What liberals don’t understand about freedom and the 1st Amendment

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The above is a screencap of an ongoing conversation I’m having with a liberal on Twitter named Adolfo Soliz. He took umbrage to my post about Google thumbing their nose Christians by honoring Cesar Chavez’s birthday instead of observing EasterI wanted to post this snippet of conversation to break down a few ideas that liberals don’t understand about freedom and the Constitution.  

1.  Many liberals think that “freedom of religion” and the lefty notion of “tolerance” are the same thing. They are not.  

We are guaranteed by the Constitution the freedom to believe and practice the religion of our choosing.  However, the Constitution does not guarantee that our chosen religion will not be frowned upon, disagreed with, spoken out against, or mocked.  There are plenty of religions that I don’t “respect” (which is a word that Adolfo has used in our Twitter conversation), but that doesn’t mean that I am somehow infringing on their freedom to practice it.  

For example, I have no respect for the religion of Scientology.  I think its members are mindless drones, possibly brainwashed.  Its leaders are corrupt, dictatorial, manipulative, and money hungry.  Yet they are free to practice their religion and be idiots.  My vocal opposition does not in any way infringe on their freedom. 

2.  Many liberals think that speaking out against something another person has said violates that person’s freedom of speech. It does not.

This is perhaps where you might find some of the most hypocritical actions on the left.  If a conservative disagrees with a liberal, liberals often go so far as to seek government action to shut him up.  However, when a conservative group boycotts a liberal-run company (like Google), liberals think that we’re somehow infringing on those people’s freedom of speech.  

Take for example last year’s brouhaha over Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut. Many liberals actually said that Rush Limbaugh should be banned from radio for “hate speech.”  Websites like the Daily Kos called for the Federal Communications Commission to pull Rush’s broadcasts from the airwaves. That would be a clear violation of Rush’s 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech. 

At the same time, other liberals took the route of encouraging Rush’s sponsors to drop his program.  This, was not a violation of Rush’s right to free speech.  It was hypocriticalcompletely hypocritical, but it was not a violation of the 1st Amendment. Rush is free to say what he wants, and other companies are free to sponsor or not sponsor his show.  If liberals had succeeded in causing Rush Limbaugh to go bankrupt and stop his broadcasts, it would not have violated his 1st Amendment rights.  It would have simply been massive hypocrisy. 

3.  Many liberals think that attempting to change a person’s mind about their chosen beliefs is a violation of their freedom of religion. It is not. 

A cornerstone of most religions is the idea of spreading the beliefs to other people.  In Christianity, we call this “The Great Commission.” It is a commandment of Jesus to “go forth and preach the gospel” to others.  Attempting to “convert” a person to your religion does not violate their freedom of religion.

The exception to this is when conversion is forced on another person.  Many Muslims around the world believe that any person who does not convert to Islam is an infidel and should be killed.  Similarly, many Christians, Buddhists, and Muslims in communist China are threatened with imprisonment, torture, and execution unless they recant their religious beliefs.  This is, of course, a clear violation of the freedom of religion.  

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Mr. Adolfo, like many liberals, doesn’t understand freedom.  The people who run Google are free to believe whatever they want to believe and say whatever they want to say.  I am free to believe and practice my own chosen religion and speak out as I see fit.  I am also free to try to convince the people at Google to change their mind about what they have said and what they believe, and the people at Google are welcome to do the same (and they do).  Nobody’s freedom of speech or religion is being violated.  

In fact, technically, individuals can’t infringe on each other’s 1st Amendment rights.  Individuals who use force and violence to stop others from speaking or practicing religion aren’t guilty of violating the 1st Amendment; they’re guilty of other crimes like assault, blackmail, or murder.  The Constitution is a restraint on government, not individuals.

Feel free to join our conversation.  Tweet us at @poor_richard or share this post on Facebook.  Spread a little Constitutional knowledge around! 

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