• 48°

Responsibility must be factor in speech

Another presidential election has brought yet another discussion about Hollywood, violence and censorship.

Saturday, September 30, 2000

Another presidential election has brought yet another discussion about Hollywood, violence and censorship. The only difference this year is both candidates seem to be calling for limits on the material American children see.

But both stop short of the real issues: What exactly is the First Amendment supposed to protect, and should there be any limits on discourse?

The First Amendment was meant to protect political discourse that differed from the establishment or government’s view. It was formed to allow any American citizen the right to protest a decision by his or her government or to comment in any way about his country.

And Americans should go to the mat to protect anyone’s right to discuss who we are as a nation and where we are headed.

The dilemma comes when the "free speech" we are protecting is a rap singer’s diatribe against women or other minority group or his call to murder policemen.

Is this a political statement? Probably not. Is this a call against an oppressive regime? Maybe a bit. But what it is mostly is a chance to inflame a bunch of teenagers and to collect the money that falls out of their pockets.

The First Amendment was a provision created in a different world. While its essence is who we are as Americans, its implementation is a subject that deserves a new look.

Perhaps, rather than limiting discourse, we should make those who choose this road more responsible for its result. Maybe responsibility is what we should legislate. Then, true discourse can be protected and profit-mongering unmasked.