Miss Constitution does not think the constant negatives that have overlaid our nation like the toxic fog she discussed in an earlier column are good for any of us. She apologizes if she herself seems to find the nation in great anxiety and distress. The American people are generally lighthearted, generous, energetic, and relish transferring weightier matters to those they elect to represent them. The American people know there is a Constitution that governs them but they really do not want to spend time studying its finer points. After all, those they have elected to represent them take an oath to “preserve, protect, and defend” it so surely they know what it says, right? Wrong. Sadly, it seems apparent to Miss Constitution that very few of them have read it, much less studied it, and like most Americans are just winging their way when interviewed about the war on the Constitution now going on.
With this in mind, Miss Constitution wishes to illuminate just one premise of our Constitutional system which seems to have alluded everyone. OUR SYSTEM ALLOWS ONE TO BE HATEFUL IN THE PROPER FORUM BUT DOES NOT ALLOW ONE TO BE RUDE. The 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution protects one’s personal political views against government suppression regardless of what those views are. For instance, Black Lives Matter is a well-funded organization with some hateful rhetoric and some violent behavior in support of that rhetoric. The Constitution supports the rhetoric if on public policy, no matter how hateful, in an approved forum, but forbids the violent behavior. Should the rhetoric be directed at a particular person it would be disallowed as a violation of the Unwritten Law of courtesy. These small distinctions are very important in analyzing current events. So, marching in a protest that has been permitted by a local governing authority for a certain time and place and saying whatever hateful thing one has to say politically is Constitutional. This applies to either the right or the left. Commentators who like the hateful political speech of the left but not the right, or commentators who like the hateful political speech of the right and not the left, are both missing the point. Hateful political speech in a forum permitted for such speech or in a lawfully permitted protest with time, place, and manner restrictions is perfectly okay. Miss Constitution does not understand why this is so hard to grasp. Violent behavior is not speech and is never allowed. Hateful speech directed at a particular person is never allowed as it is rude and may rise to unlawful. Governing authorities are to protect speakers of hateful political speech who have a permit to protest and speak and may not officially select speech they like from speech they don’t like. Speech like this is safer out in the open rather than said underground, the Founders thought.
Following the above refresher regarding the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution, QAnon, Black Lives Matter, and Antifa protests in general are Constitutional until they become violent. At that point they are not protests. There is no such thing as a legal protest with a little bit of violence. There is no such thing as a legal protest and then going to someone’s house and attacking them personally. The Trump rally on January 6 was a legal protest and the political speech at the protest was perfectly Constitutional as it was in the right forum. At the point at which some of the protesters illegally entered the Capitol, and violence occurred, the rally is no longer a legal protest. That the speech railed against what the protesters thought was a fraudulent Presidential election is perfectly Constitutional as political free speech. The issue before the nation now is whether social media executives have created the equivalent of a proper forum, and are therefore subject to the 1st Amendment protections from censorship of political speech. The Supreme Court will eventually have to decide this issue, but Miss Constitution thinks the executives of social media are on extremely thin Constitutional ice.