U.S. is not a place of free speech

Bob Moser and Bob Moser

I am writing this in response to Opinion Editor Rema Ina’s column on why freedom of speech is nothing to worry about in this great nation of ours. Miss Ina is just one of many on this campus and in this country who allow themselves to live in a vacuum of blind patriotism. The true meaning behind freedom of speech has been damaged during this war with Iraq, and it’s unfortunate that an editor on the BG News staff seems to have spent little time researching a topic before putting an opinion in ink.

Actor Tim Robbins and his wife Susan Sarandon are two of many Hollywood celebrities who have been persecuted for speaking their mind on this war. This year, the Baseball Hall of Fame cancelled the screening of a classic hardball film, “Bull Durham.”

The reasoning behind this could have been spun any which way, but the director of the Hall of Fame publicly chastised the films stars, Robbins and Sarandon, for their “anti-American” views, and said that their film would not be allowed to represent the great game of baseball.

The Dixie Chicks have been all but banned from nationwide radio play, thanks to a memo sent out by airwave monopolizer Clear Channel Ent. which said the band’s public statements were “anti-American” and should not be represented by self-respecting radio stations.

And the strongest case of free speech persecution in our country is the same example that Miss Ina thought would make her point. Longtime NBC news correspondent Peter Arnett reported on families in Iraq whose parents had been killed in faulty bombings by the American military. This type of journalistic coverage should be essential if the United States of America were really interested in a bipartisan media that was trying to bring you an array of viewpoints on this war in Iraq. However, Arnett was more than just chastised or persecuted for attempting to show the American public some truth about this war, he was quickly fired by NBC.

In Miss Ina’s article, she can be quoted as saying, “If you can’t handle negative consequences that may come from your words then, and excuse my speech, keep your mouth shut.” How can any sane human being honestly fathom that there is free speech in the United States when it is clearly obvious that those with anti-war sentiments are being persecuted.

Actors like Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon have held strong to their beliefs and risen above the public ridicule that the Baseball Hall of Fame has dished out, but no one should be faced with that kind of ultimatum. The Dixie Chicks have all but been banned from the national airwaves, just because they disagree with the actions of our president. For the first time ever, Madonna is even afraid to rock the boat, and will not release her most recent music video for “American Life,” fearful of negative repercussions from this nation’s pro-war media.

In conclusion, Miss Ina is quick to point out that, not long ago, Iraqis would have had their tongues cut out when attempting to speak negatively of their government. Now I doubt that it will come to that here in the United States, but isn’t it ironic that we are working so hard to grant these personal freedoms and democratic options to the people of another nation, while those who are attempting to exercise those rights here at home are chastised, persecuted and, in Peter Arnett’s case, severely punished. It should make you wonder what the true motives behind this disarmament/ liberation/ occupation really are for Bush and Company.