Freedom of speech has been under attack in American cities and, Plano is now among them. This attack on the First Amendment came to a head when Plano City Council voted to censure and later voted to have a recall election for Councilman Tom Harrison. A liberal group got the required amount of signatures on a recall petition. There are some conflicting attorney opinions on whether or not the council broke the rules by voting on the recall before Tom Harrison could have a hearing. We also have disagreements on whether the petition itself is legal, but I will talk about those issues in another post.
All of this craziness is because people were offended by a post that was on Tom Harrison's personal Facebook page. While the post was highly controversial, if Tom Harrison is fired for asserting his first amendment right, then free speech is truly dead in America.
Freedom of speech has been under attack for years. Clergy cannot speak freely to their congregations out of fear of the government. Radio and TV hosts lose sponsors because people threaten to boycott. Colleges only allow students to speak freely in designated free speech zones. Students also don't want to have conservatives speak at College graduations. In fact, they don't want any conservative speakers on campus at all. Students even resort to rioting to prevent people like Ann Coulter and Ben Shapiro from being on campus. Even College professors bully conservative students.
These attacks on speech have recently moved from Colleges to the internet. The Media Research Center has come out with a 50-page study proving tech companies such as Facebook, Google, Youtube, and Twitter partner with left-leaning groups that hate conservatives. The study found that Google aided Democrats by having search results for the 2016 presidential campaign favor Hillary Clinton.
Youtube has shut down conservative channels and, they remove videos promoting Republican views. Facebook has taken conservative pages down. Tech companies also rely on anti-conservative fact-checkers.
This is not an attack anymore; it's a global assault. People around the world are only allowed to see one view from one group of people. This is what some of the most brutal dictators in history did. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Castro, all banned speech they did not agree with. Only one view was allowed in the press, books, TV shows, film, and art. Today totalitarian governments prevent free speech just like the above leaders did; for example, they block internet sites they don't agree with.
Now some Americans are acting just like those oppressive nations and dictators. Some have shut down speech they don't like. Others bully, harass and physically attack people. They condemn people who have a different point of view. This attitude is not what millions of Americas have fought and even died for. This attitude is the opposite of freedom and liberty. The anti-speech view is why freedom of speech is enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
The authors of the Bill of Rights (who were not all rich slave owners) and other current wise people have had a few things to say about the freedom of speech. The following are some examples. One wise man said, "For the people to rule wisely, they have to be able to communicate with one another freely, without fear of reprisal." Freedom of speech is not just a God-given right, it is a precondition for self-government.
A founder believed that people who seek to restrict speech revealed themselves to be opponents of republicanism. (The form of government, not the political party.)
Another wise man said, "Our First Amendment freedoms give us the right to think what we like and say what we please. And if we the people are to govern ourselves, we must have these rights, even if they are misused by a minority." This should serve as a reminder that, while people say things that we might find personally offensive, we should never prevent people from speaking. As Roger Pilon explains: “In America, the legitimate power rests ultimately with the people. However, the people have no more right to tyrannize each other through democratic government, than the government itself has to tyrannize the people.”
A wise President also said, “If there be any among us who would wish to change our republican form of government, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”
The courts have also weighed in on speech that may be offensive. In an 8-0 decision, the court struck down a rule from the Patent and Trademark Office. This rule denied an Asian band a federal trademark registration for the name “The Slants,” a derogatory term for Asian-Americans. This case deals with the broader issue that speech should be silenced if someone, somewhere might be offended by it. The court ruled on the side of speech.
Benjamin Franklin (a man who, at great risk to his own freedom, taught blacks how to read and write) wrote in The Pennsylvania Gazette, April 8, 1736, "Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. This is one reason senators and representatives have the right to speak their minds in congressional debates and committee proceedings without fear of legal reprisal by persons who may be defamed. The Framers knew our representatives could not have free and robust debates if, they fear punishment for what they say.
What everyone above understood was the First Amendment was not placed in our Bill of Rights to protect speech we like. It is there to protect the speech we don't like. The way to combat speech we don't like is with more speech, not less. A great general once said, "Meet me on the battlefield of ideas." We can't meet and debate ideas if we are too afraid to speak our minds. Therefore, we must all stand up for speech we don't like. If we don't, it may be you who says something someone else doesn't like and when that time comes, their won't be anyone left who will stand up for you.
This is Plano's Political Pit Bull signing off.