By Irene F. Starkehaus -
There are critics of vigorous expressions of free speech that would explain the limits on free speech in this way:
"Freedom of speech does not entitle individuals to attack other individuals in a rude and obnoxious way or to cause harm by doing so. There are many Americans who willingly go to jail for defending their own honor in such situations. The Founders would not have supported such wildness, and they certainly would not have considered vicious verbal attacks as protected speech. These were men of great moral turpitude, of Christian character, and ultimately there is point where speech is outright damaging and harmful on the individual basis." (Emphasis added.)
Of course, this philosophy is not wholly accurate, is it? It is true that one may not yell "fire" in a crowded theater and claim free speech. It is true that one may not call the police pretending to be one's political adversary, tell them "I just shot my wife," then sit back and watch as the local SWAT team descends on the house of said political adversary. Limits on free speech have historically excluded such overindulgence as we see by reading Benjamin Franklin's pre-revolution words.
"WITHOUT Freedom of Thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech; which is the right of every man, as far as by it, he does not hurt or control the right of another. And this is the only check it ought to suffer, and the only bounds it ought to know.
This sacred privilege is too essential to free governments, that the security of property, and the Freedom of Speech always go together; and in those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything else his own." (Emphasis added.)
It cannot be too strongly emphasized that the principles Franklin espoused in the July 9, 1722 edition of the New England Courant in no way demanded the practitioner of dissent to be polite or politically correct.
The Founders did not disdain wild dissent. Samuel Adams practically invented the policies and procedures of incendiary rhetoric as a means of fomenting revolutionary actions. Some of the words that Franklin himself used against the Tories of his day would curl the toes of Hillary Clinton – you know, kind of Wicked Witch of the East-style, if they were used similarly against her...and have no doubt about this. Franklin would be railing against Clinton if he were alive today.
Indeed, the Founders would have held contemptible the low thresholds that modern Americans use for curtailing those "vicious verbal attacks" used to oppose progressivists. I think it's fair to surmise that Sam Adams would have filleted "Email-gate" and served it up barbecue style until the masses were standing outside Clinton's home burning her image in effigy. We can assume that by the time Adams was finished with her, Clinton wouldn't have had the political fortitude to stand smugly at a podium muttering non sequiturs about hidden servers in the face of the rage that her actions ought to induce.
In my opinion, Hillary Clinton's actions while Secretary of State were contemptible and deserve an outpouring of that contempt. It is also my opinion that anyone who would defend her actions deserves the same contempt heaped upon him. The only thing that prevents that movement toward public repudiation from growing is the muzzle that has been placed on the free speech rights of conservatives. Conservatives, you see, are not ones to condemn Hillary's actions because Marco Rubio had four traffic tickets over the course of fifteen years. Unless Republicans can produce a Thor-like representative who is so pure of heart that only he can lift and carry the mantle of conservative values, they had best keep their mouths shut.
And you know what? B.S. Ben Franklin had a common law wife and an illegitimate son. Sam Adams was habitually broke and sponged off John Handcock with such frequency that the Tories called Handcock a lapdog. There is absolutely no reason to romanticize the failings and foibles of the Founders. Those shortcomings didn't make them less right, and as long as conservative candidates haven't abused their constitutional authority by, for instance, taking bribes from FIFA officials, I don't give a flying fig if they aren't perfect. Do you?
With growing frequency, Americans reject uncomfortable political speech as a cumbersome and tedious burden and maintain that if political dissenters of the wrong persuasion were to be suppressed, society would restore harmony and Utopia would reign. The suppression, naturally, is keenly one-sided. It's the most indolent and prudish display of civility that this our national heritage has ever been loath to endure.
We only need watch any random Jon Stewart video clip to recognize that he is both Lenny Bruce in his advocacy of progressivist free speech and the Church Lady in his contempt for conservative free speech. He's a living and breathing contradiction. He doesn't simply rage against his opposition, he works in sync with other progressivists to blithely spin the pithy taglines that we shall all be vomiting at the office watercooler by the next news cycle so that George Stephanopoulos can report the latest poll finding that a majority of voters are obediently vomiting the pithy taglines.
Meanwhile libertarian magazine Reason is being subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York because Reason Magazine won't hand over the names of commenters who have used aliases to make comments about one Judge Katherine B. Forrest - comments that are deemed violent even though they were manifestly hyperbolic. Reason Mag's commenters are angry because the judge, in a ruling, condemned libertarian political dissent over drug laws:
"In the world you created over time, democracy didn't exist. [Silk Road]'s birth and presence asserted that its…creator was better than the laws of this country. This is deeply troubling, terribly misguided, and very dangerous."
Libertarians responded to this ruling with the same wild dissent that our Founders might have expressed had the threat of tarring and feathering not been their best option:
"In this case, they [the commenters] were furious and, in their fury, some of them got nasty. "Its judges like these that should be taken out back and shot," wrote Agammamon. "Why waste ammunition? Wood chippers get the message across clearly. Especially if you feed them in feet first," responded croaker. "I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman," commented Rhywun. "I'd prefer a hellish place on Earth be reserved for her as well," chimed in ProductPlacement."
For the record, thinking about tarring and feathering is not the same as tarring and feathering. Talking about tarring and feathering is not the same as tarring and feathering. And these comments from the libertarian site are not dissimilar to those found on liberal blogs in reference to conservative politicians and judges, but I don't see the U.S. Attorney's office subpoenaing liberal editors.
Allow Ben Franklin better known as Silence Dogood to reiterate:
WITHOUT Freedom of Thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech; which is the right of every man, as far as by it, he does not hurt or control the right of another."
Sticks and stones, my friends…I am no fan of Reason Magazine, which has editors so rabidly anti-Christian, so derisive toward prolife conservatives that I find reading their publications an act of self-flagellation. It brings me no joy coming to their defense, but the defense must be mounted nonetheless.
…because interestingly, Pamela Geller of the American Freedom Defense Initiative has been fighting through legal and media channels to assert her right to criticize Islamic extremists and for this, the extremists have called for her beheading, which is language that was not intended to be hyperbolic in nature. It represents a fatwah or judgment by Islamic authorities. It's the moral equivalent of posting a Wanted Dead or Alive poster. I see no report that the U.S. Attorney's office has subpoenaed Muslim extremists over this fatwah. Geller is, in fact, providing her own security because no one at the federal level wants to protect her.
The mainstream media, for all its highfalutin concerns over incitement in the Reason Magazine situation, blamed Pamela Geller for the threats against her, suggesting that her political speech and actions have brought this threat upon her. To be consistent, would the U.S. Attorney need to blame Judge Forrest for the hard words used against her and begin investigating the judge?
Nah. Who needs to be consistent when there's a political axe to grind? Instead the unchallenged influence that progressivists wield over conservative/libertarian opposition will, in fact, serve as the metaphorical (and the fact that I'm including the term "metaphorical" in the characterization ought to indicate how far we've fallen) assassins of Lady Liberty.