When we think about conspiracy theorists, it’s rare when we think about protecting the Freedom of Speech. Here’s one of those moments.
Normally around here, we will try to debunk the thinking of conspiracy theorists because they tend to encourage problems in society. Actions based on paranoia are rarely helpful, and usually shut down rational discourse – something we definitely encourage.
Once in a while, we are faced with a situation where government oversteps its boundaries in the effort to silence someone who happens to disagree with what officials would prefer that that public believe. That is exactly what happened to Robert Groden, a noted conspiracy theorist on the JFK assassination.
Beyond telling Groden’s story of persecution by the government of Dallas, Reason.tv has hit on a very important issue when it comes to free speech. Since Groden’s only “crime” was offering theories other than the “state accepted” view that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, he truly wasn’t harming anyone. At this point, even if someone did manage to establish without a doubt that there really was a conspiracy to kill the president, anyone who may have been party to it is either dead or nearly there. There is no governmental interest in protecting anyone.
The government simply disagrees with Groden.
Lately, people have been crying out against being censored in the public square – even when the situation is not really in a public forum. There are also many people crying about being persecuted for just speaking their minds, when the real issue is that they are unwilling to bear the consequences of their commentaries. Groden’s case is not muddied like these, because he’s not attempting to speak somewhere other than the public square, and he’s only drawing the ire of government (and a museum.) So, this is a clear cut case of government censorship.
Consider situations where you think that government is stifling the ability of the public to speak freely. How are they doing it? Are the people being brought up on charges without basis in law? Are they being arrested or fined simply for the act of speaking?
In reality, these cases are rare, but Groden is definitely one. Remember it, and learn to look for the real signs of governmental interference in free speech.