Thoughts On “Freedom Of Speech”

“The First Amendment exists to allow all of our voices to be heard, not to grant one voice the right to drown out all others” — columnist Allison Press

We hear a lot about ‘freedom of speech’ these days.  It seems that everyone has their own idea about what, exactly, constitutes ‘free speech’.  Perhaps, had the Founding Fathers realized how our society would devolve, realized to what depraved lows the human species could sink, they would have been a bit more specific, would have included some limitations and certainly would have made note of the fact that freedom … any and every freedom … is accompanied by responsibility.  But alas, they had just come out from under the heavy thumb of Great Britain and wanted to create a nation that encouraged people to think, to speak freely and open the floor for discussion, for a meeting of the minds that would, ultimately, make this a nation that would truly be “of the people, by the people, and for the people” as Lincoln would quote some 76 years later.

Freedom of speech was included in the 1st Amendment in order to ensure that people could have a voice, could be free to express ideas and share information without fear of government censorship.  Fast forward from the writing of the Constitution to present … the year 2022.  Today, people claim free speech gives them the right to put lives in danger by refusing to wear a mask or be vaccinated against a deadly virus that has already taken the lives of over 1 million people in this nation alone.  They insist that free speech gives them the right to spread lies that lead to violence and sometimes death.  Somehow, my friends, I don’t think this is what the framers of the Constitution intended when they said …

“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.”

And yet today, a relatively small group of religious fanatics would impose their will on the rest of this nation, would see their own religious doctrine taught in schools … schools attended by children of all and no religions.  Those 45 words of the 1st Amendment have been so widely misinterpreted and expanded that people like James Madison, the chief author of the Bill of Rights that contains the 1st Amendment, would be horrified if he could see how his words have been twisted and skewed.

Out of necessity, some limitations on free speech have been quantified over the past 235 years:

  • Obscene material such as child pornography
  • Plagiarism of copyrighted material
  • Defamation (libel and slander)
  • True threats

But are those enough?  I want to ask you something … would we even need those few restrictions on free speech if everyone took seriously their responsibilities?

It is common sense … COMMON SENSE … that we should not terrorize children, should not abuse them in any way, certainly not sexually.  There could be no child pornography if all people had a conscience, if they stood by their responsibilities and respected the rights of children to simply enjoy those relatively few days of innocent childhood.  But NOOOOOO … some perverted individuals think it’s their ‘right’ to not only sexually abuse children, but then to take pictures and video of the act(s) and publish them!  What is WRONG with these people???  What is WRONG with the people who would pay money to buy this crap?

What people seem to forget, or not care about, is that words have consequences.  If you yell “FIRE!” in a crowded theater, the resulting mass exodus is likely to result in people being trampled and some will likely die.  And so, there is a law against doing so, since some people apparently don’t have enough sense of responsibility to think first.  In the same manner, on January 6, 2021, a number of people including the twice-impeached former president uttered words to the effect of “FIRE!” … words that stirred the masses to action, caused them to break & enter the U.S. Capitol, vandalize the building and contents, create murder & mayhem, and terrorize our lawmakers as they attempted to overthrow the government.  Inciting a riot, inciting a violent coup attempt, is not protected free speech … nor should it ever be.

Whatever happened to responsibility?  When did the people of this nation decide it is acceptable or forgivable to lie, cheat and steal?  I think about that line in that is often misattributed to the Hippocratic Oath: “First do no harm.”  Shouldn’t that be the maxim by which humans measure their behaviour?  We should indeed be able to speak, to offer our opinions, but not if it leads to harm, not if it creates violence.  When we fail to accept and uphold the responsibility that accompanies any freedom, then we are certain to ultimately lose that freedom.  The same is true of free speech … if you use it for harm, to incite violence, to perpetuate a lie, then you will not only lose your own right to speak freely, but you will cost all of us that right.

31 thoughts on “Thoughts On “Freedom Of Speech”

  1. Rule of Thumb:
    You have the right to say what you want as long as it does not impinge on Compassion, Respect or Tolerance for another person, unless that person does not embrace Compassion, Respect or Tolerance irrespective of Gender, Age, Beliefs , Sociality.
    In short anyone not embracing those creeds does not deserve the right to Free Speech.
    Harsh?
    Damn straight it is!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am 100% in agreement, my friend! People take their free speech to the nth degree, then wonder why we are offended, why we sue them for libel or slander. The word ‘respect’ seems to have left the room where some are concerned.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’d bring back the old ‘Disturbing The Peace’ law from the UK. Night-court trials. No press allowed and shunt them off to far away jails for re-education in Responsibility. The good of the Nation comes first.
        When I tell folk I’m Hard-Left they never read the sub-text and that’s when I have to trot out a few home truths

        Liked by 1 person

        • I have mixed thoughts on that one. Isn’t that just adding fuel to the fire? But then, I suppose if the firestarters are in jail in a far off place, perhaps they could no longer spew their lies & hatred. Hmmmmm ….

          Liked by 1 person

          • I admit Jill, this is where folk start to worry about their suggestion I should get involved in politics.
            Let’s just say…
            There are ways and means….Maybe not ones Americans are comfortable with, but since there are a group intent in their stupidity in wrecking the USA, you might be convinced to make a few allowances, until it all calms down.
            (Lincoln had an editor locked up)

            Liked by 1 person

            • Nah, I would trust you with my life, Roger. I am usually in full agreement with you, just every now and then I might question one of the details. On the opposite side of the coin is our friend rawgod, who believes in anarchy, that there should be no law, no government, that people should be trusted to do as they will. Now that I cannot agree with, having seen the worst of human nature at work! He did? I didn’t know that … I shall dig into that one … might make for an interesting perspective on a future post!

              Liked by 1 person

              • Aww thanks Jill, Sheila is always watching out for ‘my details’.

                rawgod and I: We’ve had a few conversations of late. We agree to despair on the current state of ‘things’ but then we have very different ideas on how to deal with it. Still that said I ‘get’ where he is coming from.
                Maybe the likes of you and I are the interim, the ones which hold back the Ugly side while rawgod’s view starts to formulate with like minded folk and over the generations becomes a strong movement. I don’t know.
                Maybe it’s:
                ‘Same as it ever was’
                Maybe we just have to keep on slogging on.
                This I believe.
                Never give up.

                Liked by 1 person

                • You have the best wife ever, my friend!

                  Yes, rawgod sees things through a different lens than you and I, but that’s one of the things that a) keeps life interesting, and b) leads to new ideas. Maybe you’re right … maybe we all contribute in our own ways and ultimately manage to tame the human species … if it doesn’t extinct itself first! Between climate change ignorance, nuclear weapons, etc., I’m not so sure but that humans are hellbent on self-destruction. Nope, not giving up … but someday we’ll have no choice and will just have to hope we’re leaving others to carry on.

                  Liked by 1 person

  2. The Constitution IS specific on the Freedom of Speech. The freedom of speech it refers to applies to THE PRESS; not to anyone spouting off their mouth at a bar; online; on social media; in a public forum; or anywhere else. This is why there are libel laws.

    Everything else you mention has nothing to do with the Freedom of Speech. These subjects may have everything to do with morality, ethics, religion, basic goodness, what have you, but they don’t have anything to do with the Freedom of Speech as contained within the First Amendment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, the press is included, but it also refers to individuals. When it says, ” … abridging the freedom of speech, OR of the press …” it is obviously not referring only to the press, but to the average person as well. The goal was to get people involved, to give them a platform to make their opinions heard rather than stifled.

      Unfortunately, over the centuries, people have interpreted the 1st Amendment in a variety of ways, some of which have become an accepted use of ‘free speech’. The same has been the case with the 2nd Amendment. Nowhere does it give people the right to own a machine gun or automatic weapon, or carry a concealed handgun, but over the centuries, that is how it has been interpreted.

      Like

    • I agree fully, but sadly I seem to be in the minority these days, as others believe they have the unlimited, uninhibited right to say anything they wish, and also to act in any way they wish, even giving their child a gun to take to school. It’s time to re-write the Constitution, for far too many today are too ignorant to understand the one we have had since 1787.

      Like

    • It’s the same here. Consider Adam Kinzinger, the Republican Congressman who voted to impeach Trump and now sits on the committee investigating the events of the attempted coup on January 6th. He is resigning at the end of this year for he has been cast aside by all but a few of his own party for not supporting Trump. One ‘man’ has that much effect on this entire nation … WHY??? HOW??? Sigh. Beam me up, Scotty.

      Like

  3. For most of my early life I was reclusive. I sat in the back of the room, never spoke in public and had general disdain for people outside of my small circle. When I went into the medical field I learned to open up, communicate better and found myself understanding people more. In the past two years I have digressed to feeling reclusive and realizing disdain for people in general. I’m too old to care why it is someone would cheer on and fight for a monster such as Trump or any of his cronies. I don’t have the energy to defend my ‘liberal’ views to family and old friends who have sold out to white supremacy and religious superiority. I spend my energy calling to whatever force exists beyond this tiny blue and green rock to ignite the light of love in those humans who do know the truth and would fight for it. I would. But I am hard pressed in my day to day dealings to run across people who are not at odds with any of my convictions about racism, sexism, child abuse, and religious tyranny. I thank the powers that be for my wonderful children who are my last hope for this dis-eased world. ✌🏻❤️And Nanu Nanu, Jill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear you, my friend. Although I have always been a fighter (a scrapper as my dad used to call me) rather than a recluse, these are the times that try our souls. We don’t have a model, for these are not times that have happened before in this nation, at least not in our lifetime. The lies, the racism, homophobia, sexism … we thought we had overcome all of that. But, it’s back and it’s hard to know what to do, how to respond. I have zero tolerance for those who still defend Trump and have largely learned to stay the heck away from them. Luckily, I have no real family left, and I can choose my friends, but isn’t it sad that we must, in order to preserve our own sanity, exclude so many from our lives? Nanu Nanu … Ork from Mork, right? Big hugs, dear Cheryl … love ‘n hugs! 🤗

      Like

  4. Pingback: Thoughts ON “FREEDOM OF SPEECH”. | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s