I Should Like to Humbly and Respectfully Disagree

WITH FOLKS WHO ARE asserting in the Phil Robertson contretemps that, because the confrontation is not between Congress and an individual citizen that this is not a First Amendment matter. And, OK, stated that way, it’s not. However…

It is a matter of freedom of speech, as well as the free exercise of religion, and therefor at the very least touches on the spirit of the First Amendment.

That it is not speaks perhaps to the utter corruption of government in America, inasmuch as Congress is supposed to be the sole legislative authority in such matters — no other having say in them — all of the other bodies and individuals seeking influence over the speech or religious practices of other individual American citizens are infringing on Congress’s privilege and authority. And, as such, the First Amendment being the final authority in the matter, this is a First Amendment case. If Congress is forbidden to act, then EVERYBODY is forbidden to act.

But, Alger, you say, The Constitution is a bill of limits on the Federal Government.

And: Oh, really? I say in response. Is it not rather an affirmative statement of limits on the government as defined by the rights of the individual? Does it matter, therefor, WHO, exactly, is infringing on a right? Is it not sufficient to define that individuals have the right to render it unlawful for ANY actor — public or private — to infringe. If I have a right to free speech, how can you have any authority to squelch what I say? If I have a right to go armed, how can you have any authority to assert that I may not carry a weapon?

Is it a right? Or is it a limited license? Does not one affirm the basic concept of America and the other put the lie to the whole experiment?

If Phil Robertson, a free citizen of the United States, has the right of free speech, and makes a statement on his own time, in a venue not controlled by his employer, not representing his employer’s position, and his employer punishes him for exercising that right, how can it NOT touch on the First Amendment?

This goes wider than the First Amendment — or even the Second. For example, where in the Fourth Amendment are the limits on searches and seizures applied only to government agents? They’re not, of course. The prohibition is absolute and universal. It means, for example, that your bank has a fiduciary responsibility not to reveal your bank details without a proper warrant. Indeed, to not reveal even the existence of your accounts. The over-reach by the Internal Revenue Service in demanding this information is only one bit of evidence in the avalanche that proves — I think dispositively — that the “service” is corrupt and needs to be disbanded.

I propose that you look at — or re-examine, if you haven’t recently — the entirety of the Constitution in this light: the document is meant to make it clear that the supreme law of the land stands in defense of the rights of the individual against ALL comers.

5 responses to “I Should Like to Humbly and Respectfully Disagree

  1. Exactly. The dirty little secret is there is no free speech. There is speech that is acceptable, and there is the rest of us. The first amendment has become a paper tiger, protecting Howard Stern’s freedom to tell penis jokes and shunning Phil Robertson and anyone who has religious convictions. While we have worked very hard to protect the second, the first has been pulled out from under us.

  2. OK. In compliance with my New Year’s resolution, I’m going to start comment at some of the places I read regularly, and this is one of them.

    I’ve got to pick a bit of a bone with you on this one, actually. While I don’t differ that you, I, or anyone else has a First Amendment right to say whatever the flop we want to, I don’t see anything in the Constitution that says that someone else has to employ me.

    They can fire me for breathing too loudly, if they choose to do so. Or for any other reason they come up with. Such are the dangers of Liberty and a truly Free society. If you can’t stand the heat, vote for RINO’s!


  3. Not saying that someone has to employ someone else without regard to their utterances. I am saying that disagreeable utterances, sol ipsos are insufficient grounds for termination of employment. That a complainant must provide a clear, straight-line example of damage caused to the business enterprise as a direct result of an employee’s exercise of free speech in order to reasonably expect such termination to be supportable in law. One may argue that the intermeddling by the government in these matters is ultra vires. (I certainly do in the case of so-called “public accomodations”, but that is the “settled” law.) But it appears to me to be an irrebuttable presumption that individual rights inhere to the individual and that breach of said rights is not solely a fault of the state.

    I think your final paragraph turns the notion of individual rights and liberty on its head. That the assertion that rights are free-standing, absolute, and enforceable against both state and private actors is the messy part of liberty that people claim militates against a truly free society.


  4. I fully understand what you are saying, and in an ideal world? But we don’t have that.

    Around here, it’s called “Employment at Will”, and as I said, it means that they can decide that I breathe too loudly, and fire me for that. They are not required to give, or have, a reason for doing so. I can live with that, and have managed to for lo, these many years. If I’m “competent” (Not to say skilled, good, or other superlatives, but simply in the ballpark.) they will put up with my being a contrarian smart ass.

    I’m a Tech. I don’t have to interact with much of anyone except my immediate supervisor, and most of those have felt it better if I didn’t interact with the Engineering folks or upper Management. You never know what I might say, and it won’t be nice, more often than not.

    OK, to get back to the subject. How is it that knowing that the RINO’s are going to put almost as many restrictions on the ability of an Employer to hire and fire folks at will as the Democrats are a misreading of what really constitutes a Free Society?

    I’m not willing to have the .Gov enforcing complete compliance to some dumb-azz “nondiscrimination rules” for my benefit any more than I am to have them enforcing them to enforce racial quotas. If my employer wants me to leave, he can tell me to do so. That’s as it should be, just as it should be my right to say whatever I want to.

    • Mark Philip Alger

      Like political thought experiments (“If a Republican…”) and “unintended consequences”, I don’t hold with deprecating ideals. If they are worthy once, they are worthy always. That they will/may/might be trammeled by and uncouth world is immaterial. That speaks ill of the world and/or those who find it — <sarc> inconvenient </sarc> — to honor them. I have nothing but despite for those who will only honor principles when it is comfortable or convenient to do so.


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