The Chasm Between Free Speech And Home Invasion


As you might expect, those who fill this newspaper with words twice a week are absolutely committed to protecting the right of free speech. Without it, the space you are now perusing might be filled with advertising. Or nothing at all.

Still, there are a few bold, black lines which should to be drawn between the right to speak our minds and our equally sacred right to privacy.

Telemarketers, for example, have cowered behind the free-speech shield ever since history's first recorded complaint of a rude, life-invading and/or dinner-interrupting telephone solicitation. And the Supreme Court has consistently sided with the faceless cretins. Why? It's my guess that your average Supreme Court judge has an unlisted and heavily protected telephone number.

And most of them, I'll wager, live in homes surrounded by electric gates and German shepherds and security guards. How else could you explain their decision yesterday, which gives similar protection to those religious and political proselytizers who regularly bang on your door usually at the most inopportune moment of your day to share their opinion of what's wrong with your way of thinking.

In their 8-1 ruling, the Supreme Court said that the value of these strangers' free speech outweighed all else, including concerns over homeowners' safety.

"It is offensive ... that ... a citizen must first inform the government of her desire to speak to her neighbors," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority.

Sorry, John Paul, but there's a vast chasm of difference between choosing to engage in a casual conversation with your neighbor and watching helplessly as your front porch gets invaded by total strangers who've been bussed into your neighborhood with the expressed purpose of religious or political recruitment.

Here's one more observation. Historically, the greatest woes to befall the world have been created by people who spent more time worrying about the faith of others than they spent pulling the weeds from their own garden of beliefs.

Heck, that's why Osama bin Laden knocked on America's door.

Let's hope he never takes his case to the Supreme Court.

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