In this day and age, many believe that “hate speech” must be controlled or censored by someone or some group. Unfortunately, due to the ignorance of so many in our country, terms like “control” and “regulate” ipso facto refer to government control and government regulation.
Perhaps you are a constitutionally minded individual who believes, like founding father Benjamin Franklin, that “freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins.”
No matter what type of political, social, or religious views you may have, it is imperative you understand the government does not grant you free speech.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects “the freedom of speech” from infringement by the government. The drafters of the First Amendment carefully referred to it as “the” freedom of speech. This presupposed that free speech had a pre-political existence. An existence that God created; hence, it pre-existed the government.
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We must make the distinction that speech is not force; it is merely opinion that needs no physical defense. Yet on many University campuses there appears to be a fear of the First Amendment. For example:
The Students for Life chapter at California State University, Fresno, received permission to chalk pro-life messages around campus in May 2017. But a professor and several students from his class erased the messages. The professor claimed that they had no right to speak outside the speech zone (which does not exist on the campus) and that he had the right to erase their messages. He also proclaimed “college campuses are not free speech areas.”
Chike Uzuegbunam is a student at Georgia Gwinnett College who sought to share his faith with his peers by handing out pamphlets at a plaza on campus. A security guard and librarian said he was not permitted to do this because he was outside the speech zone. Chike then followed school policy to reserve the speech zone, but campus security again silenced him because other students complained. In fact, the University even classified his speech as “disorderly conduct.”
In 2009, The Liberty, a conservative/independent student newspaper at Oregon State University, discovered that its distribution bins on campus were confiscated by the University and thrown in a trash heap.
The founders of America staked their struggle on the ability to speak, assemble, and petition freely. In fact, there would be no America if there were no First Amendment.
To be fair, freedom of speech has always been a double-edged sword. Constitutional law states few exceptions for free speech, such as speech presenting clear and present danger to national security or public safety; and speech soliciting crime, violence, obscenity, and defamation.
However, colonial scholars – all scholars for that matter – would agree that having absolute emotional insulation and comfort at all times is extremely elementary and it’s anti-intellectual.
“Free speech for me, but not for you,” has always been considered fascism, and that is the antithesis of liberty and America.
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The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.