Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Our Freedom of Speech

I've listened to President Obama's inaugural address twice. I'm no expert in speeches or politics but my feeling was that he didn't pull any punches - he told it like it is and he said what he wanted to say. Of course, a president or any leader should have the confidence to do just that.
On the way home from work today the radio program was recounting how other world leaders reacted yesterday to our new president and what he had to say. In China Obama's speech was censored when he referenced communism and again when he spoke of those countries that use force to get what they want. I found myself trying to imagine censorship like that in our country - a freedom we so often take for granted.
Last week on Ruth's recommendation I watched a movie called "The Lives of Others". It was set in East Germany in 1984 - not that long ago. The movie was about a writer and his actress girlfriend who were under constant surveillance by the state police for their suspicious creative expressions. Wow. I think that sort of government would lead all of us bloggers to jail eventually.
So today I honor our freedom of speech - the right for a new president to tell the world exactly what he wants to say - the right for clergy to pray exactly what they wanted to pray - the right we all have everyday but rarely recognize. Above is part of Norman Rockwell's "Four Freedoms" - the Freedom of Speech.


Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I'm so glad you watched The Lives of Others. It really shows how repressive governments view freedom of speech . . . and art itself . . . as a threat.

Daniel Bell said...

It is a freedom we dare not take for granted. Even here. Yesterday I watched an interview with a former NSA analyst. He has feared to speak out before Bush had gone from office for fear of retribution. He said that the NSA, to the extent they could--and they could do a lot--kept track of ALL communcation by journalists, especially journalists who disagreed with the Bush administration. That is chilling. He said they knew it was illegal, so spread an internal spin that they wanted to keep track to weed out those kinds of communications from the kind that were a real threat. But once they started tracking a journalist and identified them as such, they did not stop. Ever.

When asked why he had come out and broke this story, the analyst said that he had taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, not the President, not his supervisor, not the NSA or the Intelligence Director. The Constitution. THAT is what a patriot looks like.

Sandy's Notes said...

I think we at times take our freedom of speech for granted, on the other hand, it doesn't surprise me what Daniel said. There are still people out there that try to control and feed their own insecurity, what a shame.

Obama seems to be a man of integrity and his speech reflected that, now if we can just get to rolling up our sleeves and work on ourselves to straighten this mess out. We should probably start with the newspapers.