The Death of Free Speech


Let’s first consider the First Amendment of the Constitution:

“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.”

Let us further consider a quote from the noted French philosopher François-Marie Arouet (also known as Voltaire):

“I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Over the past few months, we have witnessed the greatest opposition to the freedom of Americans to speak their minds that I can remember.  Vocal and violent protests to conservative speakers on college campuses only demonstrates the fear that the Progressive Left has for the rational and confrontational opposition to their point of view.

The fact that college and university campuses have “safe spaces” for their sensitive snowflake social justice warriors is a far cry from the purpose of higher level education to turn out well rounded, well-educated graduates.  Indeed, they are turning out mental and emotional cripples incapable of listening to and evaluating different points of view.  This trend of graduating emotionally mental midgets can be blamed directly upon the staff and administration of these colleges and universities, and indirectly, are violating the First Amendment of the Constitution.

“Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech” applies to any college or university accepting Federal funding.  As Congress approves funding for education (including colleges and universities) and cannot by law restrict speech, colleges and universities, by extension, cannot oppose the expression of ideas that may not be inline with their staff or administration viewpoints.  Accepting funding from a government source implies that that entity is now an agent of the government, and must accept the same responsibilities and restrictions that the government has.  (I know that businesses that accept government contracts/funding must conform to governmental regulations, and I see no reason for colleges and universities to be treated any differently.  My Google-fu is weak today, but I am aware of cases that were successful in proving that if government funding is present, then that person or entity receiving the funds could be considered acting on the behalf of the government, i.e., as an agent of the government.)

The Progressive Left has encouraged protests against hate speech, racist speech, anti-Islamic speech, anti-LGBT speech, anti-XYZ speech, etc.  Almost any speech is anti-something and must be protested against (although I have yet to see any of these same groups protest against speech that defames the Christian belief).  And yet, who determines what is offensive?  Therein lies the slippery slope that we, as a society and country, have been sliding headlong into – the political correctness trap.  From a 2013 post:

Here’s the problem with political correctness – the standard of what is politically correct is subject to what someone finds objectionable to their race, religion, and/or belief system. In other words, there are no absolute standards or limits to what these people would find objectionable.  Where this could eventually lead is a suppression of our ability to voice our opinions for fear of being publically attacked, and potentially charged with a hate crime.  Freedom of speech now becomes a casualty of “political correctness” and “hate crime” laws.

Dr. Ben Carson stated it best in his now famous speech at the National Prayer Breakfast:

“And one last thing about political correctness, which I think is a horrible thing, by the way. I’m very, very come — compassionate, and I’m not never out to offend anyone. But PC is dangerous. Because, you see, this country one of the founding principles was freedom of thought and freedom of expression. and it muffles people. It puts a muzzle on them. And at the same time, keeps people from discussing important issues while the fabric of this society is being changed. And we cannot fall for that trick. And what we need to do is start talking about things, talking about things that are important.”

The First Amendment does not define what is or is not hate speech, nor should Congress define it as well with the laws it passes.  However, Congress has passed laws defining certain crimes singled out as being “hate crimes” when in fact all crime is hateful against society – the circumstances behind that crime may be heinous, but should be dealt with within the criminal code without regard to whether the victim or criminal is black, white, straight, gay, etc.  That by itself is discriminatory.

However, if one were to listen to former Democratic Chairman and Presidential Candidate Howard Dean –

“Hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment.” – Tweet from Howard Dean

– It becomes clear that certain people do not understand the Constitution and the principles that this country was founded upon.  For instance, if all hate speech (and by extension, hateful thoughts) were banned, think about the following groups and activities that would be outlawed and banned because someone, somewhere would be offended by their opinions and activities:

  • The KKK
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Blue Lives Matter
  • All Lives Matter
  • NAACP
  • All Christian Churches and denominations
  • All Muslim mosques and denominations
  • All other religions and denominations
  • Everyone with skin color (or lack thereof)
  • Everyone that is of Asian, African, European, etc. descent.
  • Everyone who is a different sexual orientation than themselves
  • Everyone who hates (or likes) cats
  • Everyone who likes (or hates) dogs
  • Everyone who hates (or likes) animals
  • Everyone who hates eating liver, asparagus, cauliflower, etc.
  • Everyone who likes bacon
  • Whoever doesn’t believe (or does) believe that Global Warming/Cooling/Climate Change is real and settled science
  • Put your favorite hate group / thought here…

A bit ridiculous, right?  And that is exactly the point!!

Limiting the ideas and opinions that people can express demeans us all, and limits our individual ability to grow as a person.  Yes, we do reserve the right to agree or disagree with the opinions expressed (and even to walk out & not listen to the speaker), but we do not have the right to prevent them from speaking or assault the person for expressing themselves.  Yet, this is exactly what happened to conservative speakers that were engaged to speak at college campuses in California.

The excuses given have been that the speakers “trigger” violent activities, promotes hate speech, is a racist, and a host of other charges.  But when it really gets down to it, it is not the speakers that are the problem, but the protestors.  By inhibiting the free speech that the protestors supposedly support, the protestors have revealed themselves not only as being hypocrites, but as being more intolerant than they have accused the speakers to be.

More is the pity…

Professor Glenn Reynolds had this in an opinion piece in USA Today:

In First Amendment law, the term “hate speech” is meaningless. All speech is equally protected whether it’s hateful or cheerful. It doesn’t matter if it’s racist, sexist or in poor taste, unless speech falls into a few very narrow categories — like “true threats,” which have to address a specific individual, or “incitement,” which must constitute an immediate and intentional encouragement to imminent lawless action — it’s protected.

The term “hate speech” was invented by people who don’t like that freedom, and who want to give the — completely false — impression that there’s a kind of speech that the First Amendment doesn’t protect because it’s hateful. What they mean by “hateful,” it seems, is really just that it’s speech they don’t agree with. Some even try to argue that since hearing disagreeable ideas is unpleasant, expressing those ideas is somehow an act of “violence.”

There are two problems with that argument. The first is that it’s idiotic: That’s never been the law, nor could it be if we give any value to free expression, because there’s no idea that somebody doesn’t disagree with. The second is that the argument is usually made by people who spend a lot of time expressing disagreeable ideas themselves, without, apparently, the least thought that if their own rules about disagreeable speech held sway, they’d probably be locked up first. (As Twitter wag IowaHawk has offered: “I’ll let you ban hate speech when you let me define it. Deal?”)

We have the First Amendment for a reason – for the freedom of expression, whether by our acts of Faith or speech, to disseminate those thoughts by talk or print, and to openly assemble to give a speech to voice those opinions, whether they are critical of the government or not.  For thugs to protest this right of others to speak while keeping it only for themselves shows that they, not the speakers, are the real Fascists.

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About Tom Roland

EE for 25 Years, Two Patents - now a certified PMP. Married twice, burned once. One son with Asperger's Syndrome. Two cats. Conservative leaning to the Right. NRA Life Member.
This entry was posted in Political, Where is all this stupidity coming from? and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Death of Free Speech

  1. I have been so busy that I have all but neglected my blog. I need to come here more often. This is a great post Tom. Thanks for posting it.

  2. Tom Roland says:

    Thanks, Robert. Life, work, and family are keeping me busy as well – which is one of the reasons I haven’t been posting very much. Besides, the Liberals are predictably following their playbook – deceive, obfuscate, and lie to make America and the President look bad.

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