“Dead cops.” “When do we want that?” “Now.” You didn’t hear it for the first time here. You heard it all around the country recently after two separate Grand Juries, in two different cities, determined that there was insufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against police officers who killed an “innocent” citizen with a gun. And those words of hatred were spewed by “peaceful” demonstrators many of whom were engaged in rioting and looting of businesses.
You may believe the shooting victims were not “innocent” as they were not obeying the orders of the police and you may be saying the demonstrators were not “peaceful.” And you may be right. But are you forgetting that the United States Constitution, the document that we hold so dearly in our hearts, the document thousands of Americans before us have fought to defend and lost their lives in doing so, gives all citizens the right to speak out, to demonstrate, and to protest actions of their government?
The first Amendment to the US. Constitution says…”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
No law abridging the freedom of speech. No law abridging the right of people to assemble peaceably. Plain and simple.
It seems, then, you have been given the right to cry our “FIRE” in a theater. Right? Well, quite often it is the role of the Courts including the United States the Supreme Court to interpret laws and the Constitution and they did in Schenck v. United States (1919) and Brandenburg v. United States (1969). In the Schenck ruling the court said the Constitution does no protect dangerous speech. So, for decades, your freedom of speech excluded the right to yell “fire” in a crowded theater. The issue in the Brandenburg case was: “Is speech that advocates violence or violation of the law protected under the First Amendment?” The court decision determined that the government may outlaw such speech only when it is directed to inciting or producing “imminent lawless action” and is likely to incite or produce such action.
So it seems yelling “fire” in a theater is no longer illegal since you have a First Amendment right to say what you want, as long as your speech does not incite or produce imminent lawless action.
In Ferguson, MO and, thereafter, in New York City the Grand Jury decisions were followed by demonstrations organized by outside agitators who encouraged such free speech as “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “What do we want? (Dead cops.) When do we want that? (Now.)” Is the later protected free speech? In Missouri, free-speaking demonstrators set buildings afire, looted stores, and violated other laws which endangered the lives and property of their citizens. And when, in New York City two innocent, on-duty police officers were assassinated while sitting in their patrol car, have we not witnessed horrific results of “inciting or producing imminent lawless action?” The answer is obvious.
Inciting to riot and anarchy is what we have witnessed. No need to make this a racial issue…unless you have made a living and profit from creating racial tension and division. In that case, shame on you.
We are a nation of laws and to ensure an orderly society, it is the duty of every American to show respect for the law, respect for those in law enforcement, and respect for legal processes which ensures those charged with a crime are innocent until proven guilty. Do you want a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority? Do you want a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government? Do you want an absence or denial of any authority or established order? If you do, you are an anarchist. I won’t have any of that. Will you? It’s time for us all to give our fullest support to all those in law enforcement… before it is too late.