Efforts to suppress freedom of speech threaten our future

James H. "Smokey" Shott

Our Constitution guarantees many freedoms that are outlined in its first ten amendments, The Bill of Rights.

“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.” So reads the First Amendment.

There is a reason these rights appear in the very first amendment: They are important and fundamental freedoms. And among those, the ability for the people to express their wants and desires, their approvals and disapprovals is fundamental to a free nation.

The First Amendment protects popular speech as well as unpopular speech, without prejudice. And it is unpopular speech that has the greater need for protection. Imagine living in a nation where only approved ideas may be discussed, with punishment for breaching the rules a likely result.

Such restrictions on the expression of ideas is a feature of monarchies, dictatorships and fascist regimes.

In sharp contrast, the USA was formed as a democratic republic with great individual liberty, where new and different, popular and unpopular ideas have been welcomed since its inception.

By encouraging the expression of ideas by anyone at any time, there are discussions going on continually. Ideas that offer positive influences are adopted, while unworthy ones are rejected. The freedom to speak is an indispensable element in moving forward in the best possible way.

In the early years of the 21st Century, that sensible process is under attack. What we see increasingly these days are efforts to suppress and suffocate ideas that are in conflict with some group or another, regardless of how small or large the group may be.

Some of this is the ghastly social disease called “political correctness.” Some of it is censoring political ideas and speech, a clear and present danger to our future. This movement shuts down discussion and debate.

It works to prevent even the exposure of contrary ideas to the light of day. The only ideas the ever-more socialist Left will allow are those of the group’s narrow dogma.

It is a testament to the failure of their ideas that the Left’s greatest fears are ideas that are different.

Rather than leave their ideas to rise or fall on their own merit, they work overtime using dishonest tactics to make their ideas the only ones anyone hears or reads.

Some examples:

• Putting their finger firmly on the ideological scale, Twitter, Facebook and Google (among others) censor conservative posts. Recently, a group of Leftists protested in front of Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky home, shouting profanities and threats. When McConnell had video of these threatening carryings-on posted on Twitter, his account was promptly suspended. It’s just unacceptable to show how the Left behaves.

• California Senator and Democrat presidential nomination seeker Kamala Harris told a Democrat fundraiser for criminal justice reform this: “And once [Donald Trump is] gone and we have regained our rightful place in the White House, look out if you supported him and endorsed his actions, because we’ll be coming for you next. You will feel the vengeance of a nation. No stone will be left unturned as we seek you out in every corner of this great nation. For it is you who have betrayed us.”

• Texas Democrat Rep. Joaquin Castro publicized the names and businesses of Trump campaign contributors. “Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump,” he tweeted. Clearly assisting his followers in efforts to intimidate potential supporters/voters, he continued, “Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders.’”

Defending this sordid action, Castro said that he didn’t intend any harm, and that the information is public information. True, campaign donations are public information, if one chooses to search them out and knows where to look. But how many of Castro’s followers would have thought to do that, or gone to the trouble to look up the names of Trump donors, if he hadn’t saved them the trouble?

• Robert Francis O’Rourke (Beto) said this on MSNBC recently: “… the most important thing we can do right now, but also ensuring that beyond the president’s conduct and behavior and rhetoric we do a better job of regulating and enforcing hate speech and calls to violence on social media platforms.” The essence of his comment is to censor conservative speech, particularly Trump’s, which he characterized as “hate speech” and “calls to violence” based solely on his prejudiced opinion.

Isn’t it interesting how so many Democrats/Leftists, particularly those chasing the Democrat nomination for president, exercise their First Amendment rights to attack the First Amendment rights of their ideological and political adversaries? They do this under the guise of protecting America from “racists” and “white supremacists.”

The Leftists have raised the uncouth ability for name-calling to the top of their list in order to stifle free speech.

Silencing political and ideological opponents is a violation of one of the most important individual rights that our Constitution guarantees each of us.

It is un-American.

James H. “Smokey” Shott, a resident of Bluefield, Va., is a Daily Telegraph columnist.