Shouting Fire: Stories From The Edge of Free Speech

Shouting Fire: Stories From The Edge of Free SpeechThis documentary film look at the changing interpretations of the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution – laws and court cases that have alternatively broadened and narrowed the amendment’s protection of free speech and assembly.

The film’s thesis is that post 9/11 the government has seized unprecedented license to surveil, intimidate, arrest, and detain citizens and foreigners alike.

The film also looks back to the Pentagon Papers' case and compares it to cases since 9/11 dealing with high school students' speech and protesters marching in New York City during the 2004 Republican convention.

Watch the full documentary now

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Ratings: 8.60/10 from 15 users.

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39 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Sieben Stern

    OH MAN - love how the religious kid in the homophobic tee shirt thinks that school is a marketplace for ideas - when it's religious people that want to restrict the teaching of sciences! you can't have it both ways!

  2. IzirAtig

    Yeah. Christians supposed not to let teach.

  3. wald0

    I could not suppoort freedom of speech any more passionately or sincerly than I currently do. However, schools are a different type of environment. It is vitally important to the future of this nation, and the values in our constitution, that every child should be able to go to a free public school and feel safe, unashamed of thier culture, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Not to mention that they should be able to retain focus on gaining an education while at school, not premoting or defending some social or religious agenda. I can plainly see how condemning homosexuals openly at a school has the strong potential of disrupting student's education. It would make some of them feel unwelcome and preoccupy them. You can't learn mathematics or history when you are busy trying to look over your shoulder or defend your sexuality. Besides, how anyone that is a typical christian could fix thier mouth to talk about academic freedom is beyond me. The traditional christian religion has been and still is the worlds largest offender when it comes to trying to censure education and free speech.

    All that aside, these are children. They do not yet know the weight that words carry, nor have they truly formed thier own opinions yet. Freedom of speech carries tremendous responsibility. These kids do not yet understand that. Encouraging them to make public, wide reaching, potentially destructive statements is not wise, it may very well damage thier own future. This kid has no idea where life will take him or what he may believe in twenty years, this situation may have very negative effects on his future.

    Now before all you religees start freaking out notice I said "typical christian". I am not talking about the neo-christian movement that I always seem to run into on this site. You guys may call yourself christians but you do not follow the established christian dogma nor believe many of things that are the corner stone of traditional christianity. Many of you guys support homosexual rights, believe in seperation of church and state, admit the bible is fallible, etc. And while I may disagree with you about the existence of god or the fact that you lend credibility to a dangerous movement by calling yourself christians, I am not saying you promote this kind of persecution.

  4. imdwalrss

    They start out the movie by distorting and editing the first amendment and then expect to be believable on the subject of free speech? Don't think so.

  5. Karenwasherefirst

    If you want to have spiritual values expressed and interlaced with your education attend a private religious school where there is a consensus in opinion. Do not force your religion or religious beliefs on others in a public sphere paid for by the public. It does not belong there unless it is in a capacity of learning about religions of the world. The term 'Freedom of Speech' isn't meant for any idiot to contentiously spout off offensive statements to get a rise out of people for attention or to 'stir the pot'. It is meant to preserve an egalitarian society where each citizen has a chance to voice a concern, comment or opinion about a given topic or situation that effects the society as a whole.

  6. Arnold E. Karr

    Suppose he had worn a t-shirt that said, "Animal experimentation is barbaric." Should he have been chastised for making girls who wear makeup or students who take medication that was tested on animals feel bad or less worthy than lab rats? The whole point of protecting speech is the fact that it can be offensive. If words did not have the power to offend, there would be no need to protect free speech and school is the ideal place to learn how to respect differences of opinion.

  7. wald0

    I disagree completely. First lets get one thing straight, I offend people all the time. I see nothing wrong with that, thats how we make progress. If we never offended anyone nothing would change. But, just as I made extensively clear in my earlier post a public high school is not the place for this. It is the place to learn mathematics, history, etc. Not the place to make social, religious, or political points. Besides, your right to anything ends when it infringes on anothers rights. We all have the right to a decent education in this country, this is something we have all agreed upon. When you alienate, insult, or demonize students at a highschool you take thier right to an education, period. This is a public school, and therefore the only place they have to get an education unless they have a lot of money. Now if they are afraid, embarrassed, or belittled at this place they will not be able to learn when there or they will simply drop out.

    Also your comparrison is ludicris, people do not get embarrassed or afraid because others disapprove of the research practices of products they have purchased- get real. We do not have hundreds of teens commiting suicide because someone insulted the research practices of those that made thier make-up. There is no organized effort in this country at the political and religious level to alienate those that wear make up or support animal testing. No one has been lynched because they wore the wrong make up. Besides, what make up you wear is a superficial choice- homosexuality is not. If you can't see the difference in these two analogies, I doubt we could have an intelligent debate anyway.

    Also, no one chastised him for his opinion. They simply told him he could not display it for the short time he was at school. There is a huge difference. I am sure many of those on staff or on the board of education in his area agree with his opinion, but they are wise enough to realize telling him he can't wear it at school does not restrict his freedom of speech. Just as telling these crazy religees they can't protest at solidiers funerals is not restricting thier freedom of speech. It is only recognizing there is a proper time and place for such things, and that this country makes sure that everyone has access to those times and places precisely so we do not have to infringe on other peoples rights in order to be heard. People have a right to grieve in peace as they see fit, to gain an education without persecution, and telling others they do not have the right to infringe upon that is a long way from telling them they have no freedom of speech.

    You say high school is the perfect place to learn how to respect others opinions, well what about learning to respect others rights to the same education you are recieving for free. That is what high school is for right, educating not making political or social commentary when in reality you are too young to even understand your own position or the consequences of your actions.

  8. Clix (????)

    The term 'Freedom of Speech' isn't meant for any i**** to contentiously spout off offensive statements to get a rise out of people for attention or to 'stir the pot'.

    What IS it meant for?

  9. wald0

    I noticed that as well. I think they did a fairly good job representing the spirit of the first amendment though. But, they should not have cut up the guy reading the amendment nor shortened it the way they did. It looks suspect, even though I think thier intention was to dramatize or stylize the reading, not really to distort or misrepresent what the amendment says. I chalked it up to bad directing myself, not intentional misrepresentation. Seems like they would have known better. One of the main accusations by opponents of free speech is that we misinterpret the constitution. Not reading the amendment word for word simply hands them thier arguement on a silver platter.

  10. Soul

    Somebody somewhere is trying to discipline America into their own world or unto their own ways and means in life... and marriage should be in the context between a man and a woman as it supposed to be and not on the wedding rites. As for our independence, liberty is for those who seeks it and not to those who are into it because nothing is sweeter than to give your own independence for your beloved independent country... As for the title, it should have been; Shouting Fight! Fight! Fight!: Stories of the struggle for the rights of one's existence.

  11. Cool E Beans

    Apparently we need a lesson in the Constitution.

    The Constitution created the government of the United States as a Republic and not a Democracy. In a Democracy, 51% of the people can decide the fate of the other 49%. In a Republic, 99% of the people cannot take away the rights of the remaining 1%.

    While creating the government, the Constitution also created safeguards for the people against the government should it become oppressive and totalitarianistic. . .these safeguards are the amendments.

    The Constitution created three equal but separate branches of this Republic and separate is the most important issue at hand. When the Congress passes a "law" it is actually creating a 'statute' which applys only to those who Congress has authority over ie. themselves and those they provide monetary compensation to, within limitations. The Congress pays the salary of the President and the Federal Judiciary but sitting Presidents and sitting Federal Judges are EXEMPT from paying taxes on their incomes as this would give Congress power over their decision making thereby violating the Constitutions' separation of powers. See Title 26, Chapter 24, Section 3401a of the tax code.

    Likewise, the President issuing Executive Orders does so with the limitation that these orders only apply to the Executive branch and CANNOT apply universally or they also would violate the separation of powers.

    The Federal Judiciary can only rule on the Constitutionality of "laws" as they apply to those within the jurisdiction of the Congress as it relates to the 50 titles currently enacted or to the Executive Branch as it relates to Executive Orders, but in either case they do not act unless presented with a case against which they can rule. You gotta sue the Government to get a ruling.

    The freedoms provided within the Constitution apply exclusively with respect to the Government. You have the freedom of speech against an oppressive government but not against your neighbor or a corporation as this could be considered slanderous or libelous if printed.

    While the Constitution created the government, it DID NOT create you and me. The separation which exists between the three branches of the government also exists between the government and the people of the United States unless you were caused to be a citizen of the United States by the government as expressed in the 16th amendment.

    Those of us who were naturally born within the confines of the borders of the United States of America must stand up for the rights of ALL residents within these borders and reestablish the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.

    In the words of James Tiberious Kirk to the Yangs as it relates to the Coms, "These words apply to everyone or they mean nothing. Do you understand?"

  12. ZarathustraSpeaks

    This comment has been deleted by the editors due to unrestrained free speech!

  13. Guest

    I thnk the comments are rarely deleted, just decorated with little stars. Be patient you'll see.
    Then you can play the game guess what the word is.
    az

  14. ZarathustraSpeaks

    It was just an attempt at humor on the subject at hand. Nothing was deleted.

  15. wald0

    O.K. you know the difference between a democracy and a republic, now what has that to do with the discussion at hand? We are talking about free speech and whether it should be limited. Don't get me wrong, I am not policing the conversation. You are welcome to post whatever you like as far as I am concerned. I just felt I must have missed your point, as I could not relate it to our conversation. Could you explain why it is relevant in the contrext of the limitations of free speech?

    Also, your definition of slander or libel is incorrect. As long as what you print can be verified as truth you are not considered libel, and slander means it was a verbal misrepresentation not printed. Here is the definition straight from the dictionary of everyday law-

    "Libel" involves the publishing of a falsehood that harms someone or thier reputation.
    "Slander" is the same doctrine applied to the spoken word.

    We have the right to free speech concerning politicians, our neighbors, corporations, etc. as long as we do not intentionally misrepresent them or thier actions in an effort to damage thier reputation.

    As for the rest of your post, you may very well be right. I would have to look into it to see for sure though. Some of it sounds a little odd, but that doesn't mean its incorrect. I salute you for being involved enough to make the distinctinos you did. Its good to see someone is involved and knowledgable about the constitution and our specific form of government.

  16. andy thompson

    At 8:20 in part 5 David Horowitz says that when you're in a war that has been declared on you, there can be no peace movement. So during a war, you're supposed to either support it or not say anything about it. Wars, if anything, should be the most hotly contested of issues. Why? Because being wrong has a heavy price.

  17. pulunco

    I see what you are saying Karr. This is almost a gray area for me. The homophobic student should be allowed to voice his concerns and views; not quite hate speech in my opinion. But I can't really get on board with your view because religion is so damn idiotic. I have a hard time supporting free speech in these cases because the person's opinion is so basically flawed in the first place.

  18. StillRV

    @pulunco. Some one could easily substitute any belief or way of life into your statement and it would add up the same. You are all for freedom for those you agree with.
    Take Veganism for example. One can plainly see that evolution has provided human being with the necessary enamel instruments required for the consumption of meat. And yet when my environmental science teacher wore her tofurkey tee shirt I remained unoffended.

  19. rtiom

    Now that you guys know the government so well, I got to find that medal I was gonna give you.

  20. Cool E Beans

    I am exactly correct in my descriptions of slander and liable as stated. A non-governmental entity has the recourse, through the courts, to sue you for slanderous statements or liablous printed statements.

    The Constitution DOES NOT give you free speech in any manner you wish to persue against anybody. But it DOES provide you with freedom of speech against the government. You can say or print what you like about the government without them having a direct recourse against you. The difficulties have always been with the government using indirect methods to defame you or silence you.

    Dr. Martin Luther King could not be taken to court but he could be killed.

    The college professor in this doc could not be taken to court by the government as he has the freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Constitution but the government could and did put pressure on the university he taught for to remove him as a professor even though he had tenure with that university.

    It may seem technical but when you protest the 'actions' of the government, you are not directly speaking against the government so your freedom of speech is not necessarily protected.

  21. pulunco

    Sorry StillRV but kind of a weak comparison of veganism and homosexuality. Ones a choice and one is not and people are not killing themselves over veganism like they are over being outcast for thier homosexuality.

    I have a hard time respecting someone's opinion when they believe in things like talking snakes, angels, demons and a 6000 year old earth. Its not really about supporting freedom of those who agree with me, its more about not supporting people with bronze age backward views that continue to cause divison among people and perpetuate non logical thinking.

  22. Clix (????)

    Well said friend! It is those who seek to curtail free speech when it offends their sensibilities are the most virulent enemies of free speech. Because through their 'righteous' indignation and/or pseudo-concern for the oppressed, they assume a rather wholesome position while paving the road for further limits on free speech.

    I hate the fact that the young man wore the t-shirt with the offensive message embroiled with his religious beliefs to school. I also support his right to do so.

    The defense of free speech doesn't start until it offends the status quo.

  23. wald0

    I see, so you are calling protected free speech that speech which one can not be held accountable for via legal recourse. Seems obvious now- i got confused I suppose. I thought you were saying we were not obliged to speak our minds about persons or corporate entities, even if telling the truth. I see what you meant now- yes, you are correct. My bad.

    It has been my unfortunate opinion- and yes, I do realize how paranoid this sounds- that since shortly after world war two in this country if a person runs for office that truly will not play the corrupt games and represent at least the most powerful special interests, they will first try to defame him if possible or just beat him in an election- but if all else fails they will kill him. This is what happened to kennedy in a very general sense. He refused to play the game, to represent certain special interests within the intelligence structure, corporate realm, big oil, etc. and they simply killed him. When his brother Bobby came along they killed him as well, and people got the picture.

    Now days they have learned it is easier to use scandals and lies to defame someone and make them politically impotent, or use red tape and procedural tactics like fillibusters to either stop what you don't like or other means to sneak in what you want. The American public has become so uninvolved and ignorant to the way government works, they don't have to go so far as killing anymore to get what they want really. They just keep telling the lie, passing it down through the mass media channels they own, until it becomes truth according to the vast majority of sleeping sheeple. Even if we could replace most of the slimey people that now make up the government, the very system itself is corrupted. This whole fractional reserve banking system propped up by nothing more than paper and ran by wretched disgusting creatures not worth being scraped from the bottom of our shoes- Arhhh!! Well you get the drift, I don't mean to get wound up.

  24. James Beller

    "You have the freedom of speech against an oppressive government but not against your neighbor or a corporation as this could be considered slanderous or libelous if printed."
    Are you sure about this...can you elaborate?

  25. StillRV

    @pulunco: where in my comment did I mention homosexuality? You injected that into the discussion from out in left field. Perhaps your opinion on religion stems from religions opinion on homosexuality. That being the case you do prove my point. You have a right to feel how you do for your own reasons and do so, yet wish to curtail their right because of it's conflict with your opinion. As has been said a thicker skin is in order.

  26. kafkafil

    You think a democracy and a republic are different things entirely and a nation can't be both? A republic is merely a state without a monarch, nothing else.

  27. sakk

    "Let me issue and control a Nation's money and I care not who makes its laws". - Amsel (Amschel) Bauer Mayer Rothschild, 1838

  28. pulunco

    StillRV
    You did not mention homosexuality, I did and then you compared it to veganism.

    My negative opinion on religion stems from it being outdated and idiotic.

    Read over what I wrote. I wrote the kid should be allowed to voice his concerns. I just have a hard time supporting such backward views. Where do I say he has no right of free speech? I just disrespect his opinion because he is wrong.

    It seems like you are looking to argue, thats ok I do it too sometimes; or perhaps I upset you because you are religious. If so sorry about your luck.

  29. pulunco

    StillRV
    You did not mention homosexuality, I did and then you compared it to veganism.

    My negative opinion on religion stems from it being outdated and idiotic.

    Read over what I wrote. I wrote the kid should be allowed to voice his concerns. I just have a hard time supporting such backward views. Where do I say he has no right of free speech? I just disrespect his opinion because he is wrong.

    It seems like you are looking to argue, thats ok I do it too sometimes; or perhaps I upset you because you are religious. If so sorry about your luck.

  30. StillRV

    Nah not religious. I just support their right to believe what they want to believe. Just like it's ok for the vegans to believe we are not meant to eat meat. that was and is my point.

  31. Guest

    Based on what I seen up to now (All available documentaries on USA foreign & internal policies), there are no more civil rights over there.
    Just a ridiculous farce.
    Obviously, their so-called "Patriot Act" is segregation againts their own citizens. That act of law is nothing else but "War Measures".
    And that is only normal, since the USA has been harassing & agressing so many nations on planet earth.
    Just as a well fed pet, their citizens tolerate any & all ordeals.
    In now days, there ain't no pure republic, democracies or any other defined regime. They're all mutants.

    The only thing that the rest of the world really know for a fact is that either the republicans an the democrates don't have respect for civil rights & human rights.
    They began to sink in this sometimes after WWII as expressed by Eisenhower. It is now within tbeir genes, their "Way of Life".
    Since ~ 1950, how many years did the USA was not at war within its delirium tremens?

    They lie regularly to their nations as well as at the United Nations.
    How many nations is there in Iraq, in what their fools call "Coalition"?
    2 nations is not coalition! It's psychotic maniacs in delirium tremens.

    There is only one effective law in the USA: -"Who has the gun"?
    Which permited them to commit war crimes in Vietnam, Iran, Chilie, Nicaragua, Venzelua, Panama, Iraq & I'm sure I forgot many others.
    Up to a point where they emprison peoples who disclose their crimes as in the case of the USA soldier who disclosed the murders of unarmed & easily recognisable journalists by a USA army 'copter in Iraq!
    -A nation of psychotic wastes.

    What's comforting is that their Elite, not being able to monger abuses, murders and wars abroad have now resorted to turn againts their own citizens for grabbing their wealth and money through scams like morgage hoaxes & bank bankcrupcies. No problem, your "Loved & Admired" communist chineses friends already loaned you the money to dig your grave.
    And if you didn't vote for your gansters, then you commited a crime.

    Keep on producing guns, WMD et cetera.
    Good employment within the USA organized crime Gov.
    Good for your employment rate as well.

  32. KevinK

    i used to be in the crowd seeking to shut down dissent against the wars, etc, etc. now i am firmly a dissenter.

  33. Rocky Racoon

    As Lenin once siad, " capitalist is a person who would try to sell you the rope to their own hanging" Now if that is not a more down to earth reality bases assessment of what is going on in this world I don't know what is.An ill- fed Pet.
    Cheers,
    RR

  34. Rocky Racoon

    Both Italy and Germany were liberal democracies before becoming fascist and that is what Ike was warning people about in America in his farewell speech. Fascism is really an attack on organized labour and labour in general. How the state manages that on behalf of capital matters little to the capitalist class as they benefit regardless of what kind of government is in power-fascist or liberal democracy. What is important to remember it is due to the profitablity crisis iIf democracy becomes inconvenient fascism will do. Countries either revert to fascism or reorganize the means of production socialize and democratrize the commanding heights of the economic in again a rationally planned democratically organized fashion by the direct producers themselves-that means all of us. After awhile you don't even need a state really since WE ARE the STATE by for and of the people so to speak.Socialism or Barbarism those are our alternatives-no inbetween though we have transitional periods...Read Trotsky as Alernative to better understand fascism and trasitioning to socialism.
    Long history of socialism in America that history needs to be evacuated and celebrated as an alternative-and you have your founding father's warning the country about the situation that you have today regarding the wealth of the nation and how it should be managed.
    RR

  35. oddsrhuge

    Obama's first and only action in 2012, was to sign in a statute allowing the arrest, detention and jailing of "anyone" including US citizens suspected of terrorist ties. With no proof, probable cause or Habeus Corpus.

    "Suspected"!!!!! Holy mackerel why don't all of you apologists wake the eff up?

    He (Obama) also stated that he didn't expect to ever use it.

    Kinda like the repeal of the Glass/Steagall act. Nobody in Clinton's time used it's demise to strip the American People, of their pensions, salaries, investments or homes.

    It was next administration that it became apparent. Bend over again America...we only make these laws up to protect you. This time apparently you all need protection from yourselves.

  36. Guest

    Bwarff! With Bush's patriot act, the USA became a pale, very pale reflection of what it was once was. Faked freedom, the finest hideout for war criminals and a total disconnection with worlwide recognized human rights since they dismiss and igore them.

    And it's been a while. Maybe more than a while.
    Around the ~ 50's especially regarding their McCartism psychiatric obsession.
    At another time mid-50's, hated the democratically elected Mossadeth.
    Gave refuge & harbored WWI german war criminals such as Barbie's gang.

    Kept on going with under the spell of an obsessive communist hatred after ignoring Ho Chi Min aspiration toward a democratic autonomous Vietnam, pushing him toward the communists with all the war crimes the world now know about, then again the CIA murder of the democratically elected Chilian president that they replaced by their friend the totalitarian Perron.
    Left aside their yesman Drug dealer in Panama aside their Colonel North Baron of the cocain drug import in the USA through the channel of the USA army.

    Etc, etc...
    And then come this USA youngster who claims that it is his freedom to bare a slogan of hate toward the bisexuals in his school, a public place on the obvious deliberated intention to despise others.

    As a free man (Since I'm not a USA citizen and keep aloof from these, I say that the USA Gov. was fully justified to restrain USA citizens rights to almost Zero.

    Thinking twice and considering the number of widows, mothers and all who in Chilie never saw back their loved ones, plus the few millions Vietnameses and Cambodians who suffered at the hands of the USA, the few 3,000 lost lives of the 9/11 were fully deserved.
    YOU, have freedom of speech? So do I.

    Pierre.

  37. Jay Perry Wilson

    every person against the muslim americans in this documentary happen to be jewish... hmmm....

  38. Morten Andreassen

    y'all blew it! real bad too!
    looking at history, though, then I guess it's just human nature...

  39. Sy2502

    The reality is that both parties are very keen in reducing the liberties of Americans. If the Right wants to curtail the 1st Amendment, the Left wants to do away with the 2nd. And both parties want to do away with individual freedom in order to impose their agendas. The Right wants to impose its religious beliefs by legislatings abortion, contraceptives, and marriage. The Left wants to impose its ideological beliefs by legislating what we can eat and drink (hear that Mayor Bloomberg?).
    What's really surprising is how happy and eager so many Americans are to do away with their freedom, as long as it's for their pet reason (save us from the terrorists, or for the children, preserve American values, or save the planet), few Americans have qualms to reduce the freedom of their fellow Americans.
    I believe democracy has run its course, because freedom can only endure as long as the population appreciates it. I have come to realize the number of people who truly appreciate freedom is dwindling. Oh well, it was good while it lasted.

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