I’m Canadian, but I prefer the American version of freedom of speech, as defined by the first amendment:
“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.”
At first glance this is a simple and noble definition. However, freedom of speech is a lot more complicated than that. First of all, we have the idea of freedom of speech versus freedom from consequences. There are consequences to “yelling fire in a crowded theatre” among other things.
I won’t delve too far into the ins and outs of my views on free speech (a topic I am sure I will evolve on), but I will say that, for the most part, I am a free speech fundamentalist and I hold this right in the highest regard. Even in Canada, where freedom of speech is not absolute, I am still thankful for the rights I do have. Many around the world, particularly in Islamic countries, lack even a basic right to free speech.
Basically, as it stands right now (I consider learning more and changing views based on evidence to be something I strive for), I tend to agree with the American exceptions which have been upheld in court, including child pornography, incitement to imminent violence, and of course the aforementioned “yelling fire” type speech. And in individual situations, I err on the side of more free speech, not less.
As a person who spends a fair amount of time criticizing Islam, I feel that the ability to critique religious beliefs is absolutely essential. This, of course, includes criticizing religions that I believe to be a morally good force upon the world. If we cannot freely and openly discuss the meaning of life, how we got here, and what we must do while we are in this life, what else could we ever hope to understand?
I love hearty debate, passion, and even offensiveness. Our culture has spent far too much time trying to squash anything that doesn’t fit a very specific world view. It truly warms my heart to see the backlash that is happening.
Freedom of speech is freedom for all sorts of hideously bad ideas, and, ergo, all sorts of interesting conversation. It’s a beautiful thing.
But there’s one realm in which my views take a complete 180-degree turn.
If you’re a prospective immigrant to the United States, I have zero interest in nor obligation to respect your right to freedom of speech.
Well, at least, as it relates to you moving to the United States of America.
If you are wishing to become a member of my country (I feel this applies to any Western nation), and to take advantage of the wonderful freedoms we have – yes, including the freedom to speak – you are opening yourself up to be put under a microscope.
The standard is higher for you. It’s really that simple.
There are enough problems with “homegrown” extremists.
We cannot deport these people.
They’re American citizens, for better or for worse, and I fully respect their free speech rights up until they start plotting to harm people or attempting to incite others to violence. Look at the United Kingdom and the ongoing struggle to bring charges against Islamic hate-preacher Anjem Choudary. Charges have now been laid, but it took him actively supporting ISIS while they were an active terror group. The point being, it’s very, very, very hard to silence one of your own citizens when they preach hatred.
You know what’s not as hard? Keeping people out of your country who support fundamental Islam, or any other ideology which is incompatible with Western values. Extreme. Vetting.
This should be a priority for every immigrant. We should take what they say and when deeply into account when deciding who will contribute to America and who will work from without to implode America.
This is common sense, and I suspect that by law this is theoretically happening. However, with our culture of stifled speech and political correctness, I am very skeptical just how much is being done to weed out those people whose speech is at odds with the values of the nation.
The Constitution of the United States applies to the United States and it’s people. Nowhere else. No one else.
It’s time we stop de facto extending those same rights to people who want to destroy our way of life. We have a legal mandate to protect our people from harm. We need to stop being politically correct, and use it.