Freedom of Speech – An Idiot's Guide To The First Amendment

Freedom of Speech is not freedom from consequence.

There is one surefire way to prove you’re at least one brick shy of a load, and that is to improperly invoke a violation of Freedom of Speech. My middle-schooler has a better grasp of our Constitution than most of the whiny asses I see bitching online and in the media. So please allow me to provide a basic refresher course on the First Amendment as it relates to Freedom of Speech, because obviously the drastic cuts in education in this country have had a detrimental effect on people’s ability to use a fucking search engine.
Per the Constitution, the First Amendment states:
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.
In case this is too complicated, let me dumb it down. The government cannot make a law that interferes with your right to say what you want, and the government cannot punish you for saying what you want. (There are exceptions for extreme cases, such as libel, yelling “fire” in a crowded building, etc., but that’s not today’s point.)
More importantly, the First Amendment does NOT do any of the following:

  • Protect you from pissing off other people when you spout off ignorant bullshit.
  • Prevent folks from boycotting your state or your company when they don’t like the way you handle your business.
  • Create a magic wall around your gathering to safeguard you from protesters.
  • Keep your non-government employer from firing your ass when you act like a complete douchecanoe on social media.
  • Allow you to insult your employer publicly or privately.
  • Preclude you from being offended.
  • Give you the right to say anything you want to, whenever you want to, however you want to, without any ramifications whatsoever.

I think that last point might need to repeated. The First Amendment does not give you the right to say anything you want to, whenever you want to, however you want to, without any ramifications whatsoever.
I’m not sure if our education system is a complete bloody failure, or if every fucknugget whackadoodle with a keyboard or a microphone has suddenly surfaced from the bowels of infernal hell. Maybe it’s both. But for the love of all that is holy, get the basics right.
This means when the Dixie Chicks proclaim to the world that the Republican President is an embarrassment to them, every one of their redneck, Conservative, Republican-voting fans has the right to boycott their music and go outside and dump $19.99 CD’s into the campfire if it makes them feel patriotic. It also means that when Curt Shilling decides it’s a brilliant idea to go on Twitter and tell the world for the umpteenth time he’s an intolerant asshole, ESPN has every right to fire him. And when they do, all the self-righteous Christians can go on Facebook and hold him up as their everlasting savior, and the rest of us have the right to laugh our asses off, because if you’re gonna pick a martyr for your movement, and Curt Shilling is the best you can do, fuck-it-all you can have him!
America was founded on the idea of protecting everyone’s right to be as vocal or as mute as they want to be. Our forefathers, however, made the assumption that we’d be intelligent, engaged, and literate enough to have half a fucking clue what they so deliberately put in writing.

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