All those exceptions to free speech
The very first U.S. Constitutional Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting its free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peacefully to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Notice the amendment does not itself grant any rights. The U.S. Constitution does not grant rights. These rights to speak, to write, to associate or not associate with others, to worship—or not—freely, and to engage openly in the political process are God given, or natural rights, that the founders wanted preserved at all cost.
Conservatives have attacked free speech by passing laws against flag burning and pornography. Fortunately, the federal courts have enshrined the First Amendment as a bulwark of American liberty and voided their measures. The U.S. record on free speech rights is still the best in the world.
But politicians, bureaucrats and the mainstream media have relentlessly campaigned and inflamed the public against free speech since the founding. The ink was barely dry on the Constitution when president and founder John Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts, restricting political expression and association.
The enemies of free speech want to change open communication from an individual right into a public good they can manipulate and restrict.
The ongoing cancellations of speaking appearances by conservatives like Ann Coulter, Charles Murray, Milo Yiannopoulos, Betsy Devos and others due to the threat of violence from the left illustrates how serious the attacks on freedom have become.
Former Democratic national chair Howard Dean foolishly declared that the University of California, Berkeley could cancel Coulter’s speech because it was “hate speech.” The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that hate speech is protected by the First Amendment. But Dean represents a large segment of the left that advocates suppressing political expression because some ideas offend and hurt people who disagree. They claim the state needs to protect the snowflakes most vulnerable in society.
On the other hand, this idea is referred to simply as the “Heckler’s Veto.”
Frustrated by the pushback from conservatives and some liberals, Dean then argued that Coulter could be banned because her speech was “fighting words” and she “instigates violence.” He cited a 2002 Coulter quote: “My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building.” Sorry, Howard, the Supreme Court has narrowly restricted “fighting words” to an instigation of violence against actual persons, not the violent imaginings of a political provocateur.
Nor is Coulter in any way responsible for the violence that might occur by hoodlums in anti-fascist drag who oppose her right to speak. It is up to the university to guarantee her safety, but the administrations and faculties of these public institutions have failed either out of fear or because they sympathize with the hoodlums themselves.
Are we losing America?
Julian Assange is a member of the press. The press is not just the New York Times and CNN. The press is all communication of ideas whether or not you work in newspapers or television. During the campaign, when Assange released documents embarrassing to his opponent Hillary Clinton, Trump shouted he “loved” Julian Assange. But now, when WikiLeaks released documents exposing nefarious practices by the CIA, Trump approved an investigation and possible arrest warrant against Assange.
I consider the CIA the intelligence agency for the deep state, and Wikileaks the intelligence agency for the people. I thought candidate Trump agreed. Now I wonder if instead of draining the swamp, he’s treating it like his personal hot tub.