In recent time, tech giants in Apple, YouTube and Facebook have all decided that Alex Jones’ InfoWars could no longer express themselves in their platforms. Naturally, this has created backlash and brought to the forefront the larger issue of what the First Amendment should and should not protect (I am aware that InfoWars’ First Amendment rights were technically not violated since the First Amendment protects people from the government, not companies).
So, Campus Reform decided to head to Columbia University to ask Millennials if they could even name all five freedoms protected under the First Amendment (speech, religion, press, assembly and petition). This is largely based on a recent Freedom Forum Institute survey that says 40% of people surveyed could not list any of the five freedoms protected by the First Amendment, and 36% could name only one.
Campus Reform offered $20 to any person who could successfully name all five First Amendment freedoms (video below). Not a single one of them got the money, unfortunately. Actually, many could hardly come up with a single freedom, while most could come up with 1 or 2 and only a handful could come up with three.
One of them even confused the Second Amendment with the First and thought the First Amendment protected people’s right to bear arms. I am both surprised and not so surprised at this. I am surprised because earlier this year, there has been a lot of talk about gun violence and the 2nd Amendment, so you would think just about everyone was aware enough of what the 2nd Amendment guaranteed and not confuse it with another Amendment. On the other hand, I am not so surprised because these are Millennials attending an Ivy League school where knowledge and truth go to die and are replaced with narrative and falsehood.
Now, Campus Reform also asked what should and should not be protected by the First Amendment. The answers from these Millennials were the precise ones you would expect: you don’t have the right to offend people and make them feel uncomfortable.
Now, before the liberal readers shout: “So you think we should be able to offend people and make them feel uncomfortable?!” This is not such a simple matter that bodes down to a yes or no answer here.
In short, here’s what the First Amendment guarantees: your right to speak your mind, your right to express and practice any religion, your right to print anything you want and share it with others, your right to peacefully assemble to express a unified thought and your right to petition for things such as holding rallies, parades, etc. These are all freedoms that shall not be infringed by the government. Meaning that the First Amendment protects us from being prosecuted by the government in any way.
However, there are logical limitations to this. For example, you have no right to threaten someone’s life or the life of their family. Doing so logically results in police investigation and possible prosecution. THAT is simply common sense, because a crime is involved. Threatening to kill someone is in and of itself a crime. However, what is not common sense is taking away someone else’s freedom of speech simply because you don’t like what they’re saying or disagree to any amount.
On the outset, I think most people would agree, even liberals. The problem arises when people look to do that by saying it’s offensive to express such a thought. The problem arises when you redefine what it means to use offensive language. For example, if I call a black man the N-word, that is understandably offensive. Do I have the right to do it? Yes. IS it right to do it? No. Should I have the right to do it? I certainly believe limiting free speech based entirely on offense is wrong. Does that mean, then, that I would do it? Of course not. I’m not a Democrat, after all.
So the overall problem exists with what constitutes offensive language. Me writing these articles, calling out the Left’s hypocrisy, proclaiming my love of Christ, praising the Lord and noting the significant achievements of the Trump administration should not constitute offensive language to any degree, and it does not. However, there are those who disagree.
Earlier, I mentioned Alex Jones and InfoWars as a whole. I have watched Alex Jones in the past and I can say that I do not necessarily agree with everything he says and the way he says it. He usually is fairly paranoid about everything and seems to be quite the conspiracy theorist. However, if you’re going to shut down people for being paranoid or throwing out conspiracy theories, then why is the entirety of the Mainstream Media still allowed to operate? Why is Rosie O’Donnell allowed to claim Trump’s rallies are fake and the people there are paid to be there (which is honestly stupid, given the size of the rallies and the fact that if they were paid, that would mean a whole lot of money to pay each of them)?
Alex Jones was not shut down for floating conspiracy theories but for saying things that Facebook, Apple and YouTube disagree with. It’s the same reason YouTube has cracked down on pro-gun channels that help people learn how to safely operate guns. They disagree with what Jones was saying and felt compelled to shut him down, but using their vague “terms of service” as an excuse.
While the First Amendment does not protect you from companies, it is entirely bogus and ridiculous that he would be shut down for saying things these corporations disagreed with. And before you bring up the NFL and anthem protests, know that these are different occasions. The players have the Constitutional right to kneel to the flag that gives them that right, but the NFL did not implement their new policy to crack down on protests altogether. They just don’t want people kneeling during the anthem on other people’s dime. The players can protest all they want, but they should do it differently and during a different time when they don’t look to be disrespecting the flag and the country. I think if they really did not want to mean disrespect, they would find a different way to protest and say the same things, but without being disrespectful.
Regardless, that’s a different matter entirely that I believe has been talked about enough and only comes down to what has been summarized in the prior paragraph.
Returning to the overall argument of what constitutes offensive language and what should and should not be limited by the First Amendment, I think it’s pretty clear what it says: “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.”
Meaning that the government cannot and should not keep people from expressing their beliefs, even if those beliefs are seen as offensive (legitimately or illegitimately offensive) or if they make people uncomfortable.
The college Millennials all expressed similar beliefs that the First Amendment should not be able to protect people from offending others or making them feel uncomfortable. Of course, this led Cabot Phillips (the interviewer from Campus Reform) to ask the question: “who gets to determine what is offensive?”
That question is really what trips people up, naturally. Who can honestly proclaim to be the sole moral judge in this world? Only God has such a power. Only God can honestly proclaim to be the epitome of morality, given that morality comes from Him.
No person here on Earth can honestly make such a proclamation. Of course, the Nazis, fascists, communists and socialists all make and have made that proclamation as often as they breathe, but they cannot make that proclamation honestly. These are the same people who will claim to be feminists while simultaneously abusing women on the sidelines. The same people who claim to be pro-choice so long as that choice is killing your baby. Aside from that, and even including that, you really have no choice. No choice in what religion to practice unless it’s anything other than Christianity and maybe even Judaism. No choice in what political candidate to support and what political ideas to stand by if that candidate and/or ideology is apart from Leftism.
The Left cannot be allowed to be the moral arbiter of society. If it comes to that, morality is completely dead.
If left up to the Left, every thought that is remotely different from the groupthink would be eliminated. These people envy the Iranian regime, the North Korean dictatorship, the Chinese communists. They envied Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, fascist Italy. They want people to only have access to one voice: theirs. To have access to only the information they provide and nothing else.
Our Forefathers knew exactly what tyranny looks and feels like. They knew exactly what the nature of Man is. They knew that they had to set up a system that puts restrictions on the government, not the people.
And before you feel any sort of grief over the fact that there was no possible way our Forefathers could have predicted these tyrannical companies doing what they feared government would do, let me put your mind at ease. Capitalism is truly a glorious thing. Not only does it help people prosper, but it naturally protects people.
What I mean is that we should not come up with a legislative answer to these tech giants shutting people down. It would be wrong and it would go against everything we believe in. Instead, let’s use the capitalist system we have in place.
A company’s first priority is the consumer/customer. If the consumer is unhappy, they leave for a competitor. That’s the nature of business. Now, I fully understand that there is no real competitor to Facebook, YouTube and all these other tech giants… yet. The nature of capitalism, combined with the fact that enough people are pissed off at these tech giants for their censorship, will lead to new companies rising and flourishing that will serve as real competitors. It’s a business inevitability.
If you are skeptical, just think about Uber or Lyft. Sure, they are not in the same business, but they are in a business that we thought only the government could control: the ride-sharing business. Just a decade ago, the thought of people using anything other than cabs or buses if they had no access to their own personal vehicles was hard to imagine. Now, you have Uber and Lyft competing with the government regulated cab and bus systems.
That’s the nature of capitalism at work. Just because it’s hard to imagine a new company rising and flourishing despite of the tech giants of Facebook and Google does not necessarily mean that they will not rise. Facebook itself was essentially what I described when it first began to be a social media website apart from online dating. It had to compete with MySpace, didn’t it?
So capitalism is the answer to these tech giants’ exploits. And yes, that even includes Apple. Yes, it’s nearly impossible to compete with Apple’s products, but it’s far easier to compete with their services, which is the reason they are even being talked about right now. If their podcast service won’t allow for speech they disagree with, someone else will come up with a podcast service that is actually tolerant of other people’s beliefs.
Now, this article is getting plenty long already, so I think it’s best to wrap things up here. The larger point I want to make is that the First Amendment should not be regulated apart from the earlier example of threatening someone, regulation which is already in place. The fact that 40% of people could not come up with a single First Amendment right both worries me about the future and allows me to set my sights in our current education system.
I mean seriously, this sort of thing should be covered in the 1st grade, for crying out loud! There is no excuse for anyone to not know what the First Amendment guarantees.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
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