There is no “line” of free speech. As a matter of fact, even the Supreme Court says that “hate speech” is free speech. See RAV v. St. Paul 505 US 377 (1992)
The media is now suggesting we should have a “serious” debate on whether a cartoon should be considered “responsible” speech.
First of all, the standard is not “responsible” speech. The standard is NOT right or wrong. The standard is not whether this speech makes you feel good. The standard is FREE speech, the Liberty to speak according to our own conscience irrelevant of what others may believe. The problem is that many Americans have been brainwashed into believing that speech should be limited based on political correctness.
Liberty and free speech should be non-partisan. Our friends in the liberal media world would be good to remember the words of one their heroes:
Noam Chompsky said: “Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.”
If we truly love Liberty, we will be rejoicing in the presence of all speech, no matter how much it offends us. The fact that we are being led into a debate over the “reasonableness” of speech is very telling of the nature of Liberty lost.
Many Americans have even been led to believe speech can be limited based upon safety. We are told that shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater is illegal. That is NOT true. You can shout “fire!” in a crowded theater all day long, and no one will rush in and arrest you for saying “forbidden” words.
Thomas Jefferson said: “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
Second, free speech is not GRANTED by the Constitution. The Right to speak freely and voice your conscience is an inherent right, not a gift from government. Government was never delegated the authority to regulate it.
Thomas Jefferson also said: “The error seems not sufficiently eradicated that the operations of the mind as well as the acts of the body are subject to the coercion of the laws. But our rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God.”
Third, free speech is NOT protected by the Constitution. The Constitution has no power to protect speech on its own. Free speech cannot protect itself. Free speech is protected when we speak freely on a regular basis. Liberty is a ‘use-or-lose’ principle, and a voice not used will atrophy into complacency and compliance. There is no point of having a right to free speech if we do not regularly say unpopular and controversial things.
Benjamin Franklin said: “Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such thing as Wisdom; and no such thing as public Liberty, without Freedom of Speech.”
Finally, when we refuse to speak because it might offend someone, when we censor ourselves to be politically correct, and when we choose not to speak our conscience because we feel uncomfortable, we have voluntarily surrendered our Liberty. A Liberty once surrendered is not easily restored.
Now, not only do we face the danger of jihadists; we also face danger from certain Americans who will allow the government to justify censoring our speech–or even worse: Americans who will demand we censor ourselves in the name of safety. The danger is allowing the enemy to force us to attack our own liberties.
If we allow violence or threats to silence speech, we allow the destruction of the very liberties that make America an exceptional place–and the Constitution a unique document.
Without freedom of speech, there is no freedom of the press, no right to peaceably assemble, no way to petition the government for a redress of our grievances, and no freedom of religion. Each liberty in the First Amendment is dependent upon the other. When we give up speech we surrender all Liberty. Free speech is not radical; it is not extreme. We should not be uncomfortable speaking our conscience.
Exercising rights is only uncomfortable to two classes of people: tyrants and slaves. How do we classify ourselves?
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth