I watched the HBO documentary “Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech” the other night. I found it quite well done.
The primary source throughout the program was Martin Garbus, a 1st Amendment attorney and father of the filmmaker Liz Garbus.
The show covered a number of historical and contemporary stories including the Alien and Sedition Acts, McCarthy, The Pentagon Papers and the Nazi march in Skokie Illinois. The show was supposedly centered on the balancing act between free speech and security but some of the stories had nothing to do with that. Some stories did, perhaps even most, but the three I found most interesting either had nothing to do with national security or were, at best, on the remote outer fringe of the security question.
I want to focus on these three contemporary stories because they have a modern face that you can relate to as an individual and because I think they address some fundamental flaws in current American culture. Rather than do them in one long essay, I’ve decided to address each separately in future posts.