It is our position freedom of speech is not only a right, but a privilege. The general public has access to the widest array and farthest-reaching communications tools the world has ever known. It seems lately the First Amendment is getting quite a workout. Recent events such as a Marine being discharged for using his Facebook page to de-face the President, a high school student being suspended for tweeting profanities allegedly with school property and Arizona recently passing a law making “annoying” and “offensive” online speech illegal, has made many wonder if our right to free speech is in jeopardy.
Are these events truly examples of the chilling effects of expressing one’s opinion via social media, or are they a chillingly realistic window to behavior in a modern day society? James Madison authored the First Amendment with the intent of granting power through liberty, a privilege thought to be a necessity for the safety and happiness of the people. John Milton argued an individual is capable of using reason and distinguishing right from wrong, good from bad.
If they had a crystal ball, would our forefathers have written amendments for linguistics and manners into the Bill of Rights?