Asheville – The First Amendment reads, “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.”
When a person, company or government body infringe on those rights, the wronged party takes the infringing party to court to right the wrong. We supposedly hold these rights to be sacred. But do we? Let’s just take one of those First Amendment rights and examine the eroding support for it.
Here’s a scary poll. Campaign For Free Speech found that 51% of Americans say the First Amendment goes too far—that’s right, too far—in allowing hate speech and should be revised. When you dig into the numbers, it gets worse: Of young people known as millennials, the ones who will inherit this country, 57% hold this destructive idea that the First Amendment goes too far, while only 35% disagree.
Even 47% of baby boomers, my generation, agree with most young people in saying the First Amendment goes too far. Compared to 48% who disagree—you can count me with the latter here.
Another 57% polled say the government should have the authority to take action against newspapers and TV stations for biased content, compared to those who disagree at only 35%.
Nearly half (48% ) believe hate speech should be against the law, while just 31% say to allow it.
What a scary thought that more than half the country believes the framers of our democratic republic’s first amendment is now outdated! Can anyone else see a problem with this? Actually, I see more than one.
Who now becomes the arbitrators of what is hate speech—Facebook and social media? They already wield too much power, and as they’ve already testified, they have the capabilities along with Twitter and Google to coordinate and shut down any speech they deem not to their liking.
If the internet and social media is the new public square, all voices must be heard, from the far outreaches of the absurd left to the far outreaches of the crazy right. One problem, those are private companies with their own set of rules and “terms of agreement,” which are as steadfast as shifting sand depending which way the politically correct winds blow.
Who will be the “speech gods” proclaiming acceptable speech? Stand-up comedians already have felt the ire of these speech watchdogs. Those who hold anything but a mainstream view of the world will be expelled from society by those preaching tolerance. And those so-called “tolerance preachers” will show anything but charity with whom they disagree.
Suppose we lose the First Amendment through a rewrite or through social media platforms’ rules and “terms of agreement” silencing some of the ideas, no matter how distasteful, which should be allowed in the public square. In that case, I believe it would be as bad or worse than losing our Second Amendment.