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Misunderstanding about Free Speech Rights

Written By Kenneth Brooks on 04-23-2014 | in Freedom, Critical Thinking, Human Relations, Race, Government,

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) misinterpreted free speech principles. St. Anthony High School in South Huntington, N.Y. suspended two students for displaying the flag of the Southern Confederacy at an after-hours school event according to CBS New York. St. Anthony is a private school. Therefore, the First Amendment prohibitions of federal government authority over speech do not apply here.  

Despite the school's private status, NYCLU objected that, "All people should be able to express their views freely, even the offensive ones." "Our motto is more speech, not censorship, or punishment,"  said NYCLU director Donna Lieberman. "Helping children understand the impact of this patently offensive expressive activity." Lieberman's illogical conclusion shows a misunderstanding about speech rights."

The ability to communicate is an inborn human trait of survival. However, each person must exercise the ability responsibly or lose its usefulness. The First Amendment to the Constitution denied government authority over the people's speech to prevent its ability to censor their speech about government operation. The First Amendment did not create freedom of speech rights, as many Americans believe. Instead, it protected existing free speech rights of the people from government restrictions. Therefore, each person's right of free speech includes the power to restrict offensive speech to him or her in areas he or she controls. Illogically, Lieberman concludes that people should surrender this personal component of their free speech rights to provide forum for people with speech goals to offend them.   

Individuals, family, friends, business associates, and strangers censor the speech of one another all the time. They ignore or object to speech they find offensive, uninteresting, or unworthy of their time. The power of choice provides each person an independent vote which speech is most valuable to him or her and to society. People harm themselves and society if from ignorance they persistently provide a forum for illogical, abusive, destructive, or vacuous speech. Each forum allowed for vacuous or intentionally offensive speech displaces the opportunity for positive speech and ideas. Therefore, nobody has a duty to provide a forum and the use of his or her time for speech designed to offend him or her.

Remarks by St. Anthony officials and others presumed the students' display of the rebel flag was mostly offensive to black-labeled Americans. It is true that some descendants of Freed Americans believe they should take special offense to displays of the Rebel flag. However, the flag represents the poorly reasoned plan of some slave states to withdraw from the Union and establish a slave nation. It represents the crushing and humiliating defeat the Union Army of free white-labeled and black-labeled Americans and escaped slaves inflicted on the Rebels. No doubt, this Rebel plan and defeat at Civil War advanced approval of the 13th Amendment and ending of slavery in the United States by a century or more. Therefore, descendants of Freed Americans have reason to cheer displays of the rebel flag symbolizing those events and their ancestors' role in them.      

On the other hand, all Americans should disapprove any current support for the traitorous rebels that killed around three-hundred thousand Union soldiers. Nevertheless, we should respond to this type provocation with care and restraint. St. Anthony school officials overreacted to the students' conduct by assigning indefinite suspensions. This overreaction suggests that those children had power and influence over targeted people to devastate them emotionally merely by displaying the Rebel flag. If so, then the people that feel especially victimized need to evaluate their values and self-worth.

Society must stop overreacting to antisocial conduct by young people seeking attention by offensive conduct. This is true whether they display the flag of the defeated Rebel cause at inappropriate times or places or they spew self-belittling racist slurs and degrading sexist language in music. We should discipline them for disruptive conduct, if it is disruptive, and move on. St. Anthony High officials should assign those two students the task of writing an essay comparing the living conditions of free workers in the rebel states before, doing and after the Civil War with those of wealthy slave and property owners in those states during those same periods. This will teach them about the inappropriate timing and location of their speech while educating them of the true circumstances of conditions symbolized by the Rebel flag.

Freedom of Religious expression without coercion

Written By Kenneth Brooks on 03-27-2014 | in Freedom, Critical Thinking, Human Relations, Democracy, Government,

Religious extremists continue efforts to corrupt the free exercise of religion clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court must decide in Kathleen Sebelius Secretary Of Health And Human Services v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. if the Affordable Care Act infringes on employers's First Amendment protected free exercise of religion.

The Federal government petitioners say, "The legal issue is whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation's owners."

Respondents are Green family members and their closely held businesses, which they operate according to their religious beliefs according to them. They say, "The question presented is whether the regulation (Affordable Care Act) violates RFRA by requiring Respondents to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives in violation of their religious beliefs, or else pay severe fines."

Clearly, the Green family statement of the case seeks a Court decision confirming their right to limit contraceptive choices of Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. employees based on Green family members' religious beliefs. They advance the belief of many religious extremists the Constitution protection of religious expression allows them to force their religious values on other people. A lower appellate court decision agreed with them. I hope the Supreme Court will overturn that ruling.

Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. and Mardel Inc. are corporations and persons under the law. The Green family owns and operates the management company that owns those corporations. Green family members set up their businesses as corporations to separate and to protect themselves legally from adverse consequences of business and for tax advantage. Now, they make the opposite claim that those corporations express their religious belief. It appears they believe hypocrisy is a positive value.

I disagree that corporations are persons with inborn human rights, because they were constructed and not birthed. Nevertheless, a previous decision of the Supreme Court established them as persons with rights. The Constitution protects every person's First Amendment rights from infringement by others. Therefore, the Constitution prohibits members of the Green family from imposing their religious values on corporate persons. Corporations as inanimate objects cannot have personal religious beliefs. This fact blocks the Green family argument their religious expression extends through the corporation to its employees. The Court should rule against the Green family in this case based on its previous ruling of corporations as persons.

The Court should rule in favor of the Affordable Care Act even if the owner of a business operated it directly under his or her name. The Affordable Care Act requires businesses to pay a portion of employees' health insurance premium as components of wages and benefits. Employees' lawful uses of health insurance benefits are personal choices no different from other lawful uses of their wages and benefits. Employers do not have legal or moral authority over the lawful off-work activity of employees'.


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