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Should America's Citizens Have The Right to Dissent?

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posted on Mar, 14 2006 @ 05:46 AM
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This has been a question dwelling in my mind for a long time. Sometimes I see that even with the First Amendment Rights guaranteed for all Americans, it seems that we are not supposed to be "critical" of our government. Instead, the ability to "dissent" is equated with a lack of patriotism.

Does being a "good" American mean that we are supposed to take everything the government tells us lying down for the preservation of the nation?

Or is it better to have a thriving, dynamic government if it actually allows its citizens the right to "redress grievances" to those leading them?

Which type of America is better? How would you define a "good, patriotic American"?




posted on Mar, 14 2006 @ 11:46 AM
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"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."


That was said by Theodore Roosevelt in 1918.

The ones that accuse the dissenters of being unpatriotic, are themselves unpatriotic. The very act of "free speech" is patriotic, as it is a right given to us in the Constitution. People who want to take that right away because they do not like what is being said, are violating the Constitution, and are borderline fascist.



posted on Mar, 14 2006 @ 01:53 PM
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Originally posted by ceci2006
Does being a "good" American mean that we are supposed to take everything the government tells us lying down for the preservation of the nation?


Oh, heck no! At least for me, that is not what I fought for during my time in the military. But on the flip side of that, I can't pick and choose whom I fought for. The way I consider it, I fought for vocal, the moderate and the quiet ones, just to let them be the way they want to be.

There are many ways built into the system to change the system or address a grievance, from writing to a Congressman to filing suit against the government.

But in no way should we just lay down and accept everything the government tells us or instructs us to do.

JDub



posted on Mar, 14 2006 @ 11:57 PM
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Both replies are excellent. The reason why I asked is that the question of "dissent" has become most pertinent in this day and age.

I truly believe that as American citizens, we do have the right to criticize and affect change in our government. It goes beyond voting. To be participatory and interested in the acts of our leaders promotes patriotism. In this manner, the First Amendment is one of the most important parts of our Constitution because it allows Americans the right to go beyond simply being subjects to the President.

It always bothers me when others try to attack the right to dissent when it is one of the United States' most guaranteed stipulations to have dynamism within the populace.

Dissent is not just a social act. It is important so that certain issues affecting American daily life are brought to the surface so that they are debatable.

I do not think that a "good patriot" is one that blindly follows his/her leader. It is more relevant to know that you can hate or love what that leader does and know that it is protected and treasured to do so.

[edit on 14-3-2006 by ceci2006]



posted on Mar, 15 2006 @ 11:49 AM
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It really angers me how the American government and media today have created the idea that being unpatriotic is so negative. If you look at how much Philly-Flab they've thrown out in the air today it's so ridiculous and misleading, people who follow them are even more distressed than those who have no soul. It just really makes me upset with their talk of unpatriotism, Rice's comments on spreading democracy and liberty.. it's enough to choke a dead person into a second series of death. Very touchy
subect for me..


Yes American citizens should have the right to dissent.



posted on Mar, 15 2006 @ 01:16 PM
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What happens if your "leader" doesn't want to listen?


Said Bauer: "Many of you are not listening to the people. You are here to represent the people. They're calling you; they've been calling me. They've been calling all of us. They're saying: 'Don't do it.' "


Bosma, meanwhile, challenged lawmakers to buck public opinion.


"A thermometer shows the temperature; a thermostat sets it," Bosma said. "Do you want to be a thermometer . . . or do you want to be a thermostat and turn Indiana in a new direction?"


This quote above is what bothers me. While I don't like a "status quo" mode of thinking, I also don't want someone who is not going to listen to me and balance my ideas or opinion against his.

Brian Bosma is the Indiana House Speaker, and to me, he seems to be of the "I know better than you do" style of thinking. This has nothing to do with his party affilliation, but everything to do with his mentality and actions.

Congressman Mike Pence (R) - Indiana stated last summer in a local town hall meeting that he uses the following priorities on how he votes:

(1) his conscience
(2) public opinion
(3) his peer's views

When questioned about #1 and #2 possibly conflicting with one another and that he was "elected to voice the will of the people of Indiana", he admitted that there are times when he does vote or act in opposition to the will of the people of Indiana because of his personal stance on individual issues.

I found his honesty to be refreshing, but should he be voting his personal ideals or should he only be a mouthpiece for the people of Indiana?

JDub



posted on Mar, 15 2006 @ 04:50 PM
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I think the problem with dissent these days is most people are too stupid to be right; and you can't have the wrong challenging the right.



posted on Mar, 15 2006 @ 11:42 PM
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Originally posted by Stratrf_Rus
I think the problem with dissent these days is most people are too stupid to be right; and you can't have the wrong challenging the right.


That has ALWAYS been true. People are no stupider today than they have been in the past.

The merit to allowing free dissent has nothing to do with words like "right," "best," or "smartest." Rather, it has to do with words like "corrupt," "dishonest," and "crooked." A leader who cannot be criticized is all too likely to be the last three, and that completely trumps the first three.



posted on Mar, 16 2006 @ 01:59 AM
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Originally posted by Two Steps Forward
The merit to allowing free dissent has nothing to do with words like "right," "best," or "smartest." Rather, it has to do with words like "corrupt," "dishonest," and "crooked." A leader who cannot be criticized is all too likely to be the last three, and that completely trumps the first three.


I find that to be the statement of the day, Two Steps Forward. Thank you very much for saying it. I feel that the right for free dissent has nothing to do with educational status, gender, race, class or sexual orientation. I believe that anyone can have a place in participatory government if they try. To be better citizens, we must be interested in what our leaders do. If our leaders employ good standards, we should say so. But if they are "corrupt", "dishonest" or "crooked", we should call them on it.



Originally posted by BlueTile Spook
Congressman Mike Pence (R) - Indiana stated last summer in a local town hall meeting that he uses the following priorities on how he votes:

(1) his conscience
(2) public opinion
(3) his peer's views

When questioned about #1 and #2 possibly conflicting with one another and that he was "elected to voice the will of the people of Indiana", he admitted that there are times when he does vote or act in opposition to the will of the people of Indiana because of his personal stance on individual issues.

I found his honesty to be refreshing, but should he be voting his personal ideals or should he only be a mouthpiece for the people of Indiana?


BlueTileSpook, most certainly a representative should use his conscience in voting. However, the needs of his constituents should come first. If your congressman serves your district honorably, listens to the people of the district, and votes for what is best for the people of your segment of Indiana, I feel he is doing the "people's work".

But as a democracy, "we the people" have a right to write our congresspeople to let them know that they are not voting in our best interest. I don't know if our representatives are supposed to be "role models". But, they were sent to Washington to work for whom they serve. Not themselves.



posted on Mar, 16 2006 @ 03:50 AM
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Originally posted by Two Steps Forward

Originally posted by Stratrf_Rus
I think the problem with dissent these days is most people are too stupid to be right; and you can't have the wrong challenging the right.


That has ALWAYS been true. People are no stupider today than they have been in the past.

The merit to allowing free dissent has nothing to do with words like "right," "best," or "smartest." Rather, it has to do with words like "corrupt," "dishonest," and "crooked." A leader who cannot be criticized is all too likely to be the last three, and that completely trumps the first three.


People are no stupider today than in the past?

Try again.

In the 1900 and before citizens were well educated in politics; men were fairly active in politics because politics usually never left the local governments (which were the largest purse holders in expenditures).

Only since the Federal Government expanded and Schools focused on hard sciences have the populous become a bunch of ignorant sheep.



posted on Mar, 16 2006 @ 11:17 AM
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Originally posted by Stratrf_Rus
People are no stupider today than in the past?

Try again.

In the 1900 and before citizens were well educated in politics; men were fairly active in politics because politics usually never left the local governments (which were the largest purse holders in expenditures).

Only since the Federal Government expanded and Schools focused on hard sciences have the populous become a bunch of ignorant sheep.


Got evidence to back up these assertions?

I thought not.

People are no stupider now than they've always been. Admittedly, that's not saying much. But as I pointed out above, the wisdom of the people isn't the basis for democracy. The corruption of leadership unchecked by public accountability is.

If you're not going to permit dissent, how will you prevent corruption, or deal with it when it arises?



posted on Mar, 17 2006 @ 06:29 AM
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Let me start off by saying that you don't have the right to dissent, you have the responsibility to dissent when you feel aggrieved in some way.

Having said that, I am sadly disappointed in the Democratic party these days. It's not the same party that I grew up with. I'm actually surprised that it still has as large a membership as it does, other than to think that it's the lesser of two evils for some people.

Why do I bring the Democrats into this? Because, imo, they have degraded into nothing more than an anti-Republican slogan machine. The only contribution they have is to constantly remind us of what Bush has done wrong, not what they can do right. For example, when they stood up and cheered at the SoTU, I felt that was a national disgrace. That and Reid, proudly announcing "We have killed the Patriot Act".

That is just dissent for the sake of dissenting, imo, and very counter-productive. But should it be abridged at all? Not on my watch.



posted on Mar, 17 2006 @ 07:16 AM
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Lincoln, far greater president than G. Bush will ever be, said when confronted with protesters against the Civil War that, "It is a sin to be silent when it is your duty to protest." It is also reported that Johnson was looking out of a sea of protesters in front of the White House when an aide commented that it was too bad that so many young people were being influnced by reds and Johnson said no that they weren't, they were speaking their mind as was their right (or words to that effect)...two profoundly American sentiments that Bush obviously does not understand. I remember having obscenities shouted at us as we stood in protest to this Iraq fiasco and we had eggs thrown at us and told to shut up. When opposing voices cannot be heard, or more importantly silenced, it becomes the silent death pell of a free society. There is an old adage that sorely needs to be remembered in these dark days..."I may disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death the right to say it. " A far more profoundly American sentiment than the claim that when you object to what we are doing, you are giving aid and comfort to the enemy, or some other bullhooey to that effect.



posted on Mar, 17 2006 @ 08:19 AM
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Should America's Citizens Have The Right to Dissent?

Absolutely. Only a fool follows his government blindly. Our government is as corrupt as it has ever been and is growing more so by the day. Peaceful civil dissent is an essential right of all Americans.

However, I do not believe flag- and effigy-burning and other extreme forms of dissent are legitimate means of protesting undesirable government policies. We should make a sincere attempt to respect the institution even if we disagree with the people who occupy key positions within it.



posted on Mar, 17 2006 @ 10:09 AM
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Originally posted by ceci2006
Sometimes I see that even with the First Amendment Rights guaranteed for all Americans, it seems that we are not supposed to be "critical" of our government.

Huh? Every American has the right to say whatever they want whereever they want, with few limits: you can't harrangue a mob to kill a person and incite violence, you can't yell 'fire' in a crowded theatre (as they say), and you can't organize and advocate a coup d'etate. Even that last one is given much leeway, re: communist parties, islamist organizations, neo-nazi groups, etc.
The only other restrictions are on 'where', in so far as its expected that your right to protest doesn't supersede everyone else's right to get on with their lives, and thus you can't just take over the public streets or government offices with a protest, not without seeking the permission of the local governments.

Which type of America is better?

What does that matter? The Constitution is what it is, it protects free speech, the right to carry weapons and organize as paramilitary armies, etc etc.



posted on Mar, 17 2006 @ 10:37 AM
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Originally posted by grover
I remember having obscenities shouted at us as we stood in protest to this Iraq fiasco and we had eggs thrown at us and told to shut up. When opposing voices cannot be heard, or more importantly silenced, it becomes the silent death pell of a free society.

The obscenities are a sign of immaturity. What's worse are the physical attacks. Ann Coulter, for example, routinely gets pies thrown at her and shouted down. Anti-war protestors have been known to throw urine on people that support the war.

All of it is nothing more than stupid, puerile pranks.



posted on Mar, 18 2006 @ 01:24 AM
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Originally posted by jsobecky
Let me start off by saying that you don't have the right to dissent, you have the responsibility to dissent when you feel aggrieved in some way.

Having said that, I am sadly disappointed in the Democratic party these days. It's not the same party that I grew up with. I'm actually surprised that it still has as large a membership as it does, other than to think that it's the lesser of two evils for some people.

Why do I bring the Democrats into this? Because, imo, they have degraded into nothing more than an anti-Republican slogan machine. The only contribution they have is to constantly remind us of what Bush has done wrong, not what they can do right.


The way I think about it, American citizens do have the right to free speech. But like Nygdan said, that doesn't mean you can shout, "Fire" in a crowded building. However, I agree with you that with the right of free speech afforded us by the First Amendment, we can vocalize "dissent" affecting change in the manner of responsibility. But think about the idea of "redressing grievances". Isn't "redressing a grievance" synonymous with "dissent"? If the American people can petition the government to "redress a grievance" or "right a wrong" unjustifiably occurring to them, I think that we do have a right to dissent.

So, when people question the government, they are in fact trying to assert their right of assembly, free speech and the ability to question their leaders on actions that do not benefit the state.

As for the problems of the Democrats, I can only speak for myself because others who support the political party might approach this differently. Part of my support of the Democrats is because of their modern historical roots which brought about an end to social injustice from the 1930's to the modern day. That is the some of the reason why I continue to be part of the party. However, I do not like it when politicians of any stripe attack other politicians on personality matters. No party can survive with only personal attacks. To me, that is rather petty. I would rather campaigns focus on facts, not on whether a politician possesses a horrible character. Now does that mean I ignore the character of a politician? Not always. But when I vote, it's not totally important to me. That means, the Democrats have to stop using character assasination and begin to put together a platform.

In short, I look at policies and facts. When I vote for propositions, I review the material about the matter and then decide yes or no. After that, if I find politicians who are courageous, filled with fortitude and campaign for justice, then I support them. If they coincide with the issues I advocate, then that is a plus in their favor.


Originally posted by grover
When opposing voices cannot be heard, or more importantly silenced, it becomes the silent death pell of a free society. There is an old adage that sorely needs to be remembered in these dark days..."I may disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death the right to say it. " A far more profoundly American sentiment than the claim that when you object to what we are doing, you are giving aid and comfort to the enemy, or some other bullhooey to that effect.


This is a rather relevant statement, grover. Opposing voices, no matter how derisive, are compelling. They point out what is wrong with the country. If we silence them, then we as citizens in the U.S. are in fact doing the same thing to ourselves. My Dad always told me, "It's best to listen to your enemies, because they can only make you better." I believe him--especially when paying attention to issues that affect the United States. If people are willing to continue protesting on a certain issue, then it must be important enough to address the government. To neglect to do so is doing an injustice to the rest of us. If the government ignores the protest or tries to clamp down on the ability to dissent, then we--as a nation--are truly in trouble.

[edit on 18-3-2006 by ceci2006]



posted on Mar, 18 2006 @ 06:16 AM
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Originally posted by ceci2006
The way I think about it, American citizens do have the right to free speech.

Of course I think we also have the right to free speech. I emphasized responsibility for dramatic flair only.


But think about the idea of "redressing grievances". Isn't "redressing a grievance" synonymous with "dissent"? If the American people can petition the government to "redress a grievance" or "right a wrong" unjustifiably occurring to them, I think that we do have a right to dissent.

They're inter-linked. Right to redress is named as a separate right in the 1st amendment, and while right to dissent isn't specifically named, it is implied by both the right to redress and also in the right to assemble. It could also be implied by the right to free speech.

Whatever. But please don't get the impression that I meant we had no "right" to dissent; we most certainly do.


Part of my support of the Democrats is because of their modern historical roots which brought about an end to social injustice from the 1930's to the modern day. That is the some of the reason why I continue to be part of the party.

The Democrats are often given credit for civil rights legislation, but the Republicans have also had a strong hand in passing civil right laws. As a matter of fact, southern Democrats like Howard Smith worked actively against equal rights for blacks. So I need to look at the candidate instead of the party when I vote.


Democrats have to stop using character assasination and begin to put together a platform.

I come from a very Democratic background, but I voted for Bush in 2004 because of a single issue. This current crop of Democratic "leadership" is a disgrace to the name of the party, imo. They need to be removed before any meaningful change can happen in the party.



posted on Mar, 18 2006 @ 08:20 AM
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American dissenters? Sure, why not?

The First Amendment protects our right to free speech as long as we don't harm anyone else when we do it. And the government sure is asking for it.



posted on Mar, 18 2006 @ 03:54 PM
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Originally posted by jsobecky
The Democrats are often given credit for civil rights legislation, but the Republicans have also had a strong hand in passing civil right laws. As a matter of fact, southern Democrats like Howard Smith worked actively against equal rights for blacks.


I think he was talking more about the New Deal than about civil rights. But this brings up something. The Democratic Party is our oldest party, and one of the oldest political parties in the world. It has a long and convoluted history. The Republican Party began in the 1850s as a pro-industrial and anti-slavery party, and was on the forefront of civil rights from that point until it made a transition of its own during the 1960s and 1970s.

During the years leading up to and following the Civil War, the Democrats were the party of the big planters. They favored agriculture over industry, and the south over the north. In the 1860 election, the Democrats split and elected two presidential candidates, a pro-slavery southern candidate and a moderate on the issue from the north. This is what allowed Lincoln to win the election with a minority of the popular vote, leading in turn to secession and the Civil War.

After the war, the Republicans were the dominant party until the 1930s. They controlled Congress and most of the governorships during that period, and elected 12 of the 15 presidents during that time (all but Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland, and Woodrow Wilson). The only area of the county where the Democrats dominated was in the south. On the issue of civil rights for nonwhite races, the Republicans were FAR left of the Democrats until fairly recently.

The Democrats being a party that often opposed capitalist/industrialist interests, while the Republicans stood for them (with occasional exceptions like Theodore Roosevelt), meant that when the prevailing issues changed, and centered around workers' rights and economic fairness during the Depression, the Dems had, and seized, a chance to redefine themeselves as the liberal party according to those issues. But they remained largely retrograde on civil rights due to the strong Southern Democratic presence and the need to keep these supporters in the party. Some Democrats, notably Eleanor Roosevelt, were active for civil rights, but not the party as a whole.

That changed in the 1960s. During the Kennedy and Johnson presidencies, the Democrats finally came out for civil rights (although so did many Republicans). This change in the party began the shift that drove the Southern Democrats out of the party.

Although not as total as the Republican domination after the Civil War, there was also a Democratic dominance after the Depression and World War II, visible more in Congress than in the White House. The Republicans also began to redefine themselves, out of sheer necessity, and the dissatisfaction of the Southern Democrats over civil rights gave them an opportunity. They didn't completely seize this opportunity until 1980, when Reagan put together the coalition of wealthy industrialists with the cultural right that put him in the White House.

So -- the perception of the Democrats as the leaders on civil rights is true, but it has only become true in the last 50 years. It used to be the other way around. As for the Republicans, the only consistent thing they have stood for from Day One is the privileges of wealthy industrialists. Other than that, they have gone from being the anti-slavery party, to the isolationist party, to the Cold War hawks, to the religious right party, and now to the Neocon party (though that may well not last beyond Bush).



This current crop of Democratic "leadership" is a disgrace to the name of the party, imo. They need to be removed before any meaningful change can happen in the party.


I absolutely agree with this statement, though we may differ on the reasons why.

If the Democrats are to remain a progressive party, they must accept the fact that this means opposing the selfish interests of corporate America. Unfortunately, the Democrats are so much on the corporate take, that they have redefined themselves as the other corporatist party differing from the Republicans only on social issues. They have betrayed the working people whom they used to represent.

That's what needs to change.



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