Repression of Free Speech

     The First Amendment of the United States Constitution states that "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." This would lead me to believe that people can express their opinions when and where they wish, yet there seems to be a gradual lose of this right. Due to the actions of both government and citizens.

Examples of the Repression of Free Speech

    A South African Muslim academic by the name of Adam Habib was denied the renewal of his visa in October of 2006. Habib is a vocal critic of the United States foreign policy in the Middle East, which has caused the Department of Homeland Security to deny his renewal request. This is a prime example of how "the government is increasingly using secret evidence allowed under new anti terrorism laws to prevent certain critics from entering the United States" (MacFarquhar).

    In March of 2006 a group of fundamentalists protested at the funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder who was killed in Iraq. The carried signs that read "God Hates You" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers." The group feels that God is killing soldiers to punish America for condoning homosexuality. This was not taken well by the dead man's father, Albert Snyder, who is now suing the church (Simmons). Although this may not be considered polite to the family, I feel that the
protesters should not be punished for their actions. It is their right to voice their opinions and to assemble. By punishing them it will inevitably open the door for further restrictions on the freedom of speech. This cannot be allowed!

    On the 15th of February 2008 Judge Jeffrey S. White ruled to disable the domain name. The website "invites people to post leaked materials with the goal of discouraging 'unethical behavior' by corporations and government. It has posted documents said to show the rules of engagement for American troops in Iraq, a military manual for the operation of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and other evidence of what it has called corporate waste and wrongdoing." While this did not stop users from preforming the acts that they had been doing, it did clearly attempt to do that. This is a major infringement of the First Amendment.

Hope For the Freedom of Speech

    Although free speech is being attacked from many different sides for many different reasons, there is reason to hope that the actions taken to stifle free speech can be countered.
    After disabling the website, Judge White withdrew the disabling. The ruling "drew criticisms-and court filings- from numerous organizations concerned that the order violated the First Amendment protection of free speech." This pressured White to withdraw his ruling on the issue (Glater). While this may not necessarliy be good for corporations, but it attests to the power of free speech and  shows that if  citizens stand up for their rights, they have the power to take them back.