Overheard on CNN.com: How free should free speech be? Readers' views divided
Musician Ted Nugent speaks at a rally in Charleston, West Virginia.
April 19th, 2012
04:51 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: How free should free speech be? Readers' views divided

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Columnist LZ Granderson argues in an opinion article today that Ted Nugent's recent remarks about President Obama were thinly veiled threats and suggests that the rocker ought to be arrested, although he concedes there is little precedent for such a response. Our readers were divided on this view.

Ted Nugent should be in jail

Argument 1: Free speech is free

Jason Asselin of Iron Mountain, Michigan, was outraged by Granderson's column. He said that arresting Nugent because of his remarks would be a violation of Nugent's right to free speech.

"I want to live in a world where you can speak your mind freely without fear of being arrested or imprisoned," Asselin said.

"Many people talk about locking Ted up for his comments. This is exactly what many countries do today: Lock people up for speaking their mind."

Some of our readers disagreed strongly with Granderson.

okie49: "I love the liberal ideas that I see here.  Curtail freedom of speech.  No guns.  Just dump the Constitution.  If you arrest Ted, then you need to arrest the New Black Panthers."

This commenter said he didn't think Nugent was actually threatening the president.

JohnnySeven: "Mr. Nugent was addressing members at a NRA convention. You could say that this is a 'pro-gun' crowd. President Obama has the reputation (deserved or not) of not being very friendly to Second Amendment issues. There is a presidential election coming up next November and obviously there is some angst among firearm owners about the incumbent president being re-elected and attempting to relieve good citizens of their firearms. Mr. Nugent was playing to the crowd. It is understandable that non-gun owners and others unfamiliar with the gun control controversy would misinterpret Mr. Nugent's statement.

Mr. Nugent never threatened to assassinate anyone. He was stating in so many words that if President Obama gets re-elected, he would probably go to jail if such a draconian measure was adopted as to require all citizens to surrender all one's firearms or go to jail. The part of his statement about being dead is a reference to an old NRA by-line 'They can have my firearms when they take them from my cold dead hands!' It is a metaphor for the resolve to oppose any negative firearm legislation. It is NOT a cry for rebellion or revolution! I have observed that Mr. Nugent is sometimes given to hyperbole for whatever reasons. He is either loved or despised even within the community of firearm owners. I think if Mr. Anderson would have taken a bit more time to research this subject matter, he may have arrived at a different opinion."

Argument 2: Free speech has an audience

Michael Brewer of Gowen, Michigan, says he served in the military for 22 years and is now disabled and supports free speech. At the same time, he said, Ted Nugent "didn't realize the audience he had."

"You have speech, but you don't have freedom of audience," Brewer explained. "You can say what you want, but if you say something to offend or hurt someone, you've got to understand what you're dealing with.'

He also felt that Nugent's comments were disrespectful to the president.

"He offended the president of the United States. He offended the position. The people, whoever they vote in, they expect that you respect the process. That's what's great about our country. He basically just threw our freedoms out the window by saying what he did."

Brewer said he feared that with our country's history of presidential assassinations and attempts, there is a danger in not taking the remarks seriously. These commenters thought there might be a possibility of inciting violence.

GailScottt: "It's this type of talk that led to Gabrielle Giffords getting shot. Nugent needs to put a lid on it."

mary1972: "Totally agree. Remember how Palin and the GOP backtracked after that lunatic shot Giffords."

One person suspected an undertone to the GOP.

buddhanature: "This is a classic in-your-face example of the violent extremist wing of the Republican Party. They try to hide it from prime-time TV, but it's always there simmering under the covers. Dems would criticize Bush for his policies but there wasn't this level of open threats of violence or racism. Barack Obama was fairly elected by a majority of voters. You don't have to like his policies, but you have no right to threaten his life or promote violence."

Another said they didn't think the statement was appropriate.

Midloo: "How can anyone respect a man that threatens the life of our leader? I detested Bush's policies, but I would never use such rhetoric. It's low ... it's ignorant ... it doesn't show any regard for the America so many conservatives profess to love."

What's your point of view? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Celebrity • Overheard on CNN.com • Politics • Showbiz
soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. John

    All this and THAT is you response? Why even waste your obvious considerable free time typing a proclamation of your ignorance? It's as if you're bragging how stup!d you are.

    April 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Dan Bednarik

    Nugent is an idiot. Anyone can slap a cowboy hat on their head and strum a guitar - he does even do that well. Jerk.

    April 20, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Tendofreak

    People speak of the Presidents office like he was the Pope or something equivilent. he is a POLITICIAN only! He also is a POS in my opinion. I dint not vote for him nor will I vote for him given a second chance. I do not respect him. I do not like him. I would not feed him green eggs and ham!

    April 20, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wayne

      'dint'? Really!? lol. I'm certainly not the grammar police but if you want people to take you and your opinion seriously, you may not want to use the made-up word, 'dint'.

      April 21, 2012 at 6:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      And who's the pope again? Don't know him.

      April 21, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Will

    Ted's free (published) advice in the 60s on how to avoid serving in Vietnam helped a lot of youngmen facing the draft get out of military service like he did. He may have some faults such as not paying child support for 3 of his illegitimate children, but who doesn't. Probably the only bad thing Ted ever admited to was how he avoided prison for a Mann Act violation by paying the parents of the underage girl to make him her legal guardian. As for ignorance, who else would shoot an animal out of season and without a licence and then put it on TV so his audience would see it too? Well he still has his admirers in the NRA, because all of the above has nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment.

    April 20, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. James A.Pilon

    We ALL know what Ted Nugent does best ...BE TED NUGENT.... and keep this country THINKING instead of rolling over to government ..............

    April 20, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • banasy©

      Yes, because when I think of Ted Nugent, I think of ___________________.

      April 20, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mikstov33

    Freedom of speech is not free. Everything anyone in the public domain says can and will be picked apart by the smallest group possible that does not like what is said.Some people are better off just keeping their mouth shut except in the confines of their own four walls.Even then, the internet allows vitriolic statements without faces to ascribe them to,which is sometimes worse than a full blown public tirade on tv or radio, or at public gatherings.At least then everyone can shout at the right voice.

    April 20, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Lisa

    Always funny to me how the NRA and pro-gun crowd criticize Obama for not supporting 2nd Amendment rights yet cannot name any specific legislation he has supported or proposed against guns. In fact, he signed off on allowing guns in parks!

    NRA called our house to solicit a donation citing the need to stop Obama and even they could not, when asked, say specifically what he had done (or even proposed) in opposition to gun rights.

    April 20, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Deej

      Yeah, that always makes me laugh. Relax, people, Obama doesn't want to take away your second amendment rights, no matter what the NRA wants you to believe...now, Ted, tell us what your beef with Obama REALLY is, because your gun fun isn't being threatened by him.

      April 20, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Take off the rose colored glasses and think outside the box. Obama is too smart to publicly come out against gun ownership. He realizes that would be a mistake. You have to look deeper than that. He comes from militant roots, he surrounded himself during his formative years with militant thinking people – until the media made it necessary to distance himself from them during his campaign. Make no mistake, your Apologizer in Chief thinks along Marxist lines. And in those circles, an unarmed populace is a necessary step toward taking total control.

      April 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kawarider

    Freedom of speech, like the other rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, are pretty much definite. Remember, the Founding Fathers had just come out of a system under which you could be hanged for speaking out against the king. While I agree the office of President deserves respect, regardless of who occupies it, the First Amendment is designed to protect our right to say things that are challenging, unpopular and just plain rude. While I'm all for reasoned discourse, Freedom of Speech trumps virtually everything else.

    April 21, 2012 at 1:23 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Jeff

    Ted Nugent. Proving once again it doesn't take brains to be a rock star.

    April 21, 2012 at 2:51 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Sasha

    My eyes glazed over after reading only the first five sentences when I realized where your rant was heading...

    April 21, 2012 at 4:49 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Mary

    @ boredboxer, True! He only talks to instigate conflict ... Not to discuss or inform.

    April 21, 2012 at 8:43 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. ricardo1968

    Nothing illegal was said, but it was still extremely disrespectful of the country and people that brought this undeserving man great rewards. I hope he realizes his shame publicly after some reflection.

    April 21, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Randy

    People that cite the mantra, "'They can have my firearms when they take them from my cold dead hands!", should have their firearms taken away.

    -Slates Quarry

    April 21, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. janelle

    What too many people don't seem to understand is that with rights come responsiblities. You have a right to free speech, not a right to not be held responsible for what you say. We all get to speak our minds, and we all must be responsible for what we say. Free speech does not include the right to hurt others.

    April 21, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. gg

    ted,s ok with freespeech as long as other fight for it,its the republican way–cheney,bush,romney ---

    April 21, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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