Tuesday, February 22

Christian Moral Rights: Freedoms of Speech and of the Press

See this for a summary of this series of essays thus far. In this essay, I intend to concentrate more on the differences between "Life, Liberty and ..." and my more wordy 7 moral rights derived from scripture. One of the key differences is that in that list there is no specific right to "liberty". If freedom is not a right, how might it be constrained? Do the specific rights I've listed guarantee the freedoms we cherish? For this essay I will consider our freedom of speech and of the press.

Freedom of the press was seen as one of the mainstays insuring that our liberties are not lost. Arguably, with today's big corporate media culture, our freedom is not being protected, but their corporate culture. However, into that vacuum, perhaps bloggers are taking (will take?) up the slack, performing the role that pamphleteers performed in late 18th century America. At any rate, these freedoms are protected precisely because they are seen to be one of the bulwarks against the slide into autocratic rule.

Thus there are good practical reasons for support of freedom of the press, are there any moral rights on my list that might support political (or religious) pamphleteering? Well I think the right to charity goes far to support this. As Descartes (I think) said, "Common sense is the only thing fairly distributed, for each man thinks he has his fair share." Following this, it would be charitable of us to share our wisdom with our neighbor. Since charity is my right, disseminating my "most excellent" (HT: Bill and Ted) opinion should be protected.

Freedom of speech, as separate from freedom of speech? What is that? If it is just the media, then the above arguments fit just as well. If not, I beg my gentle readers to point out the distinction, because right now I don't see it. I will consider this a little tonight, and may update this later, but for now ... I'll let it stand with our freedom of speech being distinguished from freedom of the press merely be medium.