The segment on “Shouting Fire” documentary is about the concerns regarding the freedom of speech and the hypocrisy involving the American history. Throughout the history, people would hold demonstrations and/or voice opinions that are unpopular. The example in the segment of the documentary have shown how during the wartime, there would be people getting arrested for committing “espionage” when they were actually protesting against the war during the time. This includes the famous case known as “Schenck vs. U.S.” where a man named Charles Schenck tries to discourage the prospective military draftees by handing them pamphlets to oppose the war. Schenck was then arrested and the case was brought to the Supreme Court where it was then ruled against him. It is ruled that while people are entitled to free speech, the speech used to endanger other people on the other hand does not fit the right to free speech. However, there’s hardly evidence that Schenck was trying to harm anyone but he still got convicted and sent to prison. This case would be known for its basis to the term “Shouting fire in a crowded theater”.

As the documentary would show, the issue with the right to free speech becomes much murkier when there was a case in which a rally at the Jewish community at Skokie was held by the neo-Nazis. As a result, there were questions of whether the rally should be held as while the demonstrators are entitled to the right to free speech, it is believed that the rally was made in order to provoke the Jewish community. The ACLU was reluctant to get involved in the case due to the internal conflict as much of the members are Jewish, leading to disagreements. This shows how the right to free speech applies to people whose beliefs aren’t agreeable and justifiably reviled and even then, their right must be defended as well.

Then in the next segment, the discussion is made about the right to express opinion and belief in certain places such as schools. What happened is that a student wore a shirt with a masking tape with his interpretation of a verse from the Bible. This action resulted in his suspension as the message on his shirt which read “Homosexuality is shameful,” was seen as disruptive in class. The student was asked to remove the tape from the shirt but he refused which led to the said suspension.

Lastly, there is the situation about Daniel Ellsberg where he leaked the Pentagon documents regarding the war in Vietnam to the New York Times newspaper. The risk Ellsberg have taken have been mentioned in the previous blog entry as the documentary “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg” covers the details in the actions he had committed. Even then, this segment fits with “Shouting Fire” documentary as it tells you how the free speech is more of a two way street as the ways to express it can be unpopular and may result in controversies. Such controversies can even result in hypocrisies from people who believe they’re defending liberty as the reactions to the situations includes threats, it have been shown earlier in the video.

The main issue in regard to the right to free speech is that as mentioned before, the right itself applies to both sides in which the people would take. For example, the people who voice the opinions and expresses beliefs that are unpopular are generally entitled to the right even though it includes those with messages that can be offensive such as the neo-Nazis marching in Skokie and the student who wore a shirt with a religious verse written on it. The thing is that the student believes the school thinks his faith is offensive because he was asked to remove the tape from his shirt only to refuse. However, the issue was that the message written on the masking tape is the reason why the shirt was deemed as offensive. Though to be fair, even if the message on the tape wasn’t homophobic and quotes a more peaceful message from the Bible, the student still would have gotten into trouble. In the end, the message of the video is that the right to free speech isn’t as clear cut as people tends to believe as the situations can be difficult due to cases in which the rights are used by those that offend others.

http://www.enotes.com/schenck-v-united-states-reference/schenck-v-united-states-299524

https://bloggingpionated.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/reaction-to-the-most-dangerous-man-in-america-daniel-ellsberg/

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