The Growing Contempt For Freedom Of Speech

Walter E. Williams posted an article at Newsbusters today about the attack on free speech.

The Professor notes:

The First Amendment to our Constitution was proposed by the 1788 Virginia ratification convention during its narrow 89 to 79 vote to ratify the Constitution. Virginia’s resolution held that the free exercise of religion, right to assembly and free speech could not be canceled, abridged or restrained. These Madisonian principles were eventually ratified by the states on March 1, 1792.

Gettysburg College professor Allen C. Guelzo, in his article “Free Speech and Its Present Crisis,” appearing in the autumn 2018 edition of City Journal, explores the trials and tribulations associated with the First Amendment. The early attempts to suppress free speech were signed into law by President John Adams and became known as the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. Later attempts to suppress free speech came during the Civil War, when President Abraham Lincoln and his generals attacked newspapers and suspended habeas corpus. It wasn’t until 1919, in the case of Abrams v. United States, when the U.S. Supreme Court finally and unambiguously prohibited any kind of censorship.

Unfortunately many of our college campuses have lost the concept of free speech and open debate.

The article reports:

Today, there is growing contempt for free speech, most of which is found on the nation’s college and university campuses. Guelzo cites the free speech vision of Princeton University professor Carolyn Rouse, who is chairperson of the department of Anthropology. Rouse shared her vision on speech during last year’s Constitution Day lecture. She called free speech a political illusion, a baseless ruse to enable people to “say whatever they want, in any context, with no social, economic, legal or political repercussions.” As an example, she says that a climate change skeptic has no right to make “claims about climate change, as if all the science discovered over the last X-number of centuries were irrelevant.”

Rouse is by no means unique in her contempt for our First Amendment rights. Faculty leaders of the University of California consider certain statements racist microagressions: “America is a melting pot”; “America is the land of opportunity”; “Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough”; and “There is only one race, the human race.” The latter statement is seen as denying the individual as a racial/cultural being. Then there’s “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.” That’s “racist” speech because it gives the impression that “people of color are given extra unfair benefits because of their race.” Other seemingly innocuous statements deemed unacceptable are: “When I look at you, I don’t see color,” or “Affirmative action is racist.” Perhaps worst of all is, “Where are you from, or where were you born?”

We should reject any restriction on free speech. We might ask ourselves, “What’s the true test of one’s commitment to free speech?” It does not come when people permit others to say or publish ideas with which they agree. The true test of one’s commitment to free speech comes when others are permitted to say and publish ideas they deem offensive.

I hated it when the neo-Nazis were allowed to march in Skokie, Illinois, but that is what free speech means. The concept of hate speech is the antithesis of free speech–it is an excuse for censorship. If you are not comfortable enough in your own ideas to be willing to let others who do not share those ideas speak, then maybe living in a free country isn’t your cup of tea.

Thoughts For The New Year

The following is from In God We Still Trust by Dr. Richard G. Lee:

“Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” from President George Washington’s Farewell Address 1796

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams, U.S. President 1797-1801

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” James Madison, U. S. President 1809-1817

Dr. Lee also points out how a change in definition of a word reflects a concerning change in our society:

Noah Webster’s An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828, defines patriotism as follows:

n. Love of one’s country; the passion which aims to serve one’s country, either in defending it from invasion, or protecting its rights and maintaining its laws and institution in vigor and purity. Patriotism is the characteristic of a good citizen, the noblest passion that animates a man in the character of a citizen.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, copyright @ 2004 defines patriotism as follows:

n. Love for or devotion to one’s country.

Noah Webster’s definition includes service; Merriam-Webster’s definition is simply an emotion. Noah Webster’s definition includes action, not just acceptance of an idea.

It is time to return to Noah Webster’s definition of patriotism.

How Did We Get Here And How Do We Get Away From This?

Yesterday The New York Post posted an article about some of the tactics being used by the Democrat party in New York to turn out voters.

The article reports:

The New York State Democratic Committee is bullying people into voting next week with intimidating letters warning that it can easily find out which slackers fail to cast a ballot next Tuesday.

“Who you vote for is your secret. But whether or not you vote is public record,” the letter says.

“We will be reviewing voting records . . . to determine whether you joined your neighbors who voted in 2014.”

It ends with a line better suited to a mob movie than a major political party: “If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not.”

The letters were sent out to 1 million registered Democrats who had failed to vote in previous midterm elections.

The article further reports:

Such attempts to shame people to vote — what politicos call “social pressure” or peer pressure — has become more common place and was used by the Obama campaign in 2012, sources said.

A Yale University study in 2008 found that voter participation increased substantially after lazy voters received letters telling them their spotty voting history was a public record that would be scrutinized.

The notice includes a “vote report card” rating New Yorkers’ voting records as “excellent,” “good,” “fair” or “incomplete.”

“Many organizations monitor turnout in your neighborhood and are disappointed by the inconsistent voting of many of your neighbors,” it says.

I am totally in favor of encouraging people to vote, but I think voter intimidation is not the answer. There are a number of things we can do to encourage people to vote–we can do whatever it takes to ensure the integrity of our elections, and we can encourage people to get involved in local politics so that they become part of the process of choosing candidates–thus giving more people a voice in who the candidates are. We also need to remind those Americans who are Christians that their moral input is needed in American politics.

We need to remember the words of John Adams–“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” If the church withdraws from politics, It is not fulfilling its role in keeping America strong.

Losing Our Foundation As A Country

John Adams had some very definite ideas as to what it would take to preserve America in the future. He believed that there was more to America than simply writing a Constitution for a representative republic.

John Adams stated:

“…because we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, • would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (from beliefnet.com)

Unfortunately, many of our current leaders do not agree with that philosophy. Yesterday Breitbart.com posted an article about a recent comment from Secretary of State John Kerry:

This is a time here in Africa where there are a number of different cross-currents of modernity that are coming together to make things even more challenging. Some people believe that people ought to be able to only do what they say they ought to do, or to believe what they say they ought to believe, or live by their interpretation of something that was written down a thousand plus, two thousand years ago. That’s not the way I think most people want to live.

According to the article, President Obama made a similar statement circa 2008:

Democracy demands that the religiously-motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values.

Religion-specific values were exactly what John Adams felt were needed to preserve America. It’s time for both of these men to go back and read the writings of the people who founded America. They have not idea what the founders of this country were about.

 

 

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