Sunday, January 24, 2010

Free Speech

Recently, President Obama's chief-of-staff, Rahm Emmanuel, was caught on film saying "freedom of speech is over-rated." Granted, perhaps he was joking; perhaps there is a exculpating context we didn't see.

But that is certainly the belief in North Korea as we saw in the savage beating and prompt disappearance of Robert Park. An American citizen of Korean descent, Park entered North Korea across a frozen river with a Bible in one hand and a personal letter for North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il in the other, calling for Kim's repentance and abdication as he arrived. Border guards immediately seized him and beat him almost to death. It is against "the law" there to criticize the Dear Leader in any way, and the guards themselves would have been severely disciplined if they had not responded with physical reprisals to Park's public utterances. (See, "Activist Presents Headache for N. Korea.")

But here in the United States, we still treasure the right to criticize our government freely as we treasure our liberty generally.

In light of these things, it is especially pleasing that the Supreme Court this week upheld our freedom of speech whether you speak simply as an individual with a van, or in conjunction with others as shareholders in a corporation.

Bradley Smith has a good review of the issues in the Citizens United case in the Wall Street Journal, "Newsflash: First Amendment Upheld." He writes, "Hopefully, this ruling marks an end to 20 years of jurisprudence in which the Court has provided less protection to core political speech than it has to Internet pornography, the transmission of stolen information, flag burning, commercial advertising, topless dancing, and burning a cross outside an African-American church."

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