The first of 27 amendments ratified by Congress and arguably the most important – emphasis on arguably. What good is speech if it isn’t free? How can Government serve its people effectively if those people don’t have freedom of expression? Isn’t it good to introduce anti-hate speech laws? And finally, what is a Free Speech Zone?
Let’s start with question number 1: If speech isn’t free, then it serves those who seek to rule, not govern. Imagine living in a world where every word you spoke was monitored, evaluated, and ultimately judged by an authority figure. Imagine having to pre-think everything that left your mouth for fear of reprisal, fines, or imprisonment; maybe even torture. It’s not that far fetched folks. Just a few short years ago in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, those that dared speak out against the regime would often face horrible penalties for saying something the dictator didn’t like. A more recent example is the hermit kingdom of North Korea and the “dear leader”. You won’t ever catch those folks speaking their minds. Nothing but silly praises and boisterous flattery leave their mouths when referring to their ringleader for fear of starvation, prison camps, or even a violent death.
This gives little importance to the words that are uttered. Nothing that is spoken (officially) can be taken as truth and no one is allowed to criticize the state without severe consequences. Therefore, opinions expressed to state media are worthless and the only value they hold are to serve the demands of the state.
This leads us to our next question; How can Government serve its people effectively if those people don’t have freedom of expression? It’s important to note that the above “governments” aren’t serving, they are ruling. In these regimes the people serve government, not the other way around. What makes our Constitutional Republic so special is that our Government serves us, the people. We pay our taxes and our government provides services, laws, and enforcement of those laws to promote a safe and free society. We have the right to express our thoughts and opinions and even petition our leaders for change. This allows our voices to be heard at the highest levels without fear of consequences.
As it currently stands, the Constitution protects ALL speech. Primarily speech that is deemed offensive! After all, speech that everybody likes doesn’t need protection. Queue the new (proposed) Anti-Hate Speech Laws… It is my understanding that these will first be introduced to deter anti-Semitism or any kind of words that a person of Jewish descent or religious practice may find offensive. I’m not sure who is behind this push to protect Jewish feelings, but last time I checked the Jews are badass and can handle a few off-color remarks hurled at them. Remember, they did rebound from one of the worst genocides in recent history under Adolf Hitler and they have a vibrant Nation in the Middle East with the strongest military and defense capabilities in the region. That being said, I doubt that Jewish communities inside the United States of America are really driving the push for this protection.
If this is where it starts, who knows where it will end. If we begin with protecting possible hurt feelings for those of Jewish heritage, then it’s only fair for Muslims to have their protection, and Christians, and the Trans community, and the Church of the flying spaghetti monster, etc. Before you know it, no one can say anything that anyone else deems offensive.
Finally, what is a Free Speech Zone? When I first heard this phrase I was confused and I remain somewhat puzzled as to why anyone thinks a 'Zone' is necessary for free speech. I always thought Free Speech stretched far and wide across America; from the northern tip of Alaska, to the far reaches of Key West, Florida. Just to clarify: It still does. Wikipedia describes Free Speech Zones as "public places set aside for the purpose of political protesting." Hmm... That's weird, and somewhat sinister when you look at the photos of barriers, fences and barbed wire enclosing those zones. You can find the description and a few photos here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_speech_zone .
I highly encourage you to click on the above link so that your eyes can observe what exactly someone's idea of a Free Speech Zone looks like. That's not the America I want. I reject the very premise that my free speech should be confined to concrete and wire in order to keep everybody "safe".
This is exactly what inspired the printing of this shirt. We hope men, women, and university students nationwide will wear this shirt with pride to remind others that our speech doesn't live in a zone.
If I wanted to live in North Korea, I’d hop the fence. Let’s keep the laws that make America great and say “no thanks” to those representatives in Washington who want to trample our Freedoms.
If anything I’ve said hurts your feelings, I guess you’ll just have to get over it.