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Censorship #1

Censorship #1

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Published by: BallStateEnglish335 on May 02, 2011
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05/06/2011

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Jones 1Christian JonesDr. Michael DonnellyENG 335/Reading and Writing Public DiscourseTuesday, April 19 2011Of the People, by the People, for the People, and Screw the People-An Examination of Free Speech and how We Don’t Have ItDuring the 1967 trial against the Chicago Seven, the infamous Abbie Hoffman was reported to holdup a copy of the
 Berkeley Tribe.
This was a dangerous act since the jury had been banned from readingnewspapers. When the judge pointed this out, Hoffman's reply was, “It ain't a newspaper. It... doesn'ttell lies, so it isn't a newspaper (law2.umkc.edu).” Whether or not Hoffman was correct about the presence of truth in the news, it does show an interesting concept of the term “Freedom of speech.”Hoffman's quote shows just how ambiguous the definition of free speech really is. Whether it is in thenews, or in regards of day-to-day speech, the term has broadened to include not only the “truth”, butalso personal biases. Today, the term has become so broad that people cling to their rights of freespeech, ceaselessly blasting others with biased and inaccurate opinions without having any historicalunderstanding of what free speech really is. Meanwhile, those very same people are unaware of information that is being withheld from them –information that people like Hoffman and JulianAssange, the creator of 
Wikileaks,
fought to share, even at the expense of their freedom. Therefore, it becomes necessary to retrace the history of freedom of speech back to the American Bill of Rights for the original definition --to expose and protest governmental injustice, or hidden truths censored by thegovernment. It is equally important to examine those who carried out such acts, protesting thegovernment, and the outcome of those protests. Such outcomes actually contradict the FirstAmendment by banning citizens from protesting, and by censoring the information that some believewe have the right to know. We can see with Hoffman and Assange, those who cannot be tried for their 
 
Jones 2discourse against the government due to the law, are censored by other methods, such as drug or rapeconvictions.The first question that should arise is “What IS freedom of speech?” In present day America, freespeech is considered “The right, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,to communicate ideas and opinions without government intervention” (Webster's New World LawDictionary
 
). In other words, the definition of free speech has been broadened to include all forms of expression. However, historical definitions of freedom of speech revolve around politics and the rightto petition. The First Amendment states:Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting thefree 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 (Civilliberty.about.com
 
).Free speech was originally connected to the right to petition the Government. Therefore, all other forms of discourse would be under the term “Freedom of expression” which is, interestingly, notincluded in the Bill of Rights. The problem with the current definition of free speech is that it hasgrown to include almost all forms of expression except for those rights it was originally designed to protect. Therefore one must turn to the definition of censorship, which also neglects to include the petitioning of the government.Interestingly, definitions of censorship actually deplete the information accessible to the commonman. Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines a censor as: “an official (as in a time of war)who reads communications (as letters) and deletes material considered harmful to the interests of hisorganization” (www.pbs.org
 
). Going with this definition of a censor, “censorship” is the act of withholding harmful information from the community. It is important to note that this definition of  political censor only includes the right to withhold information from American citizens; yet says
 
Jones 3absolutely nothing about silencing those who petition the government. In fact, it is difficult to locateany laws or guidelines for silencing protestors, even though the censoring of protestors was popular media frenzy in the 1970’s -- issues which have been majorly forgotten. When today's youth reflect onthe 1970's, they see two iconic stereotypes; the first being the Free-Bird, peace loving, flower children,and the parents of modern fashion trends; or the dirty, drug addicted youth that were inconsiderate of their rights and privileges. Younger generations have missed the important part that large amounts of American youth were being brutally beaten and gassed by the government, for supposedly abusing thevery freedoms they were trying to defend. Abbie Hoffman was one of the most popular protestors of the 1970's, his acts once considered legendary. Yet mention his name today, and many people have noclue who he was. Those who do, see him as either the famous anarchic rebel, or the bipolar addict whoended his life in an overdose. Most of the actual discourse surrounding his protests has been longforgotten, even after years of fighting for the American youth to be heard.Abbie Hoffman was a famous, or rather infamous, protestor during the 1970's. His protests againstthe Vietnam War and Capitalism were well known for their appeal to pathos, being ultimately describedas a theatrical presentation. Hoffman himself acknowledges his theatrical approach in
Steal this Book 
, published in 1971, by describing the appropriate way to demonstrate. He says:A complete understanding of the use of media is necessary to create the publicity neededto get the word out... Often the critical element involved is the theater. Those who saya demonstration should be concerned with education rather than theater don't understandand will never organize a successful demonstration, or for that matter, a successfulrevolution. Publicity includes everything from buttons and leaflets to pressconferences... (Steal This Book ).Hoffman's use of the terms “theater” and “education” sound strikingly similar to Aristotle's concepts of “pathos” and “logos” in that order. It seems Hoffman's theatrical approach was to increase his audiencethrough entertainment, although he later writes “Don't dismiss demonstrations because they havealways turned out boring” (Steal This Book ). It is known that Hoffman was rather successful inrallying younger protestors, for he was one of the leading members of the Youth International Party,

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