Monday, December 20, 2004


Incitement or Free Speech?

When news censorship come back to these United States, here is how it will dress:
"It's not a question of freedom of speech," {US State Dept spokesman Richard Boucher} said.

"It's a question of incitement to violence. And we don't see why here or anywhere else a terrorist organisation should be allowed to spread its hatred and incitement through the television airwaves."
-From the BBC.
The problem is: where does "incitement" stop and free speech begin? During World War I, a man spent 10 years in prison after making a speech noting the US Government should do more for the widows and children of servicemen. The crime? Incitement to evade draft laws. (Someone listening to the speech might decide not comply with the draft.) Only some rulings from the 1960's Warren Court protect those protesting today's Iraq War from similar punishment.

Today, people are criticizing Mr. Rumsfeld's answers to questions posed by members of our armed forces. Should these critics be arrested for incitement to mutiny?

If the Palestinian TV station in question is running recruitment ads for suicide bombers, or other obviously illegal acts, their actions should be banned. On the other hand, if their "incitement" consists of praising those fighting the Israelis - isn't that more freedom of speech?


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