Rights, in the American Constitutional sense–in line with the philosophy of a Republic–are inalienable; Inalienable means inherent, part of our being, unable to be taken away, or to have lien or levy put against them; part of our essence as persons. So, I must point out that I do not see free-speech as a privilege, but as an integral part of how a free-society can–and should–prosper. In fact, I see free-speech as the most important element of a free-society, because discourse is the method by which a constitutional Republic is designed to be governed. Speech comes from thought and is part of thought; speech is manifested, or birthed into the world by thought. If speech is limited, it is reasonable to assume that thought will be limited next, because by limiting the freedom of speech, thought is, in actuality, already being curtailed; its power is already being limited. Freedom of thought is at the heart of being a free-person. What good does it do a person to be free (and I urge you to consider if the loss of this right can even coexist with the principle of Liberty, as it allows government to have purview over thought), if they are not free to voice their opinions, or think as they wish, or manifest that thought to the world by speech? Are persons whose thoughts are being curtailed truly free at all? How diminished will human creativity become if thought is limited under the law?
Sadly, it wouldn’t have mattered either way who one voted for in the previous Presidential election regarding the direction of our nation, as John McCain co-authored the NDAA FY 2012, which had already been signed prior to the passage of H.R. 347/S. 1794 and set the stage for it to be passed and signed into law; couple these with the National Defense Resources Preparedness Act, the President’s most recent executive order, and in this author’s opinion, it demonstrates clearly that bad days are coming; and not just for the United States, but for the entire world.
My point is simply, instead of passing this terrible bill that restricts the American citizen’s right to “petition the government for redress of grievances” or to “peacebly assemble” and having it signed into law by the President, which will inevitably aid in putting an end to every American freedom, particularly those freedoms enshrined in the first-amendment (the freedom of the press, “anti-Corporate speech”–as corporations are considered ‘legal-persons’ under the 14th Amendment–freedom of religion, particularly if the group claims 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, freedom to assemble, freedom of association, etc.) and then work to spread tyranny abroad; I think that we–as a Nation–should have held a discourse on the matter; something we have needed to do for quite some time in the age of the internet. I do not disagree with thoughtful limitations within the law to this freedom (not yelling fire in a public building if there is not actually a fire, not writing or saying those things that could ‘incite a riot’ based on hate; these are the types of limitations that are clearly within the law to limit; as are slander and libel). However, it is becoming more apparent that any curtailment of this freedom is a slippery slope. If you have read none of this terribly loosely written law, I urge you to research it: H.R. 347/S. 1794–along with the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 and the National Defense Resources Preparedness Act, the President’s most recent executive order.
It is fair to consider these questions, and certainly more: What did our constitutional framers mean by free-speech? What do we mean by it? Can the two be reconciled? If not, what do we do–and which path should we follow? Upon what criteria would we base limitations to free-speech? Should its curtailment be at the discretion of Congress? Should it be left to the judgment of the Supreme Court? Or, as it stands now, with the passage of this bill, is it left to the fiat of the Executive Branch? What about the collected States? What role do they play, if any, in this process? Under what manner and process does the Federal/State government curtail this freedom, and why? Is this the right path for us to be embarking upon at all?
Without this discourse, I am afraid we run the risk of suffering greatly as a nation and people. Without it, we have no way of knowing for sure, other than the historical record, which clearly demonstrates that this path has always led to tyranny, where it will take us. But, how could it ever lead to any place other than tyranny, since it has tyranny at its very heart? What else is tyranny, but the attempt to control the thought of others? No matter how good the intentions have been in the past, the historical outcomes have been terrible in those places where this pernicious seed has been planted. I doubt very seriously if we will escape the fate of the great civilizations that have come and gone before us that in the course of their own destinies, fell to tyranny’s seductive voice.
It is this author’s opinion that this law is a step backwards into the darkness of our past, and not forward into the light of our future.
Liberty is not perfect, but it beats the hell out of tyranny. The consequences of this limitation set on thought, upon human creativity, and the human creative processes are likely to be beyond our ability to understand until we see them manifested in the world.
NOTE: H.R. 3523, known as CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (the revised version of PIPA/SIPA) is to be voted on Thursday April 26, 2012 in the House of Representatives. The Obama administration has threatened to veto the bill, just as the administration threatened to veto the NDAA FY 2012 regarding concerns in relation to personal-liberty. The President then chose to sign the legislation into law, instead of vetoing it.