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Freedom of Speech Protects Speech, Not Feelings

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A little something appeared in my Twitter feed that left me wondering if some people actually read the Constitution or if they’re just going with whatever version of it they’ve heard from their favorite pundit.

Given all the things I’m not allowed to discuss or criticise without offending someone I wonder why they still say we have freedom of speech.

Dad?

(Sorry, for a second there I thought I was a child being spoken to by an authority figure in the context of a situation wherein I was to be seen, but not heard; or what my dad called his “This is not a discussion. I speak, you listen, the end” lecture.)

The Twitter message refers to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution – one of the country’s most misunderstood amendments of late. It seems like a lot of people have recently taken the “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech” part of the amendment to mean “I get to say anything I want and you don’t get to say jack shit about it!” (Maniacal laughter optional)

The tweet’s author offers no details about how he was “not allowed to discuss or criticise,” but since he goes on to reflect such a gross misunderstanding of the amendment, one wonders if it was not so much that he was forbidden to speak, but that he instead found himself on the receiving end of his own medicine.

Freedom of speech means the right to express ourselves without fear of going to jail for what we’ve said. Freedom of speech is not the right to a feedback-free audience. If one desires the unconditional right to speak without consequence, one can of course seek out the position of dictator in any number of countries throughout the world. I hear the positions pay well and you get to scream “Fire!” whenever you want.

Just as freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom from religion, freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from speech. If you say something, anything someone else disagrees with, doesn’t like, or feels offended or hurt by – well, guess what? You’re not constitutionally protected from getting a response you disagree with, don’t like or feel offended or hurt by, you big freaking baby.

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About Diana Hartman

Diana is a USMC (ret.) spouse, mother of three and a Wichita, Kansas native. She is back in the United States after 10 years in Germany. She is a contributing author to Holiday Writes. She hates liver & motivational speakers. She loves science & naps.
  • http://snallabolaget.com Sommerfeldt

    Nice. I like that – I’ve thought that many times, but I just haven’t been able to put my frustration into such an eloquent little snippet of text as you have.

    Thanks.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Diana,

    Just as freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom from religion

    If I see your meaning here, you are saying that, one or all religions are being imposed on Americans?

    Which ones and how?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    And freedom of speech exists to protect unpopular speech. There’s little protection required for speech that most people like or agree with.

  • http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/author/danmiller/ Dan(Miller)

    Excellent article. It must be, since I agree.

    However, it is not necessary to become a dictator to avoid the expression of different and occasionally unpleasant views; just go into a sound-proofed closet and talk to yourself.

    In honor of those who claim that their freedoms of speech have been violated by the expression of opposing (and occasionally impolite) views, I have a suggestion: Let’s have a National Do Something Stupid Day. It could be fun. It might even stimulate the economy a (very) little bit.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/diana_hartman Diana Hartman

    jeannie, I’m not saying any religion is being imposed on Americans. I’m saying no one is constitutionally protected from the existence of religion.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Diana –

    You’re not constitutionally protected from getting a response you disagree with, don’t like or feel offended or hurt by, you big freaking baby.

    Quoted for Absolute Truth!

    Every once in a while one runs across a brilliantly-succinct quote that answers a whole plethora of idiocy by The Other Side, whoever that “Other Side” might be at the moment. Yours is one such quote. Well said!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’ve heard it on Glenn Beck’s show – hence the source may well be unreliable – that the original intent of the separation of Church and State had to do with protecting religion from the State (rather than the other way around, which is the usually given interpretation).

    The idea was that the original states, each had an “official religion,” so to speak, and that the federal government was thus prohibited (according to the presumed intent) to dictate otherwise. Of course, the dissenting individuals were always free to move on and leave to where they’d be more comfortable.

    An intriguing idea but, as I said, I’m not certain as to its veracity.

    Perhaps Dan Miller or another constitutional scholar might shed some light.

  • Arch Conservative

    We’re supposed to ignore the feelings of those that oppose the ground zero mosque but yet take into account the feelings of muslims when an unflattering image of mohammad is to be published as a cartoon in a newspaper?

    The NY times was only too happy to join the rest of the liberal jet set in celebrating “piss christ” and even went so far as to compare the christians that objected it to nazis but when it came time to publish a Mohammaed cartoon they refrained claiming it was offensive to muslims.

    It’s getting harder and harder to wade through the vat of hypocritical bullshit that is the American left.

  • zingzing

    so… we’re aren’t supposed to give a damn about islam’s feelings, but we are supposed to give a damn about anti-islamic feelings? gotcha.

  • Arch Conservative

    [edited] You either publish “piss christ” and the mohammed cartoon or you don’t publish either.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Archie, you’re stepping over the line. I do not want to see you banned.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Both “Piss Christ” and the Muhammad cartoon drew death threats, with the difference that the latter was carried out. That, rather than left/right leanings or ‘political correctness’ has led to caution about reprinting the cartoons.

  • zingzing

    archie: ok then… so, since the cartoons were published, then the mosque must go up! your logic here is unmistakable.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    I don’t think Diana’s twitterer misunderstands the First Amendment at all. I think he/she is just having a saracstic gripe about political correctness, whose opponents often complain that they’re “not allowed” to say certain things any more.

    But PC is just a social convention. It has no real power. We “agree” that it’s a desirable form of behaviour, just as we “agree” not to stand closer than three feet away from a stranger or pick our noses in job interviews.

    You can’t force someone to be PC; at least, in this country, you can’t without royally pissing off a bunch of dead guys in powdered wigs.

  • zingzing

    but don’t worry, archie. if you get really pissed off about the mosque, they’ll realize that there’s no sense in antagonizing you and will refrain from plopping a second mosque on top of the first.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz Alan Kurtz

    Roger Nowosielski (#12), I see you’ve joined your friend Mrs. Danna in campaigning for the unpaid position of BC’s resident censor. Maybe the two of you can split the duties equally, each working a 12-hour shift to vigilantly police Blogcritics against the ever-present threat of political incorrectness. Good luck with that.

  • zingzing

    thank you for protecting our first amendment rights, alan. it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it around here.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You’re reading it wrong, Alan. Me and Archie are having an “online relationship,” and you can read it any way you like. So no, I wasn’t censoring Archie, only providing a friendly advice.

    You should know better than to take the form of words alone and make a go of it apart from context. Well, now you know the context.

    Any other beef?

  • Clavos

    I was taught its purpose is to protect the citizens from having a state religion imposed on us or being prevented from practicing a religion, so it protects both non-believers and believers. The actual wording is:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

    The whole point of the Bill of Rights is to protect the citizens from the government.

  • Clavos

    ..and boy, do we need that protection — especially these days…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    zing,

    I don’t know whether you’re being sarcastic in your last comment or not. But just to set you straight, I am all for Archie’s freedom to call anyone a moron, including yourself. I was only alerting Archie to certain realities which, First Amendment notwithstanding, have a way of trumping our constitutionally-given rights.

    (I see that you’re still mad at me for one of my comments.)

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Clavos,

    We needed just as much, if not more protection during the last administration.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    #20

    But the wording does not preclude the interpretation suggested above, concerning states’ right. Congress means here “federal government,” I should think, legislating over the entire land. It’s also debatable whether “the citizen” was the point of focus and the intended object of constitutional protections. I’d be inclined to think the states needed the protection from federal interference, and the business of protecting state citizenry was, for the most part, left to the states themselves. (Of course, if some individuals would find their state oppressive, they could, hypothetically, look for greener pastures elsewhere, at which point the constitutional rights respecting the individual might kick in as well.) So perhaps we’re guilty of “modernizing” what was originally a historically-conditioned concept, a fairly common thing people do.

    But again, I have no stake in this, just thought it a rather interesting take. Again, perhaps Dan Miller or Dave Nalle, once he put on the historian’s hat, might shed some light.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, zing, to refresh your memory, some of you guys were compared to cockroaches.

    I begged to disagree, if only for it being a false analogy. Cockroaches are known to shun light and run for their lives into darkness. But you are attracted to light. But here comes the zinger: I also said, “you don’t know when to quit.”

  • Mark

    Dunno Rog, the Con might benefit from being altered. Did wonders for one of my pit bulls.

  • zingzing

    i’m attracted to shiny things, not light. i’m southern. we like the shiny shiny.

    i saw the cockroaches thing, but its original source made it all rather meaningless. and i saw the “don’t know when to quit” thing as well (and the “superior minds” thing…), and i didn’t even start. so at least i know when to not start shit. but once i’ve started something, i’m not going to back down if i think/know i’m right about it.

    you say potato, i say potato. that doesn’t work as well in print.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Metaphorical use, zing – beauty and truth.

    Was that a Freudian slip, Mark, about altering or neutering Archie? I certainly hope not.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m glad you’re taking it in stride, zing. For a while I thought I might have offended you. Didn’t mean such a thing.

  • Clavos

    Roger,

    I think you’re off base on who needs the protection and the intent of the Founders in drawing up the Bill. From Wikipedia (and this is congruent with what I was taught in school about the Bill):

    The Bill of Rights prohibits Congress from making any law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, guarantees free speech, free press, free assembly and association and the right to petition government for redress, forbids infringement of “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms…”, and prohibits the federal government from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. In federal criminal cases, it requires indictment by a grand jury for any capital or “infamous crime”, guarantees a speedy, public trial with an impartial jury composed of members of the state or judicial district in which the crime occurred, and prohibits double jeopardy. In addition, the Bill of Rights states that “the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people,”[4] and reserves all powers not specifically granted to the federal government to the people or the States. Most of these restrictions were later applied to the states by a series of decisions applying the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868, after the American Civil War.

    And the Bill itself:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    * Second Amendment: Militia (United States), Sovereign state, Right to keep and bear arms.

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. [7]

    * Third Amendment: Protection from quartering of troops.

    No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

    * Fourth Amendment: Protection from unreasonable search and seizure.

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    * Fifth Amendment: due process, double jeopardy, self-incrimination, eminent domain.

    No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    * Sixth Amendment: Trial by jury and rights of the accused; Confrontation Clause, speedy trial, public trial, right to counsel

    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

    * Seventh Amendment: Civil trial by jury.

    In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

    * Eighth Amendment: Prohibition of excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment.

    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

    * Ninth Amendmen: Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution.

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    * Tenth Amendment: Powers of States and people.

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    (emphasis added)

    Except for the Tenth, which does add “the states” to its language, the language of all of the Amendments clearly refers to the rights of the “People.”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    BTW, listened yesterday to one of the works by Philip Glass. Quite impressive.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    As I stated, Clavos, it’s not my idea so don’t strap me with it – only related Glenn Beck’s interpretation of it for the purpose of public airing. And according to it, a great many of the original states had so-called “official religion.”

    Besides, I don’t know to what extent the text itself provides the definitive answer one way or another apart from the historical context from which all of us are removed. (We do have more than one interpretation of the Constitution, don’t we? and the same goes for any number of texts.

    As to the language itself, “the People” doesn’t necessarily refer to individuals; it may well refer to collectivity.

    Anyway, what I find most intriguing about this particular interpretation is precisely the fact – if it is a fact – that the original states had “official religion.” And if this even partly bears out, then it would stand to reasons those states didn’t want the federal government to dictate from above; it wanted those official religions protected against Federal fiat.

    Just thinking out loud, Clavos, so again, don’t strap me with this view.

  • Clavos

    As to the language itself, “the People” doesn’t necessarily refer to individuals; it may well refer to collectivity.

    Except of course, where the amendment even refers to “him,” or “his.” (highlighted above).

    C’mon, Roger you’re smarter than that — you’re arguing against a known entity from recent history.

    You don’t usually quibble like this…

  • zingzing

    roger: “Metaphorical use, zing – beauty and truth.”

    i got it, roger. i’m also not attracted to shiny things. that’s mountain folk. i like spicy things.

    and philip glass is a hack. heh. sorry, but out of all of the supposed minimalists, i find him to be the most unoriginal and the most mind-numbing. it’s pretty and shit, but the ideas underneath are limp. still, he’s got a ton of shit out there, and i haven’t heard it all, so maybe there’s something in there that i’m missing.

    i would highly suggest steve reich or terry riley’s early work (mid to late 60s). those two are very easy to find and easy to listen to, but also stunningly original and they execute great ideas that turn into great music.

  • Arch Conservative

    Do you support the UAF zing?

  • zingzing

    which one?

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    So “Nips” stays but “moron” has to go? I guess that would explain the lack of Asian commentors and the abundance of knuckleheads around here.

  • Arch Conservative

    What do you mean which one? There is only one.

    You are British right?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I was just pushing with this idea, see what mileage can be derived.

    The matter of states’ rights with respect to their “official religion”, versus those of the federal government, still baffles me, though.

    Perhaps it’s all a concoction out of Glenn Beck’s mind, so I’m ready to lay it to rest. I might look it up just for the hell of it. It would be interesting to see the extent to which we all tend to “modernize” ancient documents.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    Isn’t it interesting how the conservatives on BC disavow Glenn Beck, but he’s still the MOST influential conservative voice in the country?

    Yes, that’s our conservatives in America – all willing to quickly say, “I don’t watch Glenn Beck!” So one wonders just why it is that Beck’s SO popular on that paragon of conservative media, Fox News?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    The 70 year olds who love watching Glenn Beck — at 5:00 in the afternoon, too early for most office workers — are not the same crowd commenting on Blogcritics.

    Unfortunately, a lot of Beck fans do vote. But they don’t constitute more than a loud minority. Most people either don’t know who he is, or think he’s a nutty megalomaniac.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I found this on a site called ProCon.org. I don’t think it proves Beck’s point [I would rarely or never accept a Beck interpretation of anything].

    By the year 1702 all 13 American colonies had some form of state-supported religion. This support varied from tax benefits to religious requirements for voting or serving in the legislature. Below are excerpts from colonial era founding documents citing these religious references.

    Most instances of state-supported religion were removed before 1850, and the remaining requirements became null and void after the passing of the 14th Amendment on July 28, 1868. New Hampshire and North Carolina removed the nullified religious references from their state constitutions in 1875 and 1877 respectively.

  • STM

    Actually, Diana, the truth is, free speech is NOT absolute in the US and never has been.

    There are parts of speech that some Americans might think are protected by the constitution but which are actually not protected under the 1st amendment. You could put up an argument that they are and you might win, but you might lose too.

    There has always been some dispute as to just what free speech really is. Anything that might encourage criminal action, for instance, is very dodgy under the law. The criminal codes are pretty clear: You tell sopmeone else that someone else should be killed, or a bank robbed, and they go and do it, you have acted in concerty and are liable for prosecution too.

    Libel, slander and defamation laws still exist in the US (defamation is the easiest to defend in America) and predate the revolution – and they are designed, yes, to protect hurt feelings – or worse.

    The laws differ from state to state, but they are essentially there to stop people destroying other people’s livelihoods and reputations by opening their mouths, or writing publicly, without thinking.

    Truth in these cases is always a valid defence and can be a complete defence I believe in defamation. But the defence of simply believing it to be true is much less clear. Knowing something to be untrue and saying it publicly or writing it publicly can still cost you a fortune in the US if someone is suing for damages.

    I reckon that’s a pretty good protection.

    In other words, you say or write something about me that is untrue and which you either know is untrue or don’t bother to check (and that action, say, costs me my job, my reputation, my fortune, etc), I’m going to sue you.

    American legal history is littered with cases in which people thought they had a 1st amendment right to say something and subsequently discovered it was leading them into court and robbing them of a lot of money. A quick look at these dispels the oft-held myth among a lot of Americans that in the US, free speech is absolute.

    I can’t recall the exact details, but a libel case in the US in the late ’90s resulted in a multi-million dollar payout by the defendant and was a record payout for such a finding.

    My view for what it’s worth: One must understand the 1st amendment in context … the times bill was written.

    Free speech is really about being able to express opposition AND opinion without fear or favour, let’s say when a government has lost its way or is acting corruptly.

    I don’t believe the founding fathers ever meant for it to usurp the defamation, libel and slander laws that were already in place. They would have been very well aware of those laws too, most of them being educated gentlemen bound to certain codes of politeness and expectation regarding civil behaviour.

    And in fact, that is precisely what happened. Those laws still exist today to stop idiots opening their mouths and ruining other people’s lives.

    A former US lawyer friend who specialised in constitutional law and who now practises in Australia (many of the laws, especially the criminal law, are almost the same in both form and function in both countries as they originate in Britain) told me recently that it is against this background that many of his countrymen should weigh up exactly what their right of free speech is, and how far they can push it.

    In most cases, it will be further than most places – but not always, and that’s the key.

    However, I tend to agree on most counts. If I don’t like something, I should be able to say it without the politically correct brigade getting on my case.

    Which is what’s happening in Australia at the momet … there is an anti-PC backlash.

    And a good thing too. Freedom is freedom and modern democracy demands more than one participant.

    But it also demands that words and actions are chosen wisely.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Wait a second, you’re not American.

    Who let this guy into the conversation?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    El B –

    Don’t you know? Inside every Australian is an American trying to get out!

    If you haven’t seen “Apocalypse Now”, though, this observation would make no sense.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/diana_hartman Diana Hartman

    STM,

    I didn’t say or even suggest Freedom of Speech was absolute.

  • zingzing

    archie: “You are British right?”

    no… i’m from down south and i live in nyc. you should know that by now.

    there are plenty of organizations named “uaf” around the world, but i guess now you’re referring to the group known as “united against fascism,” which i know next to nothing about. that said, i do think that the bnp and the national front are made up of evil, small-minded people. so someone should get after them.

  • STM

    Diana: “I didn’t say or even suggest Freedom of Speech was absolute.”

    No, you didn’t, but it’s a conversation, right? … it’s always worth noting, especially if there are people reading this who believe otherwise, that there are some really serious kick-arse laws in the US that can cost people who DO believe free speech is absolute some serious, kick-arse drachmas. Or a serious couple of kick-arse years banged up.

    Glenn: “Don’t you know? Inside every Australian is an American trying to get out!”

    Nah, come on Glenn. Get fair dinkum! The accurate version: Inside every American is an American trying to work out why Australians believe they live in a better place and have no need or desire to become Americans.

    Except for Rupert!

  • STM

    EB: “Wait a second, you’re not American. Who let this guy into the conversation?”

    Lol. What EB, only free speech for Yanks??

  • STM

    zing: “archie: “You are British right?”

    That’s the best one I’ve heard all year.

    Maybe he should look back over the threads in places where you and I have butted heads and you’ve gone all (American) red, white and blue on us.

    On that score, I wonder if Archie realises that even though they’d vore Republican if they moved to the US, the Right in Britain and the Commonwealth are vehemently anti-republic.

    I know of one nasty one who likes to punch republicans.

    Such are the bizarre contradictions of this life … free speech that really ain’t, and conservatives who hate republicans.

  • zingzing

    fantastic, isn’t it? everyone despises the american right.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “only free speech for Yanks??”

    Just checked Diana’s bio and it turns out you are currently free to comment, Stan…for now.

  • STM

    Clav: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    And completely f.cked up by a dangling participle. Bad grammar means no one can ever truly lay claim to an accurate interpretation.

    An English teacher at high school loved to throw this one up as an example of how things can easily go arse-over-tit when bad grammar leaves its mark on history.

    An absolute Barry Crocker.

  • STM

    zing: “fantastic, isn’t it? everyone despises the american right.”

    I must confess to being anti-republic too, zing.

    Sadly, we only have you guys to use as the yardstick, and when it comes to republics under constitutions vs constitutional monarchy, I’m of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school.

    If we do – God forbid – ever become a republic, I hope it’s modelled on the same system we have now – a parliamentary democracy with a president in place of the governor-general and, like the G-G, largely a figurehead who by convention must defer to law, convention and government and who has no real power beyond ruling on constitutional stuff-ups.

    I also like the flag. They can rip the Union Flag from the corner after they’ve ripped out my heart.

    They can have my guns though if they want.

  • STM

    EB: ” … for now”.

    Of course, silly me – Diana’s currently in Germany, that place known for so long as a bastion of free speech and the fragrant blossoming and flowering of democratic thought.

    OK, that’s in the past, but still …

  • STM

    And how is AK?? I haven’t been around much for a few weeks.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/diana_hartman Diana Hartman

    Yes, STM that is in the past. There is no “but still,” unless you mean, “but still I stopped reading my history book when it got to 1945.”

    By all means, though, feel free to leave “but still” comments with Marine Forces Europe, the U.S. Army Garrison, Stuttgart or even the German government. I’m sure they’d love to hear from you.

  • STM

    Yeah, free speech being what it is, and all that, I’d have no problem voicing my opinion in regard to that if I ever felt the need to do it beyond these threads.

    Sorry Diana, I know I shouldn’t generalise but in this case I find it difficult not too. I’m not a fan, even though I’ve wanted to be convinced.

    I was there a couple of years ago and speak a bit of German, too, because I learned it at school … and I still haven’t changed my mind.

    My family haven’t exactly been beneficiaries of their kindness and generosity over the past 100 years or so.

    I’m all for forgiving but not for forgetting.

  • STM

    As for stereotyping … I have mostly been reluctant to do that.

    I always thought the “holidaying germans get up at 6am and put their towels on the sunlounges to reserve them” to be an exaggerated stereotype promoted by the British (whose behaviour can be just as bad in other ways). The story being that German holidaymakers get up at the crack of dawn and put their towels on the sunchairs, then go back to sleep, thus preventing anyone else from getting one.

    Recent holidays, including one in Thailand, have convinced me I was wrong on that score. That indeed happened, just as I’d heard. Seeing is believing.

    And it’s pretty arrogant behaviour, really. So there we were, the dumb Aussies, wandering down to the beach/pool at 9am because we know to keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, looking for a place to prop our carcasses for a couple of hours, and lo and behold, there are all these towel-reserved sunchairs with no one else in sight – for hours, that would be.

    Then, from our spot under a palm tree in the midday shade, we see our teutonic brethren wandering down, often after lunch, to claim “their” spots.

    Each to their own. In the end, I just removed the towels but those reserved Poms tended not to, and just stewed on it without actually doing anything.

    I have had plenty of close contact with Germans and Austrians, including as a boy when I lived in Iraq.

    Much like your Marine husband, my father was a British Army veteran and served for some years in the B.A.O.R occupation force after the war, and was far less judgmental and quite enjoyed (some of) his time there. But then, I don’t think he’d been on holidays with any of them.

    My mother, whose street was bombed by the Luftwaffe, wasn’t. I try to fall somewhere between the two viewpoints and take individuals as I find them.

    The one thing I do admire younger Germans for is the attempt by the post-war generations to honestly address what really happened in the Nazi era.

    And no, I didn’t stop at 1945 whilst reading my history books.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    STM –

    Nah, come on Glenn. Get fair dinkum! The accurate version: Inside every American is an American trying to work out why Australians believe they live in a better place and have no need or desire to become Americans.

    I had to smile at that! Too-shay! (not ‘touche’, but a drunk Yank asking for another Toohey’s)

  • STM

    Cheers Glenn

    You have to watch out for Toohey’s. It’s deadly stuff. For some reason, it produces a rotten hangover. Or do you know this already????

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Nope. Sad to say, I don’t. I haven’t seen the inside of a pub in nearly ten years, and my brother-in-law left a Red Horse under the sink (I’m in the PI right now) and I’m SO tempted to take it upstairs to my room, horse piss though it surely is!

    I’m not a recovering alcoholic – I’m just too married to get a chance to quietly enjoy a beer as often as I’d like.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And that does it! Tonight that bottle is mine! I’ll put the empty back under the sink in the morning and tape a fifty-peso note to it!

    Come to think of it, it’s been 25 years since I drank a Red Horse….

  • STM

    Red Horse, eh? It’ll have a kick like one.

    Lucky man … how’s the Philippines? You were moving there at one stage, or is this just a holiday?

    If you ever get a chance, head down to Palawan for a break with your wife. Mate, that’s heaven on a stick that joint.

    I can’t believe places like that still exist on this planet. How the islands off Phuket might have been 30 years ago, maybe.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    It’s a firm plan. We’re moving here as soon as my disability payments kick in this coming April or May. Our house and car here are paid off, so even with no job we’ll have more disposable income here than if we stayed stateside with both of us working full time.

    Funny – they’ll pay me disability payments for having sleep apnea which I had before I joined the Navy, but not for the lingering effects of having my scalp nearly torn off while on board an aircraft carrier.

    All in all, then, I don’t feel too guilty.

    I must admit, though, I’m not too anxious to go down to Palawan, even though I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews. Too many problems down that way with the locals. I’ll go to Boracay instead or take a hop over to other tourist traps anywhere from Japan down to New Zealand and points in between – allowing for approval by my financial manager who, bless her heart, still puts up with me after all these years….

  • STM

    Glenn: “All in all, then, I don’t feel too guilty.”

    You shouldn’t feel guilty at all. You give up half your life doing something special for your country, especially in the Navy being away all that time from friends and family, so you deserve every cent of what you get.

    Palawan’s good but I think you need to spend a few bucks to get out to some of the islands where you won’t have problems with the locals. Also, Sumilon island just off the southern coast of Cebu is an amazing joint. It’s just the single small resort and Filipinos go there from Cebu City just for the day, and it’s not that expensive. It’s best for a few days’ stay, I reckon. It’s probably the place we liked the most while we were up there. Quiet and relaxing and no dramas.

    And if you wash up down here in your travels, make sure you look me up!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    I’ll do that, friend – I’d love to see the east coast of Oz…but I’d also love once more to take a drive up the Huon Valley on Tassie. I’ve never seen a place so pastoral that still felt so welcoming.

  • STM

    Glenn: I am seriously thinking of moving to Tasmania at some point in the not too distant future. The state government even assists with moving costs.

    Hobart is the most beautiful capital in Australia I reckon and it’s still a small city. You can still buy houses with panoramic water views for $500,000.

    That’ll barely get you a block of land on the mainland east coast these days, and Sydney is just one giant traffic snarl, although it’s still a good place.

    I love Tassie so much, I used to fly down there just for long weekends so I could hang out in Hobart.

    The problem is winter. It’s cold down there mid-year and my wife, who loves Tassie too, is from up north in Queensland so she really feels the cold.

    Anything under 25C and she’s shivering. She’ll just have to get used to it.

    I keep telling her: You can always stay warm by putting on extra clothes to go outside, but as we find constantly in this country over the long summer, it’s a lot harder to stay cool.

    Cheers. I think we’be buggered up Diana’s thread. Sorry Diana.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    STM –

    I think you’ll be happy there – but you’ll certainly miss the warm weather, just as living near Seattle (which has nearly the same climate) makes me miss warmer places quite a bit. What I miss the most are warm beaches…and this coming Monday I hope to be taking all forty (40!) of my closest family members to a nice beach somewhere within reasonable driving distance here in the PI. Please see my article in the Culture section for more.

  • Cannonshop

    Rolling back to the original topic for a moment…

    the “Protecting the church from the state” and the “Protecting the state from the Church” are, I suspect, BOTH true.

    Mixing God with government cheapens both God, and Government. They SHOULD be kept apart, and extending into the modern era where we have people substituting the Government with God (Or God with government)…well, you can see the damage if you look.

    God is an absentee landlord at best, and a fiction at worst, Government is essentially a man-made mechanism run by those people who have nothing better to do, and often have no useful skills to anything more useful with-therefore treating it as “Infallible” is probably a truly BAD idea-unlike God, Government really CAN hurt you when they screw up.

  • STM

    Cannon: “Government really CAN hurt you when they screw up”.

    Unfortunately, though, Cannon … you’ve still gotta have one. History records that without them, the whole joint will generally descend into anarchy.

    We have two governments in this country right now that I can’t stand … my state one and the federal one.

    Unfortunately, getting government that doesn’t seem to live on planet earth is the price you pay for rule of law.

    It’s the other side of the “democracy demands more than one participant” equation. And much as these two outfits are making me fume, it’s the will of the people.

    Hopefully, other people will feel the same way I do now when these lunatics are booted out. By us.

  • STM

    Or, that hoary old chestnut: “No matter who I vote for, I always end up with a government run by politicians”.

  • Cannonshop

    I do not dispute the need for a Government, STM. But I sometimes feel like I’m witnessing Locke’s prediction in action-the people have discovered they can vote largesse from the treasury, and as a result, government is failing to be a servant, and has become a master.

  • STM

    I’m with you in principle. Locke might have been too far out of left (right?) field for my political persuasion, but one thing I can’t stand is the government using my tax dollar – which I’ll willingly pay – on ridiculous schemes that benefit no one.

    I won’t include universal health cover in that since our experience in this country has mostly been good (and they at least gave us choices), but there have been other things in this country over the past three years that have been totally ridiculous and a complete waste of OUR money.

    What sh.ts me is that they forget whose money it is. They think because they have billions sitting in the coffers it belongs to them to with as they want.

    They are slowly learning that’s not the case, and the only lessons they understand (universally I suspect) are the ones delivered in pencil at the ballot box.

  • STM

    We currently have a one-term federal government given a lesson in our federal election last Saturday. They had a huge swing against them, but a lot of people voted for minor parties too so we now have a hung parliament and the bizarre spectacle of a handful of independents potentially holding the balance of power with whichjever party offers them the best deal to form a minority government.

    Neverthless, to have that kind of swing against a first-term Labor government with a big majority in parliament is a pretty loud message from the people.

    Unfortunately, just not quite loud enough. A few thousand more votes overall in just a handful of seats would have been enough to prevent what we now have.

    And that is the fault of this government’s mismanagement and bungling.

    I have been a rusted on Labor voter for decades, too, sand I used to work for a government Minister in the party, so coming from me it’s pretty serious.

    When they have lost people like me, and force us to vote conservative, they are really struggling.

    I might even write a piece about it, because I’m sure Obama is going to suffer a similar backlash in the US.

  • Cannonshop

    #74 Such a backlash would require a higher level of awareness than is present among “We the People” currently-as well as better education than the typical American recieves from our public Schools.

    More Americans know about the details of the private lives of pro Atheletes, than know what their elected Representatives actually do in D.C. (or their state Capitol for that matter.)

  • Stan

    Unfortunately, freedom of speech can land some people dead or injured.

    If I expressed half the things on my mind about the American military I would have a gaggle of rednecks gang-assaulting me. Too many people in America only believe in freedom of speech if it doesn’t hurt their feelings. I generally refer to this demographic as war-enthusiasts.

    I am so grateful for freedom *end sarcasm*.