Monday, October 25, 2010

The First Amendment

I'm not a constitutional scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm starting to be driven batty by people (or their supporters) who feel that their "freedom of speech" is being infringed upon when they experience public backlash for saying something homophobic, racist, Islamophobic or otherwise bigoted.

I just looked up the first amendment to the United States Constitution and it reads: "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."

I'm reading that to mean that the goverment (specifically Congress) can not make it illegal for you to speak your mind. It does not say that you get to keep your job, your contract should be renewed or that you can't be disinvited to be a Guest of Honor at a science fiction convention after you go on record saying something hurtful and stupid.

All the first amendment protects a person from is from being JAILED (specifically by the government) for saying what they think and feel.