Tag Archives: freedom of expression

J. K. Rowling on freedom of expression

J.K. Rowling has a point of view:

Intolerance of alternative viewpoints is spreading to places that make me, a moderate and a liberal, most uncomfortable. Only last year, we saw an online petition to ban Donald Trump from entry to the U.K. It garnered half a million signatures.

Just a moment.

J.K. Rowling

 

I find almost everything that Mr. Trump says objectionable. I consider him offensive and bigoted. But he has my full support to come to my country and be offensive and bigoted there. His freedom to speak protects my freedom to call him a bigot. His freedom guarantees mine. Unless we take that absolute position without caveats or apologies, we have set foot upon a road with only one destination. If my offended feelings can justify a travel ban on Donald Trump, I have no moral ground on which to argue that those offended by feminism or the fight for transgender rights or universal suffrage should not oppress campaigners for those causes. If you seek the removal of freedoms from an opponent simply on the grounds that they have offended you, you have crossed the line to stand alongside tyrants who imprison, torture and kill on exact

ly the same justification.

J.K. Rowling

What if we banned any writing about wizards?

That would probably work, wouldn’t it?

Thanks to FarnhamStreetblog.com: J.K. Rowling On People’s Intolerance of Alternative Viewpoints

That was then – JFK blasts the idea of government secrecy

Once upon a time . . . . It almost seems like a fantasy.

A sitting president spoke out against government secrecy. It was John F. Kennedy, and it was April 1961. Kennedy was speaking before a meeting of the American Newspaper Publishers Association.

Here’s part of what he said:

The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.

Much of Kennedy’s speech that night was about the dangers that America and the free world faced — the danger of communism and its threat to our freedoms. With very few changes, the speech could have been delivered last week, and it would have sounded most relevant.

Undoubtedly, neither Kennedy nor his administration lived up to the ideas that he expressed in this speech.

But unlike today’s leaders, Kennedy did not believe in closing off the government to its people. He did not believe in limiting civil liberties. Rather, he sought to expand them, believing that was the best way to fight our enemies.

The whole speech is worth reading.

Particularly by those in power today.

(Posted on July12, 2006).

2007 – the year of the First Amendment

Well, it isn’t likely, but I always begin a year with that great hope — and very little else.

There is no reason to be confident. Our leaders want to diminish the rights of the Constitution because it will make them more comfortable and more secure in their power. The people seem to buy these outrages in the name of solving “problems.” The problems are rarely solved, but the politicians get more comfortable.

This past year we saw the Federal Elections Commission “reprimand” a NASCAR driver because he had a “Bush-Cheney” sticker on his car during a race. We can only hope that the FEC continues to make such ridiculous decisions so that people will wake up to how dangerous that agency has become.

Meanwhile, we can hope (but, as I said, without a lot of confidence) that high school principals will leave the student press alone, that prosecutors will find other ways to pursue their cases besides jailing journalists, and that FEC bureaucrats will get stuck in traffic on their way to work. And to give you a taste of what is going on with the First Amendment and the Constitution, I recommend the following as a starter:

Looking after the First Amendment is never easy, but it’s always worth doing. (Posted Jan. 1, 2007)