Saturday, October 14, 2006

John Scalzi's Weekend Assignment # 133: Heroes Of Free Speech

"If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led like sheep to the slaughter."

-George Washington

Weekend Assignment # 133: Share with us a person or persons who you think is a model for free speech in the United States. It can be one of the Founding Fathers, another historical personage, or someone who is living right now. Yes, this is slightly more work than the usual Weekend Assignment, but you know. Free speech is worth it. For those of you in the UK or Canada, you can nominate someone who represents free speech in your own country, or pick someone from the US.

Extra Credit: A favorite controversial book (it doesn't have to be from an American).

-John Scalzi (By The Way)

I put a great deal of thought into this weeks assignment, considering all the folks I feel truly champion freedom of speech. From newspersons, to artists, to folks who encourage literacy. I even considered and admire many different bloggers who share their thoughts on all kinds of tough issues, and ask their readers to share openly of their opinions. But there are many ways to speak your mind in this country, so I went with one of the most affective ways freedom of speech has been used, music.

I think it really came into it's own, as a celebration of free speech, during the Vietnam war, when the popularity of anti-war songs came into social prominence. One of the most effective songs of the time was probably, Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction."

The eastern world, it is exploding
Violence flarin', bullets loadin'
You're old enough to kill, but not for votin'
You don't believe in war, but what's that gun you're totin'
And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin'

But you tell me over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don't believe your on the eve of destruction

Don't you understand what I'm tryin' to say
Can't you feel the fears I'm feelin' today?
If the button is pushed, there's no runnin' away
There'll be no one to save, with the world in a grave

And you tell me over, and over again my friend
You don't believe we're on the eve of destruction

Eve of Destruction

There were other songs, that reminded us of what we had lost, such as Dion's, "Abraham, Martin & John," as if we could forget. Music fills our lives with messages to remind us of memories, or to jar us into political consciousness or to simply make our days seem a lot less stressful. It encourages us to share our feelings and perceptions of life. Music is one of the most powerful mediums of free speech, and like all forms of communcation, it comes with responsibilites. It was those early artists, who paved the way for groups such as the Dixie Chicks to share their political thoughts with their audience, through their words and their music. So, I think I will go with musical artistry in general, and the artists who try to make a difference with their music, as an example of the perpetuation of freedom of speech. Be it through hymns, war songs, anti-war songs, childrens songs, or love songs, music encourages us to speak what is on our minds.

Extra Credit: "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings," by Maya Angelou. Based on the early years of her life, it is part of her personal collection of 5 autobiographical volumns. "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings," is about her early life, to about age 13. She wrote the series, in part, to remind others to not give up during difficult times. I will never understand the wisdom in book banning, or the attempt to quell the personal vision or truths of another. Sigh.

"In The City"
San Francisco, California
October 11th, 2006


DesLily said...

Ohhh i love Maya Angelou! Love when she's on Oprah too.. and did you ever see her in "An American Quilt?".. love to hear her voice

Southernmush said...

Hello....I have to say my model for free speech is a 14-year-old teenager named Julia Wilson who is standing up for what she believes. I am proud of her.

Thanks for sharing this entry. Take care.

Southernmush said...

Hello.....I have to say that my model for free speech is a 14-year-old named Julia Wilson who is standing up for what she believes in.