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. High Hopes

    Free Speech?

    Don't leave home without it!

    Problem is, we can all get loose in our
    speech, as I am guilty of, as well. But
    threats are a form of assault.

    I have blogged on one of the most
    controversial sites for a few years and
    while there were times I wanted to
    strangle someone, I never threatened
    anyone. I remember a showdown here
    and there, but, never a serious threat.

    Professionals, imo, are held to a higher
    standard. Not that they are, ever, able to
    reach that standard, we hold them to it,

    As far as POTUS, the office deserves our
    respect. It's a fine line between constructive
    criticism and being, personally, disrepectful.



    Who DIDN'T criticize him?

    April 20, 2012 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
  2. vet2640

    FREE SPEECH is not "free", as a Vietnam Veteran and one who has lost relatives in foreign wars, I know this to be true, nothing is "free". A hefty price was paid just so nut jobs the likes of ted nugent, glenn beck, etc. etc, can have their 15 minutes over the airwaves to spread their so-called "freedom of speech", this is HATE SPEECH!.
    Individuals like you are the true, detractors, communists (aka) allen west, traitors to America.
    I vote.

    April 20, 2012 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
  3. vneal

    If you are going to arrest a man for speaking his mind, what about the Black Pather for putting a bopunty on am mans life for real. Get real people

    April 20, 2012 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. raven

    vneal, I know it was a typo, I make em all the time, and I know you meant "bounty", but I gotta say that cracked me up! Bopunty.
    I like it.

    April 20, 2012 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
  5. raven

    I want a KinderEgg so bad, I'm gonna put a bopunty out on one.
    (I just HAD to use it)

    April 20, 2012 at 2:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Chela

      Ah, the KinderEgg...I would also pay a big bopunty on it!

      April 20, 2012 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
  6. raven

    Maybe we could get "Dog, the Bopunty Hapunter" on the case?

    April 20, 2012 at 2:41 am | Report abuse |
  7. Chela

    Have you seen the movie "Mutiny On The Bopunty"?

    April 20, 2012 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
  8. Chela

    And I use Bopunty paper towels...

    April 20, 2012 at 2:54 am | Report abuse |
  9. Chela

    and I truly do not mean any disresect to vneal. But this bopunty has been a gift tto me. I'll be using it for years!

    April 20, 2012 at 2:56 am | Report abuse |
  10. Tom Reuben

    State of Virginia just passed legislation which nullifies the NDAA, a serious blow to Obama. But don't expect CNN to cover this. Instead, Google it, and see for yourself. Thanks to the Senate, House and Governor of Virginia, for standing up against the illegal NDAA.
    Ten other states are trying to follow suit, but somehow Anderson Cooper doesn't cover this? It's the beginning of the end for Obama in November. A major victory for Ron Paul and the coalition of sanity.

    April 20, 2012 at 5:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      The thing I find so amazing is how you and your like minded supporters find a way to blame this president for everything the republicans have put forth. The NDAA of 2012 passed in the house and senate prior to being sent to the president for signing into law. The bill passed the House 283 to 136.To my recollection, the house is controlled by a majority of republicans who claim to be for a "free America". The record shows republican legislation is much more restrictive to citizens rights and intrudes more into our lives that anyone wants to recognize. Republicans claim to want smaller government, yet their proposals repeatedly intrude into our individual lives in ways no government should every be allowed to. The American people need to wake up to what is going on with their elected officials and take appropriate action at the polls. Not whining about it and voting their individual elected officials back into office over and over. And for the love of God, stop voting on party lines and vote for what is right for the country as a whole. To many of our honorable citizens have laid down their lives to give you the right to have a voice in our government for you to squander it away for your "party line" mentality. Neither party is perfect and needs to be corrected in the path both are taking us down. We are at a stalemate that has become "party first and to hell with the country". Wake up and smell the coffee people. Bring civility and cooperation back into our lexicon or pay the price with the loss of your freedom.

      April 20, 2012 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeanne

      Highly doubt you are right

      April 20, 2012 at 7:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom Reuben

      Sticks and stones may hurt my bones.
      But words can never hurt me.

      April 20, 2012 at 8:13 am | Report abuse |
  11. krehator

    I agree with free speech, but Ted is still a draft dodging nutball, causing more embarassment than helping.

    April 20, 2012 at 6:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Will

      But a Draft Dodger Extraordianre and Proud Of It!

      April 20, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lady Rosseter©™

    Have you ever been to Charleston, West Virginia?

    April 20, 2012 at 6:30 am | Report abuse |
  13. Ann R. Key

    Nugent's 1st hit was "Journey To The Center Of Your Mind" which many saw as an endorsement for psychedelic drugs. Guess ol' Nuggie did waaay too much acid back then because there's no mind for him to journey to anymore LOL

    April 20, 2012 at 6:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeanne

      Good one!

      April 20, 2012 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
  14. Kyle in Ky

    Way to go Ted!!!! Keep up the free speech!!! If you sensitive a$$ liberals don't like the comments, don't read them or listen to them. Change channels! Your the ones that have issues you want to push on the rest of us free speaking, free thinking Americans. I'm not a public assistance abuser, I'm not gay, and I don't believe everyone deserves the same opportunity for free. Get off your butt and earn it. Oh by the way, I'm a proud American Veteran, still serving as a civilian, and also an avid hunter! "GOD" Bless America!

    April 20, 2012 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Will

      Then you are obviously someone who did not follow Ted's advice on how to avoid military service.

      April 20, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dion Green

    well i think that this is a perfect example of how the US will always bring this issue up over, and over, and over again. did we ever hear of someone who disagreed with bush, or palin, or mcain, or any other republican canidate? no matter how much someone disagrees with obama threats have to be given, names such as socialist, arab, n***er, non-american, and others HAVE to be given to him. whether it be by individuals, canidates, or even fox news this has NEVER happened in like it has over the last 4 years. and when people openly deny the fact that racism is not an issue, yet have the gull to go onto a comment board and call the president of the united states a liberal socialist n***er, it just proves how far we still have to go before becoming what we tell the world we are.

    April 20, 2012 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
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