NO Amph, A Freedom of Speech Issue

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. —George Orwell

Support freedom of thought and expression, even when the truth is twisted or the one expressing their thoughts lacks even basic understanding, or what’s expressed is offensive or completely untrue, even if it’s with the intent to damage one’s reputation. Sure, the lack of candor usually smells like grease, and when less than open deals go down, it should be called out, made known, punished—but never censored. These very things: freedom of thought, speech, expression, are locked up and guaranteed within our US Constitution—the First Amendment and our Civil Rights, these are the bigger issues with regard to the amphitheater. Yes, its costing us millions to build and it will cost even more to run, and noise, safety and use are big issues and must be addressed, but it gets complicated. North Ogden City has rarely had to think about diversity, equal opportunity, censorship, freedom of speech, because we have been a low-key bedroom town, with a strong—live and let live/keep the city and its government small—attitude. Well, looks like our government wants our little town to grow, and faster than most of us are prepared for. Today, our NO-Town government fancies itself a provider of entertainment. No thanks big brother, you can shove your Ministry of Truth, to continue with the 1984 references. Today we think of this amphitheater as divisive, but it is a conversation that must happen, a catalyst for a needed shakeup in our small city. It is also getting many of us meeting and talking, and while there is fallout, the arguments will help the vast majority of us advance community, freedom and repression what is the proper roll of government in our lives. So down with this ill-conceived, wrong place, time and manor NO Amphitheater performing arts complex shoehorned into what should be Barker Park and lets oust those that pushed it through, and any that that fancy a big brother approach to what we love and value in art!

I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it. ―Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

Here is a great debate between two sides that both love freedom and what the US represents but fundamentally collide. I think it is worth your time to watch: The closing arguments on the Right to Offend side are brilliant and cast the full light on reason and freedom on the subject. Here's one of three closing statements:

Freedom of expression must include the license to offend. This is fundamentally the lesser of various, not ideal prospects. The other prospect is that one licenses someone to determine what offends, and that one is always at the pray of that question, who is to judge, who is to decide, how are we to restrict their ability to license our ability to offend. In other words, how are we to restrict their ability to restrict us. And at what point does this admittedly slippery slope immediately become a greased precipice and we fall off into a very dangers situation. The other side says, speech is dangerous, speech can be hateful, there is hatred and ignorance out there, and therefor they want in someway to muzzle the people that they feel are dangerous. I agree with them, that speech can be dangerous, and there is a great deal of hatred and ignorance out there, we have heard a good deal of it tonight, and that is why I urge you strongly, to listen to the dangerous speech you are hearing from the other side, and recognize exactly how it can impinge upon your ability not only to speak, but to think, the fact that they keep using this strangely castrated phrase “the n-word” which is supposed to be inoffensive but is actually doubly offensive, because it restricts you from the ability to hear the full offense of the word nigger, and therein every time, trying to double back and triple around and make you use words and trip over your own mind and not think and not speak what actually might occur to you in your effort to observe reality and contend with it. I think thats a very dangerous predicament, I think they are presumptuous and wild in their notion that we can do that reasonably, and I think that we are at less risk taking the great risk of freedom. —Philip Gourevitch [Fall 2006, IQ^2 US Debate]