Importance of Free Speech as January 18th Will Live In Infamy…

Free Speech

As this is the second American Revolution and the shot heard around the world as the American people shouted, loudly did they shout to their elected officials. In turn, the volume was so loud they [the elected officials] could not stick their heads in the sand as with health care and the many other things they feel they “know better” then the people who elected them.

With this, both SOPA and PIPA have been tabled, yet what does this mean? As is the war over and won by the people, or is this just a battle while the political overlords lay in wait for us “the people” to settle back into our daily slumber allowing them the ability to sneak these ill deeds in the backdoor.

Well unfortunately it’s the latter as any good negotiator worth their salt knows the term “defend and delay“. The political overlords (i.e. the left leaning big media purchased politicians) tried to “defend” their position yet unsuccessfully, so what’s next? Yes, you guessed it, “delay” as people tend to forget and big bangs as a redux on the same topic is very hard as the “vogue” factor has worn off with the first go around.

As this is the difference between a “battle” and a “war” as you can think of the war as being a “long period of boredom” punctuated with “short bursts of pure insanity”. As the first battle is always memorable (good or bad), yet the second is old hat where the excitement has long left. Thus the way to win a war you ask, the answer is simple out wait your enemy. As the media companies aren’t going anywhere tomorrow so they have nothing but time on their hands with deep pockets to.

As I wain here in a negative light, there is a lot to be learned from a battle like this when 13 million voices speak at once the sound is deafening and is the main reason this fight is so important as it’s not about pirated movies or someone torrenting the latest Lady Gaga songs. It’s about the ability to do what we just did (yes I was one of those 13 million voices) as this is what freedom is about, it is what America was founded upon. Should the media companies find this important to their business model than may I suggest China where this is allowed and as I walk down any street there [in most of Asia] are dozen street vendors wanting to sell me pirated movies so what have they accomplished?

As I’ve waxed here before, pirating is a commercial problem and not a social one, therefore social means such as free speech should not be compromised for commercial gain period. As the “right” to speak and present openly is a basic human right, even if some choose to abuse this “right”, it does not give others the right to take this away from us…

Free Speech, Well Sort Of…

Free Speech Makes Us America...

His Honor Richard A. Posner is not known for his friendly treatment of folks whose arguments he doesn’t agree with.  So when an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) started to make his opening statement at an oral argument, Posner cut him off at the knees after only 14 words!  His Honor boomed, “Yeah, I know,” in a dismissive tone. “But I’m not interested, really, in what you want to do with these recordings of peoples’ encounters with the police.”

On trial this day was the topic of the constitutionality of an unusually strict Illinois wiretapping law, which makes it illegal to record someone without his consent even if the recording is done openly and in a public place.  Here the ACLU was asking a panel of three judges from the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to strike down the law on First Amendment grounds.

Yet the Judge wasn’t having it this day saying  “Once all this stuff can be recorded, there’s going to be a lot more of this snooping around by reporters and bloggers,” he said.

His honor was particularly worried that allowing recording would impact police work. “I’m always suspicious when the civil liberties people start telling the police how to do their business,” he shared.  His retort was in the form of speculation that gangs would love the ACLU’s argument because recordings would make it easier to discover and retaliate against informants.

Yet Posner in the end may find himself on the losing side of the argument as both fellow Seventh Circuit judges seemed more receptive to the ACLU’s argument.  As they reserved most of their fire for the government’s attorney saying the “The statute criminalizes any audiotaping without regard to expectations of privacy, even if those events that are being audiotaped occur in the open, in public, for anyone to see and hear and otherwise observe,” one of the judges stated as “It’s extremely broad.

Yet the governments lawyer with a straight face, argued that limiting recording actually protected speakers’ First Amendment rights by allowing them to control who heard their speech. However he is paddling up a stream with a broken ore in this case proposing for one to be heard, they must want to be heard.

As just last month, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit handed down a unanimous ruling in the Simon Glik case.  Here the case held that Glik had a “clearly-established” First Amendment right to record the actions of the police on the Boston Common, and that police officers should have known this when they arrested him.  With this there is hope by the Civil libertarians a second ruling in Illinois will help confirm the idea that audio recording is an activity protected by the First Amendment.  Because as it stands today, we are well past 1984…