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Free Speech

Date: 5/4/2010

Your opinion question, "Should free speech be responsible speech?" in The Reminder, and the cartoons following, were never more timely or needed than in the political and social climate of "political incorrectness" rampant and rampaging in our time. Thank you for your rebuttal, and I wish to reinforce it with your permission.

As you probably know, the British have no constitution or written Bill of Rights as do we, and are governed by Common Law, also known as Case Law. Their highest principle of Common Law is the "Police Power," the right and duty of the state to protect and defend itself and its citizens against all its enemies both foreign and domestic, as is the sworn Oath of Office of our President and Vice-President. Limits upon public speech have been imposed upon citizens who would use speech irresponsibly, particularly in times of war, and to prevent sedition and treason. Treason is the only crime over which our national government has the authority to impose the death penalty. Those of us who were privileged to do military service are also well aware of the limitations upon freedom of speech under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Years ago, our Supreme Court ruled again unreasonable, irresponsible incitement and danger to public safety, declaring that no citizen has the right to shout "fire" inside a public assembly. Not only that, all our states have limitations and laws against slander and libel, and perjury in a court of law.

With all the abuses of responsible speech today, enhanced and violated in epidemic proportions by modern technologies, including Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, blogging, et al., the current tragic consequences have never been more transparent than the suicidal cases of the young students in Springfield and South Hadley, not to mention all the other instances of abuses in the name of "transparency" both publicly and privately. One may wonder quite rationally whether or not privacy and the principle of "the Hippocratic Oath" are now obsolete and impossible.

Unfortunately, in my lifetime of four-score plus one, I have observed increasing violations of the First Amendment in all its aspects.

Jack Phillips