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For me, freedom of speech isn’t just about spoken words but is a general category also including freedom of thought and conscience, and different forms of expression, such as in writing and various artistic means of expression.
A society that protects and champions freedom of speech and thought is especially important for those with a moral conscience who encounter wrongdoing to expose such wrongdoing.
And if someone disagrees with a social trend, then of course she should have the freedom to express such a disagreement.
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For example, an encouragement by a Yale professor for Halloween tolerance was recently attacked by a mob of hyper-sensitive students who apparently felt that such an encouragement threatens their “safe space.” (Bubble Boy, anyone?)
In 2015 America, the most harmless words and phrases are now perceived as a threat to today’s authoritarian snowflakes, the offspring of the flower children of yesteryear.
Many of these young people are being brainwashed to worship nonsense. They are being trained to think and act like irrational dictatorial robots, crying over nothing that actually exists.
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Intolerant and authoritarian, these young punks are the future leaders of America, in which it may become illegal to criticize them, or report on them, as well as criticize members of the ruling class.
And regarding the right to exercise one’s moral conscience, many of the authoritarians on the opposite side of the college punks, the “right-wingers,” are the ones who really believe that Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are “traitors” for revealing government “secrets” which exposed various elements of the U.S. government and military as the real traitors in their corruption and criminality.
You see, freedom of speech means that the whistleblower who exposes corruption and criminality is not punished for such revelations with solitary confinement for years before his kangaroo trial on bogus “espionage” charges, when his actions were clearly not on behalf of some foreign regime but on behalf of the American people.
Manning truly understood that the American people have a right to know the truth, pointing out that “information should be in the public domain,” and that “without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.” And that includes so-called “classified” information, because, as was the case from his initial hearing, as one military officer testified at Manning’s kangaroo trial, not one item of information Manning released was of any threat to any American here in the U.S. or overseas. If you believe otherwise, then perhaps you’ve been too influenced by propaganda distributed by the government and its obedient mainstream media lapdogs.
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So freedom of speech includes freedom of thought and conscience, freedom of inquiry and investigation (“The Press”), the right to express your views and criticisms of those in power, and the right of those with a moral conscience to reveal evidence of the power-wielders’ criminality and corruption. Sadly, many authoritarians and nationalists disagree with me on those points. For them, the First Amendment has limits. Unfortunately, their limits are the very rights which are protected by the First Amendment, especially the right to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Here in America, our right to criticize, investigate, report on, and discipline or shame our stupid and incompetent rulers was meant to be protected, supposedly, by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
But the truth is, bureaucrats just don’t like to be criticized, so they have their S.W.A.T. raids criminally breaking into reporters’ or government whistleblowers’ homes and stealing or hacking their computers, and so on, and jail or murder critics to shut them up.
And there are sheeple in America — millions of them — who defend the government’s crackdowns, gullibly believing that it’s right, usually in the name of “national security.”
The authoritarian besieging of freedom of speech and thought seems to be turning a once-free America into just another totalitarian nightmare.
For example, in some Islamic countries, the ruling class arrests, detains, lashes, or executes those who have merely criticized those rulers, the country’s governmental administrators. The rulers say the punishment is for “insulting Islam” or “insulting Muhammad.”
Saudi Arabia is one of those extremely repressive countries. If I were in Saudi Arabia, I would probably not have the freedom to ask those officials, “How do you know that Muhammad feels insulted by criticism of the Saudi government or of the clerics? Did you talk to Muhammad? Did you have a seance? How do you actually know he’s insulted?”
Based on what I’ve read about the “Prophet Muhammad,” there is no indication that he would have felt “insulted” by Saudi citizens criticizing their ruling government. So it’s really the royal Saudi King, who is also the head of the government there, and his fellow bureaucrats who don’t like their rule being criticized by those who actually live there.
And I’m sure this might “offend” some people, but in my view there are plenty of authoritarians and nationalists in America who also have that same kind of mindset.
Just bring up the flag-burning issue, and many people will react very emotionally.
There are people who see the American flag as some kind of sacred symbol, and they refer to flag “desecration,” which reminds me of the aforementioned “crimes” in Saudi Arabia of “insulting Islam” or “insulting Muhammad.” I know, I know, “How offensive!” to compare some authoritarian Americans to the barbarians in the Middle East who torture or murder innocent people merely for their disobedience and defiance. But when the American flag is burned at a protest, just look in the comments section of news articles and you’ll see just how some Americans value freedom of speech.
You see, there is this emotional attachment that some people have to a flag (or to the Bible or the Koran, etc.). They would rather see a flag-burner be killed than see a flag set on fire.
So there are “triggers” that elicit strong feelings in many people, the American flag wavers, the Saudi rulers and clerics, the Iranian Ayatollahs, the college snowflakes who need a “safe room,” the race-obsessed community organizers, and the Israel Firsters.
Oops. I’m not supposed to refer to “Israel Firsters.” And I’m also not supposed to make any critical comments about Christianity or the Bible, as Obama had done during his first Presidential campaign, referring to people “clinging” to their Bible, and so on.
But when it comes to Israel, many Bible believing Christians refer to critics of the Israeli government or military as “anti-Semitic” or anti-Jewish, or a “self-hating Jew.” Even beyond our criticizing Israeli militarism, the name-calling toward critics is even worse if one criticizes of Zionism itself. The Zionists, or really the Christian Zionists, would claim that Israel is God’s “Promised Land” for the Jews, for all Jews, who are apparently the “Chosen People.” But that’s a very collectivistic notion. The true believers do not seem to understand that we are all individuals, some good, some not so good.
And such assertions are also somewhat condescending toward Jews, frankly.
However, I would say that it was a mistake to gather Jews into one small area completely surrounded by Muslims and Arabs and call that a “safe haven for Jews.” The reason why the Zionists would not accept any other place but Israel was not based on practicality but based on the Bible.
But I’m not allowed to make those observations, even in modern America, as doing so would be “politically incorrect.”
I would ask the Bible believing Christians the same kinds of questions I would like to ask the clerics in Saudi Arabia regarding the Koran, such as, “How do you know that God ‘chose’ Jews as special beneficiaries of a particular territory in the Middle East?” And they might say, “Because the Bible says so. The Bible is the word of God.” Many people believe that, but there is no real proof that the Bible is the word of God, or that morally the Bible’s assertions have any validity. So the faithful believe it all based on … faith.
And Glenn Beck is constantly saying how we need to turn back to God and all that. But why is it that people need to have some sort of authority figure to worship, such as God or Jesus, or Allah or Muhammad? Or the government, police or military for that matter. Many people worship those guys as well.
So now that I’ve probably offended many Muslims, Christians, Jews and flag-wavers, as well as brainwashed college zombies, now on to the atheists. I really don’t worship any “God,” but I do believe that we were created, and not by creators with particularly kind motivations. But to the atheists, I would point out just how complex our own bodies are, the brain, the heart, and the concepts of vision and reproduction, and the extremely tiny odds of all that occurring from random and spontaneous matter or particles forming life. You would have to believe that it all just happened randomly as a matter of faith. I look forward to the day when atheists admit that their beliefs are as much out of faith as the Bible believers’ beliefs.
But even in 21st Century America, there is still so much intolerance of other points of view that violence against them is the preferred choice rather than tolerance. I am talking about tolerance of ideas as well as tolerance of challenging authority.
How long ago was it that the flower children had “Question Authority” bumper stickers? But now the “climate change” (formerly “global warming”) fanatics want to jail “deniers.” And the college campus fascists want to expel the Press from covering their protests. Huh?
And can you imagine how a lot of true believers might react if there were a Charlie Hebdo-like “Jesus-drawing contest” in the same way that Pamela Geller had her “Muhammad-drawing” contest? “Freedom of speech for me but not for thee,” and all that.
So freedom of thought and association includes the right to have and express ignorant attitudes that others might find to be repugnant, and the right to “hate.” Yes, that’s right, “hate.” Hate is just an emotion.
That is why “hate crimes” legislation also goes against freedom of speech. If someone physically assaults another, it is irrelevant if the motivation for the assault was “hate.” So with those kinds of laws, we have the criminalization of certain kinds of thought. But thinking and emotions are not crimes. “Hate” can’t hurt anyone, except hurt someone’s feelings.
Remember, you don’t have a right to not have your feelings hurt, or a right to not feel offended.
The LGBT activists who take Christian conscientious objectors to court for not providing labor involuntarily, and the “transgender” police, are exposing the destructive nature of “civil rights” laws. With the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the U.S. government went beyond merely repealing fascist Jim Crow laws. It erased the line between public and private property. So rather than just applying “civil rights” to public property and government-run functions such as the buses, the schools, parks, City Hall, etc., the social intruders succeeded in empowering themselves to force their way into privately owned businesses. The pretext was “public accommodations,” but nevertheless applying to private property. The activists and bureaucrats made private property less privately owned and more publicly owned from that point onward.
But of course people have a right to associate with whomever they want and a right to not associate with whomever they don’t want to associate. And for any darn reason. That might bother a lot of guilt-ridden people who are afraid to say the truth about freedom of thought and conscience, and freedom of association, but so what? The important distinction here, as Lew Rockwell referred to recently, is private property.
People do not have a “right” to forcibly enter someone else’s property or to force others to associate with them, or to silence those perceived as “hateful” or hurtful or those with whom they disagree. The totalitarian idea of thought crimes needs to find its way into the dustbin of history, really.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website.