The Founders knew that liberty is never really popular, and that it cannot be entrusted to elected officials who must answer in the end to the demos, which is why they put the first liberties first, right there in the First Amendment. If we are willing to let a low-rent carny like Harry Reid take those liberties away from us, or a sanctimonious old crook like Hillary Rodham Clinton, or Elizabeth Warren, the most wooden Indian of them all, then maybe we didn’t deserve those first liberties in the first place.
And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you—where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? (He leaves him) This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast—man’s laws, not God’s—and if you cut them down—and you’re just the man to do it—d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?
“What gives me grounds for optimism,” says Kors in the video, “is that this is the only country on the face of the earth where if you tell a ten-year-old kid he can’t do something, and it strikes him as absurd, that kid looks up and says, ‘it’s a free country.'”
“This is the only nation on earth whose children say, ‘it’s a free country.’ It’s going to take a whole lot to root that out of the American spirit.”
There are village tyrants, as well as village Hampdens, but none who acts under color of law is beyond reach of the Constitution.
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The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials, and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.
Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.
It seems trite but necessary to say that the First Amendment to our Constitution was designed to avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings. There is no mysticism in the American concept of the State or of the nature or origin of its authority. We set up government by consent of the governed, and the Bill of Rights denies those in power any legal opportunity to coerce that consent. Authority here is to be controlled by public opinion, not public opinion by authority.
If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.
Competitive markets work so smoothly and silently that they fool us modern folk into thinking that the lives we lead are normal – fool us into thinking that poverty (rather than wealth) has causes; fool us into supposing that people my age (almost 55), because we still have all of our teeth and aren’t remotely yet decrepit, are “middle-aged” rather than old, ancient, nearly dead by historical standards; fool us into believing that possession by each person of several changes of clean, washable clothes is the norm; fool us into imagining that living under a solid roof atop solid walls joined to solid floors is natural; fool us into forgetting that starvation and malnutrition were in store for distressingly large numbers of our ancestors . . . .
FIRE defines a “speech code” as any university regulation or policy that prohibits expression that would be protected by the First Amendment in society at large. Any policy—such as a harassment policy, a student conduct code, or a posting policy—can be a speech code if it prohibits protected speech or expression.
Just as I cannot morally consent to give the government the power to take your freedom of speech or travel or privacy, you cannot consent to give the government the power to take mine. This is the principle of the natural law: We all have areas of human behavior in which each of us is sovereign and for the exercise of which we do not need the government’s permission. Those areas are immune from government interference.
That is at least the theory of the Declaration of Independence, and that is the basis for our 237-year-old American experiment in limited government, and it is the system to which everyone who works for the government today pledges fidelity.
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The litany of the loss of freedom is sad and unconstitutional and irreversible. The government does whatever it can to retain its power, and it continues so long as it can get away with it. It can listen to your phone calls, read your emails, seize your DNA and challenge your silence, all in violation of the Constitution. Bitterly and ironically, the government Jefferson wrought is proving the accuracy of Jefferson’s prediction that in the long march of history, government grows and liberty shrinks. Somewhere Jefferson is weeping.
Who Is Teaching Your Children? And What Is Being Taught?
Sure, professional athletes have a certain celebrity appeal, but can they really convince Americans to embrace a product that a growing number have already written off as a shit sandwich? But to really win hearts and minds … Hey! How about using the public schools to recruit their captive audience of students to the cause, and then set the kids loose to proselytize their families on the glories of Obamacare? That should work wonders.
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So public school teachers get paid taxpayer dollars to preach Obamacare to their co-workers and the students, so the kids will then go home and sing the glories of the health scheme to the same taxpayers who are funding the whole process. Everybody wins!
If this experiment in using the public schools as a medium for spreading the good news works out as school officials and health insurance exchange managers hope, expect more in the future.
A presidency that began with such high hopes of “hope” and “change” has conducted itself just like so many administrations before it. A president who, just ten days ago, mocked “voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity,” has been caught presiding over an Internal Revenue Service that, yet again, applied inquisitorial scrutiny to critics of the government, a Justice Department that, once more, snooped on journalists, and a Federal Bureau of Investigation that can’t help spying on the public’s communications. These abuses remind us not that the Obama administration has invented new ways to abuse power, but rather that even this supposedly fresh start commits the same old excesses that inevitably result from a surfeit of coercive power and plenty of targets of opportunity on which to wield it.
So, as we prepare to hand authority over our health care system to a tax agency that has, time and again, wielded its power for political purposes on behalf of whoever is currently in power, we owe thanks. Thank you, Mr. President, for demonstrating that you’re just as untrustworthy a bastard as all of your predecessors. Thank you for reminding us that, no matter the public assurances we receive, every iota of power given to the government will be misused. We repeatedly forget these lessons, and we need our reminders.
[T]he biggest single test of whether a college is worth attending is not its ranking, its placement record, or the average salary of its graduates.
It’s whether it treats you like an adult. Don’t expect a college to help you become an intelligent adult and a responsible citizen if it does not treat you like one.
Many colleges and universities will not treat you like an adult—someone who can think and act independently—but instead they will treat you like a child in need of sermonizing and supervision while they severely restrict what you are allowed to say and think.
To begin with, if a college is not unambiguously committed to freedom of thought, and its counterpart, freedom of speech, how can you possibly expect to learn how to think critically—to examine opposing positions and analyze the merits and deficiencies of each?
It is the nature of thought itself that it cannot be subordinated in advance to any ideological position. The human faculty of reason is unfettered by allegiance to anything but the truth itself.
Accordingly, the mark of a true university is intellectual diversity—and yet most universities are remarkable for mind-numbing conformity, for a student body that looks diverse but all believes the same things, where dissenting voices are marginalized or ridiculed.
How are you going to learn to think if your university is opposed to thinking?
Think about that.
One good way to get a sense of a college’s commitment to freedom of speech is to check its rating on this website, which will give you detailed reasons for each “speech code rating” it assigns.