Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich raised eyebrows recently when he said we will have to review our concept of free speech in the post-9/11 world to curtail terrorist activities. Gingrich specfically cited the use of the Internet and other methods of speech used to recruit potential terrorists, and said a "different set of rules" may be needed to address these recruiting efforts.
Naturally, this has the faux left up in arms. How DARE he suggest curtailing freedom of speech in any way! I'll tell you how.
Because he's exactly right.
We've gotten into this mindset that freedom of speech is absolute; all you need to do is claim that whatever you're doing is free speech and, thus, protected by the First Amendment. The problem is that not all speech qualifies for this protection. You can't use the First Amendment to protect you if you use your speech to cause physical injury to someone (i.e. yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater). You can't use the First Amendment as a shield if you purposely and maliciously defame someone (i.e. slander and libel).
And you can't use your speech to advocate or assist in destroying America. That's called treason, kids, and it isn't protected under the First Amendment. The people who want to kill us have taken advantage of our freedoms to set up shop and act in ways that, if unchecked, will hurt us in the long run. Sure, they'll claim "Islamophobia" or "racism" or seek out legal representation to fight for their "rights" and expect us to sit back and let it happen. And more often than not, we will because we're afraid of offending them or being labled a hateful person.
But that fear should not stop us from doing what we have to do to protect our country. After all, if we lose our country because we are too permissive of those who would do us harm, we won't have to worry about the loss of rights because it will have already happened.
Gingrich's statement about re-examining free speech during the war on terrorism is a harsh truth that we have to consider. Of course, political opponents will try to twist his words into something they're not (Remember the flap over "wither on the vine"?), but it's with a purpose. They know Newt is right, so they create a strawman argument to knock down, thus taking people's attentions off the heart of what Newt said and his intentions. He isn't suggesting curtailing free speech to help create a Big Brother-type environment; he's doing it to protect the country. That's more than I can say about the people who will be coming forward to go after him.
So, think carefully before you go off on Newt for this idea. The rights you save may be your own.