by Kayamone Sutton
Published on: May 14, 2005
Type: Opinions

Freedom of speech, an ideal that has been the centerpiece of American democracy is one of the most argued over rights in modern times. The American constitution, solidified by the Bill of Rights, states that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech”, However, more and more we see that our rights and freedoms are being challenged and consolidated all over the country, in all levels of government from federal to local. Recently, the attack upon our freedom of speech has come to the city of Flint, and now it is time for us to speak out about it.

The famous rock, located on the corner of 12th street and Hammerberg road in Flint, has for over three decades stood as a pinnacle of the American principle of freedom of speech as a public forum. Many would say that it us silly to complain and fight over the right to write on a slab of concrete, however, we are not just fighting for the right to write on a rock. We are fighting for the principle behind the right to do so. We are fighting for much more than the freedom of free speech. We are fighting for the freedom of self-expression. We are fighting for the ideals and principles that this great nation was built upon, and that so many lives have been lost defending. We are fighting for our culture, our way of life, and what makes us who we are and the very things that define us as a unified people, unified Americans. We are fighting because something so small has the power and ability to set a dangerous precedent that will spread like wildfire, destroying the very ideas and governing principles that our great nation, the United States of America, was built upon. We are fighting against the destruction of the very heart of our nation, for if our freedom of speech and our freedom to express ourselves was taken away, everything that we as Americans, governed by the constitution of the United States of America that was created by our forefathers, have fought and died for would have been done in vein.

Many people are outraged over the banning of the right to paint on ‘The Rock’. The rock provides the public with an outlet for freedom of expression in a fashion that is non-violent, non-disruptive, creative, and original. Contrary to many people’s belief, this issue will set a precedent that would allow government on all levels to begin curbing our freedom of speech and expression by limiting the available public forums available to us to exercise such freedoms. We have seen in the past the American freedom of speech exercised right here in the city of Flint on a massive level. Just this past year, in the month of May, Flint was the site of the ‘Marijuana March’, which was a protest to legalize marijuana, an addictive and dangerous drug. Did the Mayor or any government institution move to stop the people from marching downtown? No! Why should there be a ban on using a rock to express love, sorrow, or discontent in a peaceful way when we are allowing people to march and assemble for the purpose of pressing city and government leaders to legalize an illegal drug? Which is more disruptive and disturbing? The answer is not hard to figure out. Are both the ‘Marijuana March’ protesters and people who write on ‘The Rock’ not utilizing and taking full advantage of their freedom of speech and expression granted to them by the American constitution? Yes they are, and to ignore that fact would be an act of sheer disregard for the constitution, the ideals and principles that this nation was founded upon, and disregard for the very things that our brave husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, children, and friends have served their country and made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of these ideals, principles, and our way of life, the American way of life, have fought and died for.

We must not allow government to act and capitalize upon a dangerous precedent set by the banning of the freedom of speech and expression by utilizing a slab of concrete to peacefully express our feelings and emotions. It is our right, it is our duty as American citizens, governed by the constitution of the United States of America, the same constitution that granted and guaranteed us those rights, to protest any and all laws that attempt to abolish those rights. For it says in the Declaration of the Independence that it is the right and duty of the American people to alter or abolish an American government that does not act according to the wishes of the American people who are governed by the highest law of the land, the constitution. We speak out now in protest of all such laws that are hinder our God and constitution given unalienable rights for if we don’t, we fail as Americans to defend the very things that define who and what we are. We must not let this happen. Now is the time to act!

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