Our good friend Perry has been telling us, continually, that the First Amendment, though written in absolutist terms — Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press . . . . — cannot be read as an absolute prohibition, and that, in the context of modern times, must be interpreted in such a manner as to take into consideration current conditions.
Since it is my stated belief that the First Amendment cannot be characterized as an absolute statement, due to obvious contextual differences through time, I do think it reasonable to set limits on campaign financing and on the duration of campaigns.
Now, I have previously proposed a constitutional amendment to solve the problem Perry sees in our First Amendment:
- Section 1: The First Amendment to this Constitution is hereby repealed.
- Section 2: Freedom of speech, publication and broadcasting is guaranteed, save that speech which incites hatred, animosity or violence based on race, ethnicity, non-Christian religion, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identification may be prohibited.
- Section 3: The free exercise of religion is guaranteed, save that no individual expression of religious faith may be professed in public. No religious belief which would discriminate against any person based on race, ethnicity, non-Christian religion, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identification is protected by this amendment, or may be protected by any statute of any level of government.
- Section 4: Neither the United States nor any political subdivision therein may recognize, promote or protect any form of religious institution, belief or opinion. The Congress and the states shall have the power to enforce this provision through appropriate legislation.
- Section 5: (a) The freedom of speech applies solely to individuals. No company, corporation or other organization, save those which exist as representatives of working people, or certified journalistic sources may claim the right to unrestricted speech under the provisions of Section 2, nor may any organization other than a registered campaign organization or political party, engage in any speech or spend any money in support of or opposition to any political candidate.
(b) No individual member of any organization, save those which exist as representatives of working people, or certified journalistic sources, may claim individual status to circumvent the provisions of Section 5 (a) unless certified by the Federal Election Commission.
- Section 6: The Congress may enact any legislation required to enforce the provisions of this Amendment.
Well, while Perry doesn’t seem to believe that we need to replace the First Amendment, he does believe that it must be interpreted in the light of modern conditions, regardless of the actual words of the First Amendment.
So, if the esteemed host of Bridging the Gap believes that there should be reasonable limits to the freedom of speech and of the press, and of religion¹ and assembly, I’d like to start the CSPT Write Your Own Restrictions on the First Amendment Contest. What, in the opinions of our readers, would constitute reasonable restrictions on the First Amendment restrictions, if the First Amendment is not really an absolute protection? You should include an explanation as to why the proposed restriction is reasonable and would be desirable enough for the good of our country that it should be imposed.
- Neither individuals nor organizations should be allowed to be overly critical of the government’s military policies in times when we have soldiers in the field, engaged in combat operations. The reasons for this are:
- By criticizing the government and its policies, morale among our soldiers may be negatively affected, thus reducing their military advantage and proficiency in performance.
- By criticizing the government and its policies, morale among our enemies may be positively affected, thus increasing the effectiveness of the enemy.
- Islam is the primary religion of our enemies. By allowing Islam to exist in the United States, we are allowing the existence of a potential Fifth Column in the United States, which undermines our policies and promotes the goals of our enemies.
- The United States is the creation of a very predominantly Christian immigration, and the United States is, and ought to be, a Christian nation. To allow Islam, or any other religion other than Judaism, to be practiced in the United States, will negatively affect our culture, our religion, and our national values.
- Pornography is clearly harmful to monogamous relationships, and divorce and unwed parenthood costs this country billions and billions of dollars in legal and child support issues.
- Pornography contributes to the degradation of women.
Now, regular readers know that I am a First Amendment absolutist: I believe that it means exactly what it says, and, as such, the suggestions I have made would be, and should be, unconstitutional. But if it isn’t absolute, if the First Amendment really does allow reasonable restrictions on speech, the press, religion and assembly, then I have provided for you such restrictions as I believe meet the test of reasonableness. If you have others, please, add your suggestions in the comments section below.
¹ – Perry doesn’t mention the freedom of religion or of assembly, but they, too, are part of the First Amendment, so if we can reasonably limit certain speech and press items under a modern interpretation of the First Amendment, I see no reason why religion and assembly rights should not be included in this discussion.