Monday, July 04, 2005

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech is a hallmark of American patriotism, and July 4th is the ultimate public celebration of American independence.

Dissent is a logical off-shoot of Freedom of Speech. Well, unless you are a corporate fundamentalist wrapped in the flag and the christus, and totally unable to grasp the notions of freedom.

In my lifetime, two dramatic expressions of American patriotism changed all of the world: first was the Civil Rights and Voting Rights movement, and the other was the anti-war movement. Prior to the passage of the Patriot Act in 2001 (the most unpatriotic law ever passed), citizens were allowed, even encouraged, to speak-out when they disagreed with the government. No more, though. You can actually be arrested for dissent.

Since the conglomeration of American business after the Reagan-era, people have been less interested in dissent and conflict, because consumerism has replaced patriotism. Today, the way you express patriotism is to purchase a flag or a magnet shaped like a ribbon and painted in stars and stripes. Any actual thoughtful, intellectual, or insightful expression of your opinion as an American is seen as unpatriotic.

In the 1960s and 1970s, during the movements I watched change the world, songs of protest were embraced by music fans, publishers and broadcasters alike. It was exciting that Americans were lifting their voices in song to express dissent. For me, the greatest anti-war song of my childhood was Freda Payne's "Bring The Boys Home." I listen to it almost everyday, still. I have written about it before.

My limited exposure to new pop music prevents me from knowing about recent protest songs, especially anti-war songs.

In my search for current anti-war songs (if there were any), I found Norman Jenson's onegoodmove blog and his listing of anti-war songs.

Check it out!

Happy Independence Day! Celebrate by expressing an opinion.

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