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various free speech-related riffs {was Re: More on Gingrich speech}
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2006 20:45:22 -0500



Begin forwarded message:

From: Rod Van Meter <rdv () tera ics keio ac jp>
Date: November 29, 2006 8:32:20 PM EST
To: dave () farber net
Subject: various free speech-related riffs {was Re: [IP] More on Gingrich speech}
Reply-To: rdv () tera ics keio ac jp

Dave,

Several quick, related points for IP, if you wish -- any one of these
could start a long discussion, and a couple could start quite a fight...

1) Rev. Jesse Jackson, a former presidential candidate himself, on
roughly the same day made some somewhat disturbing comments, too.  He
wants a certain racial epithet banned from the airwaves, radio and TV.
The one short blurb I saw seemed to indicate he was planning on lobbying
the Hollywood folks themselves for some voluntary restraint, rather than
a government-imposed ban, but... (of course, IPers know that any focus
on radio and TV is SOOO last century)

2) It's interesting to note that Olbermann didn't mention the Second
Amendment as one of the rights "they" are coming to get.

3) I'm pretty much an absolutist on the First Amendment, but the
Supremes and lower courts have set limits on speech before, including
direct threats, falsehoods, and things that endanger others.  The key
distinction is prior restraint versus post facto liability for the
things you say.

4) There has been a bit of a fuss here in Japan over the last few weeks,
as the government minister in charge of the equivalent of the FCC issued
an order commanding NHK (the quasi-governmental broadcaster, equivalent
to PBS or BBC) to air a documentary on the abduction of Japanese by
North Korea.  There have been vague directives in the past, such as
"programs in the public interest", but never anything this direct
before.

5) The ability to freely express any idea is a necessary, but not
sufficient, condition.  In the marketplace of ideas, there is a first
mover advantage.  If you don't believe me, try asking someone Chinese
about the history of Tibet.  Even if they have heard the history as
accepted in the West, they are likely to dismiss it as in conflict with
the story as told to them by Xinhua and Chinese schools.

6) Speaking of which, the National Science Teachers Association has
TURNED DOWN an offer of 50,000 free copies of "An Inconvenient Truth",
purportedly because it may compromise their ability to raise money from
ExxonMobil, which supports the NSTA with money and produces a lot of
"educational" materials that the NSTA *does* distribute (or allows to be
distributed at its annual convention, which isn't exactly the same
thing).  Get 'em early, and they'll stick with you for life.  I hope
that, rather than just using this to generate political outrage, Gore
and the producers of the film will simply bypass NSTA and find a way to
get copies to each science teacher.

In summary, there are many things afoot that affect the ability of
people in many places, not just the U.S., to freely exchange ideas and
to allow "true" ideas to come to the fore.

Freedom and peace require vigilance.

                --Rod




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