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Freedom of Speech

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The freedom of speech is often a "tightrope" walk between one persons freedom to express themselves, as long as it isn't damaging or threatening to another persons rights or safety. I agree with Cathy's example of the Westboro Baptist church and their highly controversial picketing of soldiers funerals. One could argue they are simply using their freedom of speech, and should not be censured. They provoke and drum up immense publicity for themselves by picketing funerals of soldiers, certainly one of the toughest times a family will face in their lifetime, mourning the passing of a family member in combat. With such extreme methods that stir up emotion at a time of grieving should be considered an abuse of free speech, an attack on ones freedom and right to grieve in peace, especially when a soldier gave their life for their country.

It deals with recent cartoon depictions of the Muslim prophet Muhammad. This issue was very controversial as well, and upsetting to Muslims worldwide, who believe it is wrong, or a great sin, to depict their profit Muhammad. Here is an issue where two of our fundamental rights clash with each other, our belief in freedom of religion, and freedom of speech. Should the cartoons Family Guy and South Park have the right to depict Mohammad in their shows, even though they know this will offend many viewers and cause possible violent retaliations? I think both examples of the depicting Mohammad and the Westboro Baptist Church picketing are taking freedom of speech a little too far. They both incite and enrage people to the point where it is encroaching on their rights, and leading to violence, hate, and libel in some cases.

Dahl: Chapter 5

Dahl lays out 10 advantages that democratic systems have over other forms of government. His main point is that of avoiding tyranny. Several examples from fairly recent history are given of Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot. These autocratic rulers were guilty of genocide, persecution, and almost the total destruction of their nations, and the killing of millions and millions of their citizens. Dahl mentions that just because a system is Democratic and lead by the majority, that it can still do harm. One example of this is the Japanese internment camps in the United States during WWII. American citizens were imprisoned against their will simply for having Japanese heritage.

The second point he mentions and also one I feel is one of the most important is that democratic systems ensure fundamental rights to its citizens. If the system truly gives each citizen the right to participate, then working together, the rights that are important to the majority will be established. This does not mean that they will have "complete" freedom, our rights are limited to the extent that they might infringe on another rights. We still need laws to keep order and maintain our rights. An example is drugs being illegal in most democratic states. A minority of citizens would like the freedom and right to use drugs legally, however the majority feels it is a burden on the state, and risk to the health and safety of citizens as a whole



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