When DON’T You Have First Amendment Rights?
Ok, this one drives me crazy. I see it over and over. It’s with the First Amendment to the US Constitution and most people believe it simply means (among other things) that they have free speech to say anything they want. Period. Except that’s not really what it says or what it means. Let’s quote it:
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.
Really the part that I’m referring to is the first five words, “Congress shall make no law.” That means that the US government may not pass a law that will restrict your free speech. That does not mean that your speech can’t be restricted by a non-government entity. That does not mean you could come into my home, start spouting off about something and claim “First Amendment rights” when I tell you to shut up.
I see this all the time, but here’s another example in a letter that NFL player Chris Kluwe wrote (warning: much of the language is “adults only”) to a local pastor who’d responded to another NFL player’s support for same sex marriage.
As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first, the VERY FIRST Amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents so as to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to state that the Ravens should “inhibit such expressions from your employees,” more specifically Brendon Ayanbadejo, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, you also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on earth would possess you to be so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person’s right to speech.
A local pastor is using his position as a pastor and as an elected official to put pressure on a professional sports team to espouse his own views is not a violation of the First Amendment. It’s lobbying. It’s politics. It may be slimy. But it has nothing to do with the First Amendment.
Similarly, I see this all the time, whether it’s on Facebook when someone vents or expresses their opinion on something that someone else disagrees with and I’ve the the response as “Hey, I have First Amendment rights to say it!” Sorry pal, the First Amendment isn’t in play here.
Also similarly, employees might speak out negatively against their employer and when the employer tries to respond, I’ve seen the employee claim First Amendment rights. Sorry, doesn’t apply. Read the first five words.