Why does the United States have more free speech than any other country? By Lion of the Blogosphere.
Even if you read the actual text of the First Amendment, it leaves a lot unanswered. It starts out, “Congress shall make no law…” It doesn’t say anything about what the states can do.
So the absolute right to free speech that we enjoy in the United States is much like the right to abortion. It’s something that the Supreme Court made up. So thank the Supreme Court for our free speech!
In addition, thank Senator Joseph McCarthy. He came along at just the right time, punishing the left for their subversive speech just before the left came to power and took over everything. So subsequently, remembering how McCarthy punished the left for their speech, left-wing Supreme Court justices became free speech absolutists, and absolute free speech had the full support of the left-wing-controlled mainstream media.
No rights exist unless people are prepared to fight and defend them, regardless of constitutions and laws. They are basically cultural.
There are parts of constitutions that are simply ignored. For example, both the US and Australian Constitutions say that only gold and silver may be used as money, but that has been disregarded for many decades on the flimsiest of excuses.
Scott of the Pacific:
I disagree with the concept here of “Congress Shall Make No Law” would allow the States to dampen free speech.
Under the articles of confederation, it they were to do so, it would be seen as a violation of the Constitution and as such, be overruled. That is why this “Amendment” was written in conjunction with other constitutional provisos.
Back in the mid-2000s, whenever conservatives would complain that this, that, or the other thing wasn’t in the [US] Constitution, liberals would reply “the Constitution means whatever the Supreme Court says it means.” Now that there have been a few major rulings liberals don’t like, like Citizens United v. FEC and District of Columbia v. Heller, they don’t say that anymore.
The only reason the supreme court ever existed is that Americans took up arms to form their own government, for the sake of themselves and their posterity. The freedoms we enjoy were bought by the violence they did, and are only possible because of their ability and willingness to inflict violence.
The world is full of people who would like to constrain your freedom to speak, to own property, to enjoy basic rights like a fair trial. If you want evidence just look at the laws of foreign nations, or look in the news at all the people who would like to take away your free speech, or impose more taxes on your property. All these people will use force to constrain your rights.
In such a world the only thing that can create freedom is acts of violence, and the only thing that can preserve it is the threat of violence. The language of the declaration of independence suggests the founders understood this, and it isn’t unreasonable to think they even intended the second amendment to preserve an implicit threat of internal political violence.
Regardless of whether they intended it that way, that’s what it accomplishes, and I think that is essential to the preservation of all other freedoms. I see the arrow of causality pointing one way. Violence -> freedom. I don’t see it as an accident that we have the freest speech in the world, and also the highest rate of gun ownership.
I also don’t see it as an accident that our rights have been chipped away at the same time that the implicit threat of internal political violence has declined, due to people becoming better fed and less willing to fight (a good thing) and to the police and military acquiring ever more powerful weapons (a bad thing?). People are much fatter, weaker, happier, and afraid of the police/military than they were in the distant past, and so less willing to fight, so the state has been able to take a greater role in our lives.