Freedom of Speech

March 31, 2017 at 2:05 pm
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The thoughts I want to share with you in this blog are inspired by a discussion that I just had in the online Maria College ENG 112—Composition II class that I share with students here at Maria College. The students and I became much more impassioned in this discussion than usual, so I just knew I had to share with others!

We focus our reading, writing, and discussions in the Maria College ENG 112 course on an extremely important issue, especially these days: The First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

Understanding our freedoms and the limits to our freedoms is essential for each of us as United States citizens or visitors to this country. And freedom of speech is, not surprisingly, in the very First Amendment to the United States Constitution. As Benjamin Franklin wrote: “Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom - and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech.”

The recent discussion we in the Maria College ENG 112 course were engaged in had to do with the possibility of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) being defunded by the proposed federal budget. I was aware of the CPB but learned a lot through our discussion, in particular that, if it weren’t for the CPB, we would probably never have had Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, Nova, or Frontline, let alone National Public Radio (NPR)!

The CPB was established through federal law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967 with the mission to “ensure universal access to non-commercial, high-quality content and telecommunications services. It does so by distributing more than 70% of its funding to nearly 1,500 locally owned public radio and television stations”.

The current status of the CPC in the United States with the possible new federal budget is well expressed by a brief article from NBC News which you can read by clicking here.

Well, the members of the Maria College ENG 112 course were overwhelmingly opposed to the defunding of the CPB as was I. Usually, I do not share my own personal opinions on the issues we discuss in Maria College ENG 112, but this time, my heart was compelled to do so, and here is what I shared: 

On a personal note, I agree with the unanimous opinion in this discussion. The role that PBS shows and NPR radio, just to name two, have played in my life and in my teaching are enormous, especially with my choice to become a teacher of writing and literature with the associated areas of art, music, history, and so much more. As a high school student, I remember watching PBS series on Shakespeare’s plays and King Henry VIII and art history and much, much more. Now, what I learned there, I am able to share with students.

These days, as I teach Humanities I and II, I depend on the information from PBS.org and NPR.org to be able to provide insightful and up-to-date information in the courses.

I have really had enough of the reality shows (no more Kardashians for me), trashy talk shows (“Ellen” is not included in that group—I think her show is great!), and other shows on commercial and cable television. As a matter of fact, I am pretty tired of so many commercials too (and on some private biological information!).

We all need those resources that feed our minds and souls, and I think the resources provided through the CPB are essential.

Thanks for taking some time to read this blog!

Until next time...

Anne

Image 1: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Benjamin_Franklin_freedom_of_spe...
Image 2: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fred_Rogers,_late_1960s.jpg

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Comment: 
This is such an intriguing topic! I wish I was a student in one of your classes....maybe a few of them. Free speech, censorship, and the alienation of such (allegedly) "God-given" rights are things that cause quite a commotion often. I wonder if your students ponder on how much the 1st amendment is being protected, if at all justly.....and/or the results that come with speaking freely. Are we protected AFTER we DO indeed say the very things we have a right to say. The very subject can boggle the mind at time... This is an excellent blog! I enjoy your entries very much.

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