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Monday, July 13, 2015

On Freedom of Speech and Constitutional Freedoms

Ok, I've seen a lot of people talking online about freedom of speech and there are loads and loads of misunderstandings about it.  I've explained this before, but here we go again.

The freedoms contained in the Constitution are there to limit government, not private people or entities.  In other words, freedom of speech merely means that the government has limits on what it can and cannot do in terms of limiting speech.  Since no right is ever absolute, there are naturally limits.  For example, you can't say something that presents a clear and present danger to people (eg yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater).

What the Constitution does not cover is the actions of private actors (people or companies).  For example, while people are free to think and say whatever they want to (within the limits already set forth), that does not mean that private individuals or businesses can't react to what they say.  If someone says something that you disagree with, you are free to disagree or argue with them.  If a company takes a position that you disagree with, you can boycott them or otherwise protest what it is that they have done.  If someone works for a company and says something in their capacity as an employee or while affiliated with the company, the company can take action against them.

*NONE OF THIS IS VIOLATING FREEDOM OF SPEECH!*

Anyone who has any familiarity with the Constitution can tell you this.  Since the Constitution is between *THE GOVERNMENT AND THE PEOPLE*, its strictures do not apply to private actors.

So please cut out all the bullshit and nonsense about how protests are violating people's rights.  That goes for everyone.  It really pisses me off that people who know better keep lying to mislead people in order to generate the reaction that they want.  Those sort of actions are dangerous because then you have people who don't know how things apply to them.

While I'm on a role, I want to revisit the mythical "persecution" that some Christians claim they are facing and the fallacious claims of "freedom of religion" that people are trying to use in order to deny others their rights.  Freedom of religion means that you can believe and worship how you want to.  It does not mean that you can try and force your religious views on others or that you can ignore laws you don't like if you are a public servant.  Ours is a government of laws in which the church and state are meant to be separate for the protection of both church and state.  While the church can lobby the government the same as any other group, they get no special claim of precedence or anything like that.