By Nathan Barton
Since Mama Liberty (Susan Callaway – Lady Susan) began publishing, this publication has had a few very solid principles. As her successor (not replacement: I cannot replace her), I hold to these same principles.
One of these is the God-given right of freedom of expression. Including freedom of speech.
What does that mean? Let me do some preaching to the choir.
This is one of the natural, unalienable rights which are spoken of in the Declaration of Independence and which is (theoretically) protected by the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution and every Constitution of every member of the Federal Union. Every State.
But those Constitutions, and that Declaration, did not CREATE, did not ESTABLISH that right. We have that right because we are human. Whether it is because our Creator gave us that right, or because that is just the way the universe exists, it is NOT something that any human, or any human agency, can give to us.
Sadly, it seems that more and more Americans think that “government gives us” a right of free speech. If government gives us something, that is a privilege, not a right. And invariably, what government gives us is possible because the government has taken something away from someone else. Yes, even things related to free speech.
No one that I know of (at least no one sane and at least somewhat rational) has ever proposed repealing the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
Instead, they just commit aggression and fraud by “working around it.” Or just ignore it. Just as they ignore their Creator and (as much as possible) natural law – the laws of physics and the universe. And others want to “tweak” it. That usually amounts to limiting it.
It is both liberals and conservatives that forget that government has not granted us a privilege of speaking freely. Or all the other things related to it: freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and (to some degree) freedom of association. But on this, let TPOL stand clearly and firmly on this: NO liberty comes from government. And therefore, NO government which tries to take ANY liberty away from people, for whatever reason, is illegitimate. It is tyranny. It is in rebellion against God and nature.
Of course, coupled with this freedom of speech, this liberty, must come responsibility and accountability. Just as it does with all other liberties. Anyone who exercises their right of free speech must be willing to accept the consequences of that speech. The liberty to speak does not mean that we will avoid the consequences of lying, or even the consequences of saying something in an objectionable manner. But that is NOT a legitimate role of government, or even of private groups (with the possible exception of voluntary mutual agreement on terms of employment). It is up to other individuals to challenge and correct people who lie, just as it is other people’s responsibility to hold an individual accountable for damage caused by their speech.
We are told that our liberty ends under certain conditions, but is illogical. We may (and often should) not exercise our freedom of speech in irresponsible ways; but this is us (individuals) voluntarily limiting our own liberty: not having government or any other group of people forcing us.
Public safety is almost always the first example claimed. “You can’t yell ‘FIRE!’ in a crowded theatre,” we are told. Yet, that is precisely the place where there is a need to do just that. IF and I say again, IF it is the truth. Indeed, we can argue that we have an obligation to do so. Even if we are pilloried, punished, for doing so.
As is embedded in many state Constitutions, TRUTH is the defense for those who claim that they have been harmed by someone else’s speech. If what you have spoken or written is true, that is sufficient defense. You do not need to justify what you say by your intent, your motives, or whether or not you are antagonistic towards the person or firm or entity you are writing about.
We are also told that sometimes “democracy” and “freedom” and “fairness” and “equality” – and even the “public health” – demand that some kinds of language be coerced. Not just that we can NOT say certain things, but that we MUST say certain things. But freedom to speak of necessity implies freedom NOT to speak.
A current example of this is the demand that anti-abortion clinics provide information to their patients that abortion services are available at some other clinic. This forced language is no more freedom of speech than being commanded to take an oath of allegiance to a dictator. (Indeed, if it were the abortion providers that were forced to provide info to their patients about alternatives to abortion, would this not be seen for what it is: coerced speech?)
Today, especially in the last few years of rampant “wokeness” and the sort of extreme political correctness, we have many more examples of prohibited AND forced speech. People are fired and cancelled for refusing to use the “correct pronouns” in referring to some people. A health bureaucrat has recently demanded and used “birthing person” instead of “mother.” Certainly, a person has a right to call themselves whatever they want to. But just as important, another person has the right to NOT agree and call the first person whatever they wish to.
Sadly, too many people want that changed. They want “offensive” speech to be curtailed, discouraged, outlawed, prohibited, and punished. They really want government to do that, but they are happy when private business and private institutions and organizations do so.
And the definition of “offensive” is expanded constantly, as the above examples show. But however it is defined, it cannot legitimately be used to take freedom of speech from others.
On this we make our stand.