Wednesday October 31, 2001
Freedom of speech is not just a benefit
I would like to respond to Wendy Haley's letter in yesterday's Wildcat. Haley took offense with ads for abortion clinics that were on the front page of the Wildcat's Web site and argued that they should be "buried deep" (or perhaps taken off the site, if I may read between the lines) because of her Christian values. As a law student at the UA, I feel compelled to clear up this misunderstanding of fundamental constitutional law.
Haley refers to freedom of speech as a constitutional "benefit." However, freedom of speech is not a "benefit," as if it is a mere perk or privilege. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right, one that belongs to all Americans.
As Americans, we are also entitled to equal protection of the laws under the 14th Amendment. Every person, whether male or female, conservative or liberal, pro-choice or pro-life, is entitled to the same rights as everyone else. These rights include freedom of speech under the First Amendment.
Therefore, the freedom of speech that belongs to abortion clinics is as inviolate as the freedom to criticize their services. The First Amendment makes no moral or political distinctions. The Ku Klux Klan has the absolute right to march in our streets. Neo-Nazis and Holocaust doubters have the absolute right to express their hate. And just as pro-choice supporters are entitled to their viewpoint, they have the absolute right to publish it as well.
Unpopular or disagreeable speech is inevitable under the First Amendment. However, such speech poses no danger to American society because people are entitled to disagree and criticize by expressing opposing viewpoints.
When readers of the Wildcat submit letters that are stupid or offensive, other people have the right to submit letters in response. And when Haley disagrees with the online abortion ads, she is free to put up her own ad. But to urge the Wildcat to suppress speech that she disagrees with is to give short shrift to the very constitutional right that protects the publication of her own letter.
James E. Rogers College of Law student
Lee column misses the point
Once more, Ms. Lee has shown resilience in criticizing President Bush and Vice President Cheney. But this time goes so far as to call Cheney a "puppet-master."
In her recent article, posted Tuesday, Lee makes a point by stating that, "The First Amendment right to a free press and the public's right to know were without a doubt the first casualty of the Gulf War." Yet I must be quite frank in the regards that the military, and the government for that matter, have had the media ask questions in regards to their coming along during special forces operations, which I feel would put the military in danger. But in interest to the First Amendment as stated by Lee, we should allow this to occur.
Another point along the same lines is that CNN sent a convoy with a satellite to the local Afghan news agency desperately seeking an interview with Osama bin Laden. The questions are more propaganda for Osama bin Laden. I must point out that the media would rather report the death of an Afghan civilian than show the pictures of those who lost their lives on Sept. 11 or the children that have been orphaned since the attacks!
Her next point, and I quote, "We should be extremely worried about media censorship now since Cheney, the guy who supports pushing restrictions so the 'press doesn't screw us,' is now vice president and virtually running the country under the puppet president, George Bush."
Lee, the United States is in a war! I do not know how much further I must stress this point, but during a war, the president does have the authority to go so far as to declare Marshal Law if necessary in order to keep public order. President Lincoln did it during the Civil War, what stops President Bush from doing it during our war on terrorism?
Lastly, if you wish to take a point in criticizing the president as far as you have, please take note that he is trying to defend our freedoms as much as any other person standing next to you would.
Lastly, the media does not care about whether their story compromises national security, or kills a few thousand American soldiers, as long as they are the first ones to put it out.
Stephen W. Bieda, III
atmospheric sciences junior
Dale column stretches logic
In regards to Shane Dale's commentary, I respect Mr. Dale's concern about unborn fetuses. However, I'm not so sure I understand what he means when he writes, "How foolish is it for environmentalists to decide who enjoys this planet's environment and who doesn't, simply because they were born before others?" Is Mr. Dale suggesting we need to respect the rights of people who don't even exist yet?