28 May 2008

Entry for July 10, 2007


In the United States we have many freedoms. One that I'm going to talk about today is freedom of speech. We are very fortunate in this country to have the right to say what we believe in as long as we don't slander/libel anyone. We can write letters to our politicians and say I think you are doing a terrible job because you did this that or the other and these unfortunate consequences have resulted. The First Amendment to the Constitution encompasses so much that when a student at a California school was discipled for wearing cartoon character socks, the case went to court and the ruling knocked down that school's policy. (go here). I realize that I have been rambling on and on so lets look at the text of this amendment-- "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The scope of this is very broad if you think about it. Libraries have been under attack in recent years. In 2004 CIPA (Children's Internet Protection Act) became effective. Libraries were to have installed filtering software so that children weren't exposed to questionable things on the Internet. Libraries should have a way to turn off the filter for adult patrons. Many libraries will not comply with this. Libraries that do not comply will not receive special incentives/funding provided by the federal government. You can see the text of this act by visiting this Federal Communications Commision page . When one reads this text, it sounds like a very good thing to do. Upon further study on filtering software, it quickly becomes apparent that problems abound. Critics scream "censorship" in regards to filtering software and also make claims that such software can be over inclusive and under inclusive at the same time (see this article). Today I received the above picture in an email. At first glance and thought it may seem a good idea. This is a misplaced sense of nationalism. This great country of the United States does NOT have an official language.
The Statue of Liberty, commonly regarded as a national treasure has a quote from the Emma Lazarus poem The New Colossus:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuge of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
Notice that it does NOT say "English-speaking only" anywhere. I will be one of the first to admit that a common language is unifying. When I was in the navy, many sailors from the Philippine Islands would converse in Tagalog thus putting the English-speaking only sailors at a disadvantage (I want you to know that this is not the way all the sailors from the Philippines were, only a few). This is RUDENESS and shouldn't require the adoption of a national language. Gosh, can you imagine having to pass an act or amendment requiring diners to place a napkin in their laps? We must remember that the settlers of this country were and are from varying locations and cultures and have enriched all of us tremendously. Ethnocentrism is obsolete and morally degrading. Nowhere does the First Amendment guarantee freedom of speech solely for English speakers.
So much for "Sharon's Lecture." May you all have a great day. (Originally posted on my Yahoo 360 blog)

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