This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Michael Donnelly ENG 335/Reading and Writing Public Discourse Tuesday, April 19 2011 Of the People, by the People, for the People, and Screw the People -An Examination of Free Speech and how We Don’t Have It During the 1967 trial against the Chicago Seven, the infamous Abbie Hoffman was reported to hold up a copy of the Berkeley Tribe. This was a dangerous act since the jury had been banned from reading newspapers. When the judge pointed this out, Hoffman's reply was, “It ain't a newspaper. It... doesn't tell 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 the news, or in regards of day-to-day speech, the term has broadened to include not only the “truth”, but also personal biases. Today, the term has become so broad that people cling to their rights of free speech, ceaselessly blasting others with biased and inaccurate opinions without having any historical understanding 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 Julian Assange, 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 the government. It is equally important to examine those who carried out such acts, protesting the government, and the outcome of those protests. Such outcomes actually contradict the First Amendment by banning citizens from protesting, and by censoring the information that some believe we have the right to know. We can see with Hoffman and Assange, those who cannot be tried for their
Jones 2 discourse against the government due to the law, are censored by other methods, such as drug or rape convictions. The first question that should arise is “What IS freedom of speech?” In present day America, free speech 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 Law Dictionary). 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 right to petition. The First Amendment states: 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 (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, not included in the Bill of Rights. The problem with the current definition of free speech is that it has grown 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 common man. 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 his organization” (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 3 absolutely nothing about silencing those who petition the government. In fact, it is difficult to locate any 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 on the 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 the very 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 no clue who he was. Those who do, see him as either the famous anarchic rebel, or the bipolar addict who ended his life in an overdose. Most of the actual discourse surrounding his protests has been long forgotten, 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 against the Vietnam War and Capitalism were well known for their appeal to pathos, being ultimately described as 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 needed to get the word out... Often the critical element involved is the theater. Those who say a demonstration should be concerned with education rather than theater don't understand and will never organize a successful demonstration, or for that matter, a successful revolution. Publicity includes everything from buttons and leaflets to press conferences... (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 audience through entertainment, although he later writes “Don't dismiss demonstrations because they have always turned out boring” (Steal This Book). It is known that Hoffman was rather successful in rallying younger protestors, for he was one of the leading members of the Youth International Party,
Jones 4 more commonly referred to as the “Yippies”. Although Hoffman seemed more focused on pathos, he did give logical plans for protests. In Steal this Book, he gives other strategies for drawing in participants: Numbers of people are only one of the many factors in an effective demonstration. The timing, choice of target and tactics to be employed are equally important. There have been demonstrations of 400,000 that are hardly remembered and demonstrations of a few dozen that were remarkably effective... The date, time and place of the demonstration all have to be chosen with skill. Know the projected weather reports. Pick a time and day of the week that are convenient to most people. Make sure the place itself adds some meaning to the message... (Steal This Book). Therefore, logos was never dismissed entirely. Abbie Hoffman's most remembered protest was most likely his participation in the Democratic National Convention protest of 1968. The plan was originally to bring 100,000 teens and young adults to Chicago to hold a Yippie convention which they had requested a permit for. However, the permit was denied (CNN.com). In order to protest the Vietnam War in addition to angst towards the politicians running at the time, Hoffman and the other protestors claimed to elect a living pig, named “Pigasus” as President of the United States (pigofknowledge.blogspot.com). Although the method of protesting was primary theatrical, it does show that he was attempting to expose what he saw as corruptions in the government. Throughout different protests and in his book, he frequently referred to politicians and police alike as “pigs”. The Democratic National Convention protest lead to police riots, in which many of the protestors were beaten and tear gassed. Hoffman was arrested and tried along with six others known as the Chicago Seven, who were blamed for leading the protests. In order to prevent their right to freedom of speech, Hoffman and the rest of the Chicago seven were charged with “Intent to incite a riot while crossing state lines” and conspiracy (law2.umkc.edu). It is difficult to determine the exact verdict of the trial, due to mixed views of Hoffman; however, it is known that he was convicted of one of the allegations, which was later overturned.
Jones 5 Hoffman always took advantage of free speech, even when he had no power to do so. As a result of such action, Hoffman has been seen as both a hero and a menace when viewed in the media. In a supposed attempt to draw in young protestors, Hoffman claimed the 1968 protest would be a “demonstration of public fornication… a ‘fuck-in.’” The Yippies were asked to bring "sleeping bags, extra food, blankets, bottles of fireflies, cold cream, lots of handkerchiefs and canteens to deal with pig spray, love beads, electric toothbrushes, see-through blouses, manifestos, magazines, and tenacity." When Hoffman was asked about this in court, he said that it all was “all a way of having fun… no one was expected to take the events seriously” (law2.umkc.edu). Such remarks have left Hoffman with a menace to society image in the media. J. Anthony Lukas, author of the New York Times article “Judge Hoffman is taunted at Trial of the Chicago 7 after Silencing Defense Counsel” wrote that the trial’s Judge, Julius J. Hoffman was vulgarly harassed by all the defendants, including Abbie Hoffman. The article presents the group as obscene and offensive, with Hoffman shouting “Tell him to stick it up his bowling ball” (New York Times). Glenn Garvan, author of the August 11, 2009 article “The 60’s: What’s Not Being Celebrated” in The Miami Herald, connected Abbie Hoffman with Charles Manson, due the word “pig” being so popular (Miami Herald). Even in modern times, Hoffman has been described as “a complex and deeply paradoxical social activist and media celebrity, whose legendary culture-jamming exploits have come to characterize the periods para-political turmoil and counterculture” (old.disinfo.com). Still, other sources describe him as “an inspirational philosopher and leader of the counter culture, whose activism changed the course of the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's” (wc.pclx.edu). Whether fan or critic, one historical event that Hoffman commentators have always included was his arrest for dealing cocaine to an under-cover officer in 1973, a mere six years after the Chicago Seven trial, and two years after the release of Steal this Book. Fans of Hoffman tend to argue that his drug charges were nothing more than a cover-up to punish Hoffman, since they technically could not arrest
Jones 6 him due to his First Amendment rights. Those who criticize Hoffman also include the drug conviction in their commentaries; yet neglect to include any premise for doing so other than discrediting Hoffman. Therefore, there it becomes difficult to argue that the charges were not related. This, combined with the extremely small time period between the two allegations, in addition to Hoffman going underground until the 1980's; leaves a lack of connection to be nothing but preposterous. The connection between Hoffman's convictions in 1967 and 1973 are especially important to free speech because it shows that our First Amendment Right has been completely desecrated. Instead of being protected by our Constitutional Right, American citizens have been and are still being censored by any means necessary. It is not surprising that in recent decades, reports have exposed Governmental methods of silencing protestors and demonstrators. In 2007, The Progressive released a story telling of the “Presidential Advice Manual,” a “103-page document from the Office of Presidential Advance” which explains how to stop protestors. This document includes ticketing, or presenting name lists, which prevents the uninvited (protestors) from gaining entrance to the VIP areas during Presidential events. The document also includes checkpoints to search for signs, or other mediums used for protesting; as well as creating areas where protesting MAY take place – “preferably not in view of the event site or motorcade route.” Also, politicians are encouraged to hide protestors with the use of “rally squads”. Rally squads are those who are allowed to hold signs and banners, and lead chants, as long as they are supportive of the politician or event. Finally, the most fruitful bit in the document tells politicians to remove demonstrators while avoiding physical contact. It says, “Remember –avoid physical contact with demonstrators... [Physical contact may] cause more negative publicity than if the demonstrators were simply left alone.” The warning against physical contact with protestors is a direct reference to the
1970's protests that Hoffman was a part of. Therefore the modern method of censoring protestors is not stopping them from speaking, but to stop them from being heard. This method of censoring is
Jones 7 extremely important to today's society, because it transfers attention from the protestor to the audience. Now, the question is “What else are Americans not allowed to hear?” The most recent act of censoring information from American citizens is the banning of Wikileaks, created by Julian Assange in 2006. Wikileaks is, as the name suggests, a site created by common users, who are able to add or edit information (Wiki), dedicated to publishing “sensitive material from governments and other high-profile organizations” (leaks). The site was reported to have released over 490,000 secret or classified military documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The site allows anyone to publish any documents anonymously, although press members, journalists, and Wikileaks staff, protect sources as well as confirm the accuracy of all reports (bbc.co.uk). Although the site releases information from all nations, it does appear that America is the most popular nation on the site. Since Assange is foreign, and cannot be charged according to American law, the government has invented more intricate methods of censoring the site –by banning access to it. The first act was to stop donations from going to the site in order to force it to shut down. PayPal, along with most of the major credit card companies have retracted any connection with the site, therefore most Americans are unable to provide necessary funds to keep it open. In addition, the U.S. ordered the site to be removed, leading to a different site with mirrors in different countries. People
who find mirror sites, or find other ways of viewing it can be audited, which can lead to “prosecution [and] termination of employment” for both those who provide leaked information, and those who view it. Why was Wikileaks banned? The U.S. Government claims banned the site, stating that it is “a threat to national security.” Informationweek.com argues that Wikileaks is a threat to national security because “foreign intelligence and security services, foreign military forces, foreign insurgents, and foreign terrorists groups [could collect] information [for] planning attacks against the U.S. Force, both
Jones 8 within the United States and abroad.” To clarify, Americans are banned from the site as a matter of national security because foreign people may use it to attack the country, whether they live here or not. Ironically, this reason for banning the site includes absolutely nothing about American citizens, leaving little more than the assumption that such leaked government documents may result in protesting the government. It is important to note the strange tactics the Government used to censor Wikileaks. Since the information is leaked from anonymous sources, it seems that the U.S. Government would have attacked Assange and his site's ethos. Because the sources were anonymous, they cannot be credible. However, the Government avoided that approach. Instead of attacking his ethos, as they did with Hoffman, the U.S. Government merely banned the site, leaving Americans to accept the content as secret truth. However, Assange has obviously relied much heavier on logos than Hoffman did. In an interview on 60 Minutes, Assange compared “his values to those of the Founding Fathers of the United States and argues that he is actually playing 'inside the rules'” with “founding values [that are] those of the U.S. Revolution.” Assange beautifully combined pathos with logos, by appealing to the American's patriotism while relying on the argument that America became its own nation because of British acts of injustice. Since Assange has developed more credibility in the public eye, and Wikileaks information is accessible from other locations. Obviously, other methods of discrediting him must be arranged. Similarly to Hoffman's drug charges, Assange has suffered attacks on his ethos by his arrest on unrelated charges. In August of 2010, Assange had been charged with “one count of rape, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of unlawful coercion,” charges which had been dropped and then reinstated almost immediately after the Wikileaks charges (The Alantic Wire). In December of 2010, the The Guardian released a story from Claes Borgtröm, “the lawyer representing the two women in their rape allegations.” Borgtröm claims that the rape cases have no connection to the potential Wikileaks trials. Furthermore, he argues that the women’s freedom of anonymity had been violated due
Jones 9 to their photos being released on the internet in conspiracy rants. The Guardian story also includes a summary of the allegation. The first woman met Assange at one of his lectures in Stockholm, and contacted the second woman in order to reach Assange so she could ask for an STD test. The two women talked about their similar sexual experiences, and went to the police. He claimed the charge was originally dropped due to the criterion of rape or sexual molestation charges. It was Borgtröm who asked to reopen the case. Although Borgtröm sees no issues with the story, it does seem weird that a woman would tell her secrets to a stranger and then allow her case to be dropped so easily. Other sources believe the Wikileaks case and the rape cases are connected. According to The Alantic Wire, there are other inconsistencies in the story, which in short, relate to condom issues. The story also shares how the media has responded to the rape cases. People who typically fight for female victims of rape have been defending the other side. Furthermore, people have been overly concerned with Assange's rape charges when other allegations receive little to no press coverage in the world news. While the intricate details of the rape allegations do not seem relevant to freedom of speech, they do show an inconsistency in the trials, making them appear to be a cover-up for the Wikileaks allegations. Similarly, the close proximity of the allegations makes one doubt that the rape charges were anything more than a cover-up for the attack on Wikileaks. By studying Hoffman, one can see that although we were given the right of free speech through the First Amendment, we do not actually have such rights. Assange presents the complete lack of trustworthy government information. By combining Hoffman's and Assange's allegations, it can be seen that exposing and presenting Governmental injustice will be censored by any means, even by using unrelated tactics. While Hoffman's drug charges and Assange's rape charges had nothing to do with the information they were releasing or protesting, the singularities between Hoffman and Assange make the cases look like a conspiracy to arrest them for their speech. Even if they were not conspiracies, the unrelated charges demoralized both men in the public eye. Since drug addicts and
Jones 10 rapists are typically seen as menaces to society, the unrelated allegations discredited them and destroyed their ethos. In the end, we are left with the harsh reality that freedom of speech, the true right, is really nonexistent.
Jones 11 Works Cited: “Abbie Hoffman” World Changers. Portland State University. Retrieved: April 17th, 2011. Web. http://www.wc.pdx.edu/abbiehoffman/index.html “Brief History Of Chicago's 1968 Democratic Convention” All Politics. CNN.com 1997. Retrieved April 17th, 2011. Web. http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1996/conventions/chicago/facts/chicago68/index.shtml Burns, Alex. “Abbie Hoffman.” Disinformation (2003). Retrieved April 17th, 2011. Web. http://old.disinfo.com/archive/pages/dossier/id92/pg1/ “Definitions of Censorship”. Culture Shock. PBS.org 2011. Retrieved: April 17th, 2011. Web http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/cultureshock/whodecides/definitions.html Fildes, Jonathan. “What is Wikileaks?” BBC News. (2010). Retrieved: April 17th, 2011. Web. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-10757263 Garvin, Glenn. “The ‘60’s: What’s not being Celebrated. The Miami Herald. (2009). Retrieved April 17th, 2011. Web. http://infoweb.newsbank.com/iwsearch/we/InfoWeb? p_action=doc&p_topdoc=1&p_docnum=1&p_sort=YMD_date:D&p_product=AWNB&p_text_direct0=document_id=(%2012A03FDD1CB8C0B0%20)&p_docid=12A03FDD1CB8C0B0&p_theme=news bank&p_queryname=12A03FDD1CB8C0B0&f_openurl=yes&p_nbid=Y5AA5DIXMTMwNDM3MT A4NC40NDYzMjk6MToxNDoxNDcuMjI2LjEyOS40MA&&p_multi=MIHB Fisher, Max. “Julian Assange Rape Charges: Serious Crime or Anti-WikiLeaks Conspiracy?” The AtlanticWire. (2010). Retrieved: April 17th, 20011. Web. http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2010/12/julian-assange-rape-charges-serious-crime-oranti-wikileaks-conspiracy/21994/
Jones 12 “Freedom of Speech” Webster’s New World Law Dictionary. 2010. Retrieved: April 17th, 2011. Web. http://law.yourdictionary.com/freedom-of-speech Gentlemen, Amelia. “Julian Assange rape allegations: treatment of women 'unfair and absurd'” Guardian News and Media. (2010). Retrieved: April 17, 2011. Web. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/08/julian-assange-rape-allegations Head, Tom. “The First Amendment: Text, Origins, and Meaning.” Civil Liberties. About.com. 2011. Retrieved: April 17th, 2011. Web. http://civilliberty.about.com/od/firstamendment/tp/First-Amendment.htm Hoffman, Abbie. “Demonstrations.” Steal This Book. 1971. Pirate Editions. Retrieved April 17th, 2011. Web. http://www.tenant.net/Community/steal/steal.html Linder, Douglas O. “The Chicago Seven Conspiracy Trail.” Famous American Trials. Retrieved: April 17th, 2011. Web. http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/Chicago7/Account.html Lucas, J. Anthony. “Judge Hoffman Is Taunted at Trial of the Chicago.” The New York Times. 1970. Retrieved April 17th, 2011. Web. http://search.proquest.com/docview/118804993?accountid=8483 Mizelle, Brett. “Pigasus and the Yippies.” The Wonderful Pig of Knowledge! Blogger.2007. Retrieved April 17th, 2011. Web. http://pigofknowledge.blogspot.com/2007/01/pigasus-and-yippies.html Montalabano, Elizabeth. “Army: Wikileaks a National Security Threat.”InformationWeek Government. (2010). Web http://informationweek.com/news/government/security/223900094?nomobile=1 Rothschild, Matthew. “The White House Has a Manual for Silencing Protestors and Demonstrations.”
Jones 13 The Progressive. (2007). Retrieved April 17, 2011. Web. http://www.alternet.org/rights/56528/