“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.” — 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
The first amendment in the United States Constitution addresses something that is quite unheard of in some areas of the world. The founding fathers placed this at the top of our governing document to underscore the importance of these basic freedoms: Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech; Freedom of the Press, etc. These basic rights are undeniable in the United States of America.
In recent weeks, those rights have been tested with the events of Charlottesville and the subsequent rallies and protests since them. The question remains, is hate speech protected? If I disagree with what you’re saying, do I have the right to shut you up?
Even the strictest constitutional scholars will say that all speech is protected, even when you disagree with it. There are those that feel the hate speech shouldn’t be protected, but that’s grown now to include anytime a conservative speaks by groups like Black Lives Matter and ANTIFA. Some people also defend NFL players sitting or kneeling for the national anthem a type of free speech protest, but it has also come under scrutiny.
So, that’s the tough question. Is all speech protected or should certain speech be restricted. As authors, I am 100% for free speech. George Washington said, “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” To me, that quote epitomizes what freedom of speech is.
I don’t like the racists rants of white supremacists and the KKK, nor do I care to hear them. I also don’t care for the anti-American stance of ANTIFA and BLM. In any case, I will defend your right to say it. Speech is a choice. You can say whatever you want, and I can CHOSE whether or not to listen to you. That’s why there is a mute button on the TV. I can turn you off just as easy as changing the channel.
To me, that’s how freedom of speech works. Voltaire say, “I do not agree with what you said but I will defend to death your right to say it.” That is the ultimate truth. My opinion has always been to let stupid people say stupid things because it only makes them look stupid. You can make your point just as easy by letting people talk.
As an author, I love the fact that my words are protected. I’m going to leave it with a quote by Ray Bradbury from his novel Fahrenheit 451. I think it speaks volumes for what we are witnessing and feeling today.
“The books are to remind us what asses and fool we are. They’re Caeser’s praetorian guard, whispering as the parade roars down the avenue, ‘Remember, Caeser, thou art mortal.’ Most of us can’t rush around, talking to everyone, know all the cities of the world, we haven’t time, money or that many friends. The things you’re looking for, Montag, are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine per cent of them is in a book. Don’t ask for guarantees. And don’t look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore.”
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Chapter 3 of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.