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Scoot: Attacks on Freedom of Speech should send chill up spine of every American

July 18, 2019 - 6:43 pm

It was on this day in 1974, the U.S. Justice Department under the Nixon Administration ordered that John Lennon be deported. In other words, because the President of the United States disagreed with what John Lennon stood for – they wanted him sent back to the country from which he came. Sound familiar?

Fortunately, a federal appeals court overturned the order to deport Lennon; and the following year Lennon was granted permanent residency in America. Sadly, not long after that he was murdered.

The point is that the president disagreed with John Lennon’s anti-war position and wanted him deported. It may be easy for some to argue that’s different from comments made by four freshman Congresswomen now being called “The Squad,” but in theory, the Nixon administration’s desire to force John Lennon out of the country and back to his native country mirrors the rhetoric of telling the four Congresswomen should “go back where you came from.” The ignorance of that statement is magnified by the fact that three of the four were actually born in America.

One does not have to agree with everything Congresswomen Ilan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley have said; but everyone should agree they have a right to express their views in America. The exception would be a specific call for and plan to literally overthrow the government of the United States.

Another freedom of speech issue in the news is controversy over a woman unfurling a Trump 2020 flag during the Fourth of July parade in a gated community in California. The woman’s mother, Elizabeth Wilder, says her daughter’s free speech rights were violated when some people booed her for showing the flag. “Considering that it was the Fourth of July, and we were celebrating liberty, my daughter chose to fly the flag with the president’s name on it,” said Wilder. What this mother fails to understand is that it was not a flag with the president’s name on it – it was a campaign flag. If the flag had Trump and not Trump 2020 on it – it could be argued that she was just displaying a flag with the name of the president; and that should not be controversial. She also did not respect the equal freedom of speech granted to the people who booed her daughter. Booing the president is clearly protected by the First Amendment.

The Rancho Murieta Association’s Board of Directors is now considering banning all political signage at future Fourth of July parades.

When did we stop respecting the First Amendment? There is nothing new about standing up for free speech when you agree with the speech, but the challenge for all Americans is to understand that freedom of speech means the freedom to express views you disagree with.

Forty-five years ago, a Republican administration worked hard to deport John Lennon over a disagreement of opinions. It’s true that Lennon was not a U.S. citizen at the time, but the idea of sending someone back to the country from which they came because of a political disagreement should send a chill up the collective spine of America.


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