Disagree, and you’ll be silenced
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. (Ephesians 4:15 NIV)
What exactly is free speech? Is it something that’s easy to describe? Could you or I answer the question in under a minute? In less than 10 seconds? The answer is: “Free speech is speech that is freely spoken.” For me, the total elapsed time to speak this aloud required 3.52 seconds. It’s just that simple. Try it yourself.
Tragically, the historic paradigm of free speech has shifted, dramatically. This is ironic because opportunities to speak freely have multiplied exponentially since the Bill of Rights was first penned 247 years ago:
The first 10 amendments to the Constitution make up the Bill of Rights.
- 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.
Written by James Madison in response to calls from several states for greater constitutional protection for individual liberties, the Bill of Rights lists specific prohibitions on governmental power. The Virginia Declaration of Rights, written by George Mason, strongly influenced Madison.
One of the many points of contention between Federalists and Anti-Federalists was the Constitution’s lack of a bill of rights that would place specific limits on government power. Federalists argued that the Constitution did not need a bill of rights, because the people and the states kept any powers not given to the federal government. Anti-Federalists held that a bill of rights was necessary to safeguard individual liberty.
Madison, then a member of the US House of Representatives, went through the Constitution itself, making changes where he thought most appropriate. But several Representatives, led by Roger Sherman, objected that Congress had no authority to change the wording of the Constitution itself. Therefore, Madison’s changes were presented as a list of amendments that would follow Article VII.
The House approved 17 amendments. Of these 17, the Senate approved 12. Those 12 were sent to the states for approval in August of 1789. Of those 12, 10 were quickly approved (or, ratified). Virginia’s legislature became the last to ratify the amendments on December 15, 1791.
The Bill of Rights is a list of limits on government power protecting the natural right of individuals
For example, what the founders saw as the natural right of individuals to speak and worship freely was protected by the First Amendment’s prohibitions on Congress from making laws establishing a religion or abridging freedom of speech. For another example, the natural right to be free from unreasonable government intrusion in one’s home was safeguarded by the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirements.
Other precursors to the Bill of Rights include English documents such as the Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, the English Bill of Rights, and the Massachusetts Body of Liberties. (From sca4christ.org/founding-documents-2)
This is a history lesson to be sure, and if it seems even somewhat familiar, you’re probably over the age of fifty. But if this is all news to you, you’re probably a recent college graduate, since American history is just not taught anymore. Regardless, that shouldn’t necessarily prevent us from using any of the “freely” available social media platforms to inveigh on any of the countless, myriad of social ills in our culture today. It’s never too late to learn from history, unless we take it for granted, or we are blissfully unaware of it. But, we are “free to do as we please.” [please excuse the sarcasm]
Konstantin Kisin recently shared the loss of free speech in the UK with John Anderson. Bear in mind the heritage of our free speech rights flows from English tradition. His astonishing anecdote is stark evidence that the UK is no longer interested in upholding, defending, or even allowing free speech. Why?
Free speech erosion comes from the exploitation of a number of classical liberal tenets:
“Classical liberalism is a political tradition and a branch of liberalism that advocates free market and laissez-faire economics; civil liberties under the rule of law with special emphasis on individual autonomy, limited government, economic freedom, political freedom and freedom of speech.”
The Left has finally corrupted most all of classical liberalism, including and especially the tenets of individual autonomy and freedom of speech, by corrupting the notion of diversity over the rights of individual freedoms. In the process, free speech is barely clinging to viability and essentially on life support. I have said more than once that diversity is in no way a transcendent objective—much less a goal. It fails to offer any redemption since it’s impossible to evaluate using objective or universally accepted measurements. Instead, what should be universally pursued and historically lauded is the idea of unity. Unity of purpose, unity of achievement, unity of beneficial reward. When people are unified by a common set of beliefs, the benefit of diversity is revealed and celebrated. Culturally speaking, diversity wants no part of this. The Bible does not address this corruption specifically, but offers this instead:
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)
Writing in his weekly devotional newsletter, “Enduring Word,” pastor, teacher and author, David Guzik (pictured) breaks it down, “Paul described three areas of diversity in God’s family: gifts, ministries, and activities. The gifts are diverse, the ministries are different, and the activities are varied. But it is all the same Spirit, the same Lord, the same God doing the work through the gifts, the ministries, and the activities.” He concludes, “Two things are true and important: the diversity and the unity. By God’s Spirit we are different, but we are all one.” To receive “Enduring Word” in your inbox, subscribe here.
America, and certainly by extension, all of western civilization, has grown very cynical and callous in this day and age. In the “National Review,” David Haranyi writes, “The mob has created an environment where we no longer look for ways to win an argument but rather seek to destroy our opponents. This was always part of the game, but today it is the game.”(1) As a word, diversity will one day lose its meaning also. The last six years of upheaval are already bearing this out.
Gustave Le Bon, the great observer of the masses, noted, “The violence of the feelings of crowds is increased by the absence of all sense of responsibility. An absence of responsibility is propelled by anonymity and the safety of numbers.”
For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)