I know we’re primarily about the Second Amendment here at Bearing Arms, but I’m fond of all of my rights protected under the Constitution, and when I see a poll showing 51% of respondents in favor of rewriting the First Amendment and lessening our freedom of speech, my inner Paul Revere dons his tricorn hat and I want to ride across the digital countryside to warn people of the impending threat.
This particular poll comes from the Campaign for Free Speech, which describes itself as being”founded by a group of free speech advocates and professionals and led by accomplished First Amendment attorney Robert Lystad”, and the polling numbers show that the group, along with other Americans who value their freedom of speech, have our work cut out for us.
51% of Americans think the First Amendment is outdated and should be rewritten. The First Amendment protects your right to free speech, free assembly, and freedom of religion, among other things.
48% believe “hate speech” should be illegal. (“Hate speech” is not defined—we left it up to the individual participant.) Of those, about half think the punishment for “hate speech” should include possible jail time, while the rest think it should just be a ticket and a fine.
80% don’t actually know what the First Amendment really protects. Those polled believed this statement is true: “The First Amendment allows anyone to say their opinion no matter what, and they are protected by law from any consequences of saying those thoughts or opinions.”
A perfect legislative example of this lunacy is a bill introduced in Massachusetts that would make it a crime to call someone a “bitch”, which thankfully didn’t make it out of committee this week. There’s also the recent case of two Connecticut college students who have been charged with the crime of ridicule on account of creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality or race for shouting racial epithets as they strolled through a parking lot. Think about the phrase “criminal ridicule” for a second, and how Orwellian that is.
The Campaign for Free Speech says they believe there are a couple of factors working to erode freedom of speech protections. First, they blame the “obvious polarization of politics and the media”, noting that many of us are happy to try and make the other side shut up instead of letting them have their say and calling them out on their nonsense if we need to.
Second, we hear much about “hate speech.” Although the term is never defined, most agree that it should be opposed, rebuked, and criticized. But should it be punished by the government? If the government is in charge of determining what is hate speech, then it inevitably becomes political—a weapon that can be used to punish people on the other side of an issue.
One of the big problems we face as a society today is the impulse to rely on government-based solutions to every conceivable issue under the sun, including our hurt feelings. Not to get all “get off my lawn”, but when I was a kid, sticks and stones could break our bones, but words could never hurt us. Now, words can be a form of violence, and once you believe that, it’s not hard to believe that the government has a duty to punish that violence wherever it occurs.
I’d love for these folks to grow thicker skins and be able to shrug off idiotic comments that may be directed at them, but that’s not going to happen overnight, if at all. Maybe what we need is to present a more effective alternative than government intervention to those members of Generation Butthurt who are afflicted every time they hear something hateful; some sort of verbal self-defense that they could use when they feel like they’re being attacked by words. We could start with teaching them something simple. Variations on “Your Mom” are always good.
They say: “You’re a [insert hateful slur here], you [expletive] filthy [second hateful slur].”
You say: “You sound like your mom when she talks dirty to me, only your voice is a little higher and more feminine.”
Eventually, we can progress to more complex and intricate verbal self-defense tactics like “The Steamroller”, “The Dangerfield”, and my personal favorite, “The Filthy Parrot” (I wish I could get into the details of these tactics here, but it’s pretty complex stuff). Before long, these simpering snowflakes will be equipped to respond to the most ignorant and hate-filled comments without the need to involve the criminal justice system.
A man can dream, right? What’s more likely to happen is that ten years from now I get brought up on charges for referring to unnamed individuals as “Generation Butthurt” and simpering snowflakes. Between now and then I’m going to fight as hard for our First Amendment freedoms as I do for the Second Amendment, because the rights protected under both Amendments are neither outdated or unnecessary. In fact, they’re as valuable today as they were when they included in the Bill of Rights back in 1791.