Freedom of appropriate speech and correct thoughts

Patrick Gibbons

When our nation was founded our leaders saw fit to protect, forever, the right of the people to speak and think freely – in the press, in the public, in church and in the privacy of our own homes.

In those early years James Madison wrote, “We have in this country extinguished forever … making laws for the human mind.” Nevertheless, over the last 200 years our government has regularly worked to extinguish those rights, in order to control our thoughts and our words.

It wasn’t long after the signing of the U.S. Constitution that federalists passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which forbid “seditious” speech against the president or the country. Even the giants of the American left, such as Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, have been guilty of violating the freedom of speech of all Americans, as both jailed dissenters by the thousands.

Nevada has seen its share of problems with speech and thought codes as well. Now-departed University of Nevada, Las Vegas economist and Professor Hans Hermann-Hoppe pointed out in a classroom lecture that one reason homosexuals have a higher disposable income is because they are less likely to have children. A thin-skinned student took offense, and UNLV launched a hostile investigation into the professor. Rightly, the Nevada chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union defended Professor Hoppe.

The ACLU again stood against UNLV when Christine Clark, vice president for “diversity and inclusion,” released a proposed “bias” policy which allowed “victims” of bias to call the police. Yes, the police would literally be required to investigate thought crimes.

On the national scene, Congress declared it had the power to regulate speech if it was political in nature. In the name of “campaign finance reform,” regulators banned the viewing of a negative documentary on Hillary Clinton as she ran for President. Federal regulators went so far as to claim that the “printed press,” not the people, had the freedom-of-speech protection. This meant they could regulate any broadcast media, including books when published online or viewed electronically on a Kindle. Basically, the government wants to prohibit private citizens from badmouthing politicians when the latter run for re-election.

These broad-reaching powers are gross, but they are just the first step. Recently the U.S. House of Representatives passed a hate-crimes (read: thought crimes) bill providing to certain groups of people special protections not given to other races, ethnicities, sexes or sexual orientations in this country. It codifies additional penalties for people committing acts already illegal – crimes such as robbery, rape, torture, kidnapping and murder – so long as the victim was of one of the special protected classes. But are not all such crimes committed in hatred?

Remarkably, the left keeps forgetting that the 14th Amendment requires equal protection under the laws. But the bad news about thought-crime legislation doesn’t stop there. The bill, according to Cato Institute scholar Nat Hentoff, also allows federal prosecutors to try defendants in federal court, even if they have been found innocent in a state court! This directly violates the Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights, which says “… nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy….”

Sadly, as Hentoff points out, the American Civil Liberties Union has remained silent on this latest gross violation of our rights. So, too, has most of the fifth estate.