Thursday, October 24, 2019

Frightening: Majority of poll respondents want the First Amendment rewritten

My English Lit professor, Lloyd Dendinger (1929-2001) would be absolutely appalled to learn that a majority of Americans are okay with junking the very first amendment in our Bill of Rights.

In a poll commissioned by the Campaign for Free Speech:
51% of Americans think the First Amendment is outdated and should be rewritten. The First Amendment protects your right to free speech, free assembly, and freedom of religion, among other things.

48% believe “hate speech” should be illegal. (“Hate speech” is not defined—we left it up to the individual participant.) Of those, about half think the punishment for “hate speech” should include possible jail time, while the rest think it should just be a ticket and a fine.

80% don’t actually know what the First Amendment really protects. Those polled believed this statement is true: “The First Amendment allows anyone to say their opinion no matter what, and they are protected by law from any consequences of saying those thoughts or opinions.”
This is astonishing. Nearly 60 percent of Millennials believe that our Constitution "goes too far in allowing 'hate speech' in modern America." But even a bare minority of Baby Boomers agree--47% say 'hate speech' should be illegal, with criminal punishment from a citation to jail time.

The term 'hate speech' is subjective. If it's just an idea you disagree with, how strongly do you have to disagree in order for the idea to be declared 'hate?' If there is to be such a line, who draws it?  Is it you? Is it me?

Dr. Dendinger was a classical liberal. In his late 30's, he organized and participated in several peaceful protests over the Vietnam War. Imagine the Johnson administration's handling of a Dendinger March in 1968 if the First Amendment didn't exist or had been rewritten. Allowing state suppression of protesters who weren't violent and didn't destroy property? Ok... The Kent State massacre would have been a garden variety street scuffle. Taking to the streets would have been taking your life in your own hands.

Dendinger was asked once by his students about an op/ed opposing Ronald Reagan's ordering of the invasion of Grenada. The questioner asked if the old liberal would have agreed that some of the op/ed author's statements were treasonous enough to have been censored.

His simple response: "Perhaps. But then who will censor the censors?"

If you asked Dendinger what 'hate speech' was, he would certainly shrug and say, "It doesn't matter what I or you think it is. The only thing that matters is how you answer 'hate speech.' Try 'love speech.' "

What's ironic is that the most vicious assaults on free speech and the whole of the Bill of Rights all come from the left. They have adopted the tactics of the European far right to squash American dissent from their far left European policy ideas.

Dendinger would be disgusted.


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