You hear a lot about free speech lately. Usually it’s someone complaining about some business or some person infringing on their right to exercise that free speech. Something I’ve noted about most of these complaints has always bugged me. Allow me to quote the actual First Amendment so we all start at the same place:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The important part of this that people seem to miss is the word congress. The First amendment protecting the right to free speech applies to protecting people from their government which is, in fact, the point of the entire constitution. For some reason, however, people take this to mean that they can say whatever they want, whenever they want.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Private business can restrict what is said by its employees. If I don’t like what you’re saying, I can tell you to shut up without infringing on your right. Newspapers and print can refuse to print something because they don’t like what you have to say without infringing on your rights at all. Where it gets tricky is television and radio, since they use airwaves that are legally owned by the public and the government. But as long as the speech is not being suppressed by the government or using the power of the government, it is completely legal to tell you to shut your pie hole.
In the same vein, I hear the same thing about religion. The same rules apply, as long as the government isn’t making rules establishing religion (or, as I read it, restricting or promoting it), it isn’t a violation of your rights. So when I tell you to take your mythological BS out of my public arena, I’m not violating your rights, you’re violating mine when you gang up and force government sponsored religion on me.
The First amendment… all of it… places a restriction on the Federal Government, period. So stop complaining about losing your rights when someone on the internet refuses to publish your rant or comment. The right to be a troll is not protected. You do have a right to remain silent… and it would just be awesome if you used it.