Topic: COMMUNITY INTEREST
Hamilton Bewitched By Secrecy
By Tammy Duffy
Freedom of speech is one of the most valued and cherished principles in a free society, and it is in a constant battle with oppressive governments seeking to maintain the status-quo. When it comes to free speech in the world, Iran is rated the 175th freest country in regards to freedom of speech and freedom of the press out of 179 rated countries according to Reporters without Borders. Reporters without Borders said that, "Hounding and humiliating journalists has been part of [Iran’s] officialdom’s political culture for years. The regime feeds on persecution of the media. Iran has a long history of violence and current history does not show signs of reversing. From barring students from education because of their political beliefs to opening fire on protesters and shutting down news publications, the Iranian government is working hard to chill free speech and silence the press."
When it comes to freedom of speech and freedom of the press, the United States wins hands down compared to Iran. Even though Reporters without Borders ranks the U.S. 47th on the “freedom index,” it obviously beats Iran’s 175th rating. In the U.S., citizens enjoy an incredible amount of freedom when it comes to what they can say and print. The Framers of the of the United States Constitution wrote the First Amendment to guarantee that Americans would be protected in their right to speak their mind, protest, and publish news even when it is controversial or goes against the government’s interest. Throughout history the government, local, state and federal, have challenged the people’s right to exercise free speech or free press, but since the 1900’s the Supreme Court has mostly sided with the citizens.
The difference of freedom of speech and freedom of the press that Iranians and Americans enjoy are vast. In the United States, citizens can write just about anything they want and publish it for the whole world to see. In Iran, such acts would you get thrown in jail or even sentenced to death. In the U.S., citizens are free to protest their government and also assemble for very controversial issues. In Iran, this behavior has been met with violence and other punishment by the government. Iranian newspapers and online publications have been shut down for publishing information that the government finds unacceptable and students have been barred from getting an education for their political beliefs. Organizations such as Reporters Without Borders have rated Iran as one of the least free countries when it comes to freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and Iran’s situation has not improved much in recent years.
When the government prohibits the publication of material it does not want released this is known as prior restraint." Restraining a publication prior to its release is unconstitutional. This has happened on more than one occasion in Hamilton Township, NJ.
Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of expression, reception and dissemination of information, publication and access to the press without prejudice to public order, safety or morals as prescribed by law. All levels of government shall guarantee the freedom of the press and other media as shall be regulated by law in a democratic society.
The media has built up our economy and is one of the biggest technological advances made in human history. What concerns me most coming from an artistic point of view, is that; these incompetent actions by our government will effect how we promote ourselves and how we share information.
The media and press has become the chief vehicle of promotion and business for artists, local journalists and writers. The beginnings of Social Networking. We generated sharing and this is how many of us become discovered. If there was no freedom of press and media in place, chances would be low that many upcoming writers would have ever become relevant household names all over the world.
There are many more examples to this, but the bigger picture is that press and media censorship is constitutionally, morally, ethically, and politically wrong, it sabotages and destroy the beautiful thing the media and press have for us.
Protecting free speech means protecting a free press, the democratic process, diversity of thought, and so much more. The ACLU has worked since 1920 to ensure that freedom of speech is protected for everyone. For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.
Freedom of speech, the press, association, assembly, and petition: This set of guarantees, protected by the First Amendment, comprises what we refer to as freedom of expression. It is the foundation of a vibrant democracy, and without it, other fundamental rights, like the right to vote, would wither away.
The fight for freedom of speech has been a bedrock of the ACLU’s mission since the organization was founded in 1920, driven by the need to protect the constitutional rights of conscientious objectors and anti-war protesters. The organization’s work quickly spread to combating censorship, securing the right to assembly, and promoting free speech in schools.
The press is to serve the governed, not the governors. The freedom of the press, protected by the First Amendment, is critical to a democracy in which the government is accountable to the people. A free media functions as a watchdog that can investigate and report on government wrongdoing. It is also a vibrant marketplace of ideas, a vehicle for ordinary citizens to express themselves and gain exposure to a wide range of information and opinions.
In September 2014, the Editor of the Trentonian asked me to cover the story on the 8 new sergeants that were being promoted in the township. This was the first time in the history of the township that there were African Americans being promoted to Sergeant. This was the first story I was ever paid to do for the newspaper. I had written numerous articles (two of which made the front page) for free to promote the arts and positive community events in Hamilton. I never took a dime from the newspaper for all the stories I wrote or the photos I took. But, the editor wanted to pay me for this story.
This was not a story I would normally cover. Penny Ray, the staff journalist would have. However, the mayors office and Hamilton police were blocking Penny from attending. This was not the first time the Mayor's office blocked a story, called and whined about a story to the point of threatening the newspaper or writers.
This was an email sent to me by John Berry, Editor of the Trentonian:
"So it looks like Penny is getting shut out by the PD. The Mayor produced about 2 grafs of uninformative quote.
Would you be able to still cover that in the morning?
Sorry to be back and forth on this, but Hamilton PD is apparently stonewalling us on this today saying that they only want to talk about it tomorrow so as not to "diminish" the accomplishments of the 6 white officers getting promoted.
@withhisown38 on Twitter"
When I arrived I was treated with such disrespect by the Mayor's press team. They were refusing to give me access to the sergeants. They even blocked me from going into a room with the families as the mayor spoke to the families. They were laughing in my face. This is what their leader was telling them to do, no doubt. Why did the Mayor feel she had the right to block Penny from covering the event? Because he wrote the truth about her delusions on the crime rates in Hamilton she blocked him.
In the end, I got the story. We told the story the way it should have been told. The mayor was indignent about how she wanted the story. It's not her place to tell the press how to tell a story, it's the presses.
The police department nor the mayors office has the constitution right to restrain press. This is called prior restraint (also referred to as prior censorship or pre-publication censorship). An alternative to prior restraint is to allow the expression to take place and to take appropriate action afterward, if the expression is found to violate the law, regulations, or other rules.
Prior restraint prevents censored material from being heard or distributed at all; other measures provide sanctions only after the offending material has been communicated, such as suits for slander or libel. In some countries (e.g., United States and Argentina) prior restraint by the government is forbidden by the constitution.
Freedom of the press means that television, newspapers, magazines and other media sources can publish truthful reports—even if they are controversial—without interference from the government. Mayor Yaede does not have the right to censor the press. It is unconstitutional to do so. She needs to read the constitution and understand the laws of this nation. Journalists have lost their lives globally getting a story. She has no respect for the press and what they do for the global nation or a community.
Founding father Thomas Jefferson once said, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press.” In the U.S., freedom of the press is provided by the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, a part of the Constitution. It states, "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..."
Freedom of the press was included in the Bill of Rights because the founding fathers understood that if governments could block opinions or stories they disliked, then the public would be less informed. The press serves as a government watchdog and has used its First Amendment rights to hold public officials accountable. This has caused many to call the media the “Fourth Estate” or “fourth branch of government,” fitting into the system of checks and balances among our Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches.
To maintain this freedom, we must prioritize protecting our courageous reporters and their newsgathering processes – both abroad and at home.
As a nation, we are collectively focused on responding to these terrorist threats and protecting those abroad, as we should be. But, we must not forget to protect our reporters on the home front as well.
The free flow of information by journalists gives the public the opportunity and responsibility to understand their communities their country and the world. And with that, the power to shape them. It’s time for Americans to prioritize our courageous journalists and our right to know. We must protect journalists and honor those journalists who are killed, missing, threatened or held in captivity. It is critical for our democracy. When elected official spends their time silencing the press, threatening them, and controlling editors so that the truth does not come out, it times to elect new elected officials. These are the same elected officials who deliberately destroyed government documents (digital files and emails). They did this without doing the required by law certifications for the destruction of government documents. This is against the law. This is a bad habit, breaking the law, by this current administration lead by Mayor Yaede.
VOTE on NOV 3rd for a candidate that has integrity. A candidate who understands the constitution and appreciates the respects the freedom the press. The freedoms that our founding fathers and prior Americans fought so hard to give to us. Any elected official who feels they are above the law and feels they have license to ostracize the press in this matter, does not belong in office.
Vote for Amy Inman for Mayor &, Joanne Bruno and
Don Ryland for Council.