This picture is by Norman Rockwell. It is called “Freedom of Speech” of his Four Freedoms series.
See the man standing? He is utilizing his freedom of speech. See his admiring neighbors look up at him?
What do you suppose he is saying?
If the picture was made in the 30s or 40s, do you think he is saying that the town should give blacks equal rights and privileges as white people?
Or maybe it is the late 60s and he is saying we should get out of Vietnam?
Or if it had been five years ago – complaining about the way Bush got us in a war looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction… no Norman was dead by then.
In fact, I bet all the speculations above are wrong.
The man was probably saying something they agreed with – why else would they look up at him in an admiring way?
I think it would be a more realistic portrait of Freedom of Speech if the people were scowling and frowning at the man. It is easy to exercise your Freedom of Speech when everybody thinks around thinks you are right. It is harder when most the people nearby strongly disagree with your statements.
Labels: Freedom of Speech