Although the First Amendment is not absolute and there are some restrictions on freedom of speech and expression, it must be truly acknowledged that the citizens of the United States enjoy the greatest freedoms of speech and expression that can be found on this planet. The essence of the First Amendment is to allow a speaker or writer to express themselves in the manner that they see fit. In this way their thoughts and their beliefs cannot be stifled and can be disseminated to the public.
There is an additional benefit, possibly one that our founding fathers did not think of, under the freedoms that the First Amendment allow. With unfettered speech and expression comes the ability for those who hear the speaker to evaluate that speech. Just as importantly, it allows those who are listening to the speaker to evaluate the speaker himself. Without the First Amendment, those who spoke and expressed themselves would be curtailed in what they told us and therefore, we would be curtailed in truly knowing what they think and who they are.
In this vein, we learned a lot during the previous months on a number of personalities and celebrities. There is a popular television program “Duck Dynasty” that revolves around the family that have made an industry out of duck calls and now their lifestyle. They are self-proclaimed rednecks and proud of it. However, it now appears that at least some of them, or one of them, is a homophobe and possibly a racist. Because he is allowed to speak his mind and relate his thoughts and beliefs, many people who enjoyed the show and bought those duck calls will decide not to in the future. Because he was allowed to speak his mind, he and the show no longer are a bunch of cute rednecks having a good ole’ time, but rather, we now know what is inside.
Apparently, he longs for the day when blacks picked cotton next to his white employers. They didn’t complain about the backbreaking work and were apparently happy in their ignorance. But the civil rights movement changed all that. Now blacks complain and believe they are entitled, all because of the civil rights movement.
Also, according to this Duck Dynasty star, homosexuality is one step away from beastiality. They are both Godless acts and the Maker will have to give them a good talking to. Certainly, others feel the same way. But now, because of the First Amendment and their ability to speak and come into everybody’s homes by the way of cable, we have the ability to judge whether we truly want to watch that program any longer, or whether we want to buy their products, conveniently sold at Walmart.
Not too surprising, we learned on Fox News that Santa Claus is white. In fact, as one of the hosts of the morning show said “Everyone knows Santa is white”. The truth be told, St. Nicholas was from a part of Greece that now is currently controlled by Turkey. If one wants to truly trace the origins of Santa Claus, then one would concede he mostly likely was a lighter shade of brown.
We all know that Santa Claus is fictional. No one drives a sled at night visiting everybody’s house pulled by reindeer flying in the sky. No one has the ability to travel around the world in one night, visiting all. No one can carry on his sled all the presents for all the kids on earth. So, if Santa Claus is fictional, why can he not be fictional to all of us in a manner that we see fit? Why is Santa not black to black children? Why is he not Asian to Asian people? And why is he not white to white children?
But more important is the Fox News host who proclaimed that Santa is simply white. This, of course, was followed up by the minion on Fox personalities who defended her statement. Bill O’Reilly, for one, reiterated that exact statement–that Santa was white. And because of these statements, again, we learned what these people are about. They see things through their eyes and through their beliefs. They don’t have the ability to tolerate other people’s views or even consider other people’s sensitivities. They speak in blanket terms and believe they hold the right to judge and to tell what is true. And most importantly an intolerance in this season, where there is supposed to be peace on earth, a brotherhood of man, and a reaching out in friendship to others who are not like us.
Of course, these are the same people that every year accuse others of stealing Christmas from them, because there are those of us who believe Christmas and other holiday ornaments don’t belong in government buildings or in government displays. They accuse us of somehow being un-American because as they see it, Christmas is American and we are a Christian country. Yet the First Amendment specifically does not allow the government to foster any religion.
It is because of the First Amendment that we now know more about the people in Duck Dynasty and will be able to make our decisions as to whether we want to watch their program, just as we know more and more about the people on Fox News and whether we want to watch their shows. The First Amendment is a beautiful thing. It not only allows us to speak our minds and to give our thoughts, but it also allows the listener to hear our thoughts, hear our beliefs and judge whether we are worthy of being listened to or followed. It allows us to understand our fellow man and maybe to understand that we don’t like him. It allows us the ability to choose and to make those choices with informed decisions. Truly, the First Amendment is a beautiful thing. It weeds out the chafe and truly brings the deserving to the forefront. It allows us to be bigoted and in some cases, to put our foot in our mouths.