1st Amendment vs Personal Privacy

As Americans we hold our right to free speech near and dear. We have an opinion on everything, and we say that opinion pretty openly. But when it comes to other people and company privacy, where is that line drawn?

For your employer the line is easy to draw and enforce, you post it you are out of a job. That does not mean that you cannot say it, but that if you choose to do so, you also choose to work elsewhere. But on the internet, it seems to be a free for all, guns blazing, smack down. Even the Supreme Court does not seem to want to get into the Wild West that is on parts of the Internet.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for free speech, as long as it is stated politely. I have allowed those who think differently from me post…as long as it was stated without name calling, harassing, or just plain being mean. I am not talking about people disagreeing. I am talking about people being mean, cruel, and doing nothing but spreading poison and hate. A prime example is one that has been in the news frequently, which is a shame; the Westboro Church. Even their web address is offensive with godhatesfags.com, which is down.

In February, the Westboro Church was brought before the Supreme Court for protesting at soldier’s funerals. I find this behavior despicable, but apparently it is legal, but that doesn’t make it right. I honestly think their mother’s should have done a better job. Now the Supreme Court said that what they are doing is legal, and one writer interjects that they got that ruling on a technicality, which had more to do with how the claim was submitted to the Supreme Court and less to do with actual facts or evidence. Essentially, out of 9 justices, only 1 had the courage to face the whole story.

That brings us to Anonymous, the hacker group that has taken on another Wild West personification, the vigilante. I do not agree with their tactics, hacking is illegal and should be for various reasons, but find it hard not to be behind their message: stop spreading hate. Now, whether or not the Westboro Church site is down due to the actions of these hackers, other hackers, or some other technical snafu, I have no clue, but find it interesting that it is down.

What I also find interesting is that Anonymous is holding some organizations responsible for spewing hate and others are getting by without a threat of being hacked and brought to their knees, electronically speaking anyway. The Dove World Outreach center who we mentioned last year for wanting to burn the Koran, was apparently successful in their hate demonstration. Instead of petitioning a hacker group, because there are always ways to get a new website or get the word out; we had news before the internet; we should be looking to our leaders to deal with these groups.

But wait, all of these groups are protected by the same rights I am exercising. So where does the line get drawn? What should be covered? And where does it become appropriate for the Supreme Court to step in and stop hate speech?

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