Free speech – limits on individual rights

Another nonsensical and damaging eruption from the bubbling cauldron of American academia produced the outrageous claim from three US college presidents that wishing genocide on a people might be acceptable depending on context. Sigh. What do these people use for thinking? From unformed, over-heated late teen brains it might be understandable if not supportable but their teachers should know better.

  The First Amendment in the USA on freedom of speech written into the Bill of Rights, ratified on 15 December 1791, was set in stone to differentiate from a restrictive climate on free speech in the UK of the time. There are categories of speech that are given lesser or no protection by the First Amendment include obscenity, fraud, child pornography and speech that incites imminent lawless action.

  The Bill of Rights chart has an excitable, argumentative Sagittarius Sun square Mars in Virgo in a Half Grand Sextile with the revolutionary Uranus opposition Pluto in place linked in to an idealistic, over-optimistic Jupiter Neptune in Libra. 

  The Bill of Rights chart triggers the Mars in Gemini in the USA chart which I have always associated with their hair-trigger defence to any interference with their need to say anything and everything they fancy, waving the First Amendment as a fig leaf. The Jupiter Neptune also squares the USA’s intensely argumentative and not always tolerant-of-differing-views Mercury opposition Pluto.

   Claudine Gay, President of Harvard, who has been allowed to stay in position after her performance at Congress, was born 4 August 1970 and is a showboating Sun Mars in Leo sextile Uranus; with a charming, if manipulative, Venus Pluto in Virgo and a hyper-anxious Saturn in Taurus opposition Neptune.

 Elise Stefanik, the Republican congresswoman who mounted a fierce inquisition of the college presidents, though has been accused of hypocrisy since she is a far-right Trump supporter, was born 2 July 1984. She’s a Sun Venus, Mercury in Cancer. Her tough, can-be-vindictive Mars Saturn in Scorpio would clash with Claudine Gay’s Sun Mars in Leo; and Stefanik’s Mercury square Pluto echoes the USA’s demagogic streak.

  Not sure astrology has much to offer in this debate except to wonder if the pendulum swing towards idiocy might be about to reverse.

Two non-astro thoughts strike me.

  One is the inability of people in general and youngsters in particular (who may be forgiven since I recollect being an idiot at that age) to be incapable of complex thinking. Not all of life is like cheerleading a football match, supporting MY team and wishing defeat on YOURs. You are with me or you are against me. What happened to agree to differ? Or the unpalatable reality that both sides of an argument may be wrong and/or there may be right on both sides. It means tolerating uncertainty.

  Me, me, me. It is MY right. Toddlers go through an irritatingly ego-centric stage where tantrums are thrown if the world does not revolve entirely around their whims and needs. They grow out of it as cold reality sinks in. They are one of many.  There are no inalienable rights in a society such as ‘I can say exactly what I want.’   If you want to live in a society you need to accept compromises on individual freedom in order not to tramp all over the rights of other members of that society. It isn’t rocket science.  

  Threatening genocide is no different from issuing fatwas and is not acceptable in a civilized society.

15 thoughts on “Free speech – limits on individual rights

  1. There’s evidence that Claudine Gay plagiarized her dissertation and many other publications, which ultimately will harm Harvard’s reputation. When it was shown that a paper published by the recent President of Stanford had false statistics, perhaps put in by a co-author, he acknowledged that he should have checked out. He resigned, but she is way more stubborn even though computer verification proves the plagiarism. Universities may implode in the US.

  2. A thorny and fascinating topic! I wondered about the Uranus/Pluto cycle in all this? The 1966 conjunction in Virgo is there for the oppressive Chinese Cultural Revolution, which Mao Zedong initiated in May, 1966. A dark and complex history, but certainly not much in the way of balanced ‘free speech’ there….Neptune was in Scorpio, Saturn in Pisces.

    In the West, this was also a ‘revolutionary’ kind of year:

    “People think that a critical and rebellious youth culture began with hippies and the underground press in 1967,” Savage writes in the book’s introduction. “In the music press from 1966…almost all the ideas and attitudes that would define the remaining years of the decade are in place: the Love generations, opposition to the Vietnam war, critiques of youth consumerism, an alternative society, a new world as yet unmade.”
    ‘1966 the Year the Decade Exploded’ by Jon Savage

    Looking at the transiting Uranus/Pluto square in Aries and Capricorn, current tension is building in 2010-2011. Social media really got a grip then. Now we’re moving towards the trine in Gemini and Aquarius in a couple of years time. A shift?
    I also noticed that Saturn will return to the Cultural Revolution’s May 1966 degree (26) in spring 2025. At that point there’ll be:
    The Moon’s Nodes in Pisces – all of us, connections, alliances
    Mercury turning direct at 26 Pisces with Venus 25 Pisces Rx that day, trine Mars 25 Cancer (April 2025)
    Tr Uranus conjunct the Moon’s Nodes in Taurus for May 1966
    A Lunar Eclipse at 23 Virgo on 14th March 2025

    I’m playing with ideas here, trying to make sense of where we find ourselves now. I look forward to Marjorie’s ‘pendulum swing towards idiocy’ reversing!

    • I also noticed this, on Marjorie’s post about Venezuela and Guyana today:

      “Guyana took independence on 20 May 1966 and looks rattled through this year and the next two with tr Saturn square the Gemini Sun early in 2024 and then opposing the Uranus Pluto”

  3. Hm… A thought has occurred to me: Claudine seems to have a Mercury–South Node conjunction. Can that be interpreted as “The way she talks may hold her back”, i.e. attached to the past, pull her backwards, make her fall back on apparently easier ways, get her in trouble, so she has to pull away from that to achieve her North Node mission, which is now receiving another hurdle to jump over, with transiting Saturn conjunct it? Mercury is communication, so also writing and care in that regard too.

    Mercury is now retrograde, so this matter might not be over just yet.

  4. I watched a lot of saved old, and now not available on YT, news programs on MP4 from Freedom of Speech and journalism from 10 years ago. How the world and journalism have changed. The self-censorship in a decade is surprising. The things being said about governments and politics of yore are punchy, direct and actually delivered with fearless comedy. Back to Back there is a measurable change in what was said and ‘allowed’ to be publicly seen on YT that is not now. Not sure if that was because less people watched these things at the time because people watched telly, so that may have made them more innocuous. I seems better and more unbiased journalism by state and private investigators than today?

    • Noticeably so.
      I read an article on Eddie Izzard from 2013 today and the directness and honesty compared to now is tangible.
      Its even more concerning that the internet and social media is wiping our memory. I’d make copies if I were you and release either on YT or as a podcast for us all.

  5. @LisaV, I think this is absolutely right. Furthermore, social media–which students have been marinated in from Day One–really flattens and simplifies, replacing genuine discourse with propaganda; it’s even been shown in studies that inflammatory speech and images are pushed to the top of social media channels because they get more views.

    As regards the First Amendment, Oliver Wendell Holmes famously stated that it doesn’t give you permission to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater, and incitement to violence, including genocide, is obviously prohibited; and, as many have pointed out, all three universities would be in violation of their own campus hate-speech policies for allowing such violent protests to continue, regardless. Furthermore, freedom of speech doesn’t shield the speaker from the social, employment, etc., consequences of his speech.

    It all gets down to different ideas of “freedom” and different levels of tolerance for government interference in daily life. While the UK has some sort of nebulous “tradition” of free speech and press, it’s not an actual right, and it doesn’t seem to be held in great regard by the government. From across the water, it just looks as if you use euphemism and scare quotes a lot, and live in a bit of a fantasy world where people are just as bigoted and divided as Americans are–perhaps even more so–but don’t speak about it honestly and openly. Pretending doesn’t make a thing so; at least here, we know where we stand, awful as that sometimes is.

    As for Elise Stefanik, she may be a hypocritical grandstander, but she was not wrong to ask her “gotcha” question of the three university presidents, and they should have anticipated this line of questioning and come prepared with better answers–not to mention, better moral compasses. The president of UPenn did lose her job over her answer, though, and all three universities have forfeited millions from angry donors–not a sufficient response, but at least it’s something.

  6. I think that Brexit proved that older people are not immune to it, but rather this is the world of online echo chambers that we live in now. Confirmation bias is easier

  7. Astrology suggests potential for a flash point on the day of the congressional hearing (Dec. 5) with transiting Sun-Mars in Sagittarius – a combo fit to spark fury and righteousness related to ‘higher education’ and free(-spirited) speech.

    Claudine Gay’s presidency survived the public’s fiery outrage – perhaps a benefit of the T Sun-Mars trine to her natal Sun-Mars?

  8. Thanks Marjorie. Good you have flagged this. I don’t think people are incabale of complex nuanced thinking, I think what’s going on is intentional. These far-right influencers, increasingly evident all over the world, claim rights of free speech, but then curtail actual free speech if it doesn’t suit their ideology or prejudice. It’s a hallmark of fascism, and I believe it needs to be called out for what it really is.

  9. Where is it that I’ve read, and it’s a bit of a mist if I’m remembering correctly, that a Moon in Leo (Stefanik) craves attention, but then when it finds itself in it, then feels uncomfortable.

    Though, the chart above has a Moon at a late degree, so maybe she could be Moon in Virgo.

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