Our First Amendment arguably is the most important to us citizens of the U.S.. It gives us the freedom to say what we want and do what we want. Some examples include practicing our own religion, and having the right to say what’s on one’s mind. It is clear to say as well that many people over the span from the beginning of our country’s founding have fought and argued our First Amendment. Whether or not if it really is protecting us, either from choosing our sexuality, or to being ridiculed or harassed on racist terms. Many have stated that we need to do more to protect people from threats , or mean words, which they call ‘Hate Speech’. The only problem is, in my mind, how much regulation and restrictions will it take for our liberty to be smeared away in replace for a whole bunch of security?
If you are one who doesn’t see a problem with more security and safety, let me remind you of some countries in the past who have done that. Such as the Soviet Union, which the people gave up many freedoms for the government to protect them and control them. Another example is many fascist societies gave up many freedoms to protect them from enemies. Simply, there are many reasons why giving up our freedoms is bad, and to re-write the first amendment to ban against ‘Hate Speech(which isn’t defined by the Supreme Court) might let us finally slip down the slope if we aren’t careful. I understand that people have a reason to call someone out if they are making racist comments, but if the comments aren’t fighting words(words used to incite violence), or slander, how do we decide, and protect both freedom of words and decency? The answer might be clearer than thought, because according to Paul Larkin, Senior Legal Research Fellow, “The proper way to balance security and liberty is not to balance them at all; it is to insist on policies that maximize both to the extent practicable.” So instead of trying to change the First Amendment entirely, in a way to balance safety from words to actual depending threats, we the people should separate these from the First Amendment. For it might be the stone that knocks our rights down the hill, even if it is over ‘Hate Speech’. Some Supreme Court Cases that in the past have seemed to be related to ‘Hate Speech’, are cases like Beauharnais v. Illinois (1952). Where they stated that ‘Hate Speech’ is not protected speech, but the issue is does the protection of “liberty” in the Due Process Clause prevent a state from punishing libel towards a group? The debate over this is hot, and might be the biggest thing as a nation we have to face and decide over.
In conclusion, deciding whether the people of the U.S. want more security over their liberties, is a tough and opinionated question to answer. The only thing that the people should know is a quote by Benjamin Franklin, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Larkin, Paul. “How Must America Balance Security and Liberty.” The Heritage Foundation, http://www.heritage.org/homeland-security/report/how-must-america-balance-security-and-liberty.
“Beauharnais v. Illinois.” Casebriefs Beauharnais v Illinois Comments, http://www.casebriefs.com/blog/law/constitutional-law/constitutional-law-keyed-to-chemerinsky/first-amendment-freedom-of-expression/beauharnais-v-illinois/.
Volokh, Eugene. “Opinion | Supreme Court Unanimously Reaffirms: There Is No ‘Hate Speech’ Exception to the First Amendment.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 19 June 2017, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/06/19/supreme-court-unanimously-reaffirms-there-is-no-hate-speech-exception-to-the-first-amendment/?utm_term=.c5bc48f35483.