Sunday, July 15, 2012

First Amendment Blues

By Laura P. Valtorta

Recently I’ve been pondering our American right to free speech, guaranteed by the First Amendment, and how our American outlook makes this difficult to achieve sometimes.

The first time I thought about this, I was showing one or two chapters of my memoir to a writer at the University of South Carolina whose work has been accepted by the literati as worthy of publication. That doesn’t mean he’s a bestseller. His writing is considered worthy.

This fellow read my chapters and told me I had better watch out about writing against certain current beliefs. I should think twice about stating “there is no such thing as race,” for example. That might not be accepted by publishers.

Biologically speaking, my statement is true, and scientists realize this. People have varying shades of skin and different eyes. If humans were actually divided into “races,” we would not be able to have sex and reproduce together. The categorizing of people has resulted in untold evil, but I guess I’d better not anger publishers by stating any unpopular observations.

Also, Americans are not allowed to talk about communism. The subject of communism and who is communist is discussable at any coffee bar in Italy. Communists were American allies during World War II. Italian communists are quick to distinguish themselves from Stalin, but otherwise they’re pretty comfortable talking about their beliefs. They believe in following the law. Most of the Sam’s Club-type stores in Italy are communist cooperatives. You buy a membership and get discounts.

So when did communism become a taboo subject in the United States? Back in the 1950s with Senator McCarthy? It’s just a political party.

I would prefer to live in a county where I can write and say what I believe, as long as it’s non-threatening. If I happen to agree with Governor Haley once in a blue moon, I’d like to be able to say it without getting jumped in a dark alley or threatened by email. Freedom means honesty and elasticity of thought, even when the subject matter is unpopular.

1 comment:

Shaun said...

Here here! A marketplace of ideas suffers as surely as any other when tyranny and monopoly deprive people of products. It is ones moral duty to speak out against evil. A good person is not silenced by taboo or superstition.