Years ago, I was having dinner in a restaurant in Westwood, California and witnessed a grimy homeless person across the street rummaging in a trash can. He found a Styrofoam container full of food and was so happy to have something to eat that he found a shady spot under a tree and rolled around on some cool grass before he started eating the found food. Freedom to him may have been having no job, not paying taxes, and not having to worry about a mortgage or rent. I’ve met homeless people that claim this is the reason they stay homeless—for the abstract sense of freedom it brings.
The last element that led me to write this series of posts was an e-mail a friend sent with a link to Carolina Journal Online.com, which reported that “State Threatens to Shut Down Nutrition Blogger.”
It seems that Steve Cooksey, an American citizen, took advantage of what he believed were his freedom of speech rights in North Carolina and blogged about beating diabetes through diet and exercise.
However, now he may face up to 120 days in jail, because in North Carolina, it is a misdemeanor to “practice dietetics or nutrition” without a license. According to the law, “practicing” nutrition includes “assessing the nutritional needs of individuals and groups” and “providing nutrition counseling,” which it seems Cooksey may have done with his Blog.
In addition, it is illegal to use the word “cure” in the United States unless the F.D.A. gives you permission.
HBO Documentary of Freedom of Speech in five parts – Part 2
“Just talking about curing an illness is literally a criminal offense, because only the F.D.A. can grant permission to use the word ‘cure’, since this word supposedly constitutes making a “medical claim”, and F.D.A. contends that anything producing a positive health effect is automatically a (“unapproved”) drug, under their regulation. This is not a hypothetical risk either. There are doctors and laymen in prison now for curing diseases.” Source: The Health Wyze Report
Freedom Forum.org asks and the answers, Does the (US) First Amendment mean anyone can say anything at any time and the answer is “NO” because the US Supreme Court rejected an interpretation of speech without limits.
Over the years, the courts decided that a few other public interests—for example, national security, justice or personal safety—override freedom of speech.
In fact, the US First Amendment does not protect statements that are uttered to provoke violence or incite illegal action, and jurisdictions may write statutes to punish verbal acts if the statutes are “carefully drawn so as not unduly to impair liberty of expression”.
If the US can restrict freedom of speech in the national interest, why can’t China? When China locks up someone, such as Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese Activist, China’s government may feel that what he is saying publicly might provoke violence or incite illegal actions.
To learn more about Chen Guangcheng and the alleged accusations made against China in his case, see NPR’s Blind Chinese Activist Reported Under U.S. Protection.
What do you consider freedom and does it really exist?
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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