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.
The Bill of Rights
There’s a reason why the First Amendment of the Constitution comes first. It is, arguably, the most important Amendment of them all, and 4 words, found in the middle of the amendment (the freedom of speech) have come to represent what our country is all about. We have the right to speak our minds without fear of reprisal from the government.
It protects the right to speak freely, openly and against authority…
…it also protects your right to be an asshole.
So if you choose to write a blog ripping a family who has just lost their autistic daughter, and with unsubstantiated facts, call into question their parenting skills and suggest they should be investigated for negligence, well, that’s the First Amendment at work. If you want to be mean-spirited and call outraged readers nasty, I mean really nasty names, well, again, that’s the First Amendment at work. If you want to accuse others of cyber-bullying when people respond in kind to your speculative, anger inciting, hateful behavior, well, you guessed it, that’s the First Amendment at work. Yes, the First Amendment protects your right to be an asshole.
But here’s the thing…if you do those things, then you’re an asshole.
I think the Lord said it best when he gave Moses the Two Commandments…
So if you are that asshole blogger, just remember this – the First Amendment protects your right to be an asshole…that doesn’t mean the First Amendment tells you to BE an asshole.