Expression by Brooke Christman

Artists statement

For my found poem, I chose to take words from the Espionage Act of 1917. The original purpose of the Espionage act was to prohibit any negative speech towards the military operations of the United States. It was passed after the United States entered world war I, and was used as a way to keep criticism for U.S. war efforts at low. The act has always had a bad relationship with the ideas and values of free speech. Many people were convicted under its provisions, which raised questions regarding the fairness of being jailed for stating your opinion. Was this law really just a way to prevent information from being leaked to enemies, or was this a now legal way to silence the opinions of American citizens. A threatening way at that, as jail time would be punishment for breaking its code.

I decided that I would place the words in such a way that would portray the opposite side. I wanted my poem to carry the message of the importance of being able to say how you feel about the government. I had the words portray why hindering freedom of speech makes a nation cowardly, and why the citizens deserve to have that right. The words of the Espionage act discouraged citizen voices from speaking up, my poem condemns this and lifts up the ideas and values of having meaningful discussions, and highlights the power of being able to express your beliefs.

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