Grandma & Grandpa's Farm

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My Speech is Freer than Your Speech!

Does One Person's Right to Speak Supersede Another's Right to Hear?

I do believe in the right to free speech, though I am not American and my rights come from different roots than the American Constitution. Still I have started wondering at the expression of the right to be heard as used by some groups in our society.

I might disagree with some policies put forward by government or by crown corporations. I might dislike fare increases by public transit. On the other hand, I might agree with some of them. I do know that when I go to a public hearing to hear what the politicians and other groups have to say, I want to actually hear what they have to say and watch their presentation. I want to know what the various politicians have to say and what the assorted boards which are making policy are up to. I want to see their arguments to defend their positions.

But, now at civic meetings and such I see protesters coming in as organized hecklers -- shouting over the speakers and everyone else with every intent to disrupt the meeting it seems. It seems for the simple reason that they disagree and they want their message to be heard. They are asserting their right to free speech... but I think perhaps this is not what is meant by freedom of speech.

I think that the protesters have every right to speak out and every right to protest, but I somehow think there is something wrong with their preventing others from speaking out whether board member or simple citizen.

I am seeing more and more of this sort of thing. There are too many times when the protests are outshouting the presentation and I do not think the fault is that of the organizers for not providing louder sound systems. I am sure that protesting voices are heard even if at organized protests. We are allowed to do that here. There are other places where they don't have the freedom to organize a protest event.

I might not agree with what someone is saying at a presentation, but I do agree they have the right to say it -- say it and be heard.

~ Darrell


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