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Thursday, November 10, 2016


There is a reason why the freedom of expression was the first item in the Bill of Rights.  Immediately following adoption of the Constitution, the Framers added ten Amendments which were intended to set us on the right track with respect to citizens’ rights.  In fact, the First Amendment is more than an amendment – it virtually defines and differentiates Americans from the people of all other nations in how we actually live our lives. 


One of the first distinguishing claims of Donald Trump was his “political incorrectness” – which actually resembled bald insults more than mere “political incorrectness”.  People have been responding negatively to the concept of stifling free speech in the name of this “correctness”.  We are somewhat polarized in this issue.  On one side we have universities providing “safe spaces” for “snowflake” students who want to run from “hurtful speech”.  My hometown’s city council actually considered “shutting down hate speech” in response to an African-born pastor’s expose on Islam and its true nature and goals!  There was such a rise against this that the local newspaper’s editorial page was literally turned over to those who were outraged at this presumption by some councilmen.   Two things we are learning:  one, that our First Amendment is truly under assault; two, that the people are fed up with being stifled.


Years ago, in 2009, I organized an informal tea party event – the first in our area, in fact.  We had no budget, we thus had no featured speaker and it was not an election year, so there were no candidates wishing to use it as a forum.  What we did was post flyers and make radio announcements inviting everyone to come to speak and hear others on the issues that mattered to them.  There was a line of people waiting to speak.   It was wonderful.  Some were wary of efforts to repeal the 2nd Amendment, others were railing against the reckless Congress which was spending America into financial ruin.  There were some whose concerns involved extremist policies in the name of the environment while others were speaking out against Obamacare.  There were calls for voter ID, for auditing the Fed, for making English our only official language.  In other words, this was a place to be HEARD.  Many of these people had great ideas, while some could be great ideas with a little tweaking, and some might even have been great ideas that I disagreed with.  At the end of this event, a local newspaper reporter accosted me and asked, “Did you know in advance what these people would say?  Did you screen their comments?”  I told him, truthfully, that I had no idea who most of them were nor did I know until he did what they were going to say.  I said “I’m not afraid to hear what anyone says.  This is America.”  I do not believe in censorship, I do not believe in “safe spaces” where free speech is NOT safe. I think our Constitution means what it says.  We are free to express ourselves in America.  That is what it means to BE an American.


Recently I wrote an article for a new website, in which I unequivocally spoke out against the idea of calling a convention for considering amending the Constitution.    This website published it with a disclaimer that my views did not reflect theirs.  Fair enough.  I give them credit for being willing to publish my opinion.  The comments which came in responding to the article were every degree of vicious.  This is fine – as I said, I do not believe in shutting down free speech.  It became very obvious after the first two or three that these comments were part of an organized campaign.   The messages were highly intemperate and one bragged about a meeting of constitutional convention advocates where in a room of 50, only one dissented and they put the cork in that one with dispatch.  For a time I responded in defense of my statements – but finally I felt I had to stop spending time writing the same answers to the same ugly comments from people who were unwilling to even address or consider the concerns of those who would urge caution with the one document which makes us a nation, our Constitution.  I submitted a follow-up article and expected that since over 60 comments were generated, the website would be willing to publish my rebuttal of them at least. 


So far I have not had the courtesy of a reply from the website.  It would be understatement to say I am disappointed in them.  I understand that they have a different opinion.  Perhaps they fear their readers.  That would not be an unreasonable assumption.  In an email from the website owner, he informed me that the site had “shared the heat” and had received piles of hate mail, a threat to boycott them and even an attempted hacking of their website, all as a result of their publishing my article.  While they claim to “stand by” their writers, under pressure they have not.  In the interim since I sent them my follow-up article they have published two or three in favor of a constitutional convention.  It is unfortunate that as they are attempting to launch a powerful third party to be a home for grassroots conservatives and libertarians who no longer feel they have one with either of the major parties, that they should take an inflexible position (although they claim to be open to discussion) on something as fraught with hazard as this proposal, and one which has, over time, drawn much opposition from some very respectable and distinguished authorities, and one on which many conservatives hold a strong view different from that of the website.   It is a polarizing issue – perhaps the most polarizing of them all, because everything is at stake.


Aside from this matter, I would say this:  that if the people who want to push this hard for a constitutional convention to “amend” or basically open the door to actually re-writing our Constitution, are willing to shut down free speech opposing their agenda, effectively preventing opposing opinions to be printed or heard, who are willing to go so far as to boycott someone for allowing a view differing from their own to be published, or even to go so far as to attempt to hack the website where such an article would appear, our liberty is not safe with them.  If these are the people who are pushing the constitutional convention idea, on the advice of author Mark Levin, whose book, The Liberty Amendments, has become a bible for this movement and their great authority for the iron-clad safety of such a convention, I would fear their input as much as that of some of the groups I mentioned in my original article as dangerous to our freedom – the Muslim Brotherhood, Planned Parenthood, Black Lives Matter, Socialists, Democrats, RINOs, gun-grabbers, extremist environmentalists, LGBTQ extremists, and many, many others.  For these proponents of such a convention are apparently not okay with the First Amendment and if they are not for that, I cannot see a way forward for liberty under such misguided and malevolent auspices. 


I hope (although at this point I doubt) that at some point they will publish my rebuttal article, but even more, I hope they will back off from such a divisive issue if what they want is to unify and grow a grassroots political party.  Such a party as would censor my replies, as would flinch if they are threatened by boycotts and hacking, and worse, side with those who threaten them, who would, worst of all, go full steam ahead with the many dangers to our freedom, with such an unwise pursuit as a constitutional convention (which is the same as to say an “Article V” convention or a “convention of states”)is not going to be an effective vehicle to replace the two major parties we now have. 


As of the finish of this year’s election, we now have a candidate who won the popular majority vote and lost the Electoral College vote.  If any of Levin’s “Paul and Paula Reveres” out there think that abolishing the Electoral College will not be on the table, they had better think again.  This could become not only a popular provision in a revised Constitution, but a battle cry.  If we should make this mistake, we can kiss the republic goodbye.  It is difficult to explain to people the importance of –and thus, difficult to defend – protecting the Electoral College.   So there is one more issue to open ourselves to should a con-con be contemplated seriously.  I remain strongly opposed to this.  I have heard the whole range of reasons given for it and all the insults that go with them for those who disagree.


We have a precious gift, not given to people anywhere else on earth – a very first principle under which we live which provides us the absolute right to freedom of expression.  If this is expendable due to thuggish, Mafia-esque conduct toward a website, then that website, like that first principle of freedom, is lost.

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