When making a list it would seem prudent to prioritize in order of importance, and so it was when the founding fathers drafted The Constitution of The United States of America. First, and with the highest priority, the Freedom of religion and the freedoms of speech and free press. These two together, speech and press, are commonly referred to as the freedom of expression.
Our freedoms of expression have been guaranteed to us, The People, not so we have the guarantee to speak and write of popular ideas but to protect those who hold less than popular ideas. But, that freedom is under attack by those who don’t understand the value of basic rights.
Across this nation, the majority of college students support the idea of a repeal of the First Amendment for a variety of reasons. At the top of the list is that they seem to think that any speech or idea that they don’t agree with is somehow hate speech and a form of micro-aggression. They feel threatened in the safe place they are trying to carve out for themselves.
If they don’t agree with a form of speech, whether it be spoken, written, or conveyed by some other medium they respond in a variety of ways ranging from attempts to threaten the speaker or writer to outright riots and violence toward people or property. In other words, by attempting to exercise their first amendment rights they violate others rights.
The first amendment only goes so far. One cannot threaten violence against another person and legally expect to be protected by the first amendment and one cannot intentionally damage property with an expectation of protection under the Constitution. One person or group’s rights cannot violate the rights of other persons or groups.
College students aren’t the only people who have actively tried to limit or revoke our freedoms. In 2013 Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), with help from Senator Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Schumer (D-NY), attempted to limit the right to free speech and the free press by stipulating what constitutes a journalist. Senator Feinstein attempted to introduce a bill before a Senate committee that tried to qualify journalist as those who work in an established media agency only, thereby revoking independent bloggers and freelance journalists from exercising their freedoms. Interestingly enough this came after she was outed by an independent blogger for using her position on the Appropriations Committee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development to funnel federal contracts, worth millions of taxpayer dollars, to her husband’s firm.
Take a tour of almost any college campus and you will see someone passing around a petition to limit someone or some groups’ right to free speech. A petition made possible by the first amendment.
Our rights allowed by the Constitution are under daily attack and unless we wise up and start paying attention to what’s going on in our local government and federal government we face a future with a far different set of rights. Remember, these same students of today are our leaders of tomorrow.