Around election time, people start talking a lot about their Second Amendment rights. (That’s the one that involves the right to keep and bear arms, in case you didn’t know.) People opposed to gun control tend to get very emotional about no one infringing on their Second Amendment rights.
Now, I’m not opposed to people owning guns. Hell, if I ever win the lottery and get my swanky new mansion on a beach somewhere, you better believe I’ll have a gun in every room to protect all the expensive shit I plan to buy. Like the 80-inch 4K Ultra HD TV I’m going to have in every room, an XBox One, a black BMW M3 (I’ll pay the extra $3K for an automatic), a yacht, a new computer I build myself (the sky’s the limit), braces to straighten out my teeth (sort of, I’m not letting them cut into my jaw no matter how much money I have), Miss Me skinny jeans in black in all the new styles, a couple new iPads—I may get one just for my dog. Actually one for each of my dogs because I’m going to rescue several more and build them each a special little doghouse in the backyard of my mansion near the pool…where was I going with this?
Oh, right, the Second Amendment. Anyway, I’m going to need a gun to protect all my cool millionaire lottery winner stuff. Now if I need to have a background check to get all those guns, I’m fine with that. I mean, I once had to submit to a background check to get a $10/hr crap job, so whatever.
But since I care so much about all my constitutional rights, I’m equally, if not more, concerned about the First Amendment. Know what that one says?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
In other words, the First Amendment covers freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press.
So I have to wonder about people who support a candidate because they’re super concerned about their Second Amendment rights, if that same candidate wants to shred the First Amendment?
In case you’re confused, let me break that down for you.
When a candidate says he wants to “open up libel laws” and make it easier to sue the media, what he’s really saying is, “Fuck the First Amendment.”
(Incidentally, he’s also saying he has no clue how libel laws currently work, or that there are no federal libel laws because those suits are handled in state courts, or that “actual malice” restrictions only apply to people so rich and influential they could just call a press conference to refute any untrue and negative things that might have been said about them.)
When a candidate says he wants Bill Gates to help him shut off the internet, what he’s really saying is, “Fuck the First Amendment.”
(Incidentally, he’s also saying he doesn’t really understand how the internet works.)
When a candidate says he wants to ban people from entering the U.S. based on their religion, what he’s really saying is, “Fuck the First Amendment.”
When a so-called POTUS complains about “very weak libel laws in this country,” what he’s really saying is, “Fuck the First Amendment.”
And when he complains that libel laws are so weak, “anyone can say whatever comes into their head,” he’s also saying he has no clue how libel laws actually work, and doesn’t understand legal concepts like “actual malice” and “public figure.” Libel laws do, in fact, allow you to sue someone who says something that is both untrue and defamatory, although you have to prove it is both those things. You can’t sue someone for writing the truth about you, sorry. Public figures, such as politicians and celebrities, also have the additional burden of proving “actual malice”—that the person willfully lied with the intent to damage their reputation. This is because the lawmakers who framed those laws understood the First Amendment was intended to protect the free press, and the rights of Americans to know the truth about people who hold high office in government. They didn’t want reporters to be so afraid of losing a lawsuit that they would refrain from revealing something important about a public figure, like a government official.
So, when you go to vote, how many of your rights do you actually care about protecting?