Ordinary Russians took to the streets yesterday to protest Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. At least 1,700 people were arrested in some 50 different cities all over Russia. This is extraordinary because spontaneous mass demonstrations are illegal in Russia and protesters can be jailed and fined. People in Russia do not have the same free speech rights we have here in America.
Ah yes, America where people are forgetting why we have free speech in the first place, and increasing numbers of people are willing to throw free expression out the window if anyone says anything offensive, or something that goes against the grain. Recent news stories show you we cannot take free speech rights and our tradition of free expression for granted.
DHS recently issued an assessment of terrorism threats in the U.S. Instead of focusing on actual terrorists, the assessment indicates the federal government is now worried about ordinary people spreading information the government deems harmful or false. As I’ve explained previously, there are very good reasons not to put the government in charge of deciding what is true and what is false. We really do not want the government deciding we are domestic terrorists because we think there were big problems in the 2020 election, we make fun of public health authorities who contradict themselves all the time on COVID, or we object to pornography in schools. Yet, this seems to be what DHS is suggesting is now the primary focus of government anti-terrorism efforts. DHS should just call up Putin and ask him how he does it. Putin’s truth rules Russia and DHS, if it wants to be successful in its new self-proclaimed mission of being the nation’s thought police, should just follow in his footsteps.
DHS is not the only one who values free expression less these days. Emory Law School student government denied a charter to a free-speech group because it did not have mechanisms in place to prevent a “precarious environment” or harm arising from what is said at its events. According to the overseers, discussions of race and gender issues “directly affect and harm your peers’ lives in demonstrable and quantitative ways…” In other words, somebody might be offended so you can’t speak your mind. What happened to all that grit and resilience training kids get in schools these days?
Meanwhile, so-called ‘journalists’ – who depend on the First Amendment right to a free press to make a living – would like nothing better than to silence people they don’t agree with. According to Washington Post writer Jennifer Rubin, Republicans are not “normal” and should not be treated as such. There should be rules against those evil Republicans because all they do is lie and provoke violence. That’s what happens when you get too far down the rabbit hole. Still, I’m glad she said it because, like Malcolm X [starting at 23:20], I want to know what people are thinking, no matter how idiotic. Another Washington Post writer wants to shut down conservative media outlets for being climate change deniers. Now that the Washington Post has found a sugar daddy and no longer has to worry about where its next paycheck is coming from, it’s gone from sanctimonious to insufferable. I think we should close down the Washington Post because it runs fake stories approved by its editors, as during the Janet Cooke scandal. Just kidding. I want the Post to keep yapping away so we can see just how foolish they’re becoming. Just as foolish as Facebook which was forced to admit in court its supposed ‘fact-checking’ is just their opinion which, oh by the way, is protected by the First Amendment. Imagine that. Well, Facebook, I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
It’s always good to remind people why we have free speech in the first place – because We the People are sovereign. We run this country, not DHS or the Washington Post, and we need all the information so we can make our sovereign decisions. Self-rule is the reason we have free speech. We are ruled by ourselves, not by our betters like Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos. So take a moment and reflect on the value of free expression and what you are giving up if you throw it away just because somebody might take offense at something that is said. It’s your self-rule and your freedom. People who don’t value self-governance and personal freedom won’t have them for very long. The Vladimir Putins among us will see to that.
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