Blogging, the Last Stronghold of Free Speech?

free-speech

As the world becomes increasingly global in its reach and connections, it also becomes increasingly politically correct. So much so, that what used to pass for common conversation is now a little dicey. Where we didn’t used to think too much about saying something, an opinion, a thought, even certain words – now it gives us pause. Am I using hate speech? Is that an epithat? Was that a racial slur? Is my religion racist? These and other thoughts can easily zip through our minds as our mouths are held agape – thoughts in mid-air and maybe never to be launched verbally for the world at large to hear.

Television, the newspapers, magazines, even movies and popular music have all ‘softened’ become more and more homogenized and bland, all in the quest of saying the right thing. While we are madly engaged in a game of leveling the playing field, playing fair, not discriminating, being democratic, etc., etc., until we are absolutely dizzy with confusion as to what we can or cannot say to whom we can or cannot say it. Funny, just that statement alone made me think of a history lesson centering on Nazi Germany…and the KGB… I digress.

While I cannot speak for other countries that I do not live in, nor have I ever lived in, I can say that in the United States we have a thing called the Constitution and within it, The Bill of Rights (technically considered to be the first ten amendments ratified in 1791 of the Constitution) which in part, entitles American citizens to free speech. Although many people misunderstand that to mean that they can say absolutely anything under the sun, the spirit of the amendment centers around free political speech. And too, it is a direction to the Congress (our law makers) that they may make no law that would prohibit such free speech. It does not include what one may or may not say on someone’s blog or website, etc. However, still there is much leeway given on this particular right and it is extended to the media (freedom of the press as it is commonly known) as a group, not a special group as they are comprised of the citizenry, so that short of starting a riot, or inciting someone to harm another, it is protected.

Though in practice it is getting short shrift – so much so that newspapers and conventional media outlets seem ruled more by their own ideology than the truth or even a strong opinion. More and more, politically and socially we are being bound and gagged in our efforts to express ourselves and say what we think. I suppose if the pc police had had their way we’d all be reading our daily talking points on what we could or could not say on a weekly basis.

However, along came the internet and specifically bloggers. Despite the many attempts to muzzle, control and legislate the internet and the voices represented there, most attempts at doing so have been thwarted. People started to like the idea that there was a place that they could go and actually speak their minds, without regard to hurting someone’s feelings, being offensive or upsetting someone with the truth. In fact, a Pew Research study showed that an increasing percentage of people now get their news on the internet, particularly those in the thirty and under crowd. There must be a reason, right? Perhaps it is because there are fewer filters, perhaps because there is a certain anonymity and fear of reprisel is less or perhaps it is just a way for an overly pressured and somewhat oppressed society to seek the truth without being told what to think about it.

So here’s some truth for you, at least as far as I’m concerned – words are not things. They cannot and will not in and of themselves hurt you. Words are simply the vehicle by which we express ideas, thoughts and hopes. They are the representation of concepts. And they do mean things. Words do have their own meanings, one word can and does hold more weight than another. There are hundreds of thousands of words, there is a reason for that, they mean different things. They do not all mean the same thing more or less. They can be used to express love, hatred, contempt, joy, bias, understanding, reasoning, insanity and on and on. And as long as there are people out there who understand this, there will be people who will have ideas. Ideas that will become realities that will help and improve lives – but also ideas that can create realities that result in harm. It is a mixed bag but we live with this knowledge and have since humans began to talk to each other.

I’m afraid there are a lot of people out there who would rather we didn’t know this. And that we should reduce our vocabularies to 400-500 words most of which resulted in submission, not fairness, enslavement, not kindness or humanity and their motive is simply and only power. And it galls them, folks, that they can’t get to us. For some reason, they cannot pull the reins in on the internet and bloggers. And while many may think that blogging and bloggers are just so much nonsense or silly play I beg to differ. I believe that we are the surviving truth seekers out there. We want to say what we think, we want to read what others think, we want to know the truth and to write the truth. And while the title for this piece may seem a bit presumptious, I have come to think more and more that it isn’t at all. We may be the last stronghold on free speech.

Something to think about, isn’t it?

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8 thoughts on “Blogging, the Last Stronghold of Free Speech?

  1. Hi Annie,

    Not to worry. The Internet was designed to be redundant and hard to stop. The Government won’t be able to shut it down or control it to any great degree without declaring martial law. If they try, you can always buy bandwidth on a server in a foreign country where they are more interested in money than political correctness, and all your activity through a heavy duty encryption program – 512 bit is slow but it takes even the NSA several years to break. Oh, and if you are really paranoid, it’s possible to route your activity through a service that hides your connection’s IP address so it can’t be traced to your blog. And if They do go the storm trooper route, you can acquire a satellite connection, the dish for which is small and hard to detect, and can be located anywhere within line of sight of your secret hiding place. There’s more which is even better. I’ll email you if it drops in the pot.

    the Grit

    the Grit´s last blog post..FUBAR

    Grit,
    Have I ever told you how very glad you stumbled onto my blog one day? You never cease to amaze me and always make me laugh. You are without a doubt, one of the good guys. And oh, we better start stocking the bunker with some of them secret sattelite dishes. 😆
    Annie

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  2. Very interesting and thought provoking piece Annie. Love the grits comment!!

    I am in Australia and it is interesting that we are one of the few countries where we do not have freedom of speech written into our constitution. Our constitution is not as held in the same respect though as yours is…. or so I believe anyway to Americans…or it is not brought up with any frequency in conversation!

    There is a lot of debate at present here because the government is attempting to muzzle the Australian public with new internet censorship laws and it is really dividing the public. We have seen quite a few debates on television about it and of course we always get the people who have no idea what the internet really is and certainly have no idea what blogging is about!

    Okay… yes am talking about my husband here I admit it! I won a giveaway the other day and he thought it was some internet conspiracy to divest us of our savings!!!

    Your statement below:

    However, still there is much leeway given on this particular right and it is extended to the media (freedom of the press as it is commonly known) as a group, not a special group as they are comprised of the citizenry, so that short of starting a riot, or inciting someone to harm another, it is protected.

    is interesting as you said that is the media… would that extend to inciting one to harm themselves on the internet in blogging or on myspace…as in the Megan Meier case?

    http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2007/11/30/1196394672124.html?page=fullpage

    all they could get Lori Drew on was a technology type charge…although they said it was aimed at causing emotional harm….the laws have not kept up with technology in my opinion in these type of harassment cases…but am first to admit I am no interpreter of the law

    Oh Annie there is so much to think about here I may have to do my own post on it from an Australian prospective…although as i said it is not so clear cut. Hope you do not mind this long comment…I know a lot of people hate them but I am not one of them but please let me know if you do!

    Blogging for me has been about sharing my passions, and as you say truth seeking…tricky though with honesty being like beauty …..so much in the eye of the beholder!

    magikquilter´s last blog post..Countdown to 200 posts continued…Vintage Kaffe Fassett Style and The Brocade Skirt

    Hey Kathleen,
    Yes, I guess there is a lot to think about here, which is probably why I wrote this. It’s been on my mind for many reasons for a while.

    As to the Megan Meirer case…I wouldn’t say it had anything to do with free speech. No one was attempting to squash this woman’s free speech and she was masquerading as someone she wasn’t. It struck me more as cyber stalking. That they couldn’t find a law to prosecute her under though, doesn’t to me mean they need to create new laws. However, laws or not, life has a way of getting payment for bad and cruel behavior and it sounds like Lori Drew is getting a good dose of what she doled out. And too, she must feel tremendous guilt for what she did, as regardless of what the legal stance is – the woman must know in her heart she drove a young woman to take her own life. This is something she will have to live with for the rest of her life and she will suffer greatly from it.

    I suppose Americans are rather talky and attached to the Constitution. It is the document upon which our country was built – the building block so to speak and it is part of standard American history.

    I would love to see you do a similar piece – it would be interesting to get the Austrailian perspective on this type of topic.

    No worries about the length of the comment – I like it when a post engages a reader and they have lots to say about it.

    Annie

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  3. Um…shuddering at prospective instead of perspective and also…. China blocked all foreign press and twitter and wordpress and blogger etc not to mention their own people from mentioning the massacre at Tianenman Square after I published that.

    magikquilter´s last blog post..Countdown to 200 posts continued…Vintage Kaffe Fassett Style and The Brocade Skirt

    Don’t worry about it – you should see some of my typos.

    As to China, I can’t say I’m surrprised. How else do you suppose they can control so many people? They must keep them in the dark and out of reach to the outside world, lest they rise up and take back their own lives.
    Annie

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  4. Hi Annie,

    As to China, keep in mind that, while the media is constantly talking them up, the majority of their population still survives on substance agriculture. Sure, they probably have almost as many people living a modern life as we do, but they have an extra 700,000,000 or so teetering on the verge of starvation or plague. Thus, it’s really hard to stage a popular revolution there because, shucks, it’s difficult to remain popular if you screw things up and several million people die.

    the Grit
    Hey Grit,
    Ain’t that the truth – it’s hard to get a decent revolution going these days, ain’t it? 😆
    Annie

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  5. A timely post, considering the FCC is now working on new broadband regs which could give the almighty American corporation a lot more control over our Internet. We the people ARE the Internet. Let’s not let the corporations limit our access and our freedom of speech, just so they can fatten their wallets. You have until July 8 to tell the FCC to keep those corporate fingers off the Internet.

    BTW, love your illustration, Annie.

    PiedType´s last blog post..FCC, don’t sell out the Internet

    Oh crap, 30, just when you thought it was safe to surf the net. I presume all the details are on your blog on your last post? I’ll be checking that out soon. Thanks for the heads up. I love that pic too. Wish I could take credit for it. 🙂
    Annie

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  6. Everything that’s wrong with government is encapsulated by the FCC, which started out as a simple technical agency empowered to keep players in the nascent AM-radio industry from stepping on each other’s bandwidth. Everything else has been mission creep.

    CGHill´s last blog post..It’s a miracle, a true-blue spectacle

    Hey Chaz!
    I didn’t know that about the FCC – amazing how simple government ‘solutions’ turn into big brother wannabe’s, eh? I’m just wondering, when does it stop – when are we going to stand up and say, ‘enough!’?
    Annie

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  7. HI Annie,

    I read this post really quickly, well I kinda just read it and thought political correctness and went away but yes its very thought provoking and has brought me back to it. I’ve just read it twice and I have to say I love Evyls comment. Hehe !!

    Its been a bit tricky for me with my blog and my recovery talk to myself which I share with the world. The 12 step programming of NA would say that I am contributing to another persons relaspe with the way I write and express myself on some of my topics. Yes its been a bit tricky for me around FREEDOM. Urmm !! I think I may have to read this post again – honest to god I can’t remember anything that I’ve just read. Hehe !

    Thank you for this post, I thought it to be a bit too intelligent for me at first glance.
    Love Di.

    Hey Di,
    Oh it’s just one of my rants, Di. You know I have to do that now and then, right? I guess my point is this – that everyday, as ordinary citizens we are losing our personal freedoms and it seems we aren’t noticing that. And that I believe that bloggers may be the last people willing and able to really speak their minds. Fingers crossed we don’t get shut down too, eh?

    Love
    Annie

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