For the Sake of Public Safety…

Whenever the gun control debate rears its ugly head, there is also one argument which is sure to surface – for the sake of public safety. They are more than willing to sacrifice individual rights for the sake of the greater good. But, how would they feel if it was the 1st Amendment that was under attack?

The 1st Amendment, the one that deals with freedom of speech, is by far the most protected of all Constitutional rights or protections. While I agree that ALL rights should be protected equally, there is no doubt the 1st Amendment has seen more than its share of favorable court opinions and failed attempts to chip away at it. While the right to bear arms, protection from unreasonable search and seizures and even the right to vote have been limited and reevaluated, the issue of free speech has gained more and more protection as time passes. Of course, this is understandable as freedom of speech is part of the American foundation, drawing early settlers even before the amendment truly existed.

1st AmendmentBut, if some legal scholars were to have their way, the First Amendment would also be “reevaluated” in the name of fighting ISIS. Specifically, there are those who have proposed limiting these protections to not only shut down website recruiting or promoting of ISIS but also to punish those who visit these sites. Proponents have gone as far as likening websites which promote ISIS to those which distribute child pornography- one of the few areas of free speech which has not gained the full support of the courts.

There is no doubt that recruitment and indoctrination by ISIS is a serious threat to not only the United States but all Western nations which oppose their hate filled message. The evidence is clear that numerous westerners have traveled to the Middle East to join ISIS after viewing these websites and still more have unsuccessfully attempted to do so. Plus, the San Bernardino shooters have also been linked to similar online activities. It is also true that policing these websites and preventing viewers from taking the messages to heart is difficult, if not impossible, but I find it hard to believe legal scholars would actually argue trashing the First Amendment to do so.

Sure, an argument could be made that prohibiting the viewing of these sites or even forcing internet providers to block access and shut down suspected sites is for the greater good. The rights of a few are outweighed by the need to protect the many right? But, before you start down this road, before you start painting signs that say “Block ISIS,” remember one very important fact – this is the same argument that 2nd Amendment advocates fight every day.

If the First Amendment can fall to the wayside, even for the sake of fighting ISIS, then none of your other rights are safe either.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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