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​Our opinion: Is hate speech protected by the First Amendment? To what extent?

by Sabrina Hornung | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Editorial | December 6th, 2017

sabrina@hpr1.com

According to our pal Merriam-Webster, the definition of “patriot” is as follows: “one who loves his or her country and supports its authority and interests.”

But what does it mean to be a true patriot? In today’s political climate we tend to believe that Mark Twain may have had a little Thundercat sight-beyond-sight insight when he penned: “Patriot: The person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.”

Keep in mind that when the term patriot was first used in the U.S., the nation was in its infancy and still consisted of 13 colonies; and was in a state of revolution trying to release itself from the clutches of the tyranny of Great Britain. Thomas Jefferson once said, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

Here’s some food for thought. Let’s talk amongst ourselves, shall we? What does it mean to BE a patriot? We know and agree that it is someone who is proud of and believes in their country.

Do they stand up and speak up for what’s right? Is a patriot one who keeps not only the nation but the welfare of its people in mind? Do they weigh the scales of justice in their hearts and minds? Do they attempt to insure domestic tranquility and attempt to unite the people in a nation divided? We really hope that doesn’t sound like too much socialist propaganda to you all. In fact we borrowed a few of those words from the preamble to the Constitution.

Another fun fact. The pledge of allegiance was actually written by a socialist minister in 1892 by name of Francis Bellamy. He initially intended that it not just pertain to the citizens of our country but be relatable to citizens everywhere. Look it up. We triple dawg dare you. The words “under God” were a 62-year afterthought, and were a response to the Eisenhower era red scare. Bellamy’s daughter objected to the amendment but it fell on deaf ears.

According to ushistory.org the original pledge of allegiance was as follows: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Next question. What isn’t a patriot? Is it one who sees dollar signs before they see the welfare of their own people? Is it one who empowers oppressors, spreads misinformation and preys on fear? Is it someone who feels compelled to pluck bits and pieces from our Constitution -- who bends, manipulates and perverts those words penned by our nation’s forefathers into something that barely resembles their initial intent?

The First Amendment, aka the right to free speech, seems to be coming up quite a bit in conversation lately: what our rights are, whose rights are under attack, whether or not it’s okay to spread and propagate outright lies and hate speech.

As a publication we’re obviously big fans of free speech, but not hate speech. We don’t like bullies and we really don’t endorse discrimination; especially when those discriminating are attempting to cover their tracks with the sorry excuse that it’s infringing upon their right to free speech.

It’s just about as ignorant as picking and choosing what facets of the news one wants to believe. “We’ll just chalk up the bad stuff as fake news.” That option perpetuates ignorance. Current events aren’t a create-your-own-adventure book.

For example, we really don’t want to believe that Bismarck pastor Reverend John Boustead of Solomon’s Rest and his organization For Our Children.care invited Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff to speak at the Quality Inn in the capital city on behalf of their organization -- but it happened last Saturday.

Wolff is a housewife cum anti-muslim activist who believes Sharia Law is bound to end First Amendment rights in America. She’s also on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s radar.

This is nicht so gut. We prefer coming together over church potlucks instead of propaganda and fear mongering.

Let’s take a moment and think about this idea of free speech. When does free speech turn into hate speech and when does hate speech incite violence? When do these actions elicit reactions from those listening and infringe upon one’s basic human rights?

Think about civil rights, think about the war the “Greatest Generation” fought against fascism and think about the social injustices happening within our own generation. Wake up and read your history books, America. Why do we have such a short attention span?

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