Let’s talk about the First Amendment. Now we can’t get into it in it’s entirety in the space of a column, but I want to address some gross misunderstandings I’ve heard of lately.
“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 love the First Amendment, as we should. It protects our way of life. It allows us to worship God in our own way. It allows us to criticize our government without fear of ending up in a prison. It protects us from becoming a country like China or Russia. It is what allows me to write this very column.
Our founding fathers, in their wisdom, wouldn’t agree to the U.S. Constitution without the stipulation of the First Amendment being added.
I wonder though, in the current state of our nation, are we abusing it? Or do many of our fellow Americans simply not understand what the First Amendment actually protects us from?
The whole point of the First Amendment was to protect us from a tyrannical government. Simply put, the government was the bad guy, and our founding fathers wanted to ensure they could live their lives without unnecessary fear from the governing body.
But let me say it again: The First Amendment protects us from the government.
Not other Americans.
I’ve heard the phrase “It’s my freedom of speech” so many times, I’ve lost count.
Yes. We do have the freedom of speech, but if you are in a private business and choose to say something the owner finds distasteful, the owner has every right to refuse service.
The First Amendment isn’t a “free-for-all” card to allow people to just say anything and everything without repercussions. It doesn’t allow people to abuse waitresses or sales clerks. It isn’t an excuse to spew hateful words to those who practice a different religion. It’s not a means to justify threats toward another person. When people cite the First Amendment as an excuse to be rude, it cheapens the beauty of it.
At the end of the day, it comes down to respect. People used to respect and cherish those beautiful words.
Nowadays, it seems people are too quick to throw them about flippantly. Whenever they want to justify having thoughts or feelings that goes in contrast to accepted behavior, they’ll use those words almost as a punchline.
I’m tired of it. I want to go back to the days when we respected one another. When we could have differences of opinions without it meaning we hated one another. When we could sit and discuss ideas without it turning into a pissing contest trying to one-up the other person across from us just for the sake of having a tally mark in our own “win column.”
It’s time to respect each other. To look each other in the eyes when speaking to one another. It’s past time to stop using the First Amendment to be hateful and spout ideas that we don’t really understand. It’s time we investigated things, read different viewpoints, and educated ourselves before ever uttering a word in disagreement.
On a whole, it’s time to get back to respecting our county, our constitution and the Amendments. And for the love of all things, it’s time to stop trying to tear the country down simply because we have the “freedom” to do so.
There is a famous quote, which I find quite applicable here.
“Just because you can do something, doesn’t always mean you should.”