言論自由的代價

2011 年3月13日星島日報《信懷南專欄》﹐3月16 日上網

        誰是美國最有影響力的人﹖總統﹐不對﹗在我看起來﹐總統只能排名第三﹐聯邦儲備銀行的總裁和最高法院法官做的決定﹐其影響力都比美國總統來得大。尤其是最高法院的大法官﹐他們是終身職﹐總統四年一選﹐八年一換﹐但大法官可以「趙元任」(照原任) 到踢水桶。但我們今天討論的主題不是美國誰的影響力最大﹐我們今天要談的是最近美國最高法院﹐9 位大法官﹐以 8 比1 判決衛士博若浸信會 (The Westboro Baptist Church)的行為應該受到美國憲法修訂條款第一條(The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) 言論自由的保護。

        衛士博若浸信會是堪薩斯州托匹卡市 (Topeka) 的一個小教會﹐教會是由一個叫 Fred Phelps 和他的家屬組成。 Fred Phelps 號稱是個牧師﹐有個女兒是律師。他們幹什麼呢﹖他們到全國各處陣亡將士下葬的時候去抗議。他們舉的牌子上通常寫的是﹕「感謝上帝讓軍人陣亡」﹐「你會下地獄」﹐「上帝恨美國﹐所以才會讓 911 發生」。他們的基本信仰是﹕「上帝在懲罰美國﹐叫人戰死﹐因為美國容忍同性戀」。我們先不管上帝是不是要懲罰陣亡將士﹐這和美國容忍同性戀又有什麼邏輯關連。如果你的子女陣亡了﹐你想給他(她)一個安靜又有尊嚴的葬禮﹐突然發現葬禮上來了一些不速之客在那裡鬧事﹐你會怎麼想﹖會有什麼反應﹖在過去﹐有人衝過去和他們理論並發生肢體衝突﹐最後被他們告上法庭。他們的目的就是要用激怒死者親友的方法來斂財﹐這樣才能全國「走透透」惹事生非。無論從什麼角度去看﹐這些打著基督徒和上帝為幌子的一小蕞人﹐絕不是什麼好東西。

        Matthew Snyder 2006 年在伊拉克陣亡﹐遺體運回美國﹐在下葬的時候﹐衛士博若浸信會的成員來鬧場﹐最後要出動警察維持秩序﹐葬禮改變行程。後來 Matthew Snyder 的父母在衛士博若浸信會網站上看到該教會咒罵他們教育子女失敗的文章。於是把 Fred Phelps 和他的教會告上公堂。有 48 個州﹐42 個參議員站在 Matthew Snyder 父母這邊﹐認為衛士博若浸信會的行為和「心理恐怖分子」沒什麼分別。

        官司一直打到美國最高法院。 Fred Phelps 的女兒(律師)在堂上所持的理由是「法律非常清楚﹐你不能因為你的感情被別人的言語刺傷就叫人不能講話。」Matthew Snyder 父親的陳述則是﹕「我們要求的只不過是給我們的小孩一個安靜而有尊嚴的葬禮。在美國﹐我們有很多比較文明的方式來表示我們的意見﹐用不著採取用故意傷害別人感情的方法。何況這是一個公民私人的葬禮。」如果你是最高法院的法官﹐你認為他們那方的理由比較充分﹖

        首先﹐讓我們聽聽 8 票對 1 票的那一票的法官是怎麼說的。這位法官的名字叫 Samuel Alito﹐他說﹕「言論自由並非惡意中傷別人的執照。Snyder 要求的權利和天下所有失掉子女的父母親要求的權利一樣。那就是能在一種和平的氣氛下將他的兒子埋葬。但衛士博若浸信會成員的做法剝奪了他們這種基本的人權。 」

        現在讓我們來看首席大法官 John Roberts 親自操刀代表其他多數大法官寫的判決文。Roberts 說﹕「言論的威力眾所皆知﹐它能感動人心﹐激發行動。它也能讓人歡喜流淚或痛哭流涕。我們面臨的案子就是一個讓人痛苦的例子。但擺在我們面前的事實是我們不能夠因為自己被刺痛就要人不說話。美國選擇了與其他國家不同的道路和方向﹐我們必需保護言論的自由﹐哪怕是我們知道某些言論會有害的。基於這種立國精神和選擇﹐我們認為衛士博若浸信會不應該為他們的行為負責。」

        言論自由是民主政治的核心價值之一﹐和人權問題一樣﹐向來是老美詬病中國的主要議題。美國最高法院的這個判例﹐是近年來最重要的一個判例﹐影響深遠﹐其對言論自由的詮釋﹐恐怕不是一般人可以接受或能夠理解的。對那些享有並濫用言論自由﹐和對言論自由充滿憧憬的人﹐以及過份縱容或壓制言論自由的政府﹐美國最高法院的判決是一堂有價值的課。我個人極端厭惡 Phelps 那夥人﹐我並不同意最高法院多數大法官的判決﹐但我能體諒他們的難處﹕如果言論自由的底線﹐要由個人感情是否受到傷害來決定的話﹐那言論的自由會越來越受到限制。我們捍衛言論自由就得付容忍自由言論的代價﹐不是嗎﹖

懷南補記﹕上星期只顧回一封讀有來信﹐把我提到那首 Dylan Thomas 的詩給忘了。Dylan Thomas 生在英國﹐1953 年死在紐約﹐算是個短命詩人﹐只活了 39 歲。身體不好﹐酒喝太多﹐或酒喝太多﹐身體不好是他短命的原因。

       有部電影叫 Back to School﹐其中有一段男主角口試背誦 Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night 的片段。我寄給我兒子作為他將來用得上時的示範。尤其要 pay attention to the end of the recital. 可惜不是每個人的一生﹐都能做出和那男主角一樣的結論。 By the way, University of Wisconsin, Madison 畢業的朋友﹐應該一看就知道電影中的一些景色是在威州大學的校園裡拍的。

《Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night》 務請將喇叭打開。如果自動連接無效﹐可自己上 youtube search "back to school do not go gentle into that good night".


       我這篇文章裡引用了四種不同的看法。如果你是美國最高法院9位大法官之一。你那一票怎麼投﹖如果你願意告訴我你怎麼投﹐為什麼這麼投。我會回信告訴你我這麼投﹐為什麼這樣投。That's a deal.


懷南補補記 3/16/11)﹕文章上網後(以前是文章上報後)﹐立刻收到好幾封讀友的回應﹐各抒已見﹐非常精彩。這是我們網站和一般「部落格」不同的地方﹕如果你有機會上網看其他的部落格(比如說電子中國時報)的讀者回應﹐你就會了解我為什麼不把我的網站變成誰想發表「不寶貴意見」就可以發表的平臺。我其實不會用文字的好壞去衡量一個讀者的水準﹐但台灣有些部落格的讀者回應簡直下流極了。並且老寫些和主題無關的鬼扯蛋﹐不知道是不是逮著難得發表不寶貴意見的機會大鳴大放。

       下面是信文讀友對美國最高法院對 Snyder vs The Westboro Baptist Church 判例的看法。 我除了改重要的 typos 外。原文照登。來信者的所在地是我加上的﹐測驗我的記憶力。


Dear Xin Da Lo

        I put forth the 5th perspective which I don't see anybody has addressed.

        The right and wish of the deceased. So under the US Constitution, a deceased person, even if he/she had been a law abiding citizen, paying all his/her dues to the country, risking his/her life for the value of the country, comes ashes to ashes upon death!

        Isn't it a fundamental human right for a person to lie in peace? (I am not using the Chinese value that priority should be given to the deceased. I am just saying every person should be left respected in eternal peace.)

        The deceased cannot defend him or herself, and as such, the law shall be his/her last protector, does it not? By acknowledging such people's right to freedom of speech, where is the fundamental human right of the deceased? Can the court not come to any conclusion that freedom of speech is not derogated in any way outside of a cemetery or funeral service parlour? I don't see any reason a protest cannot be done outside a certain radius of the place where funeral service is held. You can't protest within the venue when G20 has their conference either. Did anybody call this a lack of freedom of speech? NO!

Rgds

Louisa (Vancouver) 3/16/11


Dear 信老師:

       我會投衛士博若浸信會不受憲法保護, 原因如下:

       1. 公開的人/事/物都應該能被批評, 即使會傷害到個人情感(特別是政治方面), 反之小老百姓的事務就應該受到法律一定的保護跟限制,所以不是不能罵, 但不是什麼都能罵. 我覺得美國這方面限制太輕.

        2. 學校, 監獄, 葬禮等特殊地方場合應該要受到法律特別的保護跟限制. 人跟人之間這丁點的尊重應該要有, 即使是敵人或仇人.

        3. 如果是某公眾人物的葬禮有人抗議, 釀成肢體衝突甚至暴動, 誰該負責?

        P.S. 信老師, you can reply me in English if you want, thanks.

祝平安健康

Andy (New York) 3/16/11


Mr Xin:

        My vote goes to Samuel Alito but for different reasons.

        言論自由不是挑釁. 你可以表達你的意見/評論任何事件. 可是當你直接針對一個人或是團体做出言語的攻擊或污辱(詛咒),對我來說那就不是言論自由了.

        On the other hand I am bias anyway. To me, the Supreme Court is a Joke. The whole country is determined by 9 people and who do they represent? 9 people try to interpret something 200 plus years ago and they are supposed to be "impartial" but we know that no one is impartial. Tell me one Judge (or person) who is really "impartial". But this is another discussion...

Andrew (S. California) 3/16/11


Dear Bob,

       My take on your question,

        Recently, I went to a conference and the First Amendment was one of the issues discussed.

        Defenders of either side intensely disputed others' arguments. It started from the Snyder case and then went wild as you might expect. Many cases have been brought up including, ACLU defended American Nazi (Skokie), Tea Partyers, and a few others. I quietly sat at the table and think …

        First Amendment is to protect free speech at any cost, but it certainly has been used too liberally. All the industrial countries except for US have some kind of law to regulate/punish “harmful words” as I was told by an expert.

        People who came from Taiwan (and China), like us, often think that US is too easy on the “freedom of speech”. Yet, after more than thirty years live and breathe USA, I have come to realize that First Amendment is a unique American way to defend any and every one with a voice no matter what.

        I am proud to be an American and I will forcefully defend the First Amendment.

Best,

George (New Jersey) 3/16/11


Dear Bob,

        I would agree with the majority votes from the Supreme Court. The freedom of speech is the must. However, I may ask the Congress to pass a law to protect my basic human rights such as a right to not hear. For instance, in Chicago, it is against law if your car speakers is too loud. So, I would ask the picket line to move even further and/or to limit the volume.

My 2 cents,

Ben (Illinois I guess) 3/16/11


Bob:

        (..... Personally information skipped). To me, while burying a love one and been provoked with crazy language or display at the same time is absolutely unacceptable.

        I was simply wondering how come no one done any crazy thing to retaliate...............?

        in 1974, a movie called Death Wish by Charles Bronson, he played a normal husband realized his wife and daughter got raped and killed at his house, he went nuts and killed a lot of bad guys.............

        simple theory, wild movie, but made a lot of people happy, how come no director from Hollywood dare to touch this movie idea ?

        several years ago, when I first saw this controversial incident from TV, I couldn't believe it.........

        25 years ago, I came to US from Taiwan, part of the reasons were I couldn't stand some of the rules in Taiwan, by far, this maybe the only one I can't stand in US................,

        thanks for listening my nagging. Best regards, Gary (Florida) 3/16/11


O.K. 現在輪到我發表「我的寶貴意見」的時候了。當然﹐根據信門秘笈的記載﹐「我的寶貴意見」也是「你的不寶貴意見」和「他的^%*#^% 意見」。

       如果我是最高法院大法官﹐我那票是認為憲法增訂條款第一條保障言論自由並不包括保護The Westboro Baptist Church 那樣的言論自由。理由如下﹕

       第一﹐憲法增訂條款第一條的本意是保護個人或弱者不受政府和強者鉗制言論自由。在這個案子裡﹐The Westboro Baptist Church 是強者而非弱者。

       第二﹐言論自由並非完全沒有限制。在電影院不能亂叫失火就是一個例子。

       第三﹐大法官是保護人民的權益﹐伸張公義最後的一道防線。埋葬子女是私人的行為﹐是個人的權利﹐此權利應受到法律的保護。

       That's my two cents.