The Price of Freedom of Speech

English 1

21, April 2004

One evening in mid march Michael Moore strolled onto the stage at the Oscars, knowing what he was going to say but having no idea how big of a response he would get. He approached the podium grasping his Oscar tightly and said, " On behalf of our producers Kathleen Glynn and Michael Donovan from Canada, I\'d like to thank the Academy for this. I have invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us, and we would like to ‑ they\'re here in solidarity with me because we like nonfiction. We like nonfiction and we live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it\'s the fiction of duct tape or fiction of orange alerts we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you. And any time you got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up. Thank you very much." After uttering those last few words many of the "Hollywood elite" stood and clapped, showing their support for Moores beliefs. However just as many stood and clapped there were those who stood up and booed Michael for what they believed to be wrong politically or wrong in timing and appropriateness. After the ceremony Michael was asked why he felt it necessary to give his political opinion as an acceptance speech. He stated simply "because I am an American." Michael Moore felt it was his duty as an American to voice what he felt was an unjust war and a fictitious president. The controversial speech was a follow up to his equally controversial movie "Bowling for Columbine." Itís a documentary that follows Michael Moore on his crusade to study, what he believes is an overrated fear that Americans have and how it relates to our gun culture. "Television news survives on scares. On local newcasts, where producers live by the dictum "if it bleeds it leads," drug crime and disaster stories make up most of evening broadcasts." (Glassner) He visits columbine high school and interviews some students effected by the massacre. The movie includes a cartoon that compares the NRA to the KKK as well as an interview with the Michigan militia. It also includes interviews with Barry Glassner, Charlston Heston and even shock rocker Maryln Manson. After the movie was released Moore was called un‑American and unpatriotic due to what some felt was an attack on Americans gun rights.

Was it really his duty as an American to say what he felt needed to be said? If one defines that duty as doing what you can to make America better, then yes. If Michael Moore honestly said what he said because he wanted to, in one way or another make this country better and not just as an attack on a president with different political beliefs then him then yes it would be his duty. Not everyone thinks that it was his duty though. Some felt that what he did was unpatriotic and plain un‑American.

The word patriot as defined in Websterís dictionary states simply as "one who loves his or her country." Many say that Michel Moore does not fit into this definition, while others say that he is a shining example. He felt that what he did was very patriotic, and justified. If I personally could rewrite the definition of patriot it would go as follows, "A person who loves his or her country who is willing to speak out for what he or she feels the country is doing right or wrong, and if necessary fight for that belief." As much as I may not agree with Michel Moores political beliefs I dont think that what he has done can be considered unpatriotic. Our founding fathers whom we as Americans call patriots were not considered so in their time. They spoke and revolted against the English government. They were spat upon and called traitors as some are now. However, I feel that it was not the appropriate time or place for Moores speech.