Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.

The Death Of The First Amendment

Posted 11/26/2017

Free SpeechFree Speech

By Emme Olivera

Free speech is something we, in the US take for granted every day. But what is it and why is it important?

First Amendment - Religion and Expression. 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.

As this states, we as US citizens, have the right to free speech and to tell the government our opinions about the state of our union and our world. Our government has a responsibility to hear our grievances and represent our collective desires. We also have the right to freedom of religion and to peaceably assemble.

There are limitations to this; most notably that you cannot threaten the life of the President of the United States, though many people unfortunately do. Also you cannot endanger others with your words, you cannot yell, “fire”, in a movie theater if there is no fire, as people could be injured trying to escape.

Charles Manson, served life in prison, and recently died in prison, for telling his followers to commit murder. He was convicted, though it was never proven that he murdered anyone with his own hands, only his words.

Essentially, we have free speech as long as it is not calling for violence, even if that free speech is insulting the nation that has afforded those rights to everyone. The players of the National Football League have decided that they would protest social injustices, for whatever that’s worth, by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem and presentation of the American Flag. This unpatriotic display has lead to continuing decline in ratings week after week as patriotic Americans decline to participate in these displays.

Though we have a right to free speech, our actions and words have consequences. For instance if you were to use your free speech in the work place, you may be terminated. Imagine for a moment that you own a small business and your employee decides to insult your customers. The employee claims a right to free speech and continues after being told to cease the insults, and this results in your loss of customers. Is this wise business management to continue to employ this person? Of course not.

Our right to free speech does not extend to other countries as 25 year old, Martha O’Donovan recently discovered. While in Zimbabwe, she allegedly tweeted that the leader Mugabe, was a dictator and a sick man. She was arrested and currently faces 20 years in prison.

Many countries forbid free speech, or others have started movements to limit speech. Thought Crime is a real crime in many countries. European nations, (26 at last count), have preemptively decided to disallow Richard Spencer from entering their borders for fear that he may speak and share his ideologies, which are non-violent, but potentially incendiary

In a recent attempt at a speech at the University of Florida, Spencer had to threaten legal action to have the right to speak. Though met with substantial objection, he was allowed to speak. The governor of Florida, Rick Scott, declared a State of Emergency, and called in the National Guard for the event which cost the state an estimated $600,000 for the roughly 600 seats available.

So how does this all end? Who will be next to be silenced globally, or even domestically? Antifa, is a Domestic Terrorist Organization which has been allowed to operate and rally, and promotes silencing what they consider, “Hate Speech”, by any means necessary. This includes assault. Many people have become the victim of assault by Antifa and Black Lives Matter, for simply supporting our President or even displaying the American Flag.

Imagine a world in which we must remain silent for fear of commiting a crime or of expressing opinions which may give evidence of our thought crime. Perhaps Pink Floyd attempted to warn us with the song, “Comfortably Numb”.

The song is widely believed to be about drug use, which author Roger Waters adamantly denies. Waters claims the story is about a fever he had as a child and the recurrence of the feeling during a concert in which a physician gave him a shot for what he believed was a stomach issue, turned out to be Hepatitis.

Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me
Is there anyone home?

Does this refer to our denial of our right to speak and relay our thoughts and opinions? Is there anyone home? Can we truly be human without self-expression?

Come on now
I hear you're feeling down
Well, I can ease your pain
And get you on your feet again

Perhaps he is easing us back into a world of free expression and debate over ideologies. Perhaps there is hope to be on our feet again, proverbially of course.

I'll need some information first
Just the basic facts
Can you show me where it hurts?

Interesting that he would ask for information since that is precisely what is called into question. At what point can we tell people what hurts within our soul?

There is no pain, you are receding
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying
When I was a child I had a fever.

No pain is exactly what we are told to feel, no thoughts either. The distant ship’s smoke represents that free speech and how it is now far removed and unthreatening now. “Coming through in waves”, does this refer to sound waves or muttled and censored waves? “Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying”, this is the line that truly shows that this song is about suppression of free speech. It is as if we are in the feverish delirium where nothing makes sense and we cannot communicate.

I have become comfortably numb.

Have we not all become, comfortably numb, to this theft of our rights? Is our silent complicity about this atrocity, allowing it to continue to harm and silence the opinions of others. Where does this stop? How does this end?