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How the Police-State Suppresses Free Speech: From COVID to Campus Protests

How the Police-State Suppresses Free Speech: From COVID to Campus Protests

How The Police-State Suppresses Free-Speech: From COVID To Campus Protests

Government's Power to Silence Opposition

Regardless of political party, many politicians seek to use government power to silence their adversaries. Some within the university community strive to expel it from their campuses. An entire generation of Americans is being taught that free speech should be curtailed as soon as it makes someone else feel uncomfortable, according to William Ruger, who believes that free speech is central to our dignity as humans.

The Police State and Citizen Rights

The police state does not want citizens who are aware of their rights, nor does it want citizens ready to exercise those rights. This year's graduates are a prime example of this compliance master class. Their college years have been marked by crackdowns, lockdowns, and permacrises ranging from the government's authoritarian COVID-19 tactics to its recent militant response to campus protests.

Generation Raised in Surveillance State

These young people, born in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, have been raised with no expectation of privacy in a technology-driven, mass surveillance state. They have been educated in schools that promote conformity and compliance, burdened with a debt-ridden economy on the brink of collapse, and made vulnerable by the backlash from a military empire constantly at war with shadowy enemies. They are policed by heavily armed government agents ready to lock down the country at a moment's notice and forced to march in lockstep with a government that no longer serves the people but demands they be obedient slaves or face the consequences.

Silencing the Youth

When these young people should be empowered to take their rightful place in society as citizens who fully understand and exercise their right to speak truth to power, they are being censored, silenced, and shut down. Consider the recent events in Charlottesville, Va., where riot police were called in to shut down campus protests at the University of Virginia. These protests were staged by students and community members to express their opposition to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Palestine.

Suppressing Peaceful Anti-War Protests

The University of Virginia is not unique in its heavy-handed response to largely peaceful anti-war protests. According to the Washington Post, more than 2300 people have been arrested for participating in similar campus protests across the country. These lessons in compliance are expected when challenging the police state. However, the campus protests themselves were unexpected.

From Bastions of Free Speech to Breeding Grounds for Compliance

For those who grew up in the 1960s, college campuses were once strongholds of free speech, filled with student protests, sit-ins, marches, pamphleteering, and other expressive acts showing our displeasure with war, the Establishment, and the status quo. Contrast this with today's college campuses, which have become breeding grounds for compliant citizens and strongholds of censorship, trigger warnings, microaggressions, and "red light" speech policies targeting anything that might make someone feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or offended.

Restrictions on Free Speech

Free speech can hardly be considered "free" when expressive activities across the nation are increasingly limited, restricted to so-called free speech zones, or completely blocked. Remember, the First Amendment gives every American the right to "petition his government for a redress of grievances." There was a time in this country, when the British ruled, that speaking your mind and offending the wrong people would land you in jail for offending the king.

The First Amendment: Protecting Offensive Speech

Reacting to this injustice, America's founders argued for a Bill of Rights when it was time to write the Constitution. The First Amendment protects the right to free speech. James Madison, the father of the Constitution, was very clear that he wrote the First Amendment to protect the minority against the majority. What Madison meant by minority is "offensive speech." Unfortunately, we don't honor that principle as much as we should today. In fact, we seem to be witnessing a politically correct philosophy at play, one shared by both the extreme left and the extreme right, which aims to stifle all expression that doesn't fit within their parameters of what they consider to be "acceptable" speech.

Stifling Free Speech

There are all kinds of labels put on such speech—it's been called politically incorrect speech, hate speech, offensive speech, and so on—but really, the message being conveyed is that you don't have a right to express yourself if certain people or groups don't like or agree with what you are saying. Hence, we have seen the caging of free speech in recent years, through the use of so-called "free speech zones" on college campuses and at political events, the requirement of speech permits in parks and community gatherings, and the policing of online forums.

Encouraging Debate and Dialogue

Indeed, we should be encouraging people to debate issues and air their views. Instead, by muzzling free speech, we are contributing to a growing underclass of Americans—many of whom have been labeled racists, rednecks, and religious bigots—who are being told that they can't take part in American public life unless they "fit in."

First Amendment: A Steam Valve

Remember, the First Amendment acts as a steam valve. It allows people to speak their minds, air their grievances, and contribute to a larger dialogue that hopefully results in a more just world. When there is no steam valve to release the pressure, frustration builds, anger grows, and people become more volatile and desperate to force a conversation.

The Danger of Stifling Certain Forms of Speech

The attempt to stifle certain forms of speech is where we go wrong. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that it is "a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment...that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable." For example, it is not a question of whether the Confederate flag represents racism but whether banning it leads to even greater problems, namely, the loss of freedom in general.

Right to Peaceful Assembly and Free Speech

Along with the constitutional right to peacefully (and that means non-violently) assemble, the right to free speech allows us to challenge the government through protests and demonstrations and to attempt to change the world around us—for the better or the worse—through protests and counterprotests.

Importance of Expressing Disapproval of Government

If citizens cannot stand out in the open and voice their disapproval of their government, its representatives, and its policies without fearing prosecution, then the First Amendment with all its robust protections for free speech, assembly, and the right to petition one's government for a redress of grievances is little more than window-dressing on a store window—pretty to look at but serving little real purpose.

Freedom to Express Concerns About Government

After all, living in a representative republic means that each person has the right to take a stand for what they think is right, whether that means marching outside the halls of government, wearing clothing with provocative statements, or simply holding up a sign. That's what the First Amendment is supposed to be about: it assures the citizenry of the right to express their concerns about their government to their government, in a time, place, and manner best suited to ensuring that those concerns are heard.

Government's War on Protected Political Speech

In more and more cases, the government is declaring war on what should be protected political speech whenever it challenges the government's power, reveals the government's corruption, exposes the government's lies, and encourages the citizenry to push back against the government's many injustices.

Government's Disinterest in Public Opinion

Clearly, the government has no interest in hearing what "we the people" have to say. Yet if Americans are not able to peacefully assemble for expressive activity outside of the halls of government or on public roads on which government officials must pass, or on college campuses, the First Amendment has lost all meaning.

Suppressing Freedom of Speech

If we cannot stand peacefully outside of the Supreme Court or the Capitol or the White House, our ability to hold the government accountable for its actions is threatened, and so are the rights and liberties that we cherish as Americans. And if we cannot proclaim our feelings about the government, no matter how controversial, on our clothing, or to passersby, or to the users of the world wide web, then the First Amendment really has become an exercise in futility.

Politics Should Not Influence First Amendment Rights

The source of the protest shouldn't matter. The politics of the protesters are immaterial. To play politics with the First Amendment encourages a double standard that will see us all muzzled in the end. You don't have to agree with someone to defend their freedoms. Responsible citizenship means being outraged at the loss of others' freedoms, even when our own are not directly threatened. It means remembering that the prime function of any free government is to protect the weak against the strong. And it means speaking up for those with whom you might disagree.

Guardians of Freedom

The Framers of the Constitution knew very well that whenever and wherever democratic governments had failed, it was because the people had abdicated their responsibility as guardians of freedom. They also knew that whenever in history the people rejected this responsibility, an authoritarian regime arose which eventually denied the people the right to govern themselves.

Overcoming the Evils of Our Age

The demons of our age—some of whom disguise themselves as politicians—delight in fomenting violence, sowing distrust and prejudice, and persuading the public to support tyranny disguised as patriotism. Overcoming the evils of our age will require us to stop marching in lockstep with the police state and start thinking—and speaking—for ourselves.

Our Civic Duty

It doesn't matter how old you are or what your political ideology is: it's our civic duty to make the government hear us—and heed us—using every nonviolent means available to us: picket, protest, march, boycott, speak up, sound off and reclaim control over the narrative about what is really going on in this country. The power elite has made their intentions clear: they will pursue and prosecute any and all words, thoughts, and expressions that challenge their authority.

Time to Stand Up for Free Speech

If ever there were a time for us to stand up for the right to speak freely, even if it's freedom for speech we hate, the time is now. This is the final link in the police state chain.

Final Thoughts

This piece raises important questions about the state of free speech in our society. It challenges us to consider whether we are truly free to express our opinions, or if we are being subtly silenced by a system that seeks to control the narrative. What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you feel free to speak your mind, or do you feel that your voice is being stifled? Share this article with your friends and let's start a conversation. And don't forget to sign up for the Daily Briefing, which is every day at 6pm.

Some articles will contain credit or partial credit to other authors even if we do not repost the article and are only inspired by the original content.

Some articles will contain credit or partial credit to other authors even if we do not repost the article and are only inspired by the original content.

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