Free Speech is Under Attack

Free Speech is not free if it can be censored.

There is a lot of talk about introducing “hate crime” legislation with regard “acceptable” language on college campuses in America. Obviously, we’ve all seen the news regarding Courtney Lawton and her temper tantrum fit at UNL, but do we really want to jeopardize the 1st Amendment by starting to define what constitutes acceptable free speech? Is that a Pandora’s Box we’re willing to open for the perceived illusion of a “safe space”, which incidentally does not exist in the real world.

For rational adults, when it comes to someone voicing an opinion opposite of our own, it is quite simple. We listen or don’t listen. We comment or don’t comment. However, we respect the free speech of others. Their language may contain defamatory and explicit remarks, but who has the right to say what is morally acceptable language and what is not? Our founders understood that “inalienable rights” were granted by our creator and could not be subject to the restrictions of man. So why now, all of the sudden, do we want to limit the rights to free speech just because it doesn’t align with differing perspectives or hurts someone’s delicate feelings?

You see, in America – the land of the free and home of the brave, as it were, we hold dearly that Freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and it is our right to communicate our opinions and ideas to anyone, regardless of polarized differences. However, progressives try to restrict free speech by limiting it from: libel, slander, obscenity, sedition, hate speech, incitement, fighting words, right to privacy, public security, public order, public nuisance, and any other restrictive form they feel deracinates the institutional control they have infesting the natural order of human interaction. These limitations harm the principles of FREE SPEECH and we SHOULD NOT SUBSCRIBE to any actions that restrict a soul’s right to be heard – whether popular or unpopular, scorned or revered, everyone has the right to express the deepest and most heartfelt level of discourse that can be found in their souls – even if their souls are black and twisted.

The government has adopted the “offense principle” to expand the range of free speech and to prohibit forms of expression wherein they are considered offensive to society, special interest groups or individuals vis-à-vis religious offense, incitement to ethnic or racial groups, and any party claiming abuse, harm, or damage by the free words of others. IN ORDER TO PRESERVE OUR PRECIOUS INALIENABLE RIGHTS, WE CANNOT ACCEPT THESE LIMITATIONS, NO MATTER HOW MANY PEOPLE RECOIL OR FEEL OFFENDED.

You see, Universal law dictates that everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference and that everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

But, if I have to explain any of the aforementioned principles or patriotic subscriptions against the hindrance of liberty, then you are already too blind and cannot be saved; please move to North Korea because that form of tyranny better aligns with your values.

For the rest of America that hasn’t forgotten our fundamental principles, we negate and nullify any attempts to restrict our God-given rights defined within the document that formed our great nation and society… you know, the constitution!


  1. Barb E. Dahl says:

    Can’t agree with you here, Lively. If you really believe in the Constitution and rule of law, then you must believe that you have no right to shout “FIRE” in a crowded theatre. Just sayin!

    • Joshua Lively says:


      I normally don’t engage moral equivalence arguments, but I will in this case because you are propounding a valid point for discussion that needs a lot of clarification.

      The constitution is set up to protect your rights, my rights, and the rights of every U.S. citizen. In your cited example, a person shouting “fire” in a crowded theater insinuates the negligent actions of a person “MAY” cause panic and possible injury to another person, thus impeding that person’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (cause and effect). If a person is injured because of the negligent actions of another person, the injured person has every right to seek restitution for loss or injury, correct? Additionally, the injured person can seek relief under criminal law (i.e. inciting a riot/panic, aggravated assault, et cetera). So, under the constitution and within our judicial system, there are multiple pathways to justice if someone violates your rights and there is a valid cause of action. Hooyah and God Bless America!

      But, that is not what we are talking about. We’re talking about the government restricting free speech and equating it to a crime or violation of another person’s rights without tying it to a valid cause of action. Meaning, my actions have to directly cause damage to a person’s rights for there to be a constitutional violation. In this case, my question is… what is the basis for a moral argument to constitute what acceptable free speech, and what is not acceptable free speech? Who gets to determine the thresholds, and under what moral parameters? Do we use the Bible? Torah? Qu’ran? Bhagavadgita? Upanishads? Vedas? Do we simply rely on the judgment of the legislative branch? As progressives have made it clear there needs to be a distinct separation of church and state, What is the basis for moral arbitration when it comes to free speech?

      People are trying to negate my constitutionally protected right to free speech by citing dictum from a case that was actually overturned back in the 60s. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes used that same ancillary argument in his dissent, which was an opinion that had nothing to do with the facts of the case (Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 – 1919). Justice Holmes believed the government had the right to restrict the free speech of anti-war protestors because he felt criticism of the U.S. government during a time of war was a “clear and present danger” (*nowadays, under the patriot act, we say “threat to national security” – I don’t agree with that either). Moreover, there were two other cases in 1919 wherein the U.S. government jailed criticizers and protestors for nothing more than exercising their 1st amendment rights (Debs v. United States, 249 U.S. 211 – 1919; and Frohwerk v. United States, 249 U.S. 204 – 1919).

      In fact, for the better part of five (5) decades, the law of the land was that the government could imprison people who criticized it. However, in Brandenburg v. Ohio (395 U.S. 444 – 1969), the Supreme Court “held that government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless that speech is ‘directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action’. This case completely negated Schenck v. U.S. and all of the other cases during that 50-year period of constitutional usurpation.

      My point is, people like to reference the euphemistic dictum, “shouting fire in a crowded theater”, without realizing that it has nothing to do with the law (it was the ancillary opinion of one SCJ). Moreover, the case from which it is referenced… it was overturned in 1969, so any reference to it for the sake of a moral equivalency is quite moot. We cannot allow the government to define and dictate “acceptable speech”. We have to be adults and police our own language. If someone says something you don’t like… ignore them. If someone literally yells “fire in a crowded theater” and you get trampled on… press criminal charges for aggravated assault, and then seek punitive damages for your injury and loss. But, please don’t say the government has the right to tell me what I can and cannot say simply because it has the potential of hurting someone’s feelings or insults their over-delicate nature. And again, who is going to be the arbitrator to set the moral threshold of what is right and what is wrong with regard to what people say?

      You have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, correct? There is no guaranteed right you will be happy, but you can pursue it. So if someone says something that we feel is hurtful, we have to simply ignore that person, or counter-protest them. But,we can’t turn to the government like it is a parental figure and expect it to have the authority to protect our “feelings” by usurping the constitutional rights of others. That is not how a free society operates. I always fall back to, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” If someone wants to be a bigotted idiot or racist Neanderthal, how does that physically affect me or impede my ability to have life, liberty, or to pursue happiness?

      Now, I am a libertarian, which means I believe in small, unintrusive government. I believe in individualism rather than collectivism. I believe in classical liberalism over neo-progressivism. You see, growing up, I was harassed for being a “dirty redskin” in a predominately “white” area in the United States. I was told to hide my Native American heritage for the sake of social acceptance, so I know a thing or two about bigotry, intolerance, and hate speech. But, does that give me the right to petition the government to restrict everyone’s speech because of the racist actions of a few sad and lost human beings? No, it does not. I learned that the opinions and insults from others do not define me as a person. I define myself, and my actions dictate how I should be judged by my creator.

      • The Grundle King says:

        “If you really believe in the Constitution and rule of law, then you must believe that you have no right to shout “FIRE” in a crowded theatre. Just sayin!”

        Pure idiocy…you absolutely have a right to shout “FIRE” in a crowded theatre…but would be well-advised to avoid doing so until there’s an actual fire. At that point, common sense would dictate that shouting “FIRE” in a crowded theatre is not only permissible, but highly encouraged.

  2. Colin K. says:

    Your position leaves you no alternative but to support the players in the NFL, the NBA and now, countless high school athletes around the country as they take a knee.

    Glad to have you on, our side.

    • Joshua Lively says:

      Colin… I don’t get involved in sensationalist sentiment. Professional and collegiate athletes have every right to take knees and express their frustrations in civil protest, so yes, you have me on your side in terms the of the constitutionality of their actions. As a combat Veteran, I don’t even take offense… why? Because I fought for their freedom to protest. So, in a way, their actions are quite commendable. They are exercising the rights others have died to defend – so more power to them. However, constitutionality notwithstanding, I have the right not to watch their games or buy their merchandise, which is what millions of Americans are doing right now. This is the same reason why a lot of people are leaving the movie theaters… they want to be entertained and have a reprieve from reality for a while… not be scolded or subjected to all of the political brouhaha.

      But, to be honest, outside of a Super Bowl here and there, I do not watch professional sports. I go back to the MLB strikes circa 1994-1995… way too much complaining by overpaid athletes. I don’t even watch college sports any longer. I go to live games, now and again, but that is more for the camaraderie with my family and friends.

    • The Grundle King says:

      Speaking only for myself, I absolutely support every player’s right to protest…but I can also detest the manner in which they choose to do so.

      I’m not much of a Cowboys fan…but they showed the rest of the league how it should be done on Monday night.

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