What about my Freedom of Speech?

“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.”

A masterful piece of wordsmithing, it exemplifies the practice of brevity in that it takes mere seconds to read and comprehend for most of us non-politicians, yet it manages to cover matters of religion, freedom of speech and peaceful assembly in a very simple, concise fashion.

All that, and yet an exhaustive number of Americans in this era - Internet users in particular - insist on demonstrating their woeful ignorance of this amendment. They can be found in Online Communities and Social Media platforms everywhere; self-important individuals eager to emblazon the trappings of Free Speech across their foreheads for all to see, without having the slightest clue how the First Amendment gives Free Speech its meaning.

Instead, they attempt to employ it to say whatever they wish, whenever they wish, and in whatever manner they wish. Many go as far as to insist that it grants them the right to be heard, as if merely being ignored by the rest of the world is a violation of sacred Constitutional law. Were that the case, my personal right to Free Speech would have been violated by the readers who didn’t make it past “self-important individuals.”

Knowing full well that some of the Internet fall squarely into that category, and will likely skip down to the first bold text they see, I’m going to explain what freedom of speech is “not” by Constitutional edict.

Freedom of speech does not give you the right to…

  • Express your opinion
  • Mouth off to anyone you like
  • Make a total jackass of yourself
  • Have the rest of us listen to you

Without the possibility of being told to shut the hell up by your fellow citizens.

Not only can you legally be told to shut up, but you can expect to be made to shut up by those with the power and authority to do so. Who has that power and authority? Most prominently, moderators representing established platforms and individuals who don’t like what you’re saying or the way you’re saying it.

Freedom of speech does give you the right to…

  • Express your opinion
  • Mouth off to anyone you like
  • Make a total jackass of yourself

Without being told to shut the hell up by Congress in an act of legislation ratified into law.

In other words, all things being equal, you can peaceably drone on about anything you please without fear of being arrested by peace officers and placed on trial in a criminal court of law.
That’s the idea, anyway, but that’s it. All else is fair game - including civil court.

Bottom line? The First Amendment is not the all-powerful security blanket that so many Americans make it out to be.

It does not grant you the right to say anything you want, any way you want, anywhere you want without repercussion or reprisal.


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