In case you didn’t know, here is the First Amendment of the United States Constitution:
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.
And that’s important to know. But not as important as this: some speech is NOT protected by the First Amendment.
Source! (Sort of… Check the sources of the article. Don’t just rely on Wikipedia…)
For example, you can say you don’t like a person. You can state your opinion about their policies, beliefs, or even their hair. But you can’t publicly humiliate someone and call for others to harass them.
And apparently that’s kind of what this Info Wars guy did, I guess.
But I see an issue. It’s not a conspiracy-inciting nail biter that will leave you wondering if that novelty salt shaker you have, which you don’t know where it came from, is really a salt shaker or if the government is spying on you!
My issue is the same as it’s always been: my issue is with double standards.
Now, whatever the “media” is these days, it’s very obvious that they want to be taken seriously. And when someone else comes in and claims to be “news,” the “media” as a whole is going to vet them. Whether or not the “media” is controlled by a political party or an individual is irrelevant. The people in charge don’t like to be sidelined by a 2-bit nobody who has a loud mouth.
However, being the big dog has it’s advantages. And if you are a little pup who the big dog doesn’t much care for, you’re in deep crap. The big dog can do whatever he wants, but when you try it out, he can tell you you’re wrong and come up with any number of reasons why. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
So, in this article in the New York Times, it is said that Free Speech scholars are urging the Judges to condemn Info Wars’ use of “free speech.” The Info Wars’ people claim that they use “hyperbole and diatribe” which “reign as the preferred tools of discourse.” Meaning they go off the deep end on purpose and their audience knows this. They say their audience knows that their articles and shows are filled to the brim with opinion. But the lawyers seem to think that allowing Info Wars to claim “Free Speech!” would allow other news outlets to do the same, leaving the audience with the message they wanted to make, but having no liability when the message is taken and acted upon.
And this makes sense… but what about Trump?
So, President Trump is a public official, and not by some accident (depending on who you ask) but because he wanted to be, and because he puts himself into public. This means that you and I can talk about him. We can say what we think and we can deride him if we want to. Political cartoons that poke fun at him are perfectly legal. I can say I hate him with all my might. I can even wish that Air Force One would inexplicably disappear over the Bermuda Triangle. Public figures are held to different standards than the average American. Trump receives death threats all the time, apparently.
But that’s all just free speech, right? After all, Trump is a public figure and he’s bound to make people mad. And when people get mad they say stupid stuff. They don’t really mean it, do they?
Probably not. And to be honest, the Info Wars guys probably didn’t mean whatever it was they said about the former State Department official guy. They obviously are just trying to get views, listeners, and a general audience to pay attention to them. Just like actors, actresses, politicians, billionaires, activists, hippies, baby boomers… this list literally will go on forever, because EVERYONE wants people to recognize them. And the next best thing to being recognized is finding someone who possibly believes what you believe. Someone who understands you. Someone who thinks like you.
Even if you’re crazy.
The double standard comes in when one person isn’t allowed to say what they think because another person becomes offended by it. If I say something offensive to a homosexual person, then I am a bigoted, evil, dangerous person and should be put in jail for the rest of my life where I can’t possibly influence people to think what I think. But if a homosexual person goes out in public half naked, exposing my kids to their genitals, and I take offense to that, then I am a bigoted, evil, dangerous person and should be put in jail for the rest of my life where I can’t possibly influence people to think what I think.
And these same people who get offended by Jesus or Conservatives will promptly tell you, should you become offended by their actions or words, that:
“You know what happens when you’re offended? Nothing. Nothing happens. So get over it.”
And yet, when they get offended they have the right to berate you, humiliate you, discriminate against you, and downright disrespect you.
That’s why we have bakers and florists fighting in the courtroom for their freedom to not support gay marriage, but if a restaurant owner doesn’t like that you support Trump, then they can kick you out of their business no questions asked.
Yet, double standards always exist. I’d like to think that if I were given omnipotent control of the cosmos that I would be a “to each his own” kind of ruler. However, this simply cannot be the case. With great power comes the possibility of finally seeing the world conform to what you’ve always claimed would be best.
“You know, if everyone just listened to ME we’d be a lot better off…”
But the other part of this that hurts my brain thinking about is the possibility that ALL speech is somehow hate speech.
Technically speaking, “fightin’ words” is hate speech. (read with accent)
If you directly insult someone with the intent to do harm, either to their body or their psyche, you have broken the law.
Asking others to inflict harm is breaking the law.
Stopping traffic on the highway is not only dangerous and stupid, but also infringing on the rights of the people using the highway, and also breaking the law.
And while it might seem right to you if you are a Christian, forcing people to obey a standard of marriage by law that just so happens to correlate with your religion is quite possibly breaking the law.
At the end of the day, it seems the old adage of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” is about as lawful as you can get. And if you’re one of the little pups, it’s probably just a good idea to adhere to it anyway.
P.S. – no hard feelings.