Monday, June 29, 2009

Shouting Fire

HBO's Shouting Fire is a collection of stories about Free Speech under attack in America held together by the narrative of Martin Garbus, the film-maker's father who is also a First Amendment attorney. One of the most powerful moments in the film comes when Garbus explains that the protecting people's freedom of speech requires protecting that of those who hate you and can potentially cause you harm. It drives home the point about true freedom being absolute rather than relative - the only kind of that is worth fighting for.

The stories come from across the political spectrum which proves that voices of dissent are not safe no matter what side of the ideological divide they come from. There is Lebanese-American Debbie Almontaser who is attacked because of a convoluted association some people found between her and an offensive tee shirt, a young man named Chase Harper who is suspended from his high school because he wore a tee shirt proclaiming homosexuality to be shameful.In both cases, the individual's right to free speech came under fire.

Liz Garbus presents each story in context of the time and surrounding circumstances which give the viewer a keen appreciation for what the average American is up against in today's world. Her father reminds us that the right to free speech cannot be taken for granted merely because it is guaranteed in the American constitution ; history has borne witness to many occasions where the right was temporary suspended ostensibly for the "greater good". He believes Americans must be prepared to fight every day for preserving this most fundamental of all rights.

No comments: