As I see it, free speech is the basis for all other rights. If I cannot express myself openly and honestly, then what I have to say is limited, unclear and open to interpretation by others who may not hold my concerns or belief’s, or they could hold completely opposite beliefs than I do.
As an example; If I cannot express my desire to possess a firearm, not only to hunt to feed my family, but to defend them against anyone that would do them harm, government included, then how can I expect a law to codify that right to be created and reflect my right accurately?
What if the person who is listening to me holds power over that which I can and cannot say or express and because of that I withhold my honest thoughts or beliefs in fear they will retaliate against me for my words.
Could that not lead to this person using their interpretation to mean I can possess a firearm to hunt deer or to target shoot, but all other needs are not necessary since we have armies and police to protect us?
In that one instance we would lose our right to keep and bear arms for protection, which inevitably leads to further diminution of my rights. The same concept is true for all of our God given rights expressed through free speech and memorialized in our constitution and other legal documents.
Free Speech is the first step in freedom being realized by humanity.
To take look at it from a more historical perspective lets go back and look at any time in modern history prior to the United States ascension to the world stage.
The dictator, king, despot or tyrant made the rules. The rules were made to keep the tyrant in power and limit the power of the people over which he lords. Anything that upsets that balance is to be put down immediately; historically that happens violently to the dissenter.
The balance of power then is maintained through fear and intimidation. Under these circumstances who could stand and ask for anything such as food, water, or shelter without fear of annihilation? No one is the correct answer here. It is a very brutal yet efficient system.
Let’s look at that situation closer. Say someone had the desire to stand and ask the tyrant for more of anything, knowing the consequences. Would that person simply rise to their fate and blurt out “I want more!” Probably not, to do so would be a fool’s errand and quick dispatch.
What then does this person have to change their situation?
If they had the right of free speech ⏤ they could talk with others about their ideas or more, and those people could talk to others and the conversation would grow and build. The idea would take on a life of its own and the people would be empowered to rise as one, strength in numbers and speak with power ⏤ “we want more!”
It is in numbers that power and courage are often derived.
If we all have a similar belief, a belief that we may be willing to fight or die for, then that idea takes on even greater power.
The founding fathers let the ideas of freedom and liberty grow in their heads and hearts until it was such a powerful force that they were willing to speak out about their desire even in the face of personal danger. Thousands of regular people heard the words, read the stories and talked about the possibility of freedom until the quest for freedom became the only thing worth living for.
It was free speech that empowered that idea, it was free speech that led to the birth of this, the greatest nation on earth.
To be sure the nation was borne of blood, and sacrifice, but it was free speech that allowed the courage of their convictions to push their fear away and allow their destiny to be unleashed.
“This concept of speech continues to this very day in our more modern world. Ms. Rosa Parks sat and said “No” to the tyranny of racism at her own peril. This act of defiance led to the conversation, the expression of ideas that grew and changed our nation for the better yet again.”
Think of the people on the 9/11 airplanes. Regular people, but when the enemy, only a few men, produced box cutter’s and engaged in a brutality by killing an innocent stewardess, the entire plane was humbled, and its group will was given over to the tyrant.
But on flight 93 over Pennsylvania, the people on that plane had information and ideas from others via phone calls and they knew what was happening.
They talked about their fate and their possible actions, which obviously included dying in the process at the hands of the killers. It was the ability to express their fears, concerns and needs that gave them the courage to take a different action, they decided to fight back, risk and all.
While these poor souls did not survive their ordeal, do we the American people not revere them for their courage and decision to act? Yes, we do.
There is power in ideas and speech if they can be expressed, this is how you throw off a dictator or a king, damn the consequences. It is this reality that has given courage and power to so many of America’s greatest events.
It is why we, the American people, must never forget these lessons and the power of free speech. The trails and travails of man will always dog us, our own nature is to live under tyranny; this truth is clearly revealed in the modern socialist movement growing in our country today and the misunderstanding about the power and value of freedom and liberty by so many.
The phenomenon and danger of “Political Correctness” and the desire by many young people to restrict free speech, censure ideas, banish certain speakers and brand anything they do not like to hear as hate speech is a warning to freedom and a call to patriots everywhere.
The burden of protecting free speech and our constitution and in fact the very nation we have forged in the name of freedom is under attack yet again and we are the ones to answer that call and preserve America as the best hope of mankind on earth.
If history teaches us anything it teaches us that our battles for freedom are not over, they will continue generation to generation. It is only with a strong constitution and truly free speech that will have the will and courage to fight back and do our part when called to defend our freedom and liberty.
Freedom of speech is our most potent weapon in that battle.
By Lt Joseph Pangaro, Investigator, Hostage / Crisis Negotiator