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Constitutional Fail: 7 Ways the Left Abuses the First Amendment

Posted on March 23 2011 6:00 am
Walter Hudson is a political commentator and co-founder of Minnesota's North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide educational organization. He runs a blog entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of Minnesotan conservative commentary. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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7. Freedom of Speech to be Heard Out, Applauded, and Thought Well Of

The term “freedom of speech,” once indicative of the highest ideals of libertarian philosophy, has been reduced to a mindless grunt of protest from those who don’t understand what it means. Even those of us who should know better sometimes fall into the trap of confusing protection from government persecution with some sort of license to say whatever we want, whenever we want, wherever we want, without anyone reacting negatively to it.

Not even Tea Partiers, self-professed champions of the Constitution, are immune to such misinterpretation. North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide coordinating organization in Minnesota of which I am a part, spent months reinventing the wheel when it came to operations. Part of the problem was a mentality among a minority which perceived freedom of speech as an obligation for others to listen. They thus rejected the formality of Robert’s Rules and other conventional aspects of organization, because they felt it discouraged the open expression of ideas. The result of conceding to their perspective was several months of open expression without much in the way of accomplishment, until we finally embraced the need to limit discussion with agreed upon rules.

When we did so, a few holdouts remained, arguing vehemently against the new “restrictions.” Unwittingly, their arguments were informed by a leftist worldview. Not only was there an expectation that anyone who wanted to talk during a meeting should be allowed to; there was an expectation that those who did not want to talk should be encouraged to, and that those who had spoken most frequently and passionately ought to restrain themselves. Think of it as redistribution of attention.

Our group got past it. However, the episode demonstrated the deeply rooted philosophical contagion which has afflicted our culture. Somewhere along the line, introduced to our minds was the idea that freedom of speech means the freedom to be heard, respected, and appreciated. That interpretation is no better than imagining rights to healthcare, food, housing, and jobs. It places an obligation upon others to provide a venue, an ear, a smile and applause. This not only cheapens the value of heartfelt respect, but thwarts productive discussion in the same way wealth redistribution thwarts economic production. It is inefficient. Worse, it actually violates another right. Specifically…

Next: Freedom of Association to be Accepted…

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