Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Inconvenience of the Bill of Rights

Amendment One: 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.

My simple question is this: does this say anything about exceptions in certain cases? More specifically, do we have a right to speak freely or not? What about speech that is inconvenient? What about speech that is treasonous? Despicable? Hateful?

What exactly constitutes "hate speech"? I am assuming that government has not developed the super-human ability to read minds - to see with perfect clarity the intention of a speaker or the true contents of his heart. And if they lack this ability, how do they presume to be able to label something as speech that is motivated out of hatred?

Further, how is it any of their business? When someone says that they oppose marriages between homosexuals, this is inconvenient, even offensive, to some homosexuals. A statement of this type might even be motivated by a sense of hatred toward homosexuals on the part of the speaker. In a similar way, calling a beauty pageant contestant a Nazi because she opposes homosexual marriage might also be offensive. A statement at a recent White House correspondents' dinner (about a wish that a popular radio show talk host with whom the speaker disagreed would die) might also be considered hateful. Unfortunately for the proponents of the belief that some speech is not protected by the First Amendment, all these statements are perfectly legitimate.

"Hate speech" isn't some special category of speech. It's just speech. It is enshrined in the Constitution. It is our right as free people to speak freely about whatever we wish, regardless of the way it makes someone feel.

There have been some who basically agree with me ideologically who have recently made statements to the effect that many of the statements by some on the Left are "hate speech". This is a grave error. What differentiates us from the Left is our belief that we are free people with certain rights, some of which have been specifically named in the Constitution. If we allow ourselves to give legitimacy to their perverse theories by fighting them with their own weapons, we fall into their trap. I oppose pork-barrel spending, even when it is done by my own Congressmen, to my benefit. It is wrong, no matter who is doing it. This belief that we should adopt a "my Senator can beat up your Senator" is only perpetuating the false philosophy of the Left, and we must stop it.

Support speech of all types. Combat stupid and hateful speech by pointing out the inherent flaws in what is said - not by squelching your opponent's right to make such statements. We are either free or we are not. It's that simple.