Thursday, March 8, 2012

"American President" Movie Speech Echoes Supreme Court

The American Rhetoric Website on Movie Speeches offers an opportunity to view President Andrew Shepherd's (Michael Douglas) address to the press from the movie The American President. Shepherd, running for re-election has been attacked by his opponent on "character issues." The widower president had begun dating an environmental lobbyist, Syndney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening), when an old photo of her surfaced. The image captured a college -aged Wade burning an American flag during a protest.

Shephard's impassioned words echo Justice Brennan's decision in Texas v. Johnson (flag burning case):

The best way to preserve the flag’s special role in our lives is not to punish those who feel differently but to persuade them that they are wrong.  We do not honor our flag by punishing those who burn it, because in doing so we diminish the freedom that this cherished emblem represents.

I find this clip useful to describe the concept and legal principles surrounding political speech to set the stage for a comparative analysis of commercial speech.

To view the speech from The American President, click here or on the image below:
President Andrew Shepherd Picture

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