A government that engages in censorship gives that government “a license for every atrocity.” – Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
In a hearing in the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, those paying attention were given a huge civics lesson on the free speech clause of the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Here is a checklist for determining whether a particular speech is Constitutionally protected:
- Is the speech about public policy, also called political speech? This would include speech about differing views on the origins of COVID-19 and its effects on different peoples. It would include medical opinions regarding appropriate treatment, the efficacy of vaccines for prevention of the disease, differing studies by medical peer groups, and opinions regarding federal and state government mandates.
The truth of the statements is irrelevant. It is not relevant whether or not COVID-19 originated in a Chinese wet market; it is not relevant whether or not a certain treatment for COVID-19 is effective; it is not relevant whether or not the experimental vaccine mandated by the federal government actually prevents the disease; it is not relevant whether or not opposition to church, business, or school closings because of COVID-19 was on point or misguided.
All views on public policy, whether factually true or not, are protected from censorship by government actors or their proxies, in spite of certain views being called hate speech, conspiracies, misinformation, disinformation, or malinformation by those who oppose them. Miss Constitution hopes this is clear. What the 1st Amendment Free Speech Clause means is that all opinions are to be put on the table and the People decide who is telling the truth and who is not. Federal and State governments may give their strong recommendations, but they cannot censor those who disagree with them, nor can they use proxies (social media, newspapers, etc) to do the censoring for them.
- Is the speech given in the proper forum? Any speech in Congress or in an official committee or subcommittee hearing of Congress is in a proper forum.
- Does the speech meet time, place, and manner restrictions? If invited to testify at a Congressional hearing one would have to show up at the time and place requested. What one says in testimony may not be censored unless the speech is obscene.
When the above-three elements of Constitutionally-protected speech are met – must be speech (express or symbolic), on public policy or anything political, in a proper forum, and meeting time, place, and manner restrictions – those in authority are required to protect the speaker. Miss Constitution repeats – those in authority are required to protect the speaker.
Here is what happened to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who was invited to testify at a Congressional subcommittee hearing on government censorship of political speech on July 20, 2023:
Rather than protect the speaker, 102 Democrats signed a letter opposing his appearance on the grounds that his views on a COVID-19 study represented bigotry against certain Jews and the Chinese. Representative Dan Goldman said he proposed the letter along with Representative Debbie Wasserman-Shultz and Representative Judy Chu to say “no” to hate speech. A non-voting delegate from the Virgin Islands said, in having Kennedy testify regarding government censorship, “They [Republican committee members] have co-signed on idiotic, bigoted messaging. . .[t]his is not the kind of free speech that I know of.”
Evidently, 102 Democrats, including members of Congress and the delegate from the Virgin Islands, do not know the rules regarding Constitutionally protected speech under the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution. All Democratic members of the sub-committee voted to move the hearing to executive session or disallow Kennedy’s testimony. The following is the opinion on public policy by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., that so offended some Democrats and all the Democrats on the sub-committee on government censorship:
“We don’t know whether it was deliberately targeted or not but there are papers out there that show the racial or ethnic differential or impact. . .[t]here is an argument that it is ethnically targeted.”
Kennedy was referring to a study by the Boston Medical Center, in conjunction with the Cleveland Clinic, Columbia University, Hebrew University, and Harvard Medical School, that there is a genetic susceptibility to COVID-19 among non-Finnish Europeans and black Americans, but a low genetic susceptibility to COVID-19 among central/Eastern European Jews, Southeast Asians, the Finnish, and the Amish.
Miss Constitution read the study but does not know the difference between an ACE2 receptor and a TMPR ss2 polymorphism. The study does not address the issue of whether COVID-19 was constructed to protect certain groups, it simply reported the results of its findings. Robert Kennedy stated that there is an argument regarding genetic targeting, he did not state that he knows that COVID-19 was created to genetically target certain groups. Miss Constitution is confused as to how this finding represents bigotry to German Jews and Southeast Asians since they are the groups that Boston Medical found to be less susceptible to COVID-19.
What should the public conclude from this and other government hearings? The public should conclude:
- What some people call hate speech, conspiracy theories, disinformation, misinformation, or malinformation is all protected from censorship by the United States Constitution if the content of the speech is about anything political or policy related. All views, however incorrect those views turn out to be, are protected. What is not protected is hate speech directed at a particular person. Representative Dan Goldman calling Kennedy a bigot to his face is not protected.
- Those in authority must protect the speaker, if all elements are met, and that speaker’s right to his or her opinion. Members of a Congressional subcommittee, representing government actors, had a duty to show courtesy to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., in his testimony before them.
- The Founders meant for all views to be expressed and for the People to ultimately decide who is truthful. This is often referred to as our “marketplace of ideas.”
If we do not stop government censorship, every atrocity will befall us – this has been 100% true in the history of humanity. It is the unique US Constitution and its Bill of Rights that protects us – for now.