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. The Ghost

    One comment from me today: This is exactly what got Ms. Gifford shot in the face ! A radical Republcan drawing targets on her head, so someone will say "hey, its OK to shoot the president or anyone else I disagree with", Ted said I'm good. Free speech is fine, next time someone pulls the trigger and sez its OK to do, Ted Nugent told me so, my vote would be to send Ted to jail, hand-in-hand, with the lunatic, for the full sentence – PERIOD !

    April 20, 2012 at 7:47 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      LF is a joke.
      Ok? I've commented.

      April 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • kabong30

      Wow, you used one liberal canard to bolster another? Talk about circular reasoning.

      April 20, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Matt

    "Freedom of audience"? What kind of b s is that?
    I don't agree with mr nugent, but curtailing his right to free speech is insane.
    This is NOT what got ms gifford shot, lunatics will blame others for their actions every time.

    April 20, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert Burns

      He got to have his free speech, but he also has to take responsibility for it. So he's being questioned by the SS. Nobody censored him. His intent will be checked out. A hero for free speech, give me a break.

      April 21, 2012 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. sumday

    Is there any law that say one must respect or not offend the president? You must obey the presidents orders (and congress) but that doesn't mean you have to legally respect them or speak kindly about them. While I may not agree with ted's words I don't believe he did anything wrong.

    April 20, 2012 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
    • george

      Exactly! Well said. You can love your country and hate your government at the same time.

      April 20, 2012 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert Burns

      Obama made no complaint here, the Secret Service wants to talk to him. Oh, you can make up stupid crap like he muscled the Secret Service, but you don't value your free speech and have the character to speak honestly.

      April 21, 2012 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
  4. Pam

    maybe when Teddy said he'd be dead - MAYBE he meant he would kill himself if Obama is re-elected. And maybe when he said he might be in jail, maybe it meant he'd be arrested for DUI or drugs . . . . maybe

    April 20, 2012 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
    • getreal

      exactly. that is the way I took it. kind of feel the same way myself.

      April 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Curious

    He looks like such a rat. And that's what he is – a cowardly, sneaky, ugly RAT

    April 20, 2012 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
    • clydev

      And, a lousy musician!

      April 20, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. Freedom

    So if we remove this freedom of speech today, what freedom will we loose tomorrow? Think about what is important to you and imagine if someone decided that it should be illegal because someone did something stupid. How would you feel. This is more than just what he said.

    April 20, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      Freedom,it one thing to basically threaten a public figure publicly and then there's the intelligent approved approach of talking with civility.Republicans love SHOCK value,even if it doesn't make sense,its been always the same.We the left ,see how long it takes for the ignorant right to say something non factual,twisted,whatever it takes to get attention publicly.Try setting yourselves on fire for once,it'd make more sense and get more attention ...

      April 20, 2012 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  7. LARRY

    The reason there's so many guns in the States is partly because of the NRA.They talk about a law that was ok in the 18th century that shoudn't apply in this day & age.Who the hell needs a hand gun for hunting,or a ak-47,submachine gun or anything like that.People in the NRA are just waiting for a chance to shoot somebody because the laws in your country practicaly allow people to shoot someone.Get rid of laws that have no meaning today & get rid of NRA & thier way of thinking,maybe there wont be so many guns on the street.Well I guess I'll go out & get my hand gun & ak-47 & go hunting today lol.

    April 20, 2012 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Kyle in Ky

      Your an idiot! You'll be one of the first ones to cry if someone attacks you or robs you that the cops weren't there to protect you. NRA or guns aren't the problem, it's the law breaking idiots. If you haven't heard it before, guns don't kill people, dumba$$'s kill people. Climb back under your rock!

      April 20, 2012 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
    • LARRY

      If you read what I said,I was talking about hunting but is it so bad out there you need a machine gun,I think your still under your rock.You don't need an army gun to protect yourself do you.

      April 20, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • getreal

      get rid of NRA? who the hellll do you think you are? I say get rid of ACLU, Planned Parenthood, NOW, black panthers, etc.

      be glad to trade you one for one

      April 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chela

      @getreal...you don't have a woman, do you? Hope your gun keeps you warm at night.

      April 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. LARRY

    U.S.A. have the easiest gun laws then anyware in the world & people wonder why there's so many people getting killed by guns.

    April 20, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • getreal

      a lot more people are killed in the middle east are killed with guns everyday than are killed here in a year. your post is nonsense.

      April 20, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • LARRY

      I still think there must be a happy medium with the NRA & gun control.Mybe I don't know enough about the NRA & gun control in the U.S. but ask a person who lost a loveone by a gun what they think of how things are run as far as gun control,I just say people don't need army guns and such.We do have the right to defend ourselfs but really,do we really need big guns to do that?As far as the middle east,their at war.Not the same situation as here..

      April 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. LARRY

    It is said that people kill not guns & I say your right,so stop letting them get the guns to kill.Just make the laws harder for them to get the guns in the first place.There are people who don't missuse guns & the one's who do missuse guns,the law should be alot harder on them.There has to be a happy medium when it comes to guns.

    April 20, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      I agree, and what most people don't understand is that the only people that "gun control laws" really effect are good law abiding people. People who are trying to get weapons to perform a illegal act are going to get a gun no matter what. Do people think that the criminals are going to go to their local sporting good stores to by a gun? Some people claiming for harsher gun laws should go and try to buy a gun.

      April 20, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  10. LARRY

    Ted Nugent should be able to say what ever he wants to,but I think he took freedom of speech to far.Is he better then the people who voted for the president,I don't think so,he knows what he can do with all his guns.

    April 20, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  11. APHID

    The whole thing about being at war is just so stupid, nobody has declared war on the US. The US has decided to police the rest of the world when they step over democracy's line, but nobody is declaring war nor is the US at war. With the exception of 9/11 nobody has declared war, nobody! I live in suburbia, I work 9-5 and collect a bi-weekly pay cheque, I raise my family in peace and quiet in said suburbia, I am not at war and neither is anybody here in the USA at war. If Nuent's freedom of speech went too far then so did LZ's by declaring he should be in jail for speaking, The same principle applies, threats against a person's freedom to speak!

    One day someone is going to ask how we got where we are and the answer will be the same as it ever has, 'Stupidity, buddy, stupidity it's never been anything different!'

    ...but we're at war...really really stupid!

    April 20, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  12. saywhat

    I'm simply surprised at all this bruhaha on what Nugent 'implied'.
    Andrew Adler the owner & editor of Atlanta Jewish Times in early January in his daily column suggested in plain words what Nugent had supposedly implied.
    In plain words folks, suggesting to Israeli authorities to do the unthinkable out our president ,sitting on this very soil. he had the temerity to openly suggest the unthinkable.
    Was there an outcry? Did you even get the news on this page though CNN had interviewed Adler? Was the Secret Service mobilized?
    Go figure.

    April 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. saywhat

    Pardon the typos. Read to do the unthinkable to our president.

    April 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Countess

    Really, this is how Dems learned to read? Where is the critical thinking, etc? Ted Nugent meant he would be in jail or
    dead if someone attempted to confiscate his guns, which is an American right. Get the mud out of your brains, please.

    April 20, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chela

      Then, really, he should have said what he meant, and not have had to have people try to read his sodding mind. Sounds as if he was a little short in the critical thinking department.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert Burns

      why don't you? It is a subject of study that conservatives can't read.

      April 21, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  15. boredboxer

    Uhh, yeah. Back to Ted Numjunk. He is a D list idiot who knows how to get a bit of publicity.

    April 20, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
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