Seldom do state representatives make news. At least in a way that is not somehow tainted by scandal. Tennessee’s Martin Daniel (R) has done just that.
And oy, the balls on this guy.
He introduced a bill, the Tennessee Student Freedom of Speech Act, that put forth the intolerably radical proposition that students on college campuses should be able to say what they want without repercussions. As long as it doesn’t disrupt the proceedings of the campus. Since the media is currently filled with examples of immature, coddled macro-infants who seek nothing more than to silence by force or mob action anyone they disagree with, one might expect there to be objection to such a radical bill. And there is.
But not because it would force said macro-infants to at least pretend to maturity. Actually, that is not, it seems, possible per Democratic rep John DeBerry. He portrayed students as “half-baked”, and implied that students were incapable of making good decisions or hearing dissenting opinions.
“There are young people who are not ready yet — they’re half-baked, half-cooked — who are recruited to work against their own parents, their own nation, and I would be concerned as a parent and as a citizen,” DeBerry said to Daniel, according to the Tennessean. “Free speech is one thing; being stupid is another.” (source)
Support from the right was also not forthcoming – the above quote was from a Q&A session where Daniel was asked if this freedom of speech extended to ISIS recruiters.
He said it did. Not a popular opinion with those who usually defend freedom against the increasingly totalitarian political left.
And damn right it does. Freedom of speech is one of the cornerstones, and arguably the most vital, of our Republic. Without the freedom to say what we will without official censure, we are not free citizens, but vassals of the state. As I have said time and again, if you want to rail against the vile Lilliputians, you can. And more power to you – the state cannot punish you for that. You can lose your friends, significant other, job, and so on, but there can be no legal action against you. That is what free speech is – the right to say something unacceptable without fear of prison.
Yes, that right ends at calls for violence. And that is indeed a tricky criteria. ‘Someone get those guys’ means something different at recent Trump rallies than it might at a church social. Calls for direct violence (not ‘I wish someone would do something to those #@!#$ Lilliputians’ from an average citizen) need not be ‘go beat down those protestors’. It can also have the flavor of ‘Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?’.
But absent that call to violence, there should be no expectation of official action against speech.
Martin Daniel gets this. As much as we can all agree that ISIS is a horrible organization that is a blight on the face of the world, if they want to have a recruiter on campus, then they must be allowed that freedom. Must. Be. Allowed. If for no other reason than to stand for your own right to speak. Rights denied to one are denied to all.