“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.”
This is the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. First in the series and number one for a reason. The Founding Fathers saw “the freedom of speech” as a most basic of human rights, one that exists through simple, natural law (because it is “…endowed by their Creator….”) They refer to it as an “inalienable” right, meaning it is a right that cannot be alienated (made hostile, unfriendly, or indifferent when there was previously an attachment; or cause to be withdrawn or diverted); it is not something that can be surrendered or transferred.
This fundamental inability of the government to alienate, surrender, or to transfer the people’s right to the freedom of speech is important. They do not give to you, and they can’t take it away. No matter what anyone says or what anyone tries to do, you always, now and forever, have the right to make your thoughts heard.
The current “protests” coming from the far-left that anyone who is now voicing their disagreement with their spin or with their actions (or lack thereof) is somehow doing wrong is actually, in itself, not only incorrect but a dangerous mindset. It’s not merely a matter of what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander, this reaches even beyond the confines of what most people commonly call “fairness”. It is that at the most basic and fundamental level, simply because of their existence, anyone in this country has the right to voice their opinion.
This holds true even and – as hard as this is to swallow for those who embrace the ideology of material entitlement – especially if the way something is expressed is not to the listener’s liking.
Judge Andrew Napolitano explains it this way:
“Because speech can startle and offend, as well as enlighten and illuminate, the courts have held that it requires breathing room. Stated differently, no one in the government – any government – may impose a burden on the exercise of speech. That means that the government may not require a license, demand permission, or intimidate any speakers. It may not punish speech, no matter what the speech asks.”
Does this mean you should run around screaming and yelling like a moron? Personally, I don’t think you should. But if you choose to do so, it isn’t against the law. Unless you are doing something like yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater and thereby overtly and deliberately endangering the lives of others, you have the right to make an ass out of yourself any time you like. The consequences of such behavior fall under the jurisdiction of societal mores – meaning, if you run around making stupid or lying statements or are always rude when you speak, don’t be surprised if you don’t have many (if any) friends and people go out of their way to avoid you.
But while regular citizens may choose to ignore your blatherings, the government does not have the power to shut you up. No matter what means you use to get your message across, no matter how much they may dislike what you have to say, they may not interfere with your expressing it.
The Obama administration’s latest “snitch” program is in violation of the 1st Amendment. By encouraging citizens to do little more than spy on one another, even if they cloak their request in the guise of trying to counter “misinformation” about health care reform, they have not simply overstepped their Constitutional authority, they have crossed the line into a place where no such authority even exists. The laws governing the federal archival of all communication with the executive branch require that they keep the names, e-mail addresses, and correspondence sent to them and this, then, through this latest request for “help”, creates an opportunity for the federal government to create a database of “dissidents”. There is precedent for such activity and while there are those in the White House who would like you to remain ignorant, the outcome came down firmly on the side of the American people:
When the Nixon administration created the “Cointelpro” and”Houston” plans in the 1970s, it used undercover FBI, CIA, and civilian-garbed military to photograph and record the faces and voices of anti-war protestors. Nixon claimed that he needed the records of this for national security purposes. He argued to David Frost, after he had resigned the Presidency, that in case of domestic upheaval, his government would know who to arrest.
The Supreme Court rejected the idea that the First Amendment permits the government to make and keep a record of the faces and voices and ideas of its domestic political opponents. The Court called this “chilling” the right to speak freely; in other words, denying it the breathing room that free speech requires. The whole purpose of the First Amendment, the Court wrote, is to encourage – not discourage – open, broad, robust political debate, and any inhibition, real or threatened, that comes from the government is unconstitutional.
In direct response to Cointelpro and Houston, Congress enacted the Privacy Act. Among many other protections, it specifically prohibits the President or anyone in his name from making or keeping records of any persons’ use of speech. The constitutional rule is “All innocuous speech is absolutely protected. And all speech is innocuous when there is time for more speech to address the same matter.”
Continue to speak out, America. For the ability to dissent is, truly, American and patriotic. And by doing so, freedom rings.