(Keep in mind this blog post is simply my opinions and not those of the Libertarian Party)
Freedom of Speech. The simple idea that our country was founded on seems to be slipping from our lives. With speakers at Colleges such as Ben Shapiro requiring $600,000 of security costs because of riot threats at UC Berkeley to UC Santa Cruz students shutting down a Republican meeting at the School Library, our Freedom of Speech is being attacked: and it’s not going away anytime soon.
Thinking back on the world I lived in as a child, I never realized how important Free Speech was until a few years ago. Before we understand why Free Speech is important, we need to learn about how this came about. Let’s take a History Lesson on the origins of the First Amendment.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
During the American Revolution, King George III was a tyrant. Britain sent over soldiers to ‘keep-the-peace’ as one could say, but the Americans’ didn’t like this; they are also taxed without representation but that’s neither here-nor-there. The main issue I want to start with is the phrase “and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” and why that’s important. Early American’s had taken grievances with a lot of what the Leader had done but the King refused to listen or even acknowledge the Americans’ issues. The King was an hypocritical Monarchist, and even failed to obey his own laws, but insisted on imposing Taxes without proper consent.
In the Declaration of Independence, the last grievance tells us why we needed to be Independent:
“In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”
Eventually, after many attempts and requests made, King George responded with even higher taxes and restrictions which led to harsher regulations upon the people in America.
So now that we know how King George acted as a leader, we can get into why the rest of the wording is important to the United States.
King George and the British Military occupying America were notorious for imprisoning those who spoke out with differing Religious and negative opinions which were different from the Kings. The Political climate back then was more like a Dictatorship rather than a Free Republic like we have now. Religious and Political Freedoms’ didn’t exist and people were thrown in prision for speaking about against the King. Our founders wanted this to never happen again, thus, the First Amendment was made.
At one point, people in the Press were thrown in prison and charged with Sedition and Treason, which is why the Freedom of the Press is important, too. Imagine a world where CNN posting an article that slammed the President would result in the writer being thrown in prison, that’s what the First Amendment prevents. Which is why it’s more important than any other Amendment in the Constitution.
Imagine, just for a second, a Nation where the Media was controlled by the President, the Internet was controlled by the President, and even the food; North Korea. These reasons need to be taken seriously mainly because of the Tweet our President made last week. (Knowing what our Founders went though to make this country, and knowing how King George III was during this time, this tweet should scare you) Trump has even said “It’s frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever they want to write.” (I could do a whole post about the Trump/Press fight and I may, but I digress) If a Leader of a Country starts to dictate what the Press starts putting out, we’re no longer better than Communist Russia or North Korea. The First Amendment protects the rights of Fake News and such News which brought out Nixon and the Watergate Scandal alike; the good with the bad. Compromise.
This brings me to my next point which is speech itself. Many can argue that speech can be hurtful and one could be right, but words are not physical actions and aren’t micro aggressions. They’re words. Plain and simple. I will support our right to Free Speech until the day I die, that includes such ideas as the KKK or Nazi’s.
The issue with silencing those groups is the only reason people want to is because they don’t like what the have to say. Now don’t confuse my support for the ‘speech’ as support for the ’cause.’ I can support the Nazi’s right to speak their mind without actually supporting their causes. Do I agree with what the KKK support? Of course not! I hate racism and if someone points out a racist person and has proof, I will fight to destroy their lives along side those who they are racist against. But what I will not stand for is the punching of people simply because you don’t like what they have to say.
The very idea of ANTIFA is based on the fight against Fascism. How they do it is another story; throwing Molotov Cocktails and Tear Gas into crowds of people while threatening others with bats based on their haircuts. Tell me, if someone looks at me, a straight white male, and sees a Nazi without meeting me, who is the real racist? Who is the real prejudice? That’s what ANTIFA does. They’re bullies who use Fascist ideas in the name of Anti-Fascism.
Now my argument for Free Speech ends for me once violence has started. I can no longer support your cause after punches and grenades are being thrown and at that point, you’re a criminal in my mind. The Constituon clearly states “Peaceably Assemble.” My grandmother always told me “act like a fool, get treated as one.” Which is why I publicly denounced what happened in Charlottesville because of the violence that ensued from the stem of what happened.
But that’s neither-here-nor-there, the point is, I support the idea of free speech until violence is started and once started, I can’t support your right anymore. The same way that Hate Speech is not a Hate Crime. The main difference are the words ‘Speech’ and ‘Crime.’ A Crime implies you’ve broken some sort of law and speech has implied that you’ve said words.
Now there are limits to what he First Amendment will protect you from. If you decide that one day you want to post on Facebook that you want to harm the President or any member of the Government, that will be taken as a threat and therefore, not protected by the First Amendment.
The next thing it won’t protect you from is your job. For example, if I say on my personal Facebook account that I don’t condone Donald Trump and I feel he is unfit for duty as our President, I’d be perfectly valid and able to do so. But, say I go to work and I’m conversing with a customer and I say “you support Trump? Are you an idiot?” My company has the right to fire me based upon how I just talked to the customer because they’re a private entity and can conduct their business as they see fit. Again, work place and public place are two different things and should be kept separate.
The next part of the First Amendment is on Religion and I can go on for a very long time about that so I’ll save that for my post about Religious Freedoms.
To round this all out, the First Amendment is the most important part of our Bill of Rights and Constitution of the United States, mainly because it allows the Press to report freely on issues while protecting the Citizens from being thrown in prison for expressing our Religious, personal, and Political beliefs, which makes it important to our lives more than ever. Silencing people based solely upon the idea that you don’t like what they have to say is condescending at best because I guarantee that other person doesn’t agree with anything you have to say. So in turn, you want to be able to express what you want to, but don’t want the other person to have that same right, leading to a clear double standard of ideology.
I will fight to the death for my right to speech as well as yours even if I don’t agree with anything you have to say. And if you don’t agree with some of the things I am saying, please comment and lets discuss it. Open discourse is the only way our Nation will change.
Until next time,