Assorted Thoughts on the First Amendment

1. You can disagree with or dislike people in your government, from your city council up through the President, and still love your country. (Conservatives disliked the President for 8 years; denying that privilege to the rest of us is hypocrisy at best.)

2. You can oppose war – or a particular war – without being anti-American. Speaking out against your nation’s policies and actions is not treason, it is necessary for a free society. If no one disagrees with the official policy, and that policy turns out to be a mistake – say, slavery, for instance – the mistake will never be corrected.

3. No, being a movie star does not make you an expert on politics. Neither does being a country singer. But neither job makes your opinion matter any less than anyone else’s.

4. America is not and should not be a theocracy. Freedom of religion does not exist without freedom from religion. If you are free to attend a Lutheran service only if you also attend a Catholic mass, you don’t have freedom of religion. If you can practice Christianity at home but your children are expected to recite Allah Akbar daily in school, you don’t have freedom of religion. This doesn’t mean that you can’t pray the way you want to. It does mean you cannot coerce me into praying the way you want me to.

5. Remember, the first amendment is there to protect unpopular speech. The popular speech doesn’t need protecting. And not everyone is offended by the same things.

6. The right to speak freely does not compel others to listen. You always have the right to turn the radio to another station, hang up the phone, or walk away. If I don’t want you to call or email me, I have the right to block you, and as long as the choice is mine, there is no reason I can’t let someone else handle the administrative details – whether it’s a restraining order against a stalker, a spam blacklist, or a do-not-call list.

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