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#first amendment | Vox Clamantis In Deserto

A Society of Speech

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Two days ago a man asked me why I was carrying so many papers with me. My response was not as articulate as I would have liked it to have been, so this is what I wish I had said: We are a nation built on words and the ideas which those words express, a nation that considers words the ultimate weapon. Of all the constitutional amendments, the very first one sets out to protect speech above all else. It is no accident that it is the first of all amendments nor that it is immediately followed by the protection of arms and a militia. We must speak first and fight second.

Second Amendment Restrictions

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Americans might be more willing to accept gun/ammo restrictions if such were applied equally to the militarization-thirsty (and qualifiedly-immune) police. The second amendment is substantively a repudiation and protection from the one law for me, another law for thee conduct of state actors. Let them lead by example by demilitarizing themselves before they ask citizens to demilitarize. Then there would truly be no need for such gear.

A Pentecostal First Amendment Objection

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I am not saying that face coverings should be worn nor am I saying that face coverings should not be worn; I am saying that governments must not compel it. You see, while I am a stalwart libertarian, I am also a pentecostal Christian. I contend that such mandates go against my sincere religious beliefs.Continue Reading

Alternate DNS Servers

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If you want to cut down on the data that your ISP collects and sells regarding your web browsing, use an alternate free (and probably faster) DNS service.

Provider IPv4 IPv6
Cloudflare 1.1.1.1
1.0.0.1
2606:4700:4700::1111
2606:4700:4700::1001
Google 8.8.8.8
8.8.4.4
2001:4860:4860::8888
2001:4860:4860::8844
OpenDNS 208.67.222.222
208.67.220.220
2620:119:35::35
2620:119:53::53
OpenDNS
Family Shield
208.67.222.123
208.67.220.123
::ffff:d043:de7b
::ffff:d043:dc7b

 

Lorie Smith, What Would Jesus Do?

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Does anyone remember the WWJD wristbands from the 1990s? Jesus opposed all that the pharisees stood for, yet he welcomed them into his gatherings. If they were not among the attendees, how were they have been there to pose questions to him? They tried to compel his speech about paying taxes to Caesar (Mt 22:17, Mk 12:14, Lk 20:22). But what did Jesus do? He got creative and avoided the very words that the Pharisees expected put in his mouth. Whether it is baking a cake or designing a wedding website, can we not love these neighbors as ourselves? Should a Christian refuse to love her neighbors by withholding alms from homeless lesbians? Should the Christian who pulls off the road to assist stranded motorists drive away when he adduces them to be homosexually-wedded men? Not every Christian is sufficiently spiritually mature to implement what I propose here, but why can’t Christians design a wedding website or cake while engaging in genuine loving prayer for the customer-celebrants? And shouldn’t a Christian do that for every such customer, even the heterosexual ones? Indeed, can the designer not imprint a resonant verse like “God Is Love”? (1 John 4:8,16) Does that not avoid the issue, love our neighbor, and plant a highly memorable seed that the Holy Spirit can cultivate over time? Tragically, high profile battles like Creative, LLC, and Masterpiece Cake Shop only injure Christianity’s message. I’m relieved that SCOTUS preserved free speech protections, but I wish this case had never been brought.

First Amendment Paradox

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There is no first amendment right not to be offended by another’s first amendment right to offend. (But the sissy millennials will always whine anyway.)

On Knowledge and Ignorance

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America has (de)evolved to a point where ignorance of law is no excuse and knowledge of law is no defense! Vox

Lewis v. New Orleans, 415 U.S. 130 (1974)

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Back in the 1970s, Louisiana had a statute making it “unlawful and a breach of the peace for any person wantonly to curse or revile or to use obscene or opprobrious language toward or with reference to any member of the city police while in the actual performance of his duty.” After much procedural harangue that included affirmation by the Louisiana Supreme Court, the United States Supreme Court held that such statute “is not susceptible of application to speech, although vulgar or offensive, that is protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15, 18-22 (1971); Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U.S. 1, 4-5 (1949); Gooding v. Wilson, supra, at 520. Since [the law], as construed by the Louisiana Supreme Court, is susceptible of application to protected speech, the section is constitutionally overbroad and therefore is facially invalid.” Read the full opinion on Google Scholar.

Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971)

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During the Vietnam conflict/war, Paul Robert Cohen wore a (leather?) jacket bearing the words “Fuck the Draft” into the Los Angeles Municipal Court building. Upon entering an actual courtroom, however, he removed and folded his jacket over his arm. He again donned the jacket upon leaving the courtroom and a city officer thereupon arrested and charged him with violating California Penal Code § 415 which prohibited “maliciously and willfully disturb[ing] the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or person . . . by . . . offensive conduct. . . .” Continue Reading

The American President ACLU Rant

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For the record, yes, I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU, but the more important question is “Why aren’t you, Bob?” Now this is an organization whose sole purpose is to defend the Bill of Rights, so it naturally begs the question, why would a senator, his party’s most powerful spokesman and a candidate for President, choose to reject upholding the constitution? Now if you can answer that question, folks, then you’re smarter than I am, because I didn’t understand it until a few hours ago.Continue Reading

Houston v. Hill, 482 U.S. 451 (1987)

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Houston v. Hill is a remarkable U.S. Supreme Court case that tackles abuses of power by police departments. The Supreme Court decided 7-2 that a Houston, Texas ordinance that was routinely used to arrest citizens for merely “arguing, talking, interfering, failing to remain quiet, refusing to remain silent, verbal abuse, cursing, verbally yelling, and talking loudly” toward a police officer.

Not only did the Supreme Court rule this type of conduct to be protected First Amendment speech, but the Supreme Court also expressed that the right to question police conduct is a fundamental distinction between democracy and dictatorship.Continue Reading

First-Amendment Inclusiveness

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The same First Amendment which guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of speech, also puts a qualifier on it as “the right of the people peaceably to assemble”. At first blush those words are taken to mean that citizens have the right to congregate, whether that be to exercise the First-Amendment freedoms or to seek government redress of grievances; however, those words could just as easily be read to condition all First-Amendment freedoms upon a righteous purpose Continue Reading

Marsh v. Alabama, 326 U.S. 501 (1946)

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Marsh v. Alabama is a remarkable decision in which a Jehova’s witness attempted to distribute literature in a township operated by a private company. She was arrested and charged with trespass. The Supreme Court reasoned that even though the township existed within the property rights of a private company, “[o]wnership does not always mean absolute dominion. The more an owner, for his advantage, opens up his property for use by the public in general, the more do his rights become circumscribed by the statutory and constitutional rights of those who use it.” The U.S. Supreme Court reversed Alabama on First Amendment grounds and vacated Marsh’s state conviction. Supreme Court opinions from the era are notably concise and this one is definitely worth the read.  Marsh v. Alabama