Monday, July 16, 2007

Free Speech for Everybody. Even Terrorists

It seems anti-abortion fanatic Eric Robert Rudolph is still preaching his idiotic gospel via a web page, in spite of being locked down in a supermax prison. His surviving victims are horrified, and feel that he is "taunting" them from prison. They have all my sympathy. But as galling as it is to say so, he has all my support.

I don't think convicted felons should be able to make money peddling the story of their crimes, but that doesn't mean they should lose all right of expression. Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right, and it can't be denied even to vermin such as Rudolph. The state doesn't have to underwrite prisoner communications--I certainly hope Rudolph has to do something to earn his internet access--but it is not in anyone's interest to silence people who are incarcerated. As I listened to the NPR story about Rudoph, I kept thinking of Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail--a crucial catalyst in the civil rights movement which would never have existed if the advocates of gagging all prisoners had their way. I also thought about a wonderful man here in Nashville, Don Beisswenger, who was imprisoned at the age of 72 for participating in a protest against the School of the Americas. He kept a journal in jail which was published. Would we want him silenced?

The tough thing about being a free speech advocate is that you so often find yourself pushed into the position of defending bastards. For every Martin Luther King or Don Beisswenger, there are a hundred Eric Robert Rudolphs. It's nasty work protecting all the scum in anticipation of the rare saint. But nobody said democracy was easy.


chayaruchama said...

Damn straight.
Freedom of speech for one, freedom for all.
Even those who turn our stomachs.
Maybe, ESPECIALLY those.

splord said...

Well said!

Anonymous said...

There you go, giving me a hard-on again...

Preach it sistah woman!

BitterGrace said...

We're just a bunch of civil liberties extremists, aren't we? I promise not to name any of you if I ever get busted.