In this era of Trump and right-wing extremism those that feel empowered to stand for their values seek to affect a positive change in the world. We all have a definition of what that is and, some of us agree and some of don’t. In their wisdom the founding fathers established the first amendment to enshrine free speech and the freedom of the press as the vanguard of liberty and justice. Though George Washington had issues with the press and, Thomas Jefferson encouraged James Madison to “…take up your pen, select the most striking heresies , and cut him to pieces in the face of the public.” against Alexander Hamilton and his Federalist; the founding fathers were not as amiable as we were led to believe. As early as 1797 John Adams and the Federalists controlled Congress, they believed they were the government and that no one should publicly criticize them (sound familiar?), and so, events led them in 1798 to pass a series of laws one of them being the Sedition Act; it’s provisions directly aimed at those who spoke out against the Federalist. Washington would go on to say (and I like this quote) “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
Fredrick Douglas said “Power concedes nothing without a struggle.” and as John Lewis said “The press is supposed to serve as a check on the government.” Right now we are seeing an attack on the public’s access to broadcasting forums such as, Net Neutrality, communities lack print access for individual opinions, and with 51% of Americans claiming the television as their primary source for news and information the attack on local public access television continues. Whatever the role looks like, writer, singer, director, blogger, or vlogger, free speech is the material to a social-evolution.
Some developers of alternative media beg the question ‘Should critics cause discourse or only comment and inform us of it?’ I don’t think it matters. Artists have challenged our social norms, and this continues to today. Leo Tolstoy said “Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously by means of certain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through…”. Developers wether they are bloggers, bloggers, and etc. are communicating their human experiences, in the times we are living in we should learn to listen and find merits that can lift us all to greater plateaus.
Whistle-blower Julian Assange is quoted “What annoys me the most is when people abuse their power and abuse innocents.” his goal, bring down the firewall between the Neo-liberal power and ordinary people. He currently has asylum at Ecuadorian embassy in London, self-imprisonment without being able to explore the city. President John F. Kennedy would defend this struggle by saying “Our press was protected by the First Amendment…to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.”
Developers should not have to adhere to a sense of commercialism, industrialism, activism or advocacy. The purpose of communication is to represent thoughts, feelings, opinions. We may not always like what people have to say or how they say it but, at the end of the day, we should appreciate that those things can be said. In a different parts of the world, and in different time periods the right of freedom of speech was a luxury given to the few. Today tolerance (and patience) will get us much further to attaining that “more perfect union” the founding fathers wrote of.