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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 5/6/21

The right doesn't actually care about freedom of speech"

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We Need Freedom Of Speech!
We Need Freedom Of Speech!
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Freedom of speech is the principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction. The term freedom of expression is usually used synonymously but, in legal sense, includes any activity of seeking, receiving, and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.

In the United States, freedom of speech and expression is protected from government restrictions by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, many state constitutions, and state and federal laws. Freedom of speech, also called free speech, means the free and public expression of opinions without censorship, interference and restraint by the government.

The term "freedom of speech" embedded in the First Amendment encompasses the decision what to say as well as what not to say. The Supreme Court of the United States has recognized several categories of speech that are given lesser or no protection by the First Amendment and has recognized that governments may enact reasonable time, place, or manner restrictions on speech.

Speech that incites imminent of lawless action was originally banned under the imminent lawless action test established in Brandenburg v. Ohio. Inflammatory words that are either injurious by themselves or might cause the hearer to immediately retaliate or breach the peace. Use of such words is not necessarily protected "free speech" under the First Amendment. Inflammatory words that are either injurious by themselves or might cause the hearer to immediately retaliate or breach the peace. Use of such words is not necessarily protected "free speech" under the First Amendment Limits placed on libel and slander attach civil liability and have been upheld by the Supreme Court. The Court narrowed the definition of libel with the case of Hustler Magazine v. Falwell made famous in the movie The People vs. Larry Flynt. New York Times Co. v. Sullivan established the actual malice standard, a high bar for public figure plaintiffs. Making false statements in "matters within the jurisdiction" of the federal government is also a crime. In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969), the Supreme Court extended broad First Amendment protection to children attending public schools, prohibiting censorship unless there is "substantial interference with school discipline or the rights of others".

The GOP however think the first amendment applies to any entity, private business, of businesses with terms or service/use. That is not the case"

Despite the common misconception that the First Amendment prohibits anyone from limiting free speech, the text of the amendment only prohibits the US Congress (and, by extension, those that derive their powers from Congress) from doing so. "Congress shall make no law...abridging freedom of speech." Congress. Specifically, Congress"

When the First Congress met in 1789, he drafted a proposal of the Bill of Rights to fill in the holes of the original Constitution to protect individual freedoms. Two years later, on December 15th of 1791, the Bill of Rights (our first ten amendments) finally passed. Ever since, there have been struggles within the government dealing with the rights of individuals. What are rights? Black's Law Dictionary defines rights as "powers of free action."

The first amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." Yes, this amendment is the reason why Americans proudly go around saying "This is America. I can say whatever I want." The First Amendment includes the freedom of speech, which means the government cannot control what its citizens can and cannot say. The question is, is there a limit to this, so-called freedom? The answer is yes. A well-known example of a limit is that someone choosing to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theatre, when there is no fire, could cause mass confusion and possibly injuries or death. Technically, the person who yelled "Fire!" has the right to say so. But this is where the original intent comes in to clarify our rights.

The term original intent refers to what the Founding Fathers were thinking when they wrote the Constitution of the United States of America. When James Madison wrote, in the Bill of Rights, that people have the freedom of speech, he meant that people could be able to criticize the American government without the fear of being imprisoned. It was never his intention to protect one person's right to cause harm arbitrarily by yelling "Fire!" where there is none. It is now the Supreme Court's job to interpret the constitution with the Founding Fathers' original intent in mind, in a modern fashion.

The founders wrote the first amendment so that the federal government cannot silence dissent from the people, allowing the people to show their opinion of the government itself. They did not have that freedom when under British rule. Today, the GOP think that any privately owned company is lumped in with that as well when that has never been the case. Even legally. The GOP have shown their ignorance of the founder's ideals and intent. Makes you question everything about them even more now, doesn't it?

One look into the mainstream Republican media, or the words of their political leaders, and you'd think their free speech rights are being suppressed on a daily basis only by "liberals". Parler, the conservative version of Twitter, undoubtedly accelerated by the GOP's attacks on Twitter. Parler labeled itself as a "free speech haven" and has a "lack of censorship". It's designed to be the antidote to "liberal safe spaces" where "special snowflakes" suppress free speech. Parler has handles from many prominent Republican leaders, including Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. It's even set up like Twitter. You can't "retweet" but you can "echo". You can't "like" but you can "vote". Then, all with no reaction from the right, Parler, a supposed "free speech" paradise, immediately started censoring people. Profanity, NSFW images, lewd profiles you name it, Parler bans it. A Parler user was banned for creating a satire account of a conservative Representative, for an example. In a cruel irony, four out of Parler's five 'bannable' offenses are actually allowed on Twitter, the very platform Parler users believes to be restricting free speech.

Any censorship present on Twitter is running far more rampant on Parler. It's clear that Parler's supposed mission statement is nothing more than a rhetorical device to sway conservatives into ditching Twitter. Yet, the GOP are fine with it.

And, of course, Trump. The boy who cried fake news. After Twitter issued a warning above President Trump's tweets, calling them inaccurate and inciting violence, Trump signed an executive order targeting social media. He said the order was to "defend free speech from one of the gravest dangers it has faced in American history" (a company using it's "free market" rights, oh no).

In each of these cases, both Republican leaders and journalists betray a fundamental understanding of what the First Amendment actually says.

Take the recent corporate backlash from Coke and other about the voter suppression laws in Georgia. Per conservatives, business are people, and people are covered under the first amendment, but when said businesses use said free speech and free market against them, now it's not about any kind of freedom.

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Franz has been studying political science for almost 30 years and is very passionate about his nation. He bends no knee to party or personality (which means he infuriates both sides of the aisle). He is blunt, to the point, and will call out (more...)

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