A recent Campaign For Free Speech poll revealed some startling numbers regarding how the public views the First Amendment of the constitution.
According to the poll, 51% of Americans think the First Amendment is outdated and should be rewritten. And 48% believe “hate speech” should be illegal. These are startling numbers from citizens of a country that was founded to protect our God-given rights.
Freedom of speech is one of the most important rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. It protects your right to open your mouth and express your opinion, and not have to live in fear of persecution because of it.
They’re called the “Bill of Rights” for a reason
The first ten amendments to the constitution are called the “Bill of Rights” for a reason. They are rights, endowed by God, that should never be taken away by government or by private citizens.
The first ten amendments simplified:
- First Amendment Rights: Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly.
- Second Amendment Rights: Freedom to keep and bear arms.
- Third Amendment Rights: Freedom from the forcible housing of military personnel in a citizen’s home during peacetime.
- Fourth Amendment Rights: Freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.
- Fifth Amendment Rights: Freedom from double jeopardy and self-incrimination; right to due process.
- Sixth Amendment Rights: Rights for criminal defendants, including a speedy and public trial, trial by jury, right to be informed of charges, to confront witnesses, and more.
- Seventh Amendment Rights: Right to jury trials in federal civil cases.
- Eighth Amendment Rights: Freedom from cruel and unusual punishment and excessive bails or fines.
- Ninth Amendment Rights: Acknowledgement of unenumerated rights, or rights retained by the people but not specifically addressed in the constitution.
- Tenth Amendment Rights: Any powers not delegated to the federal government by the constitution are reserved to the states.
Clearly, these are all important and necessary rights to protect. But perhaps none are more important than the freedom of speech amendment.
Why was the First Amendment created?
The First Amendment was created — in the most simplistic explanation — because the Founding Fathers believed in “unalienable rights,” given to us by God, that must not be taken away by government.
“Congress shall make no law” is the first part of the First Amendment. What this means is this amendment is a protection for the people and by the people to prevent congress from taking away our rights.
The Founders didn’t believe in a monarchy or dictatorship. They didn’t believe one man or woman deserved to have power over the rights and lives of the people. They dared to experiment with people governing themselves.
And it was and is a beautiful, long-lasting, ongoing — and correct — experiment.
Why is freedom of speech important?
Freedom of speech is important for many reasons, but perhaps none are more important than the ability to communicate between people. It is a way to share ideas, express disapproval, and bring about change in society. It’s a fundamental human right.
God gave humans the ability to speak, thus no government — or individual, for that matter — has the right to suppress that.
God also gave humans free will, which includes the freedom to turn against him and sin. Thus, if humans wish to say evil or mean-spirited things, they can do so and God — not government — will be the one to pass judgement.
But what about evil actions? Well, that’s different.
Words are just words. They do not take away or infringe upon others’ rights. People don’t have the “right” to not hear things they consider insensitive or mean. It’s just not a right.
Some actions, however, do take away the rights of others. And the government should intervene only when rights are infringed upon.
Hate speech is mean-spirited, but should not be illegal
I’m a God-fearing, Jesus-loving Christian. If there is anything I hate, it’s evil. And hate. But God gives not only permission, but a mandate to hate evil.
Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Therefore, I’m not standing up for hate speech as “the right thing to do.” It’s not. It’s vile and disappointing when I hear people spew it.
However, it’s not the government’s job to limit or prosecute hate speech. One of the biggest fallacies is this notion that “hate speech” is not protected by the First Amendment.
Of course it’s protected! It’s precisely what is protected. Why would there need to be an amendment to protect “love speech?” Everybody loves love speech.
The irony, of course, is that many of the same people who wish to suppress free speech likely are the same ones who take to the streets to protest.
“Speech” and “protest” (or assembly) are both protected by the First Amendment, but the former seems to offend those who make use of the latter.