Quiet please! The idiom of inspiration behind this post is, “Don’t shout fire in a crowded theater.” It means that your freedom of speech is not protected when the purpose of your speech is to create panic. This idiom comes from the majority opinion on the Schenck v. United States (1919) which was a landmark case that helped define the modern understanding of the First Amendment. The case was over the legality of the Espionage Act, a law that went into effect during World War One and made interference with military operations or supporting US enemies during wartime illegal.
This phrase and its background have fascinated me for a long time. I think that it’s crazy that this fundamental freedom is still restricted. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that certain restrictions are important, such as preventing hate speech. But this presents an interesting conundrum. How free are we, really? In reality, we have many curtails on that freedom. Women’s freedom to choose is heavily limited in many states, trans people are not given the freedom to use the bathroom of their choice, and terminally-ill people are not free to end their lives on their own terms. A multitude of the political debates of our time seem to involve this battle between freedom and constraints and increasingly they seem to side with constraints.
For this piece, I wanted to set it in space because in space, there is no sound, which includes shouting. So if there is no shouting, how would you communicate? And that’s where the ASL came in. I thought it would be cool if it seemed like Chloe (my fantastic model) was “shouting” ASL. The movie theater on fire is sticking true to the idiom. And that was my main idea for this post. See y’all! Collage by moi (as always!)