Not All First Amendment Free Speech Is Equally Worthy

By McFerrin, John | Charleston Gazette Mail, January 20, 2017 | Go to article overview

Not All First Amendment Free Speech Is Equally Worthy


McFerrin, John, Charleston Gazette Mail


Women are incapable of rational thought; there is some question of whether they have souls. Since the ability to read the Bible is the goal of education, there is no use in educating such creatures. Black people are shiftless, oversexed, lazy and prone to steal. Really, they are more similar to the great apes than to their white masters. Women's natures are too delicate and frail to enter such professions as medicine or law. Women have no heads for public affairs; under the circumstances there is no reason for them to vote. The Chinese are a dirty race, unsuited to living among white people. Homosexuality is a mental illness. The sun rotates around the earth. Other than being untrue, what do these statements have in common? They are all ideas that were once thought to be true. They were not the province of kooks and oddballs. In their time (tens, hundreds or even thousands of years ago), they were believed by respected members of society. Esteemed professors taught such things as a hierarchy of races, with the esteemed white race on top.

The reason these once-accepted ideas are no longer accepted is a tribute to the openness of our society. People have experiences; they think; they argue.

Often at great personal risk, people challenge accepted ideas. A few women push their way into the law and do well. Women vote with at least as much knowledge and prudence as men. Black people are given a chance and prove themselves just as honest and capable as white people. Things we once knew to be true are questioned and exposed as false, products of our bias or ignorance.

Part of the foundation of this open society is the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It protects our rights to speak freely, express any idea we wish. Except for rare exceptions for a few things such as inciting violence, anything goes. Even offensive ideas are protected.

When used to advance ideas, the First Amendment is a wonderful thing.

It makes it possible to criticize leaders. It makes it possible to challenge conventional wisdom. It makes it possible for someone to argue that women should vote and for the rest of us to say (eventually), "Yeah, why not?" It makes it possible for someone to say that the actual differences between black people and white people are trivial and for the rest of us to (eventually) believe it.

It helps society advance, often to the point where things we once knew to be true now seem goofy. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Not All First Amendment Free Speech Is Equally Worthy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.