The United States of America is having a hard time defining free speech right now.
While most people want to stand up for free speech, some consider the concept morally ambiguous when dealing with white-nationalists. Even the left-leaning ACLU, which has recently defended the free speech of white-nationalists, is beginning to have doubts as to whether or not defending such vile people is the proper approach. Stemming from the events in Charlottesville, everyday people are beginning to question who and what the First Amendment actually protects, so I’ve decided to break it down.
Whether or not you agree with white-nationalists such as James Allsup or Richard Spencer, you do not have the right to silence them just because you disagree with them. Furthermore, even if you believe that hateful speech should be a crime, you still cannot criminalize someone who has not committed a crime to begin with. Unfortunately, Antifa and others on the Left have no respect for the First Amendment or any basic constitutional rights, and as a result, they’ve begun to use violence in an attempt to suppress these freedoms, particularly freedom of speech. This is a huge problem in America today, and I think it’s necessary to explain the Left’s position and why it’s wrong so that you have the proper tools to debate them.
So, allow me to deconstruct their favorite argument against free speech.
When leftists make the argument that free speech is not absolute, they tend to point to Schenck v. United States (1919) as the proper precedent for free speech. In case you didn’t know, this is the Supreme Court case where the “yelling fire in a crowded theater” argument originated. This case is perhaps one of the worst examples that any leftist can use for a variety of reasons. One, the case didn’t even make “fire in a crowded theater” an unconstitutional thing to say, the court simply ruled that Schenck’s actions were detrimental to the war effort at the time of the ruling. Two, the case isn’t even relevant because the precedent it set is no longer in effect today. In other words, what Schenck did during World War I would be far from anything law-breaking today. And three, the proper standard for free speech was set in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969). In this case, the court ruled that speech, even speech from vile racists, is protected as long as it is not “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” Basically, this means that all speech is protected unless it directly calls for violence and is likely to produce violence from those calls.
Though many on the Left don’t like that decision, it has been set as the proper standard for free speech. Therefore, it is reasonable to say that the white-nationalists in Charlottesville, no matter how hateful and wrong they may be, were robbed of their First Amendment rights that day. And unfortunately, what happened in Charlottesville is a perfect microcosm of what is happening in America as a whole. Many politicians have succumbed to the insane demands of those who are not capable of tolerating opposing views. Now, many college campuses across the country are openly doing whatever they can to silence conservative voices. In addition, Google, arguably the most powerful company in the world, has also been suppressing conservative voices, as well as firing James Damore for questioning the company’s leftist agenda.
Evidently, many in America are being robbed of their constitutional right to free speech. From now on, I would like to see lawsuits from Ben Shapiro, Milo Yiannopoulos, Ann Coulter, James Damore, and anyone else who has either been denied the right to speak or punished because of it. In a truly free society, I believe that rights are to be upheld constantly, and if not, I’d expect to see free speech rallies just about every day to protest our society’s conspicuous violations of the Constitution.