Freedom of Speech

Terry Jones, that pastor with the bad moustache and roughly fifty followers in Florida who wants to burn copies of the Quran over the weekend isn’t important enough to get the attention he’s receiving.  He’s heard from the President, the Secretary of State, the commanding general in Afghanistan, the Pope, the President of Pakistan and who knows how many other world figures.  It’s gotten so bad that if he doesn’t burn the books, some idiot attention whore will. 

Some Muslim organization (I didn’t hear which one) announced that if he burns 200 Qurans, they’ll give away 200,000 copies.  That’s an appropriate response, a good way to counter this idiocy.  Completely ignoring the guy would be better.

There’s no question his proposed action is protected by the US Constitution; the federal government can’t interfere.  But there was a time when burning books was associated with censorship, not freedom of speech.  Nazis did it, for instance.  It’s fiction, of course, but read “Fahrenheit 451.” 

Many people don’t understand the First Amendment.  It keeps the government and nobody else from interfering with your right to speak out.  If you say something your boss doesn’t like, unless you have a contract or there’s a union involved, the boss can fire you for it. 

One of the people who doesn’t understand our US Constitution is the Interior Minister of Pakistan, A. Rehman Malik.  First, the USA isn’t in Pakistan so he doesn’t have any jurisdiction, but he asked INTERPOL to prevent Terry Jones from burning the Quran.  On the other hand, perhaps Mr. Malik does understand and just said what he said to score political points in Pakistan.  Maybe he learned to do that from watching US politicians cavort on cable TV news.  Obviously, INTERPOL doesn’t have any jurisdiction when a US Citizen does something in the US, but when did the Interior Minister of Pakistan last get news coverage in media all over the United States?

In grade school and in high school, students hear that the USA is a democracy and that means the majority rules.  It isn’t so though.  First, the USA isn’t a democracy, it’s a representative republic.  Moreover, the US Constitution with its bill of rights, is meant to ensure that the majority doesn’t run roughshod over minorities.  So, let’s all try to remember that the only kind of speech that needs the protection of the First Amendment is unpopular speech.

Author: Tom

I know my ABC's, I can write my name and I can count to a hundred.