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Responding to Author's Defense of Censorship

November 12, 1990

In the final paragraphs of his article, Steffens ridicules the notion that there is a force in society poised to wrest our freedom of expression from us. He asserts that the American people can be trusted to defend our freedoms. The danger of this argument is that it leads to the conclusion that the Bill of Rights is superfluous because "we are a good people, a fair people."

Consider the philosophical thought and the historical necessity that gave rise to the Bill of Rights. The guarantees of freedom of expression (press, religion, assembly) in the Constitution expressly prohibit the majority from denying these rights of the individual.

If we can rely on legislators to protect our freedoms of the press and of speech, why does the Bill of Rights begin with the words, "Congress shall make no law abridging. . . ."? Our founding fathers knew what Steffens has forgotten about--demagoguery and mob rule.

2 Live Crew may not be Steffens' (or my) idea of what the founding fathers had in mind. I think that "As Nasty as They Wanna Be" is constitutionally protected speech. Steffens may disagree. But clearly the framers of the Constitution didn't leave the question of censorship up to us, or to politicians, or to the wisdom of the majority.

RANDY FINCH

West Hollywood

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