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The right to be heard
It appears to me the letter writer of January 28 [Ed Willard in response to Erica Rucker’s Charlie Hebdo column] reveals what is wrong with the popular concept of free speech nowadays. Most likely his revelation was unintentional. As he wrote, “speech is either free or it is censored. There is no in between.” This might be true enough if free speech is only the right to say whatever you want in public without being arrested. That is a pretty limited concept if you think about it. I think it would be fair to say it’s Senator McConnell’s favorite concept, too.
Even so, there is another concept of free speech that emphasizes our civic obligations and it’s widely attributed to US Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis (and Louisville native). In his famous words, “Those who won our independence valued liberty as an end and as a means. They believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty.” Grand eloquent but his point is clear. Liberty is the means we use to provide for happy lives.What Brandeis called the means of free speech, others before him like James Madison called participation in the public discourse. Today, we’d probably use the words conversation or dialogue instead. The point is our founders saw this public conversation as a key element of democracy and a public good. So, our founders concept of free speech included the right to be heard. That means speech needs be free of censorship and also allowed access to the public discourse if we want it to be free speech.
~Tom Louderback, 40205
A Query for Erica Rucker
After reading your Jan 21 column, I turned the pages to find a promo [Staff Pick] under “Arts & Entertainment” for a screening of “Birth of a Nation.”
I must admit reading this promo where it said “ the… Center is popping popcorn, serving birthday cake” in celebrating what I consider to be vehicle for hate-mongers and terrorists, made me ill.
The promo touted the horrid hate-film as an “epic” film, and its maker as the “father of American Film”. WOW…
Freedom of expression is protected by the constitution, but hate mongering is not. I would love the benefit of your thoughts on this event and its claim to be art/entertainment.
Please note that I am just coming to learn about Louisville and will be visiting regularly for work over the next couple of years. And I am writing you in hopes that you might cut right to the heart of the matter regarding race relations in Louisville. This promo gives me some evidence … Any suggestions on what residents of color do to mitigate impacts and diffuse possible attacks is greatly appreciated.