Freedom of Speech and Natural Law
The freedom of speech is a natural right given by God or imparted by the nature of existence. It is not created, granted, pledged, or bestowed by any human law. Human law can protect it, but it cannot give it. By extension, human law cannot take away your right to free speech. Neither can it give one person freedom of speech to any extent greater or lesser than any other person. Like any other natural right, each person has it in equal proportion. No rule written or spoken by human beings can change that- it can only protect or violate it.
The United States is unique in that it is the only nation on Earth with a foundational law that protects the right to freedom of speech. We take this law, the First Amendment, for granted. We’re not taught its importance as a means to promote healthy and robust discussions, as an essential element of any academic institution, and as the primary mechanism by which a civil society is maintained.
There are a few basic facts about life and people which the founding fathers understood, basic facts of life that we have forgotten. They are the fact that people tend to say what’s on their minds, and discussion is the last stop before physical conflict.
When people harbor hatred, they tend to let others know before acting on that hatred. The Florida killer certainly communicated his intentions beforehand- and law enforcement refused to intervene. But if people are silenced by laws that forbid their right to express that hatred, then the people at whom that hatred is directed will have no way to know they are in danger when they are exposed to the person who hates them.
I often think of a course I took as an undergrad on Race Relations. It was one of the social justice courses, ending in the word ‘studies.’ I should have known better. The question came up of whether or not a doctor should be allowed to refuse to serve gay people if he so wishes. The consensus of the class was that the doctor should be compelled not only to be silent about his prejudice but should also be forced to treat gay people whether he wants to or not.
Before being chased out of that class by a group of people with invented hastily pronouns, I said, “If you forbid that doctor from expressing his bigotry and force him to treat people he hates- you are going to be putting gay patients under the knife of a man who will hurt them.”
This is an especially good example because a doctor can always claim there were complications if a procedure goes wrong. He can make up any number of reasons for the gay man’s death on his operating table. Medical error is, after all, the third leading cause of death (officially) for Americans. More than 200,000* Americans die each year for reasons over which some medical professional can shrug his shoulders, say, “oops,” and go home with no problems whatsoever. Now, if you are gay, I ask you, what hurts more; falling prey to some bigoted doctor’s silenced speech, or a few moments of verbal abuse?
It may help to be reminded that some of the world’s most prolific serial killers were nurses.
It is a fact, which the founders understood well, that people tend to speak their minds naturally. We are social creatures, after all. Communication is the expression of a powerful instinct to share our thoughts and identities with the people around us. In so doing, we are certain to encounter those who disagree with the contents of our minds and the directions of our intent. When this happens, conflict is on the horizon. This is the primary reason freedom of speech must be protected for a just and free society to persist.
When conflict exists, civil discourse is the only alternative to violence. When speech is shut down, violence becomes inevitable. Now, if you’re a tyrannical dictator, you may not care if your citizens abuse and kill each other. You stifle speech that offends you or threatens your power. Members of the strident left perceive everything humans do as a play of or for power. The French postmodernists made this very clear. It’s about the only thing they ever did say clearly.
Today, freedom of speech is under siege and the threat is worse than it has been in a long time. Those who need it are not taught to appreciate it, and those who hate it disguise themselves with compassionate slogans.
Right now, people in England, Canada, and Australia are being jailed for their speech. They are labeled as hateful by people who do not understand their arguments and jailed by judges who claim the right to disregard context.
To see what’s coming, you only have to understand that the method for boiling frogs and the method for taking freedom away from sovereign people are one and the same.