The National Pulse

In the Age of Facebook, the First Amendment Is More Important Than Ever

This article is part of a series focusing on Lens of Liberty, a project of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation.

The First Amendment is under attack. Of course, that shouldn’t come as a surprise to you as a reader of The National Pulse, where we cover these malicious assaults on our freedom on a daily basis. Whether it’s an attempt by social media networks to label right-leaning stories as “fake news,” or an effort to block conservative speakers like Ben Shapiro on a college campus, the anti-First Amendment zealots are always at work.

In a recent Liberty Minute titled “That Seditious YouTube,” Helen Krieble addresses this 200-year-old problem that is still rearing its ugly head:

A congressman named Matthew Lyon was indicted for writing a letter to the editor criticizing the president. He was put on trial, fined $1,000, and sentenced to four months in jail. That was in 1800, and the law under which he was prosecuted was quickly repealed when Americans realized what a threat it was to their constitutional rights. But that didn’t settle it forever.

In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission held public hearings to discuss how to regulate online political speech on websites like YouTube and blogs like the Drudge Report. We need to look through the lens of liberty and realize that our freedom is as insecure today as ever, and it is still the duty of all citizens to defend it.

For many, including myself, social media can be an outlet for honest political discourse. However, when the government wants to step in a regulate that type of speech, they are seriously challenging our First Amendment rights.

All too often, the government’s solution to any issue that arises is to issue regulation after regulation to hamper our rights. They work very hard to find problems and claim to be the only ones that can solve it. When their “solutions” create more problems — as they almost always do — they then argue for more power and authority, and even more problems are created that need to be “solved.”

The cycle continues until the people rise up and stop it.

While some would argue that the Founders never envisioned the internet when they wrote the Bill of Rights, the Founders didn’t need to. The principles and rights that they enshrined in the Constitution are timeless and should be applied in the same spirit to all new inventions and innovations.

Thomas Jefferson famously said that “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” And that applies more than ever today.

Our rights are God-given and unalienable — no tyrant or FEC bureaucrat can take them away from us.

Photo credit: dcwriterdawn via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

Terry Schilling

Terry Schilling is executive director of the American Principles Project.