Freedom of Speech vs. Freedom of Action: What the First Amendment Actually Means

So, as student of history and hence a student of the US Constitution, one of the things that literally makes me hate the education that children are receiving and truly believe that people have lost the ability to synthesize information is the defense of a stupid or hateful comment with the first amendment of the Bill of Rights.

“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.” – See more at: http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment1.html#sthash.gkVkgFxQ.dpuf

IMG_0023The first amendment is by far the most far reaching amendment and the most widely incorrectly cited. You can’t just say something awful and say “It’s free speech.” when someone tells you you’re being a moron. Free speech does not actually mean that you can say whatever you want without consequence. It means you have the right to say it, but it does not excuse you from the repercussions of that statement. For instance, the first amendment does not entitle you to say something racist at work and not be fired for it. Your employer has the right to fire you for slander of either the person you said it about or the company itself.

The first amendment also protects the rights of the press. Journalists who report the truth. The “press” should not really encompass the people who are ruining the lives of actors and artists for their own public gain. Just because the story makes money for your magazine, doesn’t mean it should be published. Do you think the founding fathers of America believed that the internet would be a thing when they were sitting in Independence Hall screaming at one another in the hot Philadelphia summer? Do you think they felt that it was necessary to ask themselves “How does this right work IMG_1819for the press when they want to slander the lives of famous people?” NO! BECAUSE NO ONE CARED! They, unlike people of today, realized that artists, politicians, and “famous” people are…people, fellow human beings. I’m not saying that people in the public eye should not be held accountable for their actions. EVERYONE SHOULD BE! AND IT’S NOT HAPPENING! Rights from the Constitution and its amendments can be employed in as much as they do not infringe upon the rights of others. I would say publishing nude photos of actresses because you hacked into their computer (whether in the cloud or otherwise) is infringing on their right to the pursuit of happiness, their right to privacy and is theft of their private property. I realize that the internet has truly changed the world and questions the rules in play. Just as I have the right to write this blog, someone has the right to say that I’m wrong if they think I am. We have the right to have the discussion but if that discussion leads to illegal action, that’s where we run into a serious problem.

I think the internet and social media have blurred the line between freedom of speech and freedom of action (which is not a fundamental right, you cannot simply do whatever you want, that would lead to anarchy and things like the Purge…tread carefully). Continuing with the use of the nude photo leak example, if you went to someone’s house and stole nude photos of them and published them in a magazine, that’s not freedom of the press, that’s theft and that journalist would be arrested for stealing and trespassing onto private property. So…what’s the difference between that and committing the same crime digitally. Just because it’s there and you want it, does not entitle you to take it. And with free speech, just because you think it doesn’t mean you should say it. You can, that’s a right provided to you by the government, AND ONLY THE GOVERNMENT, but it doesn’t protect you from the response and reactions of others.

IMG_1810I think this age of individualism is actually really dangerous and the internet has given us a mask to hide behind, our keyboards. You can do a lot of damage from behind those keyboards. You can spread hate and that’s not the intent of the right to free speech. The right to free speech should be used for good and to protect yourself and your ideas. Also, remember that private entities, not owned by the government, do actually have the ability to restrict what you say. For example, if you are found out to be sending hate mail on a website like tumblr, youtube, Facebook and twitter, your account can be deleted and you will be reported. We seem to have, as a culture, lost the ability to care about the greater good and are only out for the private good and not the public good. This is VERY BAD! While there are amazing organizations that are doing the right thing and joining together to promote the public good, there are a lot of stupid people who are only looking out for the interests of themselves as individuals. Where is that going to lead us?! It’s going to lead us down a seriously dangerous path and we will lose the collaborative spirit that made this country amazing in it’s early years. Look back in history, amazing things happen when people come together for the good of the public and sometimes that means sacrificing a small private want in order to accomplish something much more amazing.

Think before you open your mouth to speak or hit the keys on your keyboard, take five seconds to make sure that you are saying something worth saying. Don’t just speak to speak, say something with purpose. Say something educated and intelligent. Make sure you aren’t saying something inaccurate and stupid. Sometimes ranting in cathartic, sometimes it’s dangerous and inaccurate driven only by misunderstanding, hatred and anger. Just something to think about…keep sifting through shelves.

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A Response to John Green’s “I Hate Batman” video

 

So this is where I say…he’s right you know. And he is, Batman/Bruce Wayne is a fundamentally bad billionaire. I’m not going to repeat the entirety of the content of the video, you can watch it yourself.

I would like to point out that the origin story of Batman is where it all starts to go downhill for Batman. I’ve seen Batman Begins and I’ve read a lot of comics, Gotham is a seriously damaged city and the Wayne Family uses their money to try to help fix that damage, clearly not well enough though because the very crime that they are doing so much to stop at its core is what ends up killing the Wayne parental units in the first place. This makes Batman a seriously sad and damaged person. This is understandable, seeing ones parents shot dead in front of them would do bad things to a person psychologically. This is when therapy should have been an order. Seriously…MAD BAT PHOBIA…but I digress. There are all sorts of psychological problems in Gotham and mob affiliations and this is clearly leading to the crime ridden state that Gotham has found itself in. If the city took a turn toward ultimate decay after the Wayne parents were killed…the city had problems bigger than were being addressed. Meanwhile, Batman is using his new found wealth as an adult to go off an become a martial arts master, which was probably very therapeutic, clearly not therapeutic enough but still. He also could have definitely done this within the United States and did not need to fly to Asia for it.

Basically, as John said, what makes Batman a bad villain is that he uses his money to make himself technologically superior to others when he could be putting that money into the good of the city. Taking the entire crime ridden state of a city on on your own is never going to fix the city. You have to fix the problems that cause the crime and the psychosis in the city, not just punish the bad guys. You can’t just fight it, you have to fix it. The people of Gotham are clearly incredibly weak and damaged if they are willing to follow people like the Riddler, the Joker and the Penguin. Some of the other villains are just silly, but most are psychologically disturbed. He’s a bad hero. I’m not saying that Batman never did anything for charity, but he didn’t do quite enough. He’s a damaged individual with a grudge and nothing particularly special about him, except his wealth. He does a poor job of living up to his parents’¬†legacy. Is it his fault that in the years required for him to grow up, Gotham took a turn for the worst and turned into a crime ridden city of urban decay? Obviously not. But…he didn’t fix the problem when he definitely could have. Did the mob infiltration of the government of Gotham put it past the point of no return? Maybe it did. But…had Bruce Wayne gone to school for law and become involved in the politics of Gotham, he could have done significantly more good than he did as a vigilante. His last name was incredibly powerful and he essentially didn’t use that to his advantage.

I do want to elaborate on John’s contradiction to himself, Iron Man. In the beginning of his journey, Iron Man is only slightly better than Batman. His power stems from a device he uses to stay alive and he chooses to do mostly good with it. He shares it with the public within reason, once it begins being used for bad, that’s where Tony has a problem with sharing his technology. He does allow it to be used for the good of the public, but again within his control. The government basically employs Tony’s technology, at benefit to Tony’s bank account and the city of New York. He uses the Iron Man Suit to increase the power of the core and do good for the public. The public that Iron Man is protecting is also fundamentally different from the public of Gotham. The public of the Marvel Iron Man universe is not broken almost past the point of repair. It’s not full of completely off the handle psychos that can’t be stopped in their rampage of pointlessly killing people for fun. Most of Tony Stark’s villains are out to get Tony, not the public. I understand that some of Batman’s villains are out to get Batman himself, they do a lot of damage to Gotham itself in the process and some Marvel villains do the same. John Green points out that the greatest good comes from collaboration. In the case of the Iron Man saga, this is totally true. When a greater evil than Iron Man can handle attacks the people of Earth, collaboration of the members of the Avengers is what saves the world, not any one of the heroes on their own. (I should add that I do know that Batman joins the Justice League, though I’m not as familiar with his Justice League story). I realize that this is only the beginning of a long and complicated conversation about the root of evil action and how to combat that evil. Please, discuss among yourselves. I will keep the conversation going as I think the correlation between entertainment and why people like it is important. I think if we think of Batman as an ultimate good, we are a seriously misled people. Keep on sifting through shelves.

Movie Review: The Reluctant Dragon

Hey there Sifters! I thought I would write up another movie review! I’ve been stopping by my library and taking out old often forgotten Disney movies and documentaries. Last time it was The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story. This time it’s the Reluctant Drago. This is a movie that was made entirely to explain the behind the scenes magic of how a Disney Animated film is made at the Disney Studios. Some parts of the movie are shot in black and white and others are in color. It’s a very witty film with a grand appearance by Walt Disney himself in the end of the film. In true Disney fashion, the behind the scenes magic is told through a story. The film begins with a man and his wife, who wants him to take the story The Reluctant Dragon to the Disney Studios and pitch it as a film. He is quite doubtful that it will work but his wife makes him go anyway. Hilarity and education occur simultaneously as the gentleman attempts to hide from his studio guide who is supposed to be walking him around the studio before taking him to meet Walt.

The gentleman goes through the sound effects department, the storyboarding department, the animation department, the sculpting department the ink and paint department and more. He keep accumulating souvenirs as he evades his overly eager guide. In the end, the audience does get to see the story of The Reluctant Dragon.

It’s an amazing film that I think everyone who loves Disney movies and the behind the scenes magic should see. It’s got great bonus footage if you get the right edition and it’s fantastically entertaining as well as educational. It has all the charm of the 40s, which is when it was made and getting to see Walt on screen is always a real gem. My favorite part was getting to see how the multi-plane camera worked. I knew the basic concept but had never really seen it in action. It was nice to get to see how massive they really were.

The film is unique in that it tells two stories, the story of the man on a mission from his wife to pitch The Reluctant Dragon and the actual story of The Reluctant Dragon, which is just darling! It’s an animated short about a Dragon who wants to write sonnets instead of fight against the knights of the kingdom. The cartoon itself is in full color even though some of the live action scenes are in black and white. The live action and animated characters are charming and reflective of their time, the story is wonderful and it’s an amazing look at the making of an animated film as done by the best of the best. I definitely highly recommend tracking down a copy and watching it, it’s Disney magic at it’s finest during an era right before animation fell apart for a bit because of WWII, which gives it an interesting context.

Thanks for reading and keep Sifting Through Shelves!

A Teacher Gave A Student An ‘F’ And A Smiley Face. But She Wasn’t Making Fun Of Him.

This woman is beyond brilliant, there need to be more people like her in the educational system. She knows that while the test matters, it’s about what you show you can do, not about what the test says you can’t do. If there were more people like her in the school system, I might not be as terrified as I am about the future of education in America. Bring people up, don’t tear them down. If we taught that, maybe kids wouldn’t tear each other down so much. I was lucky enough to be taught by a lot of people like her and receive an amazing education. I’m grateful for that every day.