Op-Ed: Not a happy birthday for the First Amendment
by William Haupt III, The Center Square
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”
– Martin Luther King, Washington D.C., 1964
The right to petition for redress of grievances was the most important principle included in the 1215 Magna Carta, and the 1689 English Bill of Rights. During our Revolutionary War, Virginia passed a Declaration of Rights that affirmed, “Freedom of the press is the greatest bulwark of liberty!” Each colony followed, fearing independence could result in a new despotic regime. The colonies stood firm on their demand to protect free speech since it catalyzed the flames that fueled the revolution.
At the Constitutional Convention, George Mason proposed the Constitution include a canon of rights guaranteeing free speech. But James Madison argued “all civil liberties” were protected under the Constitution’s limitations on government. During the Federalist debates, colonies were assured free speech was protected. But they demanded a list of rights, and freedom of speech was added to the Constitution before they’d sign on the dotted line. The colonies knew free speech was their most important right.
Ratified on Dec. 15, 1791, precisely 228 years ago Sunday, the Bill of Rights guaranteeing the essential rights and liberties omitted in crafting the Constitution became law. Yet today, the right to free speech is being abridged beyond our colonies expectations! Language within the Bill of Rights guaranteeing our right to free speech has been circumvented with limited “politically correct” rights of “approved speech” controlled by the views on left-supporting forums.
“We’re losing our freedom of speech. We are losing freedom of religion. We are losing freedom of the press.”
– Roger Ailes
New Age censorship has brought a tempest of anger and frustration to many patriots as it drives a stake through the heart of republicanism. The new left has made “tolerance” its number one goal to promote socialism. Their intent is to victimize all groups that continue to lobby for laws and patriotic causes that prevent them from further eroding our freedom and liberty. Unlike other past coercive regimes, their tactics have been refined to skirt the letter of the law through bullying and intimation.
The Fourth Estate, once anointed watchdogs of our liberty, should be tried for high treason since they abandoned their sacred post at government’s doorstep in favor of seats in the liberal lunch rooms. Today, they are feasting on a daily diet of liberal table scraps feeding leftist propaganda to a public starving for information. Now every TV and radio station, along with every daily fish wrap, reports the exact same news stories defaming traditional center-right opinions and praising leftist causes.
“Deplatforming” is code for restricting individual political or organizational activism with an intent to shut down controversial speakers or speech by denying them access to venues to express their opinions. Tactics used to achieve this goal among leftist groups include direct action, and internet activism. It is used by social media and other technology companies to selectively suspend, ban or restrict access to their platforms by users who have different views than them.
“Social media is the only place I can express my views where I never fear being censored.”
– Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Spike Magazine’s latest survey shows universities restricting on-campus free speech, newspapers and numerous forms of free speech using “platforming” is a worldwide pandemic. Banning of individuals and activist groups that adhere to beliefs some universities consider right-wing or extremist is now an intercontinental issue. Out of the 115 major universities surveyed, 108 censor or dissuade free speech in one way or another. Only seven claim to support total free speech.
“The right of freedom of speech that was enshrined in numerous constitutions is now under attack.”
– Salman Rushdie
Students were once the most vocal group against censorship. In the 1960s, Cal Berkeley students undertook a mass-movement to remove university restrictions on free speech. Led by leftists Jack Weinberg, Bettina Aptheker and Jackie Goldberg, they demanded the ban on all campus political activities be lifted. Within weeks their free speech rights were reinstated. And that empowered them to birth the anti-Vietnam War student protests that proliferated at every university around the world.
Oh, how times have changed! Nobody on the left is honoring the pledges of those students of the 60s. This year, a violent leftist protest at Berkeley shut down a lecture by avant-garde right-leaning speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, who was invited to speak. When Yiannopoulos arrived, leftist students joined by socialist and far left demagogues rioted on campus until police came and shut down the perilously bloody event that injured dozens. The Berkley chief of police told reporters: “It was just impossible to maintain order given the level of destruction, personal assaults and student violence.”
A Pew Research study recently focused on the socialists’ and progressives’ lack of support for net neutrality. The majority of all surveyed reiterated concerns for big tech’s political bias and outright censorship. They attribute this to Barack Obama, who manipulated media for his gain. Most agree it is OK to regulate hate speech and curtail harassing or threatening behavior but Facebook, Google and Twitter use “elastic” rationale to label hate speech, and censor conservative political views in conflict with leftist ideology. The study also revealed 77 percent of Americans condemned these tactics.
In January, Project Veritas exposed Twitter for “shadow banning” conservative profiles by blocking them from the platform without even notifying them. In June, Google listed Nazism as the ideology of the California Republican Party. Google again found itself in hot water when a top search result for a North Carolina Republican state senator yielded a photo labeling her a bigot. The list goes on. Obscenely vicious attacks on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai are published every day on Twitter.
“Social media censorship is not about hate speech but conservative ideology.”
– Leonid Bershidsky
Amid recent news about Google’s 2016 election scandals, Congressional interference, attacks on President Donald Trump, and assisting Democrats in spreading false information that fanned the flames of impeachment on false-info social media platforms, tech companies are facing unrelenting criticism from the Republican Party and traditional Democrats. According to a recent Gallup survey, 79 percent of U.S. citizens believe these companies should be investigated, punished and fined by the FCC.
Author Charles Warner wrote, “Politics makes strange bedfellows.” All political censorship of free speech is an act of treason in a free society. No one has the right to censor any one, any political party, ideology, opinions, beliefs, complaints, or anything legal to print, say or write in any avenue of communication in a free republic. Free speech is the benchmark of liberty and feeds the sole of our free republic.
“When you are right you cannot be too radical.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
When Lenin wished to control Russia, he outlawed free speech. The Democratic socialists have replaced free speech with political correctness. America is asking: How long will we let this go on?
“Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But, conscience asks the question, is it right?”
– Martin Luther King Jr.