What is Free Speech?

FreeSpeechby Leigh Bravo   3/5/14
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. It ensures against governmental intrusions on the essential personal freedoms – freedom of religion, freedom of the press, free expression, freedom of association, and freedom of assembly. Regarding free expression, “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.” The Courts have interpreted the language to mean that no arm of the government, federal or state, can abridge the free speech right.

Has our government been chipping away at our right to free speech and our freedom to practice the religion of our choice? How about the freedom of the press or our freedom to assemble? Have you been watching and listening to the happenings of the past several years? Will you be surprised at the laws that have been passed right under you nose without any major fanfare or celebration? Are you completely aware? Do you care? Are you angry and determined to change the status quo?

Let’s look as some of the laws that have been passed, and some instances, that do, indeed, infringe on your First Amendment rights!

Two years ago, Congress passed H.R. 347 entitled the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act. It passed the House by a vote of 399 to 3, with absolutely no fanfare and barely anyone took note. What does H.R. 347 say?

“Whoever knowingly engages in protest near a building where the President is doing his business is guilty of a federal crime if the protest ‘impedes’ or ‘disrupts’ the flow of government business or official functions.”

Take note this is a FEDERAL OFFENSE, which means there is a fine and/or imprisonment for not more than 10 years. So basically you are not allowed to demonstrate at any Presidential appearances, no demonstrating anywhere near the President — or anyone who has Secret Service protection. You cannot raise your voice, say anything against the President, or even talk about doing such a thing or you can get a year in prison.

Who voted for this in the House? Everyone, except for 2 Republicans, Justin Amash and Paul Broun, and one Democrat, Keith Ellison. Does this infringe on your right to assemble and redress grievances to the President or other government officials?

So, now we know of at least one “Chip” in the first amendment! A real blow to freedom of assembly, freedom of protest and freedom of speech.

The second “Chip” is the NDAA, or the National Defense Authorization Act which specifies the budget and expenditures of the US Department of Defense. Section 1021 of the NDAA allows for the “indefinite detention of American citizens without due process at the discretion of the President.” This section has been challenged as a violation of the Bill of Rights. Does this scare you? It should.

Do you remember the White House security aide who was critical of the Obama Administration over the “whitewash” of the attack on Benghazi? He was fired for expressing his First Amendment rights. Can the President detain you if he doesn’t like your politics or your religion or the way you wear your hair? Under the NDAA, yes he can…indefinitely, without charging you with a crime.

We cannot really talk about freedom of speech without addressing the targeting of conservatives by the IRS. Do you consider this “Chip” number three? Whether you believe only conservatives were targeted or if you believe progressive groups were also targeted is really of no concern. What should be a major red flag is the fact that the IRS could be used by any government official to “target” or “abuse” any American based on their political beliefs regardless of party affiliation. If they are allowed to get away with targeting political groups, what can be said when they start targeting people with black hair, or white women, or Jewish men or Christians?

“Chip” number four should address the freedom to practice the religion of your choice. In this day and age, do you feel that you truly have the right to practice your beliefs free from retaliation or prosecution?

In recent years we have heard and witnessed our military finding it difficult to openly express their religious beliefs. In an article by Penny Star, some active members of the military shared their experiences with her. They said “They’ve been prohibited from sharing their faith, prohibited from praying publicly and dismissed from duty for refusing to surrender their religious convictions.” In one case, there was a brief ban on Bibles being allowed in the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Mikey Weinstein, an attorney, businessman and former Air Force officer, is the founder of the MRFF, Military Religious Freedom Foundation. He is quoted as saying, “What you’ve got is a lusty and thriving religious intolerance that is objectively manifesting itself in prejudice and discrimination and is obliterating the First Amendment, civil rights, and the U.S. Constitution.”

U.S Representative John Culberson (R-TX) confirmed that the Houston National Cemetery was preventing Christian prayers from being said at Military funerals. The Veterans Administartion settled a lawsuit filed by the Liberty Institute regarding religious freedom and free speech at the cemetery. The VA agreed to terms involving restoration of religious policy and paid legal fees in the amount of $215,000.

What about the murder and persecution of Christians around the world? Why hasn’t the current Administration denounced the behavior? Is that a nod for Religious discrimination by our President? He has been quite vocal on the rights of Muslims in the United States, why not Christians?

“Chip” number five was a situation in the press most recently regarding monitoring of news stations by the FCC under the direction of President Obama. Did this threaten our “freedom of the press?” There was such an outcry over the potential monitoring that the FCC backed down for now. But will we see this come about in a different direction, under the table, without our knowledge?

The sixth “Chip” involves a local event involving students at a High School in California — wearing t-shirts with the American flag on Cinco de Mayo — who were asked to turn their shirts inside out or go home due to complaints and threats made to them by Mexican Students. The First Amendment law says the government should protect the speaker and not the “thugs” or those who threatened. However, in the Court case, the judge determined that students cannot display the American flag in an American School because they might offend and therefore be attacked. Does this seem right? Does this action teach the “hecklers” that they can suppress your free speech by simply threatening violence?

Our Founding Fathers were quite clear on their meaning of “free 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 perdition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

So, do you think your First Amendment rights are being chipped away?
Leigh Bravo blogs at The Trumpet. • (11118 views)

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17 Responses to What is Free Speech?

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Leigh, that’s a terrific compendium of the latest and greatest abuses of the First Amendment by our government. One wonders when all those supposed free speech advocates will get wise to the fact that these “liberals” are highly illiberal.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    I have to disagree a bit with the first Chip, since a case can be made that a protest that disrupts or impedes the functioning of the government doesn’t quality as peaceable assembly — provided it’s interpreted reasonably by the government. Unfortunately, with the Fascist Messiah and his top capo (Eric Holder) making the decisions, there’s little chance of reasonableness where conservative dissent is concerned.

    I recall that some of the Tea Partiers targeted by the Obama Gang’s IRS enforcers (led by capo Lois Lerner; she and Holder are Anselmi and Scalise to Obama’s Capone) pointed out that they had violated virtually every right in the Bill of Rights. It’s clear that liberal Fascists (if you’ll pardon the redundancy) have no more use for the First Amendment than they do for the Second.

  3. Guzzi Guzzi says:

    This site is a great find. I hope to help it grow.

    The thing that concerns me most here is that this forum like many, will descend into mere name calling. We have much to discuss.

    While not in my dotage, I, at 65 have only in the last few years begun to understand the depth and virtuosity of the “framers” of the United States Constitution. Like me, we the people may be too late to save it.

    First Amendment protections should be inviolable. Oddly, we seem to have gone some 200 plus years without seeing the need to somehow through statute, limit “free speech”. This whole concept of limiting speech, peaceful assembly or petition is contrary to the wording of the First Amendment that states “Congress shall make no law”

    Admittedly, I suppose that peacefully could be interpreted by some differently, but in reality, like pornography, common sense dictates that you will know it when you see it. Why the need to place a magic zone around the President so nebulous, that it can be used at the discretion of the authorities easily to achieve any goal.

    Lawyers love to use the “slippery slope” analogy which states simply that once you are over the edge….well you get the point. We need to defend our Constitution at every turn. It is incrementally being ignored, eroded, misinterpreted, and maligned because firstly, it is not vigorously defended and secondly, because it serves the Stateists and Progressives agenda to circumvent and subvert its clear message.

    • steve lancaster says:

      Welcome to the barricades! Sites like this and many others are part of the under the radar political shift that is happening in this country.

      Like you I am part of the first wave of boomers and concerned about the country we are leaving to our grand children and great grandchildren.

      Freedom of speech is critical to a free people, but even more critical is the ownership of property. The more control government, at all levels, has to hinder the free use of your property the less freedom you will have. It is for this reason that Jefferson originally wrote, “Life, Liberty and Property”.

      Freedom of speech is irrelevant if the government can seize everything you own without cause. A serf with free speech is still a serf.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Well said, Steve.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Like you I am part of the first wave of boomers and concerned about the country we are leaving to our grand children and great grandchildren.

        I guess I’m sort of on one of the last waves of the Baby Boomers, born in 1958. I may not be a Baby Boomer, proper, but I was exposed to that generation like second-hand smoke.

        And thus I approach politics now from a point of view opposite of “Oh, aren’t I special,” which could be said to be the calling card of the Baby Boomers (and their progeny).

        Instead — as honest patriots, conservatives, and inheritors of Western Civilization — it is incumbent upon us to recognize, “Weren’t they [the Founding Fathers] special!”

        Given the social anarchy, if not abject evil, brought by the Left, many people, including myself, have had to undergo remedial work. The state education system typically is a joke. But I can say for the government school system that I attended that at least the deleterious effects were not doubled. That is, although the education I received was mediocre, at least they weren’t wantonly teaching me wrong things. I therefore had much less to unlearn than others. For me, it was mostly a process of adding in rather than subtracting.

        In particular, I didn’t have to face the emotional manipulation that is being done to kids today in what can be considered outright cult-like programming. Once those emotional connections are made (as they were with the brainless, narcissistic hippies of the Baby Boomers), that stuff tends to stick and is very hard to change.

        But it needs to change. The Baby Boomers have been fed a hill of beans. This narcissistic generation (and their progeny) has been taught that they are the paragon of virtue. While voting for these illiberal Marxists and Communists, they believe they are the staunch defenders of liberty. It seems that no matter what evidence is presented to them, they do not want to give up this long-cherished conceit — even if it costs us our country.

        It’s perhaps a little much to expect the Boomers to see behind the false marketing of the Left, if only because we have become a mass-marketed and homogenized dumbed-down culture. But they must do so if we are to retain and restore liberty. Somehow they must find a way to see around the slander of the Left regarding America, the free market, conservatives, Christians, and a host of other good things that have been besmirched routinely (and often with no defense from Republicans) for decades.

        Reagan said that freedom is never more than one generation from extinction. The task for Boomers (and their progeny) is to cast off the smug and conceited cult programming of the Left and come to realize not only that everything the Left said was a lie (which is an important thing to do), but that America and Western Civilization are good things worth preserving.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          An interesting point about education. I was born in 1951, so my situation was different. Then, too, I went to a Catholic school for 2 years while we were in Greece (where my father was Assistant Army Attache) followed by a year in a public American school there, then 2 years at a public Army school (at Fort Campbell, where my father was stationed before he went on his final tour of duty, with the 101st Airborne in South Vietnam, from which he returned in a bag). After that, my mother was doubtful how well I could handle the emotional battering I might receive in a public school, so she put me in a private school for the remainder of high school. (And a good enough school that 2 of my textbooks there were later used in classes at Purdue).

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            with the 101st Airborne in South Vietnam, from which he returned in a bag

            My sincere condolences and a thank-you to your father for being on the front lines against Communism. How that wormed has turned since then. We now have, for all practical purposes, a Communist president who forwards the Communist agenda and is an enemy to the very type of people who understood the evil of that agenda. Let’s hope that God holds such people as your father in his arms and makes something lasting out of such sacrifices and earthly contradictions.

            And thanks to your mother it sounds as if you received better than the Burger King homogenized democratic education which is so prevalent today.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              It was also my father who observed that the big problem with Communism is that it treats its people like human fertilizer, to be expended for the sake of the future (a glorious future that somehow never arrives).

          • steve lancaster says:

            Brad, Tim,
            One of the interesting things about schooling in the 60’s is that we all seem to have experienced opportunities for real education and not babysitting. Often in the hands of a teacher, whom we expected to hate. Mine was in 9th grade from an English teacher who was a fanatic about diagraming sentences. She busted me not paying attention in class (I was reading a Russian Novel, Taras Bulba by Gogol, and rather than then chewing out I deserved I was told to turn in a book report. For the rest of that year all I did was read and do reports on what I read. The only suggestion was Suetonius after I read Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars.

            Today a teacher who used such techniques would at the least be reprimanded and most likely fired. Most of my teachers were either veterans of WWII, Korea and the depression. I think that was a shaping influence.

            When in the early 70’s I found myself working in DC, I spent two wonderful years in the library of Congress on my own time reading the original papers of Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. That was my real college education.

            I spent almost 4 years at the heart of the beast, with time in Vietnam, Cuba, Chile, Guatemala, Germany and Israel. We were taught that we could trust government but by 1976 that was no longer possible.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Mine was in 9th grade from an English teacher who was a fanatic about diagraming sentences.

              I had an old-school English teacher like that…in the 7th grade. And it sounds as if your 9th grade teacher had a bit of flexibility and common sense.

              I tried reading Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars and it was just too dense for me. But I have a friend in Holland who read it in the Latin. I guess that book is a good example of erudite Latin.

              The days of the government school system functioning as a way to educate children are numbered. That system certainly could, and probably will, hang around as a glorified baby-sitting service which doubles as a state indoctrination system.

              But I think more and more that parents who are serious about giving their kids a good education will bypass the sewer system of the government schools. Not only do an increasing number of those schools fail to educate children, but those environments are turning into a Lord of the Flies one. If you want your child to be ruined, send him or her to a public school.

              But such is the prejudice against conservatives that many blacks, for instance, will keep voting for Democrats, despite the fact that Democrats quite literally use the education system as a way to create a class of ill-informed dependents. That’s one reason Booker T. joined our Hall of Fame. He was the opposite of that mindset and a true American in the sense of being self-made and hard-working.

              • steve lancaster says:

                Like most southerners some of my heritage is at best unknown, however I proudly count Booker T. as a distant cousin.

                Also Richard Lovelace, Roger Sherman, John Browning and the black sheep in the family Hillary Rodham Clinton.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              I remember diagramming sentences, too. I’ve often suspected, when I see people use “whom” when the word is the subject of a clause that is the object of a verb in the main sentence (in which case it should be “who”), that they never had to diagram and thus learn how to handle complex sentences correctly.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                To whom are you referring? Man, I do have trouble with that one. Please feel free to correct me when you see that. I want to learn to do it right. But whom really cares, I suppose.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Right on, Guzzi. I’m glad that you’re here. Keep speaking up, as you’re doing. That’s what we need to do if we are ever to deflate and defumagate the Left.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Inherent to the free speech issue are the propaganda assaults on the public by the state (particularly a Leftist state whose dishonor knows no bounds) as they, through deceit, try to paint a false reality.

    Rush was talking about this photo today on his show. It shows Putin masquerading as a normal Russian family greeting Reagan. That’s KGB agent Putin on the left with the camera around his neck.

    This is the comrade that our Marxist, America-hating president told to wait until after the election when he’d have more flexibility.

    Reagan = good. Putin = evil. Who is Obama most aligned with ideologically?

  5. Timothy Lane says:

    Actually, I wasn’t thinking of anyone here regarding “who” vs. “whom”. In fact, I once was marked wrong on an aptitude test for some such grammatical matter.

    Incidentally, regarding black relatives: Elizabeth has Carver relatives, and there is family lore that this includes George Washington Carver’s former owner (and anyone who knows much about the history of American chattel slavery knows that this may make her an actual blood relative of the great agronomist).

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