Should we limit the First Amendment?

ImageThe 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 : )

ImageThe 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

For more on The Great Firewall of China read here: Red Orbit and here: The Golden Shield Project, Wikipedia

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?”

24 Comments

  1. Who gets to set the limits? Who gets to decide what is dangerous and what is not? Wouldn’t it be whichever side of the aisle is in power at any given moment? Some want to categorize Christianity as hate speech, therefore dangerous, therefore needing to be criminalized. I think we’re on a very slippery slope when we start tinking with the First Amendment, or any other amendment, for that matter. Every time we’ve done that, it’s opened a whole new can of worms.

  2. I think limiting freedom of speech is a delicate weapon to use against these kind of people, and a slippery slope. Those who want to find out how to make a bomb will. We’d have to read every email of millions sent (yes, I know key words mean many are read) or every letter. Hate speech is definable in GB though, and I agree with the idea in many ways. I wonder who posts these kind of things on the Internet. There are all kinds of theories about intelligence agencies doing so a few years ago to see how many hits the were getting, and from where. But we also need to put it in context, as inflammatory as it sounds. The press generally stoked the Boston bombing up and glorified it. Boston authorities ordered lockdown of an entire city, a fact unquestioned by the press,who profited massively from such measures in increased viewers and readership. A lockdown for an armed teenager. One glance at murder statistics daily makes me question the validity of this measure. Sorry, am getting too long, but fascinating topic. No answer, you are right.

    1. I know … it is a slippery slope … and I love technology LOVE it – EGADS … there is no answer :) thanks for your input – interestingly enough, my blog stats show hundreds of views on that post yet no one has really said anything – hear I was afraid of too many comments! At least it might make people think …

  3. it says “Do tell…what are your thoughts?” well, I think that Google and Big Grother already know the thoughts, oh the Internet too.

  4. the internet and all the social networking hangers on have blasted open Pandora’s box. Every man and his dog has a say thanks to electronic media. No going back, I’m afraid.

    1. you are definitely right about there no going back. Me? maybe, someday I will learn to spell instgr what? I love to research…google is good…google is good, that is my new mantra

      1. It’s like the nursery rhyme about the little girl – who had a curl, right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very, very good, but when she was bad she was horrid. :)

      2. Did somebody tell you I was horrid? well, only sometimes, I promise. The nuns at Catholic school taught me to be good and horrid at the same time. Well, I guess I taught myself the horrid stuff.

      3. I still find it amazing how google can track us down everywhere and tell us about our..or my horrid/naughty past (even though I was just just mischievous).

      4. I was thinking Big Brother. Been thinking it for some time now,actually. I think it’s sneaked up quietlyh without us realising it. There’s an article in there somewhere.

      5. Rumor has it that 1st Amendment and Last Commandment are pretty much the same, Big Bro, Google, or whatever . My staunch, died-in-the-wool, Irish mom doesn’t quite agree. Later gotta go to Sat. morn. mass. (that is Big Mother fer ya’)

  5. I agree. There are too many people that have become very deviant and destructive with help from info on the web. That being said if the spent the time in the local library they may be able to find some of this in books.
    All of that aside how about some accountability. We all know bombs are not toys to be played with by civilians and they are certainly not meant to be used by terrorists kill, mame or hurt any other civilians in this country.
    Great Post!

    1. Thanks … i wonder if anyone out there reads these comments and finds it strange that a husband and wife communicate more via the web than in person :) Just kidding … I love your comments – you’re a smart fella :)

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