is USA Free Speech?

By Xah Lee. Date:

Recently, was debating on the Nobel peace prize winning Liu Xiaobo, human rights, China and USA. (See: Liu Xiaobo, Dalai Lama, Falun Gong, Nobel Peace PrizeLiu Xiaobo, NED, CIA, USA Support.)

Here's a comment i made on Language Log (at but has been axed.

Who Went to Jail in US for Speech?

Someone wrote (paraphrased):

but in USA we don't put people in jail… (as China did for Liu Xiaobo's speeches)

We do. In porn industry, several are in jail right now, after unsuccessful legal defense against obscenity charges (all actor/actress are over 18 and voluntary). [see Porn and Law in USA: Robert Black and Obscenity Charges] 20 years ago, any porn showing fisting are likely to land you in jail. [see What Is Obscenity?] Comic artists, 20 years ago, goes to jail, for comics that today might be called soft erotica, or the type of stuff you see in Mad magazine. [see Reading Notes on Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics] Just 10 years ago, anal sex, oral sex, can put you in jail. Am not sure if some states still can put you in jail for anal sex.

Then there's pedophile craze in 1980s? tens people went to jail, and later considered wrongly. [see The Last Taboo: Sexual Desire for Pre-Pubescent Children] There are legal defense non-profit orgs that rose up on comics artist freedom (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund), pedophile craze victum (National Center for Reason and Justice), porn freedom, and as we know lots gay rights orgs these days. (stories about gays going to jail, and well known incidents (e.g. riots), are quite numerous i think) Speaking against god, you might just end up in jail (not just like that, but people will find a way for you to go to jail). Though, much of all these are getting better, due to the web & communication tech advances in the past 15 years.

Google was celebrating John Lennon few days ago. Lennon, in mid 1900s, was persecuted to be deported for his peace activism and communism tendencies. This was before my time, but well-known as i learned. Am sure one can easily find lots cases who went to jail or otherwise made to shut up in the anti-communism era in US. In vietnam war era, did not many went to jail? In the drug era, many peaceful but pro-psychedelics went to jail. (Timothy Leary , Grace Slick ( White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane) …) Comedians, utter “cocksucker” on stage, then ☞ Jail! (Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, et al.)

Your Ideology vs My Ideology

Sure, US is more free than china on i guess most subjects with respect to public speech. But then, this is a issue of degree. You don't want kettle calling pot black. It's also a issue of different ideology, culture. In country A, speaking X is ok, but you can't speak Y, and vice versa for country B. The X and Y are democracy and communism, atheism vs Christian God. If you were born and bred pure in country A, you might not see it. But for mixed blood/nation persons, you see both sides. One gave birth to you, the other fed you.

Democarcy = Freedom ?

Also, as has been said among intellectuals, if you survey history, that democratic countries may actually fair worse than autocrat countries, with respect to citizen's happiness, freedom, as per the citizens. So, the terms “democracy” is just a label really, what really goes on depends on a lot on the legal system (if exist at all), culture, and even climate. (first read about this at Democracies Do Not Make War on One Another. …or Do They? By Matthew White. At

Are Chinese in China Happy?

Although i haven't set foot it china, but being chinese, i have read native chinese in china's blogs, email, see their twitter, made friends etc. I know how they feel more than say from western mainstream news. I can't say i know enough to speak a summary on the whole chinese population, but from what i seen, chinese people are not unhappy, and a lot especially the younger ones, are very nationalistic, pro-china, even militantly. I think maybe 3 years ago Time mag has a special report on China too, and i remember it indicated this too clearly in one of the article.