Re: South Park B/L/U: another opinion

Jeff Bone (jbone@activerse.com)
Wed, 07 Jul 1999 15:44:52 -0500


Jim sez:

> After all, can anyone on this list really make a rational defense for
why a
> movie containing: [...] Should be condoned in any way by society?

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.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

The United States Supreme Court has stated that a "bedrock principle" of
the First Amendment is the protection of ideas that are "offensive or
disagreeable." [1] One man's horror is another man's comedy... and who
is to decide otherwise? The "rational defense" of a movie like
Southpark is simple: if we are to remain free, we must respect the
rights of others to unpopular "speech" and free expression. This
principle is fundamental to American society, and sets us apart from
many or most other societies. Testing and protecting this principle is
an essential part of our national character, as has been shown countless
times when the First Amendment has been challenged. As Rodney Smolla
said regarding the case of Jerry Falwell vs. Larry Flynt:

The Supreme Court's opinion in Falwell v. Flynt
is a
triumphant celebration of freedom of speech. Far
from
signaling the disintegration of America's moral
gyroscope, the opinion reaffirms the most
powerful
magnetic force in our constitutional compass:
that
essential optimism of the American spirit, an
optimism
unafraid of wild-eyed, pluralistic, free-wheeling

debate. [2]

Southpark is no doubt a disgusting, offensive movie which intentionally
pushes the boundaries of the acceptable. It is also an important movie,
if for no other reason than *because* it is so disgusting and
offensive. It challenges our ability to live up to our principles, in
effect asking us to "walk the walk" of free speech.

Besides which, it's a damn funny movie.

;-)

jb

[1] Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397, 414 (1989)
[2] Rodney Smolla, Jerry Falwell v. Larry Flynt: The First Amendment on
Trial