by John W. Whitehead / October 16th, 2018
If the freedom of speech be taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.
— George Washington, Address to the Officers of the Army, Saturday, March 15, 1783
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.
Yet through a series of carefully crafted legislative steps and politically expedient court rulings, government officials have managed to disembowel this fundamental freedom, rendering it with little more meaning than the right to file a lawsuit against government officials.
In the process, government officials have succeeded in insulating themselves from their constituents, making it increasingly difficult for average Americans to make themselves seen or heard by those who most need to hear what “we the people” have to say.
Indeed, President Trump—always keen to exercise his free speech rights to sound off freely on any topic that strikes his fancy—has not been as eager to protect the First Amendment rights of his fellow citizens to speak freely, assemble, protest and petition one’s government officials for a redress of grievances.
Not that long ago, in fact, Trump suggested that the act of protesting should be…