Hey Joe: Curtailing Free Speech is Not the Answer  

For the past several months, I have watched with alarm as judges, the mainstream media, and even Joe Biden have tried everything to stop Donald Trump from talking and thereby prevent him from running for president.

They have distorted his words and misrepresented his speeches, labeling them divisive and hateful. The mainstream media refuse to report on or even carry his speeches, even though he is the Republican candidate for the nation’s highest office.

They condemn his use of the word “invasion” to describe the 10 million migrants who have flooded our nation illegally since Joe Biden took office three years ago.

His opponents are fond of calling Trump’s comments “hate speech” when, in fact, so-called “hate speech” is not even defined in U.S. law.

Let me be clear. I advocate for free speech not just for Donald Trump but for all Americans.

But when a sitting president unleashes the power of the federal government to prevent his main political opponent from running for office, we have a problem.

The negative, knee-jerk reaction on the radical left to Trump’s appeals for an end to illegal immigration and subsequent “migrant crime” is another problem. There is nothing hateful about pointing out the truth—even if the Democrat party appears oblivious to it and refers to it as “hate speech.”

Even the American Civil Liberties Union, which is about as left-wing as you can get in this country, insists there is no such thing as “hate speech.” There is, says the ACLU, only “free speech.”

Here is what the ACLU says about what it calls “hateful speech:”

“The ACLU has often been at the center of controversy for defending the free speech rights of groups that spew hate, such as the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis. But if only popular ideas were protected, we wouldn’t need a First Amendment. History teaches that the first target of government repression is never the last. If we do not come to the defense of the free speech rights of the most unpopular among us, even if their views are antithetical to the very freedom the First Amendment stands for, then no one’s liberty will be secure. In that sense, all First Amendment rights are “indivisible.”

“Censoring so-called hate speech also runs counter to the long-term interests of the most frequent victims of hate: racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities. We should not give the government the power to decide which opinions are hateful, for history has taught us that government is more apt to use this power to prosecute minorities than to protect them. As one federal judge has put it, tolerating hateful speech is “the best protection we have against any Nazi-type regime in this country.”

Liberals, Joe Biden, and others on the left fail to understand the important point the ACLU is making.

This nation was founded on the principle that people have a right to express their opinions without fear of government sanction or violent reprisal.

Nevertheless, there are those, including many leftist judges, who are convinced that muzzling or assaulting political candidates with whom they disagree, shutting down talk radio hosts, television commentators, and those who write angry letters to the editor, is the answer.

When was the last time you saw a conservative commentary in YOUR newspaper? When did you last see a conservative commentator on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, or MSNBC who was allowed to express his or her opinion?

The fact is, when you read between the lines of the outrage concerning political discourse, what you find is this: as long as the discourse is in agreement with YOUR beliefs, YOUR political agenda, and YOUR view of the world, then it is OK.

But if it is in opposition to what YOU believe, then by all means, it must be suppressed.

That is not the way the First Amendment works.

What those who want to muzzle people like Trump are doing is putting our nation on a perilously slippery slope. Once you give the government and leftist judges the power to police what you can say, where you can say it and how you say it, you have given away your greatest freedom.

The American Bar Association points out that one way of dealing with what some like to label as “hate speech” within the US legal framework is to “create laws and policies that discourage bad behavior but do not punish bad beliefs.”

Silencing and punishing people for what they believe is the most egregious form of tyranny. And yet, that is what we see happening in our nation today.

Think about Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan of the 1930s and 1940s. Think about Cuba, Russia, China, and North Korea today. All of those nations have created agencies tasked with watching and listening to what people say and then punishing those who dare speak with prison or worse.

But wait. Isn’t that what the Biden administration is doing to Donald Trump and other conservatives they disagree with? And what about the hundreds of people who took part in the January 6 demonstrations at the nation’s Capital and who are now languishing in prison? And what of the 74 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump in 2020? Joe Biden calls them “MAGA extremists and insurrectionists.”

At the same time, it seems as if the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the CIA have morphed into little more than America’s thought police.

It’s as if these government agencies have been lifted right out of George Orwell’s book, “1984.” They are justifying their crackdown on conservatives and conservative speech in order to “stop hate and save democracy”—Joe Biden’s favorite talking points.

The idea that what conservative talk show hosts say on their radio and TV shows somehow creates a “climate of hate” or “threatens democracy” in America is ludicrous.

The same goes for those on the other side of the political spectrum, such as Moveon.Org or Media Matters. What they say is just as anathema to conservatives as what conservatives say about liberals.

Both are part of the public political discourse, and that is a healthy thing.

Putting political opponents in prison is not new in America

Expressing your frustration with the current government, as a lot of Trump supporters are doing in the 2024 presidential campaign, and asking elected officials to represent you the way you want to be represented is not hateful.

In fact, as the ACLU says, the best remedy for hate speech is more free speech. Allowing discourse to move ahead keeps things in the open. Stopping political candidates from talking or from expressing opposing political views only ensures that the conversation goes underground, where, devoid of the light of day, it might grow into a dangerous malignancy.

That is not what the constitutional framers had in mind when they adopted the First Amendment in 1791.

That critical Constitutional amendment is as brilliant in its brevity as it is in its scope:

“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.”

Americans of every political persuasion should heed those words and not attempt to re-construe their meaning.


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About Ronald E. Yates

Ronald E. Yates is an award-winning author of historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy. Read More About Ron Here

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