Is the 1st Amendment dead? I was recently reading an article that was published on a relatively popular “independent journalism” website. It asked the question “was the freedom of expression dying?” I found this to not only be a somewhat hypocritical article, considering that this particular “news outlet” has a long and successful history of criticizing the government, but also confusing, considering what is happening around us.
Let me start this off by saying that I am not speaking for the website that this is being published on. This is purely my observation, based on laws, the Constitution and the events that are happening around us in the U.S.
I would first like to remind everyone of what the 1st Amendment states….
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.
Now since this article started with the freedom of expression, that is the part of the 1st Amendment that I will mainly adhere to.
I find that most of the people complaining that their freedom of speech or expression is being infringed upon, live much of their lives on social media, inside of conspiracy theory circles, or as we see often these days, the triggered and offended social justice minority in this country.
I will first talk the path of least resistance and clear out the easy stuff. Mainly Facebookers, Google + users, YouTubers and alike. Many times, these are the people who live in the conspiracy theory or social justice circles on social media and cry “infringement” every time they have a post taken down or censored. While I feel their pain, they obviously forget about the “terms of service” agreement that they checked off when entering into a contract with these private companies. That’s right!!! YouTube, G+, Facebook, Twitter, and alike are all companies that you have to agree to a certain set of rules in order to engage with others on their individual platforms. Most of these terms of service are pretty basic. You agree that you will not post anything illegal, pornographic, explicit, copyrighted, etc…. However, “offensive” has also become part of that list. While those companies are completely within their right to add or subtract what they want from their terms of service, when you start playing around with the word “offensive,” things have a tendency to get a little sticky. Questions start getting asked, like “who decides what is offensive?” That is really here nor there though. The bottom line is that you are in a contract with these companies and your “freedom of expression and speech” only apply in a very regulated sense on social media. You may not like that, but you also don’t have to use their services either.
Something else that the “independent news outlet” that inspired this article, was talking about, is “does the individual voice actually effect change?” My unedited, unsanitized and non PC answer to that is “DUH!!” Whether I like the outcome or not, all you have to do is look around us, the offended and triggered minority is effecting change every day! While I do support their plight, although not always their methods, look at the LGBT community. The LGBT community make up less than 4 percent of the country’s population, and look at the ruckus they have stirred up.
The terrorist organization known as “Black Lives Matter,” is another example of how the uninformed and offended minority has effected change in the U.S. While they have not really effected laws (yet) in this country, they and others like them have nearly an entire country looking over their shoulder before saying any sentence that has a word describing a color in it. It has truly reached a point of ridiculousness when two people can’t have a conversation about a box of crayons that they are buy their child for school, without having to whisper in fear of triggering someone. Never mind the fact that they are “given space” to loot, riot and destroy property, all in the name of freedom of expression.
Now on a more positive note, there was recently some hubbub about openly carrying a firearm in the state of Texas. Contrary to the belief of most Texans, Texas is not the bastion of freedom that it portrays itself to be. There has recently been a “battle” over the carrying of firearms in Texas. A group called “Open Carry Texas” was pretty much at the center of much of it, and, without incident, injury or violence, they we able to effect change in the state and laws have been passed and changed. They did this through petitions, open carry rallies, legislation etc… They did not burn down cities, loot stores or attack innocent passer-by-ers.
One could reasonably argue that not only is the 1st Amendment and the freedom of expression alive and well, it’s almost being abused.
There is an ever growing group of hypocrites that use their freedom of expression and speech to complain about not having freedoms and being somehow “oppressed.” The picture that I provided at the beginning of this article are today’s most common example of whom I am talking about.
Take the top left portion of the picture, the “America was never (or isn’t) great” crowd. It shows a couple of black males and a white male, walking down (presumably) a public road, talking through an amplified device, advocating overthrowing the “system” and complaining about America never being great.
Keep that in mind as I move on…
The top right portion of the picture shows some young urban thugs rioting and smashing a police car. This is all being done in the name of “oppression” and “equal rights.”
The bottom portion of the picture shows a melting pot of people, of varying race and age, freely burning the American flag. While I do not know the exact reason that these people are doing it, most times it is for very similar reason that I stated above.
To start with, the fact that there is even a photo of a person of color, freely speaking in public without being dragged away and beaten or shot, is 100 percent proof positive of the greatness that they claim America never has been or is today. As for the flag burners, the U.S. is one of the few countries that almost blanketly allow the national flag to be burned without punishment. In some countries, it’s a punishable offense to fly that countries flag if it is at all degraded or tattered. But flag burners want to tell us how bad they have it.
The simple fact that all of the people in the pictures are still alive and have not been imprisoned or shot by the government, shows their blinding hypocrisy. And in my opinion, their abuse of the their freedom of expression.
Now, with all of this being said, one could argue that between some censorship online and things of that nature, it could be said that the 1st Amendment has been infringed upon, ever so slightly. And by no means am I saying that I support the infringement of any rights, however, you can not argue the simple fact that the freedom of expression is alive and well in this country. Anyone that says different is either the ones who set out to abuse that right, or they’re just not paying attention to what is going on around them.