Free Speech in Jeopardy?
Thomas Jefferson wanted opinions argued in the market place of ideas and he suggested there was no truth offered that he feared. But in the U.S. we now have truth in some circles as just another opinion.
Should the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution be free of umpires and foul lines, making free speech sacrosanct, completely with no limitations?
No, it should not—you cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theater and you cannot display words of malice toward innocent others and be protected by law. However, most blabbering dishonesty, exaggeration; puffing, innuendo, and distortion are free of legal consequences. Only in America!
Thomas Jefferson wanted opinions argued in the market place and he suggested there was no truth offered that he feared. But in the U.S. we now have truth in some circles as just another opinion. Truth put on the scaffold as it were. Now what? Most of the Republican party members believe ex-President Donald Trump was not defeated by President Joe Biden properly. What is offered to support their contentions? Nothing of legal substance. “Peaceful assembly” is allowed under the First Amendment but there was nothing peaceful by those rioters on January 6, 2021. The right to petition the government for a redress of grievances is also allowed. Over 60 lawsuits were filed by Trump supporters seeking such redress and failed. But then rioters pushed the agenda of ex-President Donald Trump anyway. Now over 500 have been found guilty under our U.S. Constitution (most of them jailed).
What is this all about? Authoritarians want to capture their audience by any means possible. Divide and conquer concepts, intimidation and yes, malice toward governmental officials simply doing their job of protecting the U.S. Constitution. Today one third of U.S. voters do not abandon their beliefs when faced with reason, because ideology governs their politics, not truth or right and wrong.
Even when England and King George III fought the colonists, it was estimated that one third of those colonists remained loyal to them. Today we have a vocal group in America expressing a dislike of President Biden (who won the election fair and square), some going on record as preferring Vladimir Putin or Victor Orban of Hungary to govern them, forsaking our Flag and our Constitution. Even the New Testament says to honor your government and pay your taxes.
America has been great historically because we have a history of peaceful transfer of power. Abraham Lincoln suggested in his speech in Springfield, Illinois, at age 28, that it is the courts that must determine the law, not a mob. The storming of a Capitol with sticks and stones as it were, is not the kind of behavior that will win over the courts, the opposition, God, or the indifferent.
We are a great society because of the rule of law. For that reason, the right to free speech in America is NOT in jeopardy. Those 55 men in Philadelphia in 1787 wanted to protect innocent patriots, not the misled. They tried and tried for three months to find a more “perfect union” and the best they could do was the U.S. Constitution. It is a document that has lasted 240 years and we should all want it to last 240 more.