Has social media ruined Free Speech?

Editorials

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; 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.
 United States of America Constitution, First Amendment

(From NY Daily News) Protesters in Bangladesh burn U.S. flags after a controversial film enraged Islamic nations.

These words symbolize the foundation of our nation and the core values of our people.  It guarantees rights that some people of other nations dream to have, as indicated in the case of the Pussy Riot band members in Russia.  It also, is the very reason I am allowed to freely express myself in this blog today.

Of course the freedom is not absolute, and comes with restrictions.  For example, one could not stand up in the middle of a crowded theater and yell, “fire,” just for kicks and giggles, nor could one publicly call for the assassination of a public official.   Also, one couldn’t spread false rumors about someone, ruining their character.  Well, you could, but you would face drastic repercussions.
But can one legally make a video that pokes fun of a religious prophet and leads to anti-America riots and close to twelve nations?  Recent uprisings in the Middle East and the death of an American Ambassador has people debating this same question.
For now the answer is yes.
YouTube was first to take this stance when the Google company issued this response defending anti-Islamic movie entitled Innocence of Muslims after the Obama administration asked it to review its policy:
We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions. This can be a challenge because what’s OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere. This video — which is widely available on the Web — is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube. However, we’ve restricted access to it in countries where it is illegal such as India and Indonesia as well as in Libya and Egypt given the very sensitive situations in these two countries. This approach is entirely consistent with principles we first laid out in 2007.
This set two clear messages. First, Google will not be bullied by the government, and second, it would be un-American to deny a satire on religion, regardless of who it offends.
I applaud Google for sticking to its guns.  And the company is right.  This movie is no different than any of the other widely grossing American movies such as Bruno or cartoons such as South Park that make fun of peoples beliefs in order to get laughs.  Americans just have become desensitized to such mediums and choose to disregard things that they deem distasteful, allowing them to live on.
This is something the Obama administration was forced to admit through Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s words, “our country does have a long tradition of free expression, which is enshrined in our Constitution and in our law. We do not stop individual citizens from expressing their views no matter how distasteful they may be.”
One fact that can’t be ignored, however, is the reaction this video caused.  We watched on television as mobs violently protested outside U.S. Embassies and U.S. flags were burned.   Casualties included four persons form the Embassy in Libya.
Today the violence subdues, but one question remains: Has social media ruined free speech?  Although Americans can safely enjoy this right, the internet allows these pieces to be played in places where this right is not so pleasantly received.  There is no doubt, that from now on things that are subject for publication will have to answer the question, what effect can come from this.  The answer will most likely keep some things from surfacing to public level.
As of now, free speech lives to fight another day.  But I guarantee this victory will be short lived, and the notion will be called upon to defend itself once again.  Enjoy it while you can.

Movie Theatre Massacre

Editorials

We may never understand what leads anyone to terrorise their fellow human beings.  Such even is senseless – beyond reason. But while we will never know fully what causes someone to take the life of another, we do know what makes that life worth living.
President Barack Obama

Candlelight vigil held for those who died in the Batman Movie Massacre July 20. Twelve people died and 58 were injured.

Thirteen years ago, two teenagers opened fired at Columbine high school and killed 12 students and a teacher.  Five years ago, a young man opened fire at Virginia Tech University and killed 32 people.  Two years and eight months ago, a Major in the U.S. Army open fired at Fort Hood and killed 12 soldiers and one civilian.  Last year, a man opened fire at a Tucson Arizona supermarket killing a Arizona District Court Chief Judge and five other people.  Yesterday, a man opened fire in a movie theater killing 12 people.

Zimmerman arrest is victory for the people

Editorials

The question I would really like to ask him is, if he could look into Trayvon’s eyes and see how innocent he was, would he have then pulled the trigger? Or would he have just let him go on home?” said Tracy Martin, Trayvon Martin’s Father.

George Zimmerman arrested April 11, and charged with second-degree murder in the Trayvon Martin shooting.

Trayvon’s parents and the American public just may get the answer to this question.  George Zimmerman, self-appointed neighborhood watchman who shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder after protests made this issue a national priority.

“I can tell you we did not come to this decision lightly,” Special Prosecutor Angela Corey said in remarks broadcast live on TV and online. “We do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition. We prosecute based on the facts in any given case, as well as the laws of the state of Florida.”


The green-eyed monster known as racism came out of it’s dungeon, thrashed it’s teeth and scratched in vengeance last weekend.  The culprit: bigoted, insensitive adults. The victim: young, cute, and adorable African American actress Amandla Stenberg from the box office hit and young adult’s trilogy The Hunger Games.

“Sense when has Rue been a nigger,” one enraged tweeter wrote.
“Why is Rue a little black girl? Stick to the book, dude,” another responded to the movie.

The one thing I love about reading a book is having the creative freedom to imagine my characters and fantasy world the way I want them to look.  It’s my prerogative to interpret the writer’s description as tight or loose as I want. Author Suzanne Collins describes District 11’s tribute Rue as having “dark skin and eyes.”  It’s perfectly okay for a person to read “dark skin” and think of a white girl with a deep tan and overly brown eyes.  But to speak out against Hollywood depicting this image as a Black person is outrageously ignorant.

Editorials

From CNN iReport"New York photographer Darrel Dawkins wants to send a message about the Trayvon Martin story, as do many iReporters who shared self-portraits in support of the movement. 'We shouldn't stay silent. We should basically talk about those who are out there discriminating and those who are racist'."

We’ve all heard the story of the innocent looking elderly lady who clutches her pocketbook in fear as a young black male walks past her, or the people that move to the opposite side of the street to avoid “danger that may arise” from being in the presence of the previous described person.  These young individuals get followed around in stores and even get kicked out of locations because they look as if they will steal or cause trouble.  I admit even my senses heighten and I turn on my defense mode when I am approached by a strange black male.  Society has told us to automatically perceive them as a potential threat.  “They have track records,” we think. Appalling! Some may holler.  But to those it happens to, it’s just normal everyday living.

For 17-year-old Trayvon Martin this battle of prejudging escalated from a temporary feeling of discomfort to a bloody altercation that demanded he pay the price of his life.

Editorials