Our cherished rights shouldn’t be absolutes

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.

“Now you free speech boys can have your fun now, but after November the Fifth, ya’ll through.” — George C. Wallace on the 1968 presidential campaign trail, speaking to protesters.

It is long past time for me to try to clarify my positions on freedom of speech and the right to bear arms, which are at the heart of the First and Second Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The venerable Townbroadcast columnist Robert M. Traxler, also known as Army Bob, has taken me to task more than once, even suggesting I am some kind of hypocrite on the issue of free speech when I have twice suspended a commenter known as “Don’t Tread on Me.”

Mr. Traxler is correct in asserting that I was a champion of free speech in my college days in the 1960s. However, what he overlooks is that my positions on free speech and the right to bear arms have evolved over many years.

As I have matured, I have come to believe that it is unwise to insist on absolutes, that life actually is more complicated than to view everything as simply black and white, hot and cold, right and wrong, good and evil, and so forth.

Army Bob and many like him offer us first-rate examples of binary thinking, which I described at the end of the previous paragraph. They often suggest to people like me, “You’re either with us, or against us.”

I reply by saying the truth about this lies somewhere in between.

For example, I sincerely believe that every U.S. citizen has a right to bear arms, but there is a serious need to examine whether it should be so in all cases. I vigorously support background checks, a waiting period for those who buy guns and most importantly, the restoration of the Brady Bill, which outlawed possession and use of assault weapons.

To be sure, these three regulations would not stop the gun death epidemic plaguing these United States, but I believe the staggering numbers would be reduced simply because access to such powerful and destructive firearms would be restricted. I am sick and tired of cowardly politicians doing nothing for so long while the body count continues to pile up.

I’m sure there are those who would say I advocate taking away guns, but I am not. I only believe they should be regulated, just like motorists legally able to drive motor vehicles.

When it comes to free speech, I believe once again in applying regulations because I don’t think anyone should be able to say whatever they wish without consequences. It’s a variation on the old saw, “You can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater,” unless it’s true.

As marketing and advertising, and therefore propaganda, has become more sophisticated in the modern era, it has become too easy for slick promoters and snake oil salesmen to exploit our human weaknesses and get us do buy things we don’t need or want, and therefore commit acts of treachery we normally wouldn’t, as we were warned long ago by Voltaire.

I submit a vision of a skillful orator in the tradition of fundamentalist or evangelical preaching style whipping his audience into a frenzy and then suggesting. “Let’s kill all the Negroes.” Or Jews.

Though the orator may not have committed the crime, he is guilty of inciting it. Neither Adolf Hitler nor Charles Manson actually committed the crimes they masterminded.

The gist of this entire explanation is that there is a need to avoid absolute adherence to freedom of speech and the right to bear arms. There is a need to issue regulations and guidelines to avoid the lawless free-for-all that too often ensues.

For me, it’s a matter of common sense.


  • Well Dave, you and I agree. I too, think it is important that free speech should not cause harm or lend itself to false ideology. So, I will point out some of the untruths noted by Army Bob that violate some of the limits I set on “Free Speech” Please note a few of these blurbs noted by Mr. Traxler:
    “If you get vaccinated, you will not get Covid, it is nearly 100% effective.” Remember that one? “Covid is a disease of the unvaccinated.” “President Trump is a paid Russian agent.” “The Inflation Reduction Act will reduce inflation.” “Hunter Biden’s laptop was Russian disinformation.” “President Biden had no knowledge of his family’s business dealings with foreign agents.” “He will leave no one behind in Afghanistan.” “The massive illegal immigration is nothing out of the ordinary.” “Covid-19 vaccinations will never be mandatory.” I might add a real doozey by Sec. Mayorkas, “The border is secure”.
    I watched as our government representatives spent millions of dollars trying to make true the Russian Hoax used to persecute Trump. I’ve watched countless times speeches made by high ranking American officials about the necessity to build walls on our borders (Schumer and Obama instantly come to mind), until Trump was elected, then they spewed an opposite position. I watched as many tried to stop any program or activity by Trump, regardless of whether it was good or bad for the country. All espoused as for our own good and reiterated by the news media. All under the protections of free speech.
    Look, I get it. Many hated Trump. I was no big fan of him myself. But, he did do some good things, whether they were opined to be or not.
    I guess my point is this. If we want to remove harmful disinformation from the 1st Amendment protections, we first must demand that our leaders set some sort of example. As it is, if they are allowed to lie and persecute others, for their own political well being, whether their rhetoric is harmful or not, then others feel justified to copy that of those that are supposed to be above all that or supposed to set the tone for what is right and wrong, with regard to free speech.

    • Mr Moras, can you give a least five good things that the Trump Administration got passed into law that made the average American citizen feel the difference?

  • FWRF,

    You seem to be avoiding reality. With Trump other nations respected and or perhaps feared the USA. The hordes of illegals were greatly diminished. The economy boomed. Fuel prices were extraordinary low. Most importantly, patriotism flourished. My opinion, My choice. Have a grand day.

  • You, Mr. Editor, seem to be promoting thoughtful consideration. You had to know that wouldn’t go well. Some will read your editorial and maybe be moved to think about things.

  • Lazy pseudo “patriots love the idea of a leader who picks and chooses what portions of the US Constitution they want to enforce, mocks minorities and people with disabilities while developing cozy relationships with dictatorial leaders like Putin and makes excuses for White Supremacists.

    Then there’s that thing about being the only US President to attempt to overturn a Presidential election. Why have elections if an opponent with whom you disagree can win?

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