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Protecting Expression

The Nazis were great!  I can say that, I really can.  As a matter of fact I can say just about anything I want to, it is protected by law.  Now what I say does not, by any means, have to be true, such as saying that “the Nazis were great” is not true, but I still get to say it.  This is how America is and this is how America should stay.  The Freedom of Speech is one of the many things that make this country so great and should be protected above anything else.  Even though some times people say things that are offensive, vulgar, and even blatant lies, the American government, or any one else for that matter, should never be given the power to decide what should be allowed to be said and what should not.  As a free nation it is important to have a people that can express their opinions in their speech, music, and visual arts no matter what that opinion is.

Being able to express one self by speech is a fundamental right of humanity.  The forefathers knew this and for that reason put the freedom of speech into the constitution.  Without the freedom to speak ones mind then society could risk the chance of very important things not being said.  If, for example, Martin Luther King had not been allowed, or given the chance to speak in front of crowds regarding the lives of black people living in the south, or if he was not able to write his famed Letter from Birmingham Jail, America might not be where she is today. Had Dr. King’s freedom of speech not been honored then there is a strong chance that we, as Americans, would still be living in a society in which black children ware not be allowed to go to school with white children and institutionalized segregation is the norm.  Another good example is found in politics.  One of the fundamental necessities in politics is being able to say that the person one is running against is doing a bad job.  For instance, if no one was not allowed to disagree with Bush’s politics and to point out some of the bad things that Bush is doing in office then their would be no point in holding national elections for most Americans would have no idea weather or not Bush should stay in office.   In Russia, for example, the state controls muck of the media and, in turn, is able to limit what possible political candidates are allowed to say.  (Putin)  Actions such as this bring into question the trustworthiness of Russian elections.   In this essence the freedom of speech helps keep politicians accountable for what they do. If Americans  lost the freedom to speak our minds then there is no telling what else could be lost.  It could be the right to peaceful gatherings, or perhaps even the right to vote!  Without the right to speak up and defend these rights, there is no doubt that they could vanish.

Along with being able to speak ones mind it is also important that one is able to express his or her mind threw music.  Music is amazing in the sense that along with being able to express verbal ideas, music also contains an emotional conceptuality that can vastly expand the idea that one is trying to share.  In this sense the Eminem song that the Triangle Foundation claims is only an attack on homosexuals in their article Hip Hop Homophobe: Armed and Dangerous ( Triangle P.149) is in all actuality so much more.  When one only takes the time to read the lyrics of a song then they are, more often than not, taking what they read out of context.  Even though the lyrics presented in this article such as “My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge, They’ll stab you in the head whether you’re a fag or les” are, without a doubt, very mean, when they are mixed with music they take on a bigger meaning.  Eminem’s song has a way of communicating anger above and beyond the homophobic and hate filled lyrics.  Furthermore, this anger hides the lyrics and has a way of letting the listener vent his or her own anger.  So, even though some people, such as those in the Triangle Foundation, seem to think that music such as Eminem’s is spreading hatred and anger, in all actuality it is giving people a healthy way to vent the anger and hatred that they may already have.

Just as music is, the visual arts are also a very import method of sharing and expressing ones ideas.  The visual arts comprise of so much more than just paintings hanging in a museum, they include sculptures and even, in some cases, film.  People are able to express in art ideas that would be very difficult, if not impossible, to express in mere writing alone.  Images are, after all, as the sang goes, worth a thousand words.  One excellent example of the impotents of art can be seen when examining the works of the Renaissance artists of the 14th and 15the centuries in Europe.  In the renaissance the art that was created helped to bring about a cultural revelation that basically freed the people of the time from much of the tyranny and hardships of the middle Ages. The sculptures of Michelangelo, for instance, embodied the humanistic ideas of the Greeks that permeated threw European society.  Furthermore, when a religious fanatic named Savonarola came into power in the city of Florence Italy and wanted to bring back the oppressive culture of the Middle Ages, one of the first things he did was have much of the art destroyed. (Savonarola) Luckily Savonarola did not stay in power for to long.  If in modern times we lost the ability to express our selves threw art then in a worse case scenario we could risk loosing the chance of another cultural revelation that could bring about the betterment of humanity.

If someone creates art, music, or a piece of writing that communicates vulgar and hate filled ideas, well that is O.K.  Anyone one is aloud to express his or her self in a way that will counteract the vulgar and hate filled expressions.  The freedom of expression that lets the K.K.K. burn a Christian cross is the same freedom of expression that lets Christians say they worship the cross.  The freedom of expression that lets Eminem write derogatory lyrics regarding homosexuals is the same freedom of expression that lets homosexuals express gay pride.  If society loses the ability to burn the cross then who is to say weather or not society would loose the ability to express love for it as well?  For this reason, although not this reason alone, the freedom of expression needs to be protected in its entirety. Any law that threatens this freedom, such as the patriot act, should be abolished and any politician that supports such laws should be removed from office.  The freedom of expression should be one of everyone’s top priority.

Work cited

(Putin) Encyclopedia: Vladimir Putin,, updated last 7/24/05, 7/25/05

(Triangle) Triangle Foundation “Hip Hop Homophobe: Armed and Dangerous” Discovering Arguments  Ed. Dean Memering, William Palmer.  Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2002. 149-150

(Savonarola) Girolamo Savonarola, 1452-1498 The History Guide. Last updated May 13,  2004, 7/25/05