I used to think being an American citizen meant believing in freedom of speech, no matter what
Way too many American citizens seem to feel otherwise now
I don’t know how many years ago it was that the First Amendment was explained to me, and I’m sure that I can’t remember verbatim what whoever was explaining it to me said. Hell, as the last sentence proves, I can’t even remember where I first heard about it.
I can tell you how I understood what I was told, though. I understood it to mean the following:
“We, as Americans, believe that everybody should be free to say what they want, even Nazis, because we hold freedom of speech as being THAT sacred. Is there a danger that allowing Nazis to say Nazi things will lead to violence? Yes, it might, but if and when that happens then you arrest the people who committed the violent crime and deter other Nazis (or whoever) from doing the same thing. What we absolutely CANNOT do, EVER, is start restricting freedom of speech, because that’s a slippery slope that leads to good people being censored along with bad and dangerous people. Allowing everyone to speak freely is the lesser evil here.”
This was something I heard about back when I was still proud to hold American citizenship, before I learned all about the atrocities the United States committed within its own borders and all around the world.
So because I was still proud to be an American citizen, I was proud of what seemed to be the way Americans believed so strongly in freedom of speech.
“If we Americans were scared little pussies, then maybe we would be panicking over how speech might lead to bad things happening and maybe we would want censorship. But we’re NOT afraid of that! We’re brave! We Americans will never restrict anybody’s freedom due to fear, because that’s not what America is about!”
Jesus, how naive I was. America had already restricted people’s freedom due to fear of what might happen if they were allowed their freedom: they put Japanese-Americans in camps during WW2, for one thing.
Nevertheless, I believed that about the American people. And that’s why it’s both heartbreaking and maddening to see how many of them are abandoning the principle of free speech being sacred these days…assuming that they ever even held that principle in the first place…
They are proving my past, naive self wrong. They are proving that actually, they’re not brave at all. They’re proving that actually, they ARE all scared little pussies who care nothing for civil liberties.
Or they’re proving it all over again, because I remember the Bush years when everybody was told that we couldn’t respect the civil liberties of anybody in Gitmo because we couldn’t risk another 9/11. “We CAN’T allow these people to have fair trials, and we HAVE to torture them!” said the United States government and its propagandists in the mainstream press.
If what I believed about the American people and their respect for the Constitution and human rights had been true, then they would have never tolerated that, not even after 9/11.
But instead, back in the 2000s as today, they were scared little pussies who were willing to discard each and every last principle they might have once held…they were willing to abandon the “American values” they once spoke so reverently of…all because they wanted to be 100% sure they wouldn’t die.
“I don’t care about other people’s rights, I just care about keeping myself safe!” cried the average propagandized American.
Back then, they were willing to throw away the Fourth Amendment. Today, they’re willing to throw away the First Amendment.
It’s disgusting. And lest anybody who happens to read this think I’m giving Canadians a pass, Canada is even worse when it comes to this. Canada’s always been full of scared little pussies who said that certain speech shouldn’t be allowed because there was a greater-than-zero-percent chance that it might inspire somebody to do something violent. Americans at least talked a good game about how no matter what, everybody HAD to have fair trials and everybody HAD to be allowed to speak their minds. Canada has never even done that much. And that’s why Justin Trudeau was able to freeze the bank accounts of peaceful (if noisy) protestors, because Canada cares less about freedom than even the United States on its most authoritarian day.