they have been pointed at the most for incitement and rhetoric (Gist, 2010. p 1.). We are a free people with free will and speech, and free will means we do not have to listen to another’s free speech, we have other options. The Founding Fathers’ did not intend for our tongues to be shackled by a government that cannot control their own mouths.
If Free Speech were to become governed there would be extreme consequences. America was built upon the principle of personal responsibility; that will faultier if someone else can be blamed in some way, possibly casting a ‘shadow of a doubt’. John Stuart Mill, on liberty (1859) wisely stated;
“If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if had the power, would be justified in silencing all mankind”, (Guillemets, 2010.p. 4).
That is a powerful quote, and there are a plethora of others similar to that one. Yet, none are as powerful as the First Amendment Right of the Constitution of the United States of America;
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or for prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”, (The Washington Times, 2010).
There was a time when that Amendment was the most important in the Constitution. Now there are some that want to modify that right. Elected Justice Elena Kagan suggests that a ‘redistribution of speech’ method would fix the issue. Kagan goes on to suggest that the government has a ‘right’ to govern speech if that speech incites violence or hate (The Washington Times, 2010. p 1-2). Maybe President Obama should rethink his nomination. The foundation of America was built upon the Constitution of the United States; the people will not allow such tyranny.
The whole world is saddened by the tragedy that fell upon our fellow Americans that fateful day in Tucson, Arizona; no one wants to see this kind of thing happen. In the vast wasteland called media, this mentally disturbed young shooter could have gotten his ideology from any of the distasteful programs produced across the airwaves (The Associated Press, NBC News, msnbc.com, 2011.p 3-5). The government has cut mental health benefits and program funding time and time again; now they want to divert and deny the results of those actions (which is par for the course of government and politics). Incitement should not be the issue here; lack of proper mental health care is. Furthermore, the only mouths that should be shackled are the ones that are pointing fingers and purposely diverting the real issue, keeping the political rhetoric heated. Americans will not be silenced, no matter the cost. Our people have fought too hard for the freedoms of this country.
The cuts in mental health benefits have been progressively getting deeper since 2009. State agencies and communities are growing concerned and angry about the dangers of those who may go untreated. It seems that those cuts being made are just being passed on to other community agencies; emergency rooms across the country are now trying to deal with the crisis (Goodman, 2011.p 1-4). The problem with that is mental illnesses like ‘schizophrenia’ and ‘bi-polar disorder’ are not easily managed, even in a psychiatric setting; American hospital emergency rooms are certainly not equipped to handle these issues. “I’d be screwed and there would be a lot of crazy people on the street and I don’t think the city would be safe,” said a Seattle woman in response to the cuts made in 2010, which cut doctors, medications, and related programs (Brill, 2010.p.1). These are the tyranny behaviors that should dominate our airwaves after such tragedies as the Tucson shooting. Freedom of speech is rarely the issue in these cases; one just has to see past the political rhetoric to find the true cause.
Throughout history some American rebels have been arrested for incitement (criminal syndication laws); however, those cases have since been overturned or pardoned. The very first critical case in America was in 1919; Charlotte Anita Whitney was convicted for invoking her free speech at a gathering thrown by the “Communist Labor Party”. Whitney was pardoned a short time later by the then Governor of California, although, the Supreme Court later held up the previous conviction (Whitney v. California, 2011.p 1-3). The next important case to freedom of speech was a Ku Klux Klan leader named Clarence Brandenburg; though, there were cases in-between. Brandenburg publically burned crosses and called for the execution of Negroes, and the deportation of all Jews back to Israel. Mr. Brandenburg was convicted in the 1960’s for his outlandish behavior and language; however, this conviction was overturned in 1969 by the higher courts. Case after case in America has proven time and again, that freedom of speech is a natural human right that cannot and should not be governed (The Gale Group, 1999.p 3-4).
In conclusion: All Americans should look deep within themselves for their own faults and modify their own personal imperfections; pointing fingers compares to gossiping, the action only makes the accusing person look guilty. Freedom of speech should be nothing short of self-governed. And American politicians and government need to set an example of the behaviors they want ‘We the People’ to invoke. Finally, the American Government and its staff will do what ‘We the People’ allow them to. We can peaceably make them abide by ‘OUR’ Constitution; one by one we can cast them out wherever the voters’ meet.
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