The Internet is awesome. Plain and simple – it is awesome. Without it I wouldn’t be able to blog, follow my teenager’s every move on Instagram, communicate instantly with my editors no matter where they are, learn where in the world Krakatau is before my fourth grader asks, check the stock exchange (no, I don’t really do that but it sounded good), read the First Amendment, learn how to poach an egg, or … learn how to make a bomb.
The Boston Marathon bombers constructed their bombs based on information from a website – why, I wonder is that information even available to the public?
There is no wishy-washy way to say this, but I believe our society has reached a point where some limitations on freedom of speech need to be considered. Bottom line, a website entitled “How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom”, shouldn’t be allowed to publish and if that means limiting the First Amendment, then so be it. Now, I’m not suggesting that our government create some massive, severely limiting firewall (think China), but there has to be some sort of solution.
In 1919, regarding Freedom of Speech, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., wrote the following: “The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.”
Alas, I do not have the answer nor can I come up with a list for what should be allowed and what shouldn’t, but there is, I think, a definite clear and present danger associated with knowing how to take a pressure cooker, fireworks, nuts and bolts and make a bomb.
Because learning to make a bomb is not the same thing as learning to bake a cake. It isn’t knowledge that most people need – or should even seek for that matter – and while I agree that bad people will always find a way to attend their wickedness, limiting their ease to do so is in everyone’s best interest …
What do you think? How do we expunge the horrid without eradicating the most basic of rights? Oh, and for the record, I make poached eggs that would make Julia Child proud : )
The First Amendment: “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.”
For more on Oliver Wendell Homes and the Clear and Present Danger test as opinion stated in the 1919 case Scheneck v. the United States, read here: Constitutional Rights Foundation
For more on the First Amendment: Cornell Law
And if you want to learn how to poach an egg, go ask your mother :)
Today’s post inspired by The Daily Prompt, Dear Leader: “If our government accomplishes one thing this year, what would you most like it to be?”