What Is American? 2 - Free Speech

Can you be considered American if you oppose free speech for all?

It's human nature for words to get so overused that we stop thinking about what they actually mean, and crafty political operators try to make this happen on purpose to confuse issues to their benefit.  Every day, we all talk about America and Americans, but what does that mean, exactly?

In the first article in this series, we saw that, while most nations throughout human history have been based on blood-relationships and ethnicity, America was intentionally based on a belief system that anyone could adopt regardless of their race or origin.  This has been a great source of strength throughout our history, as we can absorb anybody who sincerely wants to join with us.

On the other hand, today this tradition is becoming a crippling weakness, since we no longer demand that new "Americans" subscribe to the founding principles of America.  Indeed, we no longer agree on them ourselves.

Consider the First Amendment's declarations of free speech, which has been described as the freedom from which all other freedoms are derived - because if you can't talk about things, you can't make common cause with others to defend them from assault.

From the moment of its writing, the meaning of the First Amendment has been crystal clear: you can say literally anything you want to in private, and almost anything in public, without fear of oppression from the government.

Note the caveats included in that description: You have never had an absolute right to say literally anything you please in public, or to say it however you want.  There have always been laws against public profanity and disturbing the peace.  When the left tries to shut down a city with a protest, they do have a right to protest, but they don't have the right to obstruct other citizens in the course of their legal business, which is why protestors who block traffic generally get arrested.

It also doesn't apply against private citizens.  You may have the right to free speech, but you have no right to force me to listen to you.  I can leave, or if you are on my private property, I can make you leave.  Or, if you say things about me that are untrue and damaging to my reputation, I can sue you for libel or slander.  But again, the government itself is not allowed to penalize any citizen for what they say.

Unfortunately, a sometimes-violent debate has arisen in this century, in which large numbers of leftists are explicitly calling for an end to First Amendment rights: they now openly argue that the government needs to use force to prevent certain views from being aired, by anyone, ever.

Some of the views they oppose are, in fact, wicked - for instance, the racist bigotry of the KKK and neo-Nazis.  The filth they spew is evil and no sane person should listen to them, but if we take our First Amendment seriously, they must have the right to make their arguments, so long as they are not directly threatening to commit crimes of violence.

Why do we defend the rights of monsters like these?  Because, if their rights are infringed, it won't stop there.

The left correctly believes that the KKK and neo-Nazi fascists are monstrous.  The left also believes the same of pro-life activists, defenders of traditional marriage, fundamental Christians, those who doubt the truth or all-importance of human-caused climate change, and in many cases, conservative views in general.

Today, we see a widespread and increasingly powerful movement to use the power of government to force non-leftist views out of existence or at least out of the conversation.  We've seen countless examples of conservative or unpopular speakers driven from campuses by violence while the police stood idly by or defended the violent leftists.  We've seen our government under Democrat control attempt to shut down the national airing of conservative views, while leftist views go unchallenged.  We've seen respected legal scholars openly argue in official documents that disagreement with homosexual unions should not be tolerated, because the rights of homosexuals to openly engage in their sexual behaviors is more important than the rights of others to express their disgust and disagreement.

Is America perfect today?  The one thing every single American can agree on, is that it is not.

How do we expect to improve America, to form "a more perfect Union," if some people aren't even allowed to talk about their views?  There was a time when the majority of Americans thought slavery was fine, women had no business voting, and the only good Indian was a dead Indian.

Just about nobody believes these things today.  How did that come to pass?  Because the majority allowed a tiny minority of dissenters to make their arguments, work to convince people over a hundred years... and eventually, to persuade nearly everybody.

The majorities in 1800 no doubt truly believed that all their opinions were exactly right, just like today's leftists do - indeed, like pretty much every human being in every time and everywhere does.  But history proves that we can't all be right; indeed nearly everybody is wrong on some point or another.

The only way we can figure out what is right, is if everyone has to right to at least express their opinion without fear of being silenced by force.  That was the great genius of our Founders - to create a system which, while not being perfect, contains within itself the ability to become ever more perfect as the need arises and wisdom demands.

And our modern Left wants to destroy this brilliant system - to destroy the possibility of anyone ever pointing out where they are wrong and convincing others that a change is required.  This is the utmost of tyranny - and we have to ask, can you hold to this view and still be considered American?

If the First Amendment were the only one that the totalitarian Left wants to dismantle, we would be in deadly danger.  Unfortunately, that is just the beginning, as we'll see in the next article in this series.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Partisanship.
Reader Comments

Brilliant as usual. Hope you explore an American's right to a state supported educated. At the moment, this seems to be a government developed and controlled education. This has become a school for indoctrination. It is these indoctrinated-from-birth leftists who think it is perfectly reasonable to prosecuted those who don't subscribe to the current version of left-think.
There was a time when we had more education ( how to think) rather than indoctrination ( what to think). Often this was driven by a more robust choice of public and private schools. Most major cities had a large religious school network and a significant group of alternative private schools. They tended to promote more diversity. They have shrunk as tax burdens made paying two tuitions ( public tax and private payment) difficult for most.
It would seem that the education union sponsored curriculum of today has produced the citizens who want to abolish the 1st Amendment.

March 11, 2018 6:39 PM

Those who want to disarm the citizenry don't deserve to be called Americans, either.

Our fathers stood up to the British army 's gun-snatching mission. The objective was the munitions at Concord, but the Lexington Militia blocked the road on April 19, 1775 and shots were exchanged.

That little firefight ignited our War of Independence.

March 11, 2018 9:53 PM
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