Americans don’t seem to be gungho on their freedoms

By Ted Belman

The Obama administration seems to be willing to limit free speech in order to protect Muslims who might be offended by it and even to criminalize criticism of Islam or Mohammed though it says otherwise.

Obama failed to defend the movie Innocence of Muslims as an expression of free speech and failed to stand behind such a freedom as a bedrock American value.

So it was all the more surprising that he had this to say about it in his speech to the UN:

    I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video. The answer is enshrined in our laws: our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech. Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense. Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs. Moreover, as President of our country, and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so. Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views – even views that we disagree with.

    We do so not because we support hateful speech, but because our Founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views, and practice their own faith, may be threatened. We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can become a tool to silence critics, or oppress minorities. We do so because given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech – the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.

I wish I could believe he means it.

I did some googling and was suprised to learn that Americans are ambivalent towards the First Amendment Rights:

The 2009 First Amendment report by the non-profit First Amendment Center says:

    * When asked to identify the specific freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment, 55% named free speech, followed by 18% who mentioned freedom of religion and 16% who said freedom of the press. Fourteen percent mentioned freedom of assembly and only 4% named the right to petition the government. Thirty-nine percent of Americans could not name any of the freedoms in the First Amendment.

    *Nineteen percent of Americans said the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees, though the large majority of Americans (73%) disagreed, saying the First Amendment does not go too far.

    *Though nearly half (48%) of Americans say the press has about the right amount if freedom, 39% say it has too much freedom to do what it wants while only 7% say it has too little freedom. Over the past few years, the percentage saying that the press has “too little” freedom has declined and the percentage saying it has “too much” freedom has increased slightly.

    *Three in five respondents (60%) say Americans have just about the right amount of religious freedom, while 29% say Americans have too little religious freedom. One in 20 (5%) thinks Americans have too much religious freedom.

In 2002, American Journalism Review asked, “Too Free?”

    At the First Amendment Center, we conduct an annual survey of Americans’ attitudes toward the First Amendment. This year, we joined with AJR to take a closer look at how the nation sees the First Amendment after the terrorist attacks, particularly when it comes to the role of a free press and access to public information.

    Among the key findings:

    • For the first time in our polling, almost half of those surveyed said they think the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees. About 49 percent said it gives us too much freedom, up from 39 percent last year and 22 percent in the year 2000.

    • The least popular First Amendment right is freedom of the press, with 42 percent saying the press in America has too much freedom, roughly the same level as last year.

    In the past, the results have been fairly consistent, if a bit disquieting. Each year, a majority of Americans have said they would restrict public remarks that might offend people of other faiths or races. About half of those surveyed have said they would restrict the public display of potentially offensive art. Almost four Americans in 10 have told us they would limit the public performance of music that might offend others.

    During the five-year period in which we’ve conducted the survey with the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut, we’ve seen willingness by many to exchange a little liberty for less interpersonal conflict. There’s been growing support to limit expression when it insults others, the codification of political correctness. It sometimes appears that the land of the free is now the home of the easily offended.

    But now the stakes have risen. In the wake of September 11, Americans are afraid of more than just being offended. The results of our 2002 survey suggest that many Americans view these fundamental freedoms as possible obstacles in the war on terrorism.

    That’s not to suggest a monolithic response to these core First Amendment values. In truth, Americans are of multiple minds about the 45 words drafted by James Madison. While a majority of respondents say they respect the First Amendment, a significant percentage seems inclined to rewrite it:

    • More than 40 percent of those polled said newspapers should not be allowed to freely criticize the U.S. military’s strategy and performance.

    • Roughly half of those surveyed said the American press has been too aggressive in asking government officials for information about the war on terrorism.

    • More than four in 10 said they would limit the academic freedom of professors and bar criticism of government military policy.

    • About half of those surveyed said government should be able to monitor religious groups in the interest of national security, even if that means infringing upon religious freedom.

    • More than four in 10 said the government should have greater power to monitor the activities of Muslims living in the United States than it does other religious groups.

    Clearly, the terrorist attacks have taken a toll. Principles that sound good in the abstract are a little less appealing when your greatest fear is getting on an airplane.

    It’s not entirely surprising that many Americans have second thoughts about the First Amendment, particularly during a time of crisis. After all, it was designed to protect minority viewpoints and faiths. That can be difficult to remember when there’s an overwhelming public call for unity. Some have little patience with dissent.

    Still, there are signs that Americans do appreciate the fruits of First Amendment freedoms, particularly access to information. At a time of great national unease, we all want to know more about the threats we face. Information is the best antidote for anxiety.

    About 40 percent of those surveyed said they have too little access to information about the government’s war on terrorism, compared with just 16 percent who believe there’s too much. Forty-eight percent of those surveyed believe there’s too little access to government records, compared with just 8 percent who believe there’s too much.

    While many Americans believe that we have too much freedom under the First Amendment and that the nation’s news media have too many privileges, they understand and appreciate the value of news and information.

    The goal for all who support First Amendment freedoms–particularly those who work for a free press–should be to demonstrate how the unfettered flow of ideas enriches our lives and bolsters our collective security. Information gives us insight and the power to make reasoned decisions at a difficult time.

    It’s ironic that many Americans have doubts about these fundamental freedoms in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

    When President Bush addressed the nation last September 20, he cautioned us that “freedom and fear are at war.” He noted that the terrorists targeted the United States because we embrace liberty. “The terrorists hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other,” the president told us.

    In other words, the terrorists view our personal liberties with contempt and see them as a weakness.

    The challenge for all Americans–today more than ever–is to truly embrace the freedoms of the First Amendment and show just how strong we really are.

Obama’s speech notwithstanding, expect to see an erosion of the First Amendment Rights.

September 27, 2012 | 8 Comments »

Subscribe to Israpundit Daily Digest

Leave a Reply

8 Comments / 8 Comments

  1. @ Max:
    Violation of his parole term is a bullshit pretext for the enforcement of islamic blasphemy laws.

    Another reason for the instigation of muslim riots around the world was likely to get the UN to pass that islamic blasphemy law the OIC has been pushing for years. Recall Hillary meeting secretly with the OIC regarding this issue. And now it turns out that she failed to secure our embassy in Libya. Hillary’s aid is connected to the muslim brotherhood. And it was on state run Egyptian TV where that video was broadcast and the muslim brotherhood now rules Egypt. If you look at the big picture, the pieces are starting to fall into place.

  2. LOS ANGELES) — The California man behind a crudely produced anti-Islamic video that has inflamed parts of the Middle East was arrested Thursday for violating terms of his probation, authorities said.

    Read more:

    This was done by the American Dual-Party, elite-controlled, regime with the hopes in order to pacify Islam in their quest to enforce Sharia Law on the West.

    The message is clear: “Americans beware! Keep silent or else!~ We can get you anywhere , anytime, you cannot escape.”
    He was arrested while the Democrats rule the country serving the economic fascist elite.

    The Republican mandarins of the economic elite probably would have shot him ‘attempting to escape’.

    In Canada , the HRC would have got him, confiscated all his property and jailed him.

    I hate to admit this but it’s a risk to even say this – one day they might come for me. The Islamofascists got me scared, it’s worked – I don’t dare say what I truly think.

  3. Free speech and Orwellian muslims:

    Muslims insist that when islam is criticized, no matter how true the criticism, it constitutes “hate speech”, and must be stopped. And if it goes through, the muslims must kill the critic, and are justified by their primitive savage “god” allah in doing so.

    On the other hand, muslims are free to criticize Judaism and christianity all they want, and it never constitutes “hate speech”; since islam is the “only true religion”, while allah has declared that Judaism and christianity are false, so that criticism is both warranted and necessary.

    Muslims use the term “human rights” in the same way. According to muslims, the term “human rights” applies only to muslims, since muslims are the only people who are “truly human”; while Jews and christians are “less than human”, and do not warrant full human rights.

    In the days before atheistic liberals took control of western civilization, the West would just have laughed at the muslims, and swatted them away if they became too annoying. But the atheistic liberals have decided that the real enemy are white male heterosexual nationalistic christian conservatives, and assumed that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”; so that if christianity is “bad”, then islam must be “good”. They then began to promote islam as “the best possible religion”, without even knowing what islam really is, in order to counterbalance christianity.

    Now, the “islamic chickens are coming home to roost”, but instead of admitting they were wrong, the atheistic liberals are doubling down on their support for the muslims, so that poor Mitt Romney is described as a “murdering devil”, while the muslims are “innocent powerless victims fighting back with the only means they have available”. Thus, cutting off the heads of christians, and killing christian American Ambassadors is “sad”, but “understandable”, because only a small number of the most frustrated muslims are involved, while the “vast majority of muslims are really swell fellows”.

  4. THE PENTAGON ALREADY FELL TO THE ENEMY – Army Colonel Matthew Dooley threatens to sue Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey for “violating academic freedom” and for “caving in to Islam”. Colonel Matthew Dooley was suspended from a top military college for teaching an anti-Islamic course. His attorneys have put Gen Dempsey on notice for a possible lawsuit for “concealing the truth about Islam,” after Dooley’s course was shut down for its strong anti-Islamic content. Dooley’s lawyers issued a press release stating that “the final bastion of America’s defense against Islamic Jihad and Sharia law – the Pentagon – fell to the enemy in April 2012?.

  5. GET YOUR BURKAS READY! Three Star General says Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the US government.

    U.S. Army Lieutenant General (Ret.) William Jerry Boykin claims that individuals with connections to the Muslim Brotherhood hold security clearances in both the Pentagon and the Department of Defense. He claims that people with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood hold important positions “in every major federal agency.” Boykin was formerly a Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.

  6. Conditioning citizens to accept limits to their constitutional rights has been going on for decades. Could this be part of a larger plan?

    The list of issues they must be careful not to question or even discuss keeps expanding. Any violation of the unwritten code is regarded as a crime. People are fired from their jobs. Candidates to public office see their careers come to a full stop. Activists are attacked. And there can be worse consequences too.


    As far as citizens’ incomplete knowledge of their own rights, that may be part of the plan too. Not many people know that it’s legal to videotape police in a public area. Several individuals have been arrested and convicted for such a “crime”.

    – Man faces 75 years in jail for filming police –

    – Recording the police used to be illegal in Illinois. But this month (May 2012), a federal appeals court ruled that a state wiretap law prohibiting it conflicts with the First Amendment.

  7. Obama’s dreary, lame, largely academic support of free speech (not at all vigorous) — Suggests that he regrets that the First Amendment at the present time doesn’t enable him to ban the film. (Just have to give him another 4 years, I guess). Where Obama does become animated is when he considers the YouTube clip, and then we hear the adjectives “disgusting”, vile, etc. Do we hear the same sort of language used to condemn murderers of an ambassador? Of course not. He doesn’t care if Americans are murdered; his biggest concern is not allowing “The prophet” to be slandered… That’s the message he wants to convey.