Thursday, June 23, 2011

Free Speech Re-Visited

Eugene Debs, the great humanitarian and socialist,  made a speech to an audience of factory workers in their Union Hall.  It was this speech, (which you will find below,) delivered in Ohio, in the year 1918, the American Midwest, heart of the Land of the Free was interrupted by the marauding police who had no business being there, never-mind arresting a  man for making a speech.  Never-mind that the speech pointed out the history of the exploitation of the poor working class by the rich.  First with the nobles, the aristocracy, and then by the wealthy corporations.  And he was imprisoned for it.

The Supreme Court sentenced Eugene Debs to 10 years in the state penitentiary, as if he were a criminal; and no parole or time off for good behavior.

So much for the Constitutional guarantees and protections of Free Speech in America.

Do not speak to me of Free Speech in America.

Debs mentioned how, in the Middle Ages, the land owning lords declared war on one another and sent the poor serfs to fight their battles. And to die for their precious land owning lord.  Nowadays, in this more enlightened age, the self-anointed Lords of the Universe, in their corner offices on Wall Street, declare war on distant countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, as well as the tax payers of Main Street, and send off the working class to fight their battles for them.

No, the Corporations of 1918 did not want their workers' ears to be abused with speeches which exposed the truth about how they were exploited by the rich industrialists in the never ending class war.   As far back as the early 19th Century, as Thomas Jefferson left the White House he wrote that no standing army was as dangerous to American Liberty as the banks and corporations."  Precious little has changed since then.

And now we have a Supreme Court which last year defined large amounts of money as Free Speech, to my way of thinking, a corrupt decision if ever there was one.  The entire reason for the existence of the Supreme Court of the United States in the first place, was to create a non-partisan system of American justice which would protect the rights and liberties of the little guy.  But now the SCOTUS has closed ranks on the little guy and for several decades has ruled in favor of the large corporation.  And now, just last week, the highest Court handed down a decision, with, of course, the usual 5 to 4 vote, since the Roberts' Court Gang of Five always votes as a block; the decision is now being called Too Big To Sue and it certainly sets a precedent.  Walmart, you see, has been consistent over the years in its' abuse of women in the workplace and finally a class case arrived in the Supreme Court. Needless to say the corrupt Supremes, namely, Thomas, Alito, Scalia, Roberts and Kennedy sided with the giant corporation against the wronged employees.


Here is the distinguished  actor and activist, Mark Ruffalo, reading Eugene Debs' immortal speech.


And while we're at it, might as well listen to Debs' short but powerful words to the corrupt court as he was being sentenced.