Sunday, October 10, 2010

Freedom of Speech

I don't usually write about politics but reading The NYTimes this morning these articles on facing pages gave me pause for some time. On the left we see China breaking up a dinner to honor the Nobel peace prize winner, Liu Xiaobo who has been in jail in China for most of the past year for his writings telling about China as he sees it. China is quite unhappy about that Nobel -- and it was obviously given to draw attention to Liu and to the lack of freedom of speech in China. Thank you, Sweden for trying to be the conscience of the world.

Opposite on the first National News page is this article about the public rantings of Fred W. Phelps [if you click the photo you can read the placards he and his followers took to the family funeral of a soldier who had died in Iraq. The question whether the First Amendment allows supposedly religious groups [he preaches at a Baptist church] to harass those they dislike even at an event as solemn as a funeral is being brought before a judge.

Another huge spread in the paper today is about a blogger/commentator who calls herself a "racist bigot" against Muslims. She is advocating against the so-called mosque near the World Trade Center. I say "so-called" because the space will serve as a mosque but is not a free standing structure but part of a larger multi-use building. I cannot understand why the NYTimes is giving this disgusting woman so much space. Is it, like most other newspapers in the country, turning scandal monger? Or is there simply not much news today -- which is generally a good thing? Actually there are several others stories, global, national and local, any of which might deserve a deeper look. Some mornings reading the newspaper is a painful exercise.

Other news from Oslo -- the Nobel Prize for Literature went to Mario Vargas Llosa, a Peruvian novelist I have been reading for many years -- it's well deserved. I recommend his books to those who don't know his work.


Conda V. Douglas said...

June--I agree, sometimes it's hard to watch the news sometimes--and I believe freedom of speech is one of our greatest freedoms, but Phelps and the racist bigot make my skin crawl--I'll still defend their right to say whatever they want! Ugh.

standing on my head said...

while i may not like what is being said, the fact that we're allowed to say it means everything. it is not so everywhere in the world. i'll take here.

June Calender said...

I am equally grateful for freedom of speech but freedom comes with responsibility, both to defend it and to use it responsibly. Harassing a family burying their son is grossly inappropriate, ugly, mean, disrespectful and, as I understand it, anything but Christian, especially coming from a preacher. We have laws against slander and harassment.