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.
For reasons I fail to understand, there seems to be some controversy surrounding the First Amendment Right to Free Speech these days, not just on college campuses, but across America as it relates to “Hate speech” and what should be allowed to be said, and what shouldn’t.
The fact that this is even a topic of discussion suggests to me a complete failure on the part of our educational system to teach students about the nature of Free Speech, and, more broadly, the failure to teach critical thinking skills.
Of all the rights bestowed upon us by God, or by Nature if you prefer, the right to free expression is the most fundamental. From the mouths of Free people flow the words that give life to all the other Rights. Throughout history, examples can be cited where emperors, kings and dictators have punished, in one form or another, those who spoke out against their rule, although recent communist governments, from Stalin to Modern China, have perfected the art of free expression suppression. The gulags, prisons, re-education camps and killing fields are piled high with the bodies of those who dared to exercise their Natural Right as Human Beings to speak out against their government.
Violence is the first instinct of the unrighteous.
I’ve always been of a mind that every voice should be heard, regardless of how repugnant or unsavory their views. Why shouldn’t they? This is America. How can I in good conscience deny them the right to speak. Who made me the arbiter of what can be said, and what can’t. So let them all speak. The KKK, Black Lives Matter, the Communist party, the Nazi party etc..etc…bring it on. I’m an adult. I can take it. Do you know why I can take it? Because after hearing what they have to say, I can exercise my favorite Rights -The Right to Ignore. The Right to Marginalize. The Right to Agree. The Right to have a few laughs at their foolish expense – In fact, I find exposure to views antithetical to mine helps me crystallize my own principles by compelling me to revisit those principles and remember why I hold them and how I arrived at them in the first place.
Pardon me in advance for the forthcoming strawmen, but here they are. There are people in America today, in 2017, primarily in academia, who justify the exclusion of conservative speakers from their campi on the grounds they cannot in good conscience support “hate speech.” My question to them is, “Who died and made you the judge of what constitutes “hate speech” and what does not?” I can almost forgive the young students their constitutional ignorance, given their age and deficit of life experience, but I cannot, under any circumstances, give the faculty and administrators the same pass. They should know better. Inevitably, they fall back on the “if Hitler had been silenced, history would be different,” argument. While it’s true history would be much different if Hitler’s Nazi Germany had never existed, to suggest any similarities between the German Weimar Republic of the 1920’s and 1930’s and modern America is just stupid and reeks of willful ignorance. In short, they were a bankrupt and monolithic nation suffering under the crushing debt of post-WW1 debt – it would’ve been a miracle if a strongman, Hitler or otherwise, hadn’t appeared. The America of today can hardly be seen in the same light. There is not, nor has there ever been, a nation where bad ideas (slavery, anarchy, communism etc..) have been planted in such rich soil and failed to take root. Americans are so accustomed to the idea of Freedom that any ideology, philosopy or -ism that challenges it will be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.
Just like old times.
So let them speak. Let everyone speak. Agree with what you hear – or reject what you hear. It’s your Right.
I have abiding faith in the good sense of my fellow Americans to choose what is worthy of hearing and what is not.
**Originally Posted on 1 Dec 2017**