The Illusion of Freedom – Part 4/4

May 10, 2012

The McCarthy era started in the late 1940s and lasted to the late 1950s.

It is difficult to estimate the number of victims of McCarthyism. The number imprisoned is in the hundreds, and some ten or twelve thousand lost their jobs. In many cases simply being subpoenaed by HUAC or one of the other committees was sufficient cause to be fired. Many of those who were imprisoned, lost their jobs or were questioned by committees did in fact have a past or present connection of some kind with the Communist Party.

However, for the vast majority, both the potential for them to do harm to the nation and the nature of their communist affiliation were tenuous. Suspected homosexuality was also a common cause for being targeted by McCarthyism. The hunt for ‘sexual perverts’, who were presumed to be subversive by nature, resulted in thousands being harassed and denied employment.


HBO Documentary of Freedom of Speech in five parts – Part 4

In fact, in 1954, a Gallup poll found that 50% of the American public supported McCarthy, while only 29% had an unfavorable opinion of the senator. In addition, Earl Warren, the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, said that if the US Bill of Rights had been put to a vote it probably would have been defeated.

McCarthy bullied, threatened and abused witnesses while he accused them of Communist sympathies. However, in the late 1950s, public opinion turned against McCarthy.  He was forced out of public life and died several years later an alcoholic.

Then there is sedition—another restriction on so-called freedom of speech in the US.

In July 1798, Congress passed and the President signed, the Sedition Act – a bill that made it a crime to speak or write anything against the government. A person charged under the Sedition Act was subject to a maximum of two years in prison and a $2,000 fine. The 1798 Sedition Act would be repealed in 1801. However, after the US entered World War I, President Woodrow Wilson signed into federal law the Sedition Act of 1918.  The law made it illegal to speak out against the government, the war or to discourage anyone from enlisting in the military.

By the time the law was repealed in 1920, more than 2,000 people had been prosecuted.


HBO Documentary of Freedom of Speech in five parts – Part 5

According to Cornell University Law School, today, federal law says, “Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”

What do you consider freedom and does it really exist?

Return to  The Illusion of Freedom – Part 3 or start with Part 1

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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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The Illusion of Freedom – Part 3/4

May 9, 2012

For another example of restrictions of freedom of speech in the United States, in times of war there may be reasons to restrict US First Amendment rights because of conflicts with national security.

We also do not have a constitutional right to tell lies that damage or defame the reputation of a person or organization and obscene materials do not enjoy First Amendment protection.

In addition, distribution of information should not impede the flow of traffic or create excessive noise levels at certain times and in certain places, and the Supreme Court expressed that public school administrators ought to have the discretion to punish student speech that violates school rules and has the tendency to interfere with legitimate educational and disciplinary objectives.

In Hazelwood, the Court relied heavily on Bethel to uphold the right of school administrators to censor materials in a student-edited school paper that concerned sensitive subjects such as student pregnancy, or that could be considered an invasion of privacy…

Public schools can limit speech based on a reasonable expectation that it will cause a material and substantial disruption of school activities or invade the rights of others and prohibit obscene or vulgar language.

Schools can also limit speech if it’s in the form of a threat. Not just any expression is a threat, though. Threats must be perceived as a threat by others; be clear and convincing, causing others to believe it will be carried out and cause other students to fear for their safety.

 
HBO Documentary of Freedom of Speech in five parts – Part 3

How about the private sector workplace?

The Chicago Tribune reported that freedom of speech at work is not protected by the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution, and reported, “You may be shocked to learn that a constitutionally protected freedom of speech for government workers doesn’t extend into the private-sector workplace.

“‘A private-sector employer has a lot of latitude as to what’s permitted or not with respect to political speech, or pushing any view for that matter,’ advises Brian Finucane, an attorney at Fisher & Phillips in Kansas City.”

Federal free speech protections apply only to the government. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, for example, does not regulate private employers. However, it does come into play with respect to government employers.

Employers also may demand loyalty at the workplace. For example, an employee cannot avoid discipline in the name of free speech by being rude to customers, or by denigrating the employer’s business to customers while working.

Although the First Amendment is supposed to protect the right to speak freely without government interference and that people have the right to publish their own newspapers, newsletters, magazines, etc., one of the most glaring violations of this so-called right was called McCarthyism.

What do you consider freedom and does it really exist?

Continued on May 10, 2012 in The Illusion of Freedom – Part 4 or return to The Illusion of Freedom – Part 2

______________

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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The Illusion of Freedom – Part 1/4

May 7, 2012

Three things happened leading to this series of posts examining what freedom means to different people.

First, I was reading Return to Cambodia” in the February 2012 issue of “Travel + Leisure” magazine. One paragraph gave me cause for thought.  Thomas Beller, a free lance journalist, said, “Phnom Penh, once a lawless haven for adventurers, layabouts, and hedonists of all stripes for whom freedom was just another word for no real law enforcement is now praised in similar terms but for different reasons by a new class of small-business owners who see the place as an opportunity.”

Beller returned to Cambodia recently after a 19 year absence and says that the country experienced an average of nearly 10% annual growth until 2009 leading to an improved economic environment due to Hun Sen, “the despotic prime minister”.  It’s worth reading the “Travel + Leisure” piece to see how a “despotic” leader improved the quality of life for millions of his people.

In case you do not know, “despotic” means: a ruler with absolute power; a person who wields power oppressively; a tyrant.

Just how important is “freedom of speech” anyway, which may be the reason Hun Sen is considered a despotic leader — “The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia Surya Subedi wrapped up his fifth visit to Cambodia on Friday expressing concern about the lack of progress on land rights and freedom of speech in the country.” Source: Voice of America


HBO Documentary of Freedom of Speech in five parts – Part 1

 Yet, according to Beller’s report, the quality of life in Cambodia has improved dramatically in the last nineteen years. Maybe this improvement came about because of restrictions on freedom of speech that might stir up the emotions of the population/mob, which might lead to unrest, an economic downturn and suffering such as starvation and death.

Of course, to many that don’t spend much time thinking about it, it is more important to have freedom of speech and freedom to join any religion/cult one wants to join than starving or living in fear of criminals that take advantage of cultures that allow too much freedom that may lead to anarchy and chaos.

Next, a comment appeared in this site from Jo Ann—she said, “I admire this person wanting to see the world but I am an American and I believe in this country more than a country that doesn’t allow too many freedoms.”

If you think about it, there are only two freedoms that are restricted in China that may lead to jail time: one is freedom of public political speech/expression criticizing China’s government and the restrictions of religious choice. Other than that, the Chinese, if they have the money, may enjoy life as much as any American—maybe even more so.

Then a friend sent me an e-mail with a link to Carolina Journal Online.com, which reported that “State Threatens to Shut Down Nutrition Blogger.”

In this series of posts, I’m going to focus on freedom of expression/speech.  Later, I’ll touch base about the freedom of religion.

What do you consider freedom and does it really exist?

Continued on May 8, 2012  in The Illusion of Freedom – Part 2

______________

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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