I’ve found myself digging through my pocket copy of the US Constitution again, and, once again, discovered it was just as I had left it before. There have been no changes in the First Amendment for a couple of hundred years. It STILL says:
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. (boldface mine)
In my opinion (yes, this is going to get interesting), this is perhaps the most misunderstood, misused, and misaligned phrase in the entire document. I find that odd because, again, in my opinion, it is NOT vague. It clearly states that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…” That can be better construed by saying, “Congress can’t tell you what you can and cannot say.”
Then what is the problem and why am I on a rant?
Because of what it doesn’t say.
It doesn’t say that “Facebook shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech,” or “Youtube shall make no law….” or “Your employer shall make no law….” or “Your private homeschool group shall make no law…..” It would appear then that the people who think they have constitutional rights within those entities didn’t get a solid education in regards to the US Constitution when they were in high school.
While the Constitution clearly states that Congress cannot control your speech in any way, it also covers why private companies and employers can. Pull out your copy of the Constitution and look past the First Amendment down to the Tenth Amendment. If you don’t have your copy handy, I’ll post it here.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Translation: If we didn’t cover the matter in The Constitution, then the states or the people get to handle it.
I love the Tenth Amendment. Sadly, Congress has been allowed to ignore the Tenth Amendment for so long that I don’t think they could find it if it slapped them on the head, but that’s a story for another day.
The Tenth Amendment is the reason why Facebook, Youtube, other social media outlets, your employer, and other private entities in your world, can all tell you what you can and cannot say. For example, if Facebook doesn’t like the video you posted, they can block it. It doesn’t matter why. It doesn’t matter if it is because they disagree with your position, or they think it is too violent or graphic, or they think it is stupid. They can block it for any reason they choose. Facebook is a private company and, as such, they get to determine the rules for use of their product.
Similarly, Youtube has the right to refuse to post the videos submitted by the shooter at their company (I refuse to list her name and give her any glory). Football players can kneel during the National Anthem unless their private employer, the NFL, tells him that he cannot. And your private school can expel you for posting rude things about their teachers on social media.
So then, what is your recourse if you don’t like these entities “controlling” what you can do? Look back at the Tenth Amendment: “The powers not delegated…by the Constitution…are reserved…to the people.” I’m in control of me. If I don’t like that Facebook deletes my post, I don’t have to use Facebook. If I want to say rude things about my employer, I probably shouldn’t work for them anyway, so I go find a job elsewhere. And I haven’t watched a football game since the kneeling nonsense started because I don’t want to show them any favor.
We somehow think that these companies and various entities have authority over us since they can delete our “free speech.” They don’t unless we choose to give it to them. I have the power to speak freely via any number of outlets. I don’t need Facebook, Youtube, an employer, or anyone else in order to make my point.