(By Ginny Morris) As the country begins the new year and anticipates the inauguration of the 46th president of the United States, there is much being said about the meaning, implementation, and significance of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
I don’t pretend to be an expert on the First Amendment, its history, or its historical interpretation, but I am one American who believes that the reason it comes first is that it is the most fundamental and important of all of the freedoms given to us by the Framers. Don’t get me wrong — I believe ardently that they are all critically important to the American way of life that we all know and in most cases love. Even if you believe America can be “even better” or substantially better than it is today, you likely share my patriotism for America and all that it stands for. I believe this to be true regardless of who you voted for in November, or if you chose not to vote at all (66.3% of eligible voters participated in the 2020 presidential election).
This message is meant to be painstakingly non-partisan and to serve as a respectful reminder to all Americans that the “America” we know and love did not happen by accident. Each word of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights was purposeful and can continue to guide us to that “even better” America if we continue to cherish what has gotten America this far.
The First Amendment has endured many challenges over the years, and the one that, for me, resonates most closely with what we are experiencing today is the McCarthy Era. A time that up until recently was believed to be a chapter in our history that we could not possibly imagine repeating.
The current “chilling” of conservative voices by the digital titans that run the companies that host much of America’s public discourse should be of concern to every American. If your neighbor’s speech can be restricted today, rest assured that your speech can and will be restricted tomorrow. When one begins to make judgments about what speech is acceptable and what speech is not acceptable, all of our words and our most basic freedoms are in jeopardy.
A little over half of those Americans who voted in the 2020 presidential election voted for President-elect Biden, and a little under half of American voters voted for President Trump. We are a country that is politically divided, and it is my greatest hope that all Americans can agree to cherish and protect the rights we all have to freely express ourselves, and possibly even more importantly, cherish and protect those same rights for those with which we disagree most ardently.
One last comment and a link to explore if you wish: It turns out that you possibly can yell fire in a crowded movie theater — but that doesn’t mean you should.
God Bless America.
Chair/CEO of Hubbard Radio