I know many a passionate supporter of the Second Amendment. They insist that ANY restriction on firearms WILL INEVITABLY lead to the beginning of a dictatorship. To these people, the constitution speaks plainly and is not to be quibbled with!
Okay, fine. Today I will not quibble about that “well-regulated militia” thing. And I will grant that the constitution is the law of the land. Therefore, any meddling with our fundamental rights is an invitation to dictatorship. In that light, I wish to discuss the deep trouble the First Amendment is currently in.
The amendment as adopted in 1791 reads as follows:
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.
Now, scary as it may be, I share the doubts of the late Captain Kahn’s father. I do not believe The Donald has ever read the US Constitution! No, really, I’m being quite literal here, not a word. Because if he had read the darn thing, he wouldn’t have said many of the stupid things he has against our First Amendment!
As a candidate, he stated he would stop all Muslim immigration into the US, “Until we can figure out what’s going on.” So…Christians from Syria are okay, according to The Donald but Muslins are not? And how long will it take for us to “figure out what’s going on.” I’m sorry, there is no way that doesn’t qualify as prohibiting the free exercise of religion.
But wait, there’s more.
As both candidate and as president-elect, The Donald has lambasted the press. He’s suggested “opening up” the libel laws so the media can be more easily sued for saying “not nice” things about him. He has demanded an apology from the cast of Hamilton for speaking freely (and respectfully) to his vice president-elect. He has called a meeting of major news outlets to berate them for using unflattering pictures of him. And, most recently, he has stated that flag burning is not free speech (as the Supreme Court decided back in 1989), but is a crime that should result in loss of citizenship!
Now, here is where I take a cue from my Second Amendment friends and insist that any such infringement will lead to dictatorship. Let me give one possible scenario…
Let’s say, The Donald arranges it so burning the American flag results in loss of citizenship. To what country do we deport these now non-citizens? We all know how The Donald feels about illegal aliens, right? So he’s unlikely to let them run free within the borders of the USA. But you can’t “send ‘em back where they came from if they came from here! So what’s The Donald’s solution going to be, Guantanamo? That would amount to a life sentence of detention for burning a flag which sounds a little draconian to me, but hey, I’m a liberal. What do I know?
Now, flag burning is pretty offensive speech, I will grant you. But is it the only kind of offensive speech? What about profanity? What about blasphemy? What about speech that insults the president? Are those also deserving of loss of citizenship? And as Guantanamo’s cells fill up with offensive speakers, will we still be living in our old democracy…or a new dictatorship?
I honestly don’t think The Donald cares. But I do!
Well, folks, that’s why I say they can have my free speech when they pry it from my cold dead vocal chords! To president-elect The Donald, I suggest he start reading the American constitution. Hell, he can even brow Mr. Kahn’s copy. Because I intend to fight that orange windbag tooth and nail for every single right that document guarantees to the American people! I will not allow the slightest infringement on my right to worship as I see fit, speak as I see fit, and publish what I see fit. And I will be equally zealous in defending my neighbor’s rights—especially if I do not share his or her faith or point of view. Because, as my gun owning friends believe, if we allow any infringement upon our rights, we do in fact invite dictatorship.
And that’s not going to happen on my watch.
By Clayton J. Callahan