Election season is upon us and there will be no avoiding the onslaught of ads, mailers, and text surveys. Consider it all a blessing, for it is evidence of life in a country with the invaluable right of free speech. During this“Free Speech Week,” we remember we must be ever vigilant to protect what many take for granted, and what others wish they had.
People United for Privacy marked this week with a reminder that without legitimate privacy, we do not have free speech. Americans should be free to speak politically without fear of intimidation or coercion. Forced donor disclosure laws silence political speech under the guise of transparency. But as People United for Privacy reminds us, “Transparency is for government. Privacy is for people.”
Today’s cancel culture sees it differently; free speech for me but not for thee. Social media companies manipulate algorithms to suppress one political view, while amplifying another. The mainstream news media effectively do the same. And now, donor disclosure laws censor political speech under the guise of revealing “dirty money.” But these laws also chill speech by way of activists determined to destroy those with opposing viewpoints.
As People United for Privacy points out, the laws claim to “combat dark money in politics… but [the activists are] hoping to silence dissenting speech by exposing donors to harassment and retaliation for their beliefs.”
The “dark money” claims persuaded Arizona voters last year to pass Prop 211, forcing disclosure of private gifts made to organizations advocating in the political arena for candidates or ballot measures. The government then publicizes the names of private donors, turning on its head the constitutional arrangement of government transparency and citizen privacy. CAP is a party in one of three lawsuits, that challenge the constitutionality of Arizona’s new law.
The Court has upheld other expressive forms of speech that extend beyond the spoken word to include such things as flag burning. See here for a list of Supreme Court cases protecting and clarifying free speech. They include:
- In Americans for Prosperity v. Bonta the Court ruled that the First Amendment protects the anonymous support of political organizations.
- The Court in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, protected a website designer from being forced to speak messages with which she disagrees.
- In Janus v. AFSCME, the Court ruled that states violate the First Amendment when they take union dues (much of it used for political activism) from non-consenting public union employees.
- And in 1919, the Court ruled in Schenck v. U.S. that there is a limit to free speech, though rare: when words are used to create a clear and present danger.
We must be alert, work to protect our freedom of speech, and never take it for granted, because this critical First Amendment is always under threat by those who want to leave many of us speechless.
- Read and listen here about a Johns Hopkins University professor secretly recorded urging a prostitute activist to start a “mass movement” to get children into prostitution.
- Read here the truth about the harms and regret of abortion from singer Britney Spears who says abortion was among the “most agonizing” experiences of her life.
- Read here about the risks of in vitro fertilization and the many changes to the modern family.
- Watch here a video teaser for the Daily Wire’s coming “Snow White” movie that counters Hollywood’s newest woke version of the classic story.