Tom Riggins: A tragic death
I write today to bemoan an impending death. There has been eroding health and vigor for several years. Of late the erosion seems to be accelerating and the symptoms more obvious. Demise seems imminent. Some opine the prognosis to be terminal, others wish it so. The victim? The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The First Amendment has often historically been touted as the foundation of the wall against government tyranny. So much so that the press has been awarded special privileges and protections in order to provide sunshine on government. Logic says that with the proliferation of social media platforms and nearly instant contact, there should be more openness than ever. That is not the case.
Social media, network television, and print media have long undertaken a massive censoring campaign, selectively deciding what you and I should see. The most recent and perhaps egregious example is a group of doctors calling themselves America’s Frontline Doctors. After their news conference citing real world on the ground experiences treating coronavirus went viral, daring to disagree with the mainstream. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube removed their video. Twitter also suspended Donald Trump Jr.’s and Breitbart News’ accounts for supporting them. They are now regularly removing tweets from the president and other elected leaders whose views don’t fit their “guidelines.”
Legal protections provided to social media platforms as private companies are the same as for newspapers, television, and radio. A federal law called Section 230 protects these media sources from defamation suits and anti-discrimination law. They as private companies can edit some content. However, when they start to censor free speech and limit opposing views, they lose those protections. Social media wants it both ways, and so far they have gotten their wish. They should only be able to choose one.
Speaking of free speech, what happened to it? There is a common liberal quasi-Marxist theme in the forefront today. That is fine, that is their right. What isn’t acceptable is that opposing views are berated, shamed, and attacked without consideration of those speakers’ rights. This is often done on, you guessed it, social media. But try to rebut their attacks and your account is often suspended for “hate speech.” But, no matter how offensive it may be, isn’t hate speech also considered free speech?
Once upon a time news pundits would disagree with statements of others but defend their right to say it. No more. Unless you meet the standard of liberalspeak in today’s “woke” environment of political correctness, you have no right to disagree and a vigorous smear campaign will be launched against you. That is why I believe the presidential polls are often so wrong. Anyone not of the prevailing liberal political view is afraid to speak out.
The First Amendment also allows peaceful assembly, the key word being peaceful. Contrary to the assertions of the aforementioned media, peaceful does not include looting, burning, destruction of property, removal of statues, assaulting law enforcement and senior citizens, using firebombs, or making explosives from fireworks and nails. A good example was the peaceful assembly that took place in Fallon a few weeks ago. No one interfered with another with the exception of a small group from out of town that attempted to escalate.
Another right set forth is the right to freely worship, or to choose not to. Except in Nevada, where our governor seems to think revenue is more important than the First Amendment. Sadly, five of the Supreme Court justices decided that it was more important to go to a casino than to go to church. All of this, of course in in the name of safety. That is reminiscent of Ben Franklin’s quote, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
We also have the right to petition our government. It is far more effective to look someone in the eye when voicing complaints and concerns. It is much harder for them to avoid or ignore someone in person. Not in Nevada. For “safety” we can no longer address our elected or hired government officials in person, making it much easier for them to tune us out. How convenient, governor.
The First Amendment is not yet dead, although it is ailing mightily. Let’s not let it die a tragic death. Copiously submit your input to social and other media. Let’s turn the left’s strategy on them, making it so burdensome for them to delete us entirely that they become overwhelmed.