Freedom of speech is something we have held dearly to our hearts since we were born. Something we are told is an inalienable right. Our Constitution reads, “Amendment One. 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 redress of grievances.” That’s it. Nothing more.
Amendment One is very short. Amendment Two, regarding guns is even shorter, but that’s for another day. So, we live by this doctrine, this creed, that freedom of speech needs to be held in high esteem, yet this document was written over 200 years ago. There was no internet. No trolling, no pervasive memes, no streaming on social media. There were political cartoons, but this was a very, very different time when religious freedom was in question.
In general, today, religious freedom is not a concern. So, the amendment did what it set out to do. However, this freedom is being abused for different reasons, unforeseen technological ones.
The definition of Amendment is to make a minor change or to improve upon a piece of text or legislation.
We may be due for amending our amendments. For we have a sickness in this country that is destroying it with rot from within. That rot is misinformation. We have political pundits, “news” agencies, endless groups, and endless social media platforms, streaming “information” that is literally bombarding our psyches. Information is how we make decisions. If we don’t have the right information, we don’t make the right decisions. Now we are often making decisions based upon misinformation and deliberately erroneous “facts,” put out by “news” agencies.
I don’t think the First Amendment was designed to destroy the country it was meant to free. It was designed to uphold people’s choices and rights. And as it said, the press, but who is the press nowadays? Printing presses are all but obsolete with a handful holding out, many owned by big businesses controlling the narrative.
Now every cable news station has a talking head 24-hour news cycle, even though what they present is not 24 hours’ worth of news. It’s really the same news regurgitated over a 24-hour period: the most dramatic news, the most divisive news in what is about a half hour worth of the worst of what the world had seen that day. It’s news that sells, not news that illuminates, if it’s news at all. Kim Kardashian’s ass is not news. You may be fascinated by it and her family drama, but it still isn’t news. News affects a population, not a hair style or gossip of who’s sleeping with whom.
And so, when you have pundits, political hacks, talking heads on either side, speaking as if what they’re saying is gospel when it is often hearsay or some narrative they’re selling.
Well, now we have a problem with freedom of speech, because now it is being used against the people, not for the people. It is now designed to divide the people, often turning this narrative into physical violence as we saw on January 6th with the capital insurrection that came close to toppling this nation and putting an illegitimate narcissist despot in place as president who cares nothing for the law.
The definition of Insurrection is a violent uprising against an authority or government.
The definition of Treason is betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government.
Now if many of these insurrectionists were not fed this misinformation about the election being stolen, would they have done it?
There’s a big difference between news and opinion, news and narrative, news and desire, news and belief. You know, it’s like my daughter can just say something crazy, right? But she’s a kid. When you take that into the realm of politics, information and climate change, there are dire, dire circumstances, with dire results if we do not get the right information out there.
We must hold these truths to be self-evident. And what’s happening is self-evident. If we want to hold freedom of speech in such high regard, we must hold the content of that speech in high regard as well. Not just the idea of it or blathering anything we choose to, because the unchecked narrative is destroying us. Our country, our beloved life raft of a nation for so many, is teetering right now. There is a hole in it draining the air. Our democracy people assume is going to last. If you look at history, it doesn’t last unless you tend to it and fortify it. Nothing does. We must keep strengthening it, not weakening it. Empires with huge debt, huge military spending and huge inflation crumble. Just look at ancient Rome.
Just like with censorship on music or television or movies, censorship that you cannot say whatever whenever it suits you, not in the public arena anyway. Bob at the bar on his third tequila shot can say whatever he likes. But there must be accountability and clarification if spoken by a “news” agency or politician. Your opinions, wants, and desires, Are Not News or Facts.
Facts are very different than someone whipping up the crowd into a frenzy, fear mongering. There must be something in place like there are with movie ratings. When whomever on whatever station you watch acts as an authority, as a news agency, they must site like a research paper would and prove that they are worthy of such a title. News was once revered. It shed a light on the world. In order for people to make informed decisions they must have the right ideas to shape their world and future. If not, we are playing with a fire we cannot extinguish.
Many people often vote against their own interests, and I understand that is the very point of manipulating information.
People can’t make decisions based upon misinformation other than making the wrong decisions. There was a study a few years ago when Obama was president, that people can’t tell the difference between fake news and real news. Well, if you can’t tell the difference between fake news and real news then we have a real problem, not a fake one.
And critical thinking, my goodness, I don’t know where that went, but not too many people seem to have it, acting without thinking and accepting blindly without considering.
The First Amendment was not designed to destroy us but lift us up as human beings. If we want to be free and informed, we must do better. We must require more. There are 1000s and 1000s of “media or news outlets” on social media, and on the internet. We don’t know who these people are. Some are fine. You don’t know. Just because they have some name and website and act legit doesn’t make them so. It is the wild west out there and it has our rapt attention. The algorithms of Facebook and all the other social media sites will keep giving you more of what you want. Oh, you like ice cream, your kids want more ice cream? Here you go. It is designed to feed whatever narrative you’re seeking and can fan the frenzy of the false narrative as we tumble further down the rabbit hole.
We must take these things very seriously and unbury our heads because freedom of speech is not free. It holds a heavy cost. And that cost is our integrity, our convictions, and our intellect to make informed decisions.
As a nation, if we do not uphold our convictions, we will spiral ever downwards, as we are seeing, and will eventually break apart as our threadbare fabric is already showing.
Most people want the truth. Do you?