Freedom of Speech

This man arrived at the recent Lowell Folk Festival with a large religiously-themed but less than tolerant sign and rhetoric to match it. The festival organizers wanted him to leave, encouraged him to leave, and when he didn’t go, they asked the police to make him leave. But they couldn’t. The festival takes place in a public place. Our country’s right to freedom of speech allows him to be in that place with his sign and talk to people about his beliefs. In this image, a group of festival volunteers was debating with him about the nature of God’s love.

22 thoughts on “Freedom of Speech

  1. Prior...

    Wow Chris – this was a moving post! You gave us much to ponder and chew on here – all
    Without any bias or judgement – allowing us to form our opinion
    – and you made me feel proud of our freedoms here – even if I do think that is a horrible way to share one’s faith! Ugh
    And the photo also has extra details to soak up

    Reply
    1. milfordstreet Post author

      Thank you. I had mixed feelings too. I often do when people express their views in such a way. I appreciate your comments in this and am glad you found it balanced. Cheers

      Reply
  2. loisajay

    I kept going back and forth on this, Chris. It is a very powerful image. I know we have freedom of speech but it is the way it is presented that is a turnoff for me. So much anger goes with these freedoms. Did our founding fathers have any idea? As Yvette says, lots of details to soak up….

    Reply
    1. milfordstreet Post author

      Thank you, Lois. I’m sure people said some pretty interesting things even back in the days of our founding fathers. But the point is, who gets to say what’s appropriate speech vs not? With very few exceptions, people can speak their mind and others have the right to disagree with them.

      Reply
  3. Ann Coleman

    Freedom of speech is one of those rights that we want for ourselves, but find hard to tolerate in those who say things that make us angry. But we can’t have it both ways. If our speech is protected, so is everyone else’s. I have to say, though, that it is hard to see people using that right to put others down and attack them. As for doing it on religious grounds, all I can say is that I strongly disagree with those who do that!

    Reply
    1. milfordstreet Post author

      Thank you for your comment. It is difficult to watch when we don’t like and/or agree with what is said. But you’re correct, we all have the same right. Cheers

      Reply
  4. Christy B

    This is an intense moment you caught with your lens, Chris. I read and reread the sign, thinking about the different arguments that might have been heard on that street that day.

    Reply
    1. milfordstreet Post author

      Thank you for your comment, Christy. It was interesting to watch how those who engaged him did so. He was somewhat on a single theme and it seemed his strong beliefs came from a troubled past. He was definitely a catalyst for discussion. Cheers

      Reply
  5. Sarah

    Very interesting shot! I can actually feel the tension in the air… yes, freedom of speech guarantees that people who’s view we don’t share get also to say the things they believe in. As long it’s only words that’s ok, but still terribly dangerous if you think about the effect rascist comments from a certain man in power has and still have… 😯

    Reply
    1. milfordstreet Post author

      Yes, it was a tense moment emotionallybut it never felt like it would get physical. It’s a problem when people take such rhetoric to a level of physical violence. I’m afraid that is the effect that some of the intolerant speech from world leaders is having on people.

      Reply
  6. sloppy buddhist

    Ya think maybe trump 🧐 but then again he’s not a statesman… I imagine if we want to defeat intolerance, we can only do that by shining a light on it. Giving bigoted and offensive humans a platform to speak may be unpalatable. But not giving it to them? That’s unthinkable. Great thread Chris of course it could be a dissertation 🤓 and I appreciate documentary photography thanks for sharing ☺️

    Reply
    1. milfordstreet Post author

      You have some good thoughts on this Hedy. The comments on this have been very interesting. It is unthinkable not to let him speak. I think there was a strong reaction in the crowd to his intolerant language. 😎

      Reply

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