Who Owns Free Speech?

Ignore the distractions of specific instances, and ask yourself this question based completely on principle–who in the world should be entitled to speak freely?

To me, freedom of speech and expression is a God-given (natural) right of all people. Whether or not a government chooses to recognize and respect this right is a completely different story, but fortunately ours does. Based on my limited knowledge of Constitutional law and history, I have to believe that was the intention of the Founders. The argument that freedom of speech is only protected for citizens and residents of this country is hollow–we wouldn’t deny that right to a Canadian or a Brit would we?

If we can justify denying speech to a person who is standing on U.S. soil based solely on the laws and policies of their home country, wouldn’t it be completely reasonable to expect that we would be protected by law to speak freely in any other country just because we come from a country that allows it.

So who owns freedom of speech? Is it a right every person is entitled to, or is it granted by country of origin? Something to think about.

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Comments

I don’t think free speech is a God given or natural right, though it is something to think about at 2 in the morn after a few frosty ones. But quickly, I don’t think God is worried much about free speech, freedom from taxation, or democracy in the middle east. He has given us a path to salvation, regardless of shackles that are put on us here on earth. As far as a natural right, to the extent free speech preserves favoured races or bears positively on selection, maybe it is a natural right. But I haven’t seen it. People will kill you for speech, which is something that tends to bear negatively on selection.

By the way, is it just speech that is a natural right or do natural rights also include the right to keep and bear arms, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures etc?

By the way, is it just speech that is a natural right or do natural rights also include the right to keep and bear arms, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures etc?

I’m neither a lawyer nor theologian, but based on a good Christian raisin’ and an eighth grade education, I’d say so.

There ain’t no need in them a treatin’ us this way.

Whether you agree or not, the intention of the Founders was to establish the “right” to free speech for this country and it’s citizens…not all countries. We (the US) can’t grant or deny it for someone else, somewhere else in the world, but we do have the right to limit it for non-US citizens. The fact that we allow “free speech” for Canadians and Brits just shows how willing we are to graciously extend “our” liberties to others.
And let’s face it, if I yell “FIRE!” in a crowded theater, that speech isn’t protected…for that matter neither is the “free speech” of a batter to say something insulting about an umpire’s mother.

Shawn, so is it your contention that that freedom of speech and expression is originated by the State?

Our Constitution does not originate the right to free speech. Our Constitution states that all men, not just the American ones, are given certain rights because we are all equal in the eyes of God. The Constitution only outlines the way in which that speech will be governed and controlled. I can go anywhere in the world and speak freely. What is not guaranteed to me there is the right or ability to be listened to. I can say a lot of things, but that “freedom” does not guarantee me the right to be listened to. I can speak out against a repressive government in North Korea while in North Korea, but that freedom does not mean that I won’t be subjected to the consequences of speaking that on North Korean soil. I may still have free speech, but I will be talking from a prison cell. Time and time we have seen the world changed by people with the God given right to speak, willing to pay what ever price for that speech. No one can limit the freedom of speech, only the size of the audience that they might receive and the consequences that may transpire because of it. Just ask the Dixie Chicks. What they failed to realize is that they have freedom of speech, but they don’t have the ability to control the consequences of said speech. That little Iranian mad man has freedom of speech, not because he was on American soil but because he is human. If freedom of Speech is a God-given right, as in God gave it to us, then it is a right that every human has. What they don’t have is the right to an audience or the right not to be held accountable for that speech. The fact that some president from one one the most liberal colleges gave him an audience and gave him a loud speaker to speak his mind is what is at issue, not his rights to speak it. I am sure he has been talking freely all over New York this week, but that we chose to allow him to speak his hatred to millions of people is what is upsetting. What we have the right to do is limit his audience, which we didn’t do. I can say anything that I want, but have to realize that depending on where I am the consequences can be vastly different. My freedom of speech doesn’t circumvent anyone’s freedom to listen. That’s just my two sense. Remember Knoxville would be Snoozeville without the Heartland Series.

No.
I completely agree with this from the original post…

“To me, freedom of speech and expression is a God-given (natural) right of all people. Whether or not a government chooses to recognize and respect this right is a completely different story”

I was making the point, that the Founders did not intend to establish this right for all nations, but hopefully as an example fo other nations to follow.

God gave us free will; he did not give us free speech. We abused our free will, then, to get back into good graces, we were specifically told to restrict our speech. Three of the ten commandments come immediately to mind, bearing false witness and taking His name in vain. The expression of worshipping gold calves has been known to work significant hardship on people. I am sure if you poked around Leviticus, you could find other restrictions on speech and expression. The aforementioned three commandments didn’t go away in the New Testament.

I know government and State are dirty words here, but if the Constitution were amended to say “When the founders said there shall be no law restricting speech, they meant it, you can yell fire in theaters, display porn at daycare, and say you are a licensed attorney when you only have a two year degree in programming,” then the State, i.e. the people, would be providing you with the unrestricted right to free speech. God probably wouldn’t be fond of the lying or the porn in the daycare.

But I could just as easily be convinced otherwise.

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