Freedom of Speech Equality

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. - Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion and Petition, Amendment 1 of the US Constitution

This amendment to the US Constitution receives a great deal of publicity in our society today.  Whenever anyone makes a comment that isn't shared by the opposition someone invariably shouts about Freedom of Speech.  Freedom of Speech is used to justify anyone's desire to say something publicly.  Let's look at some examples.  Decide which of these is freedom of speech and which are not.

1) You are sitting at a football game cheering on your favorite team.  At the height of the action, the guy six rows back yells "BOMB! BOMB! BOMB!".  The crowd panics and runs out of the stadium causing numerous injuries to people trampled by the crowd.  It is later determined that there was no bomb, but it was all a hoax.

2) A celebrity puts out a tweet filled with expletives directed at a minority group in this country.

3) Your employer is involved in a messy trial involving product liability.  You don't think your company is in the right, and you decide to leak some damaging documents that will benefit the other side.  Your employer finds out and decides to terminate your employment.

4) You stand on your front porch yelling obscenities at each passing car.  The police arrest you for your actions.

If you answered that any of these incidences fall under the Freedom of Speech amendment you would be completely wrong.  

The US Supreme Court has ruled that yelling something in public that causes a panic or incites a riot is not protected (remember that peaceable assembly line).   

A celebrity who shoots off their mouth (or tweets it off) is not protected under this amendment either.  The government has not enacted a law that restricted this, but maybe the celebrity in question should give up control of their social media.  

Just because you believe your employer is in the wrong during a trial does not give you the right to leak confidential documents.  It looks cool on TV and in the movies, but again the government passed no laws restricting this.  Other laws would apply though.  

As for yelling obscenities publicly, while not protected here it is more than likely restricted by numerous other laws in your local community.

You see, many people in our society have never read the US Constitution or any of the amendments.  They think they know what is in each based upon the news media.  If you learn nothing else from this blog, learn this.  You cannot believe everything you are told.  Learn from the primary source.  Actually read the Constitution before you try to tell someone else what is in it.

Depending on the source of the statement in question, you can guarantee that it will either be received negatively or just laughed off just another joke.  Take Vice-President Biden.  Our esteemed Vice-President has made a career of shoving his foot in his mouth at every opportunity.  There is even talk that he may run for President in 2016.  What most people today forget is the Joe Biden ran for President in 1988.  He withdrew early in the process due to plagiarism.  He was accused and later admitted that many of his stump speeches were lifted directly (without credit) from other sources.  You see, he tried to pass off as his own, that which was not.  This is the same man considered as a contender in 2016.

Does anyone remember President George HW Bush (1989-1993)?  He made a famous campaign promise "read my lips, no new taxes".  This was a foolish statement to make, and eventually he had to raise taxes to meet our financial obligations.  Unfortunately for him, he was voted out-of-office the following year and replaced by a man who didn't even win a majority of the vote.  President Bush had the right to say what he wanted, but it didn't work out so well for him.

We have the right to express our opinions as long as they don't endanger someone else.  We also need to be held accountable for the statements we make ... equally.  Hold every elected official or person of authority up to the same standard.  Hold our media to do the same.  The media loves to talk about journalist ethics, yet biases are clearly evident in what is reported.  The reality is that we are all human, and our opinions are shaped by our experiences.  We have the right to say it, but there is no right for someone else to listen.  IF you want people to listen, you need to be careful what you say and when.

It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it. - Maurice Switzer (often attributed to Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain)