Why I Support Free Speech Absolutism (Even After Charlottesville)

Why I Support Free Speech Absolutism (Even After Charlottesville)

A defense of an unobstructed first amendment
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The previous semester, I had the good fortune to take a class on constitutional law, specifically the first amendment. In that class, I garnered the nickname ‘Justice Black’ after Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, a major figure in first amendment law. Justice Black achieved his immense stature in first amendment law by articulating the idea of free speech absolutism or the idea that there should be as few restraints as possible on the exercise of the first amendment. As I learned more within the class, I quickly saw the wisdom in absolutism and became its staunchest defender in the class.

Now the reasons I support and continue to believe in free speech absolutism are divided between the ideological abstract and inherently practical.

The banner of free speech has long been the bulwark to which advocates for social change and critics of the government have rallied. Forces of both good and ill have used it as a beacon to promote their cause and attract new members. They have also used it as a shield to protect themselves when their actions draw the ire of authorities. It’s the unevenness of this protection that has so captivated critics of the first amendment. It is indeed true the first amendment is not a perfect defense against tyranny. Its paper armor gives poor protection from police clubs and assassins bullets. Nor are its judicial foot soldiers the fiercest or most heroic of defenders. Far too often their help has come far too late for those fighting on the front lines for a cause.

But while these are tragic moments they do not detract from the power of the first amendment largely because it does not come from the arena of the streets, but in the court of public opinion. An excellent demonstration of this is the case of MLK and the civil rights movement. Civil rights protestors used the first amendment strategically as one of their primary methods of challenging segregation and resisting attempts at silencing them. Now, this did not spare them from the fire hoses and attack dogs that harassed them, or from the police forces and Klan gangs that intimidated them, nor did it stop the shot that ultimately killed MLK. But, when America tuned in to watch protestors peacefully marching being treated in such a callous and spiteful manner, the court of public opinion swiftly found for the protestors. In an era where protestors still come under intense assault for activism, these lessons serve as an important road map for success.

I will be among the first to admit that neo-Nazis and other white nationalists have nothing meaningful to really contribute to political life save one thing. They make an excellent canary in the coalmine as to the status of free speech and other civil liberties in society. On the surface it seems impossible that Nazis of all people could be the ones who preform this vital social function, but when one factor in their almost mystical ability to piss off virtually everyone it begins to make sense. Considering white supremacists constant tirades against minorities, our government, and virtually every aspect of civilization it’s a miracle that they are allowed to speak at all, indeed in many countries, they would be silenced, yet we allow them to speak anyway. We do this because the positive from allowing them to speak, allowing a reasonable person to make legitimate criticisms, far out weighs the negative of their worthless rhetoric.

In considering the merits of allowing some opinions to be voiced and others to be silenced, it's important to reflect on what a fear of criticism reveals about a movement. A group that is confident in itself and its ideals does not need to shy away from opponents; it trusts that it is right and that its arguments are strong enough to weather any storm of opposition. Nazis and other authoritarians stifle criticism because at their heart they are all fundamentally weak and they cannot have the truth of their unbearable weakness revealed to the world. The truth, of course, comes out anyway because there reaches a point when their weakness becomes so great that no amount of intimidating, torturing, or disappearing can hide it any longer. As satisfying as shutting up opponents is it is still the most immature form of social discourse. True moral and political strength comes from trusting that your side is right and that you will be vindicated by history.

If abstract theorizing is not your style in deciding on a course of political action then allow me to present a set of a more practical reason for supporting free speech absolutism.

On the practical side of things, it would do activists a great deal of benefit if they were to take pause and fully consider who would be in charge of censoring speech if they go their way. Currently, that burden would fall to one Donald J. Trump, a man who virtually every liberal in the country despises and fears. It would not be just Trump that would have this awesome power to silence people though, Jeff Sessions, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and the legion of other right wing leaders would have this immense power and they have not been shy in implying who they would use it on. It is a serious question to consider how long liberal groups such as BLM would last if the full power of government authority was let loose.

Finally, if none of the above reasons both abstract and practical are enough to convince you of the merits of free speech absolutism, then let me issue this last chilling response. My opponents argue that the threat Nazis pose to free society renders them beyond the protection of free speech but I ask you a question “Which is more dangerous a Nazi marching on the street or a Nazi in hiding?” A Nazi on the street is a terrible and disturbing thing, but it is visible, it is a known threat you can watch and gauge how strong they are while developing a course of action. A Nazi in hiding, on the other hand, is an unknown, you have no way of knowing how strong they are or what they are up to as they plot in basements and lurk on internet forums until it’s too late.

Nazis and their ilk are the ultimate tests of our civil liberties as they force us to confront the darkest parts of ourselves, but we shall always be stronger if we force those parts out in to the open and expose them for all their worth.

Cover Image Credit: Chet Strange

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Customer Service Expert, Gary Brewster of Oneida Provides Tips for Displaying Appreciation to Your Customers

By taking a more direct and proactive approach to managing your customers, you can open up a new avenue of success for your business.

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Customer relationships are a core part of your business success. Many businesses that outperform their competitors are just more responsive in this area. By taking a more direct and proactive approach to managing your customers, you can open up a new avenue of success for your business. How can you display genuine appreciation to them? Here are tips and practices from customer service expert and accomplished entrepreneur, Gary Brewster in Oneida, Tennessee that you can adopt.

Event Sponsorship

There are many small signs of appreciation you can show to customers, but hosting an event provides significant evidence to customers that your business genuinely acknowledges and cares for their support. With these events, you can treat customers as guests - which can be a great way to elevate your relationship with them. After these events, you can follow-up with your customers, build upon that relationship, and gain additional insights into their expectations.

Customized Products and Services

Customers will be pleasantly surprised to see products specifically catered to their preferences. This shows that you do respond to their feedback and are appreciative of the information they provide. Also, you are reinforcing the fact that your business firmly puts a priority on their needs and is committed to elevating their experience. You can personalize your products through a couple of means, including offering them in certain colors, modifications, labels, and more.

Use Handwritten Notes

A handwritten note is one of the best ways to convey authenticity in your messages. When you use this medium for sending messages of appreciation to your customers, it generates a more positive response. In a world saturated with emails, social media messages, and mobile text, a handwritten letter can stand out. You can work with your team in organizing a schedule where customers are sent handwritten notes. These can especially work great for the holiday season as customers are more receptive to goodwill messages during this time.

Develop a Loyalty Program

While your business benefits form loyalty programs, they also make the customer feel more appreciated. For your most consistent customers, you are sending the message to them that their loyalty has not gone unnoticed and that you are truly grateful. When repeat business is rewarded, the long-term benefits will be valuable. Instead of merely creating a loyalty program from scratch, consider doing research and recognize specific purchasing patterns within your customer base. You can then highlight certain products they favor and make that the focal point of your loyalty program.

When it comes to maintaining a high standard of customer service, communication and goodwill are valuable. Showing appreciation to your customers is more than simply communicating with them, but also conveying a general sense of commitment to their needs. Your business stands to gain immensely by developing this unique approach to customer service. Consider adding more of these elements as you build your customer service strategy with your team.


About Gary Brewster:

Gary Brewster in Oneida, Tennessee is an entrepreneur and commercial roofing expert. Driven by building excellent relationships, he takes pride in providing the best customer service possible. As a business owner, his goals include delivering exceptional service, solving complex problems, and giving back to the community. Outside of the office, Gary enjoys spending time on his family farm with his wife, children, and grandchildren.


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He’s Not My President, And I’m Sorry That He’s Yours

I refuse to acknowledge him as "my" president, he doesn't deserve it.

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It's been about two years since Donald Trump has officially taken office and became your president. I say "your" because he is not my president and I refuse to acknowledge him as such. I refuse to associate this man with one of the most powerful titles because he does not uphold the standards of what it means to be president. Donald Trump is a failed businessman, WrestleMania participant, and T.V. personality, but he is no president.

In the past, we've elected leaders whose ideas and vision for this nation didn't align with mine, but Donald Trump is another kind of malevolence that I refuse to believe runs the United States of America. Go ahead, call me all the names in the book; snowflake, libtard, or whatever your petty, little heart desires—your president still incompetent and runs his platform based off of false hope, an abundance of lies, and a xenophobic agenda.

This man single-handedly fooled an entire group of people that the United States was going to build a wall at the southern-most border (as if there isn't already a wall there) to keep out "criminals" (undocumented immigrants fleeing their country in order to survive) and said Mexico was going to pay for it (which they never did and never will.) This entire plan was flawed from the beginning; it was founded upon hate and pure ignorance. I hate to break it to you, but this country was founded upon immigrants and that's never going to change.

Your president even had a temper tantrum and shut down the government for 35 days, he doesn't care about the citizens of this nation, and to be quite frank, he never did in the first place. He never will unless it benefits him in some way. We're talking about the same man who addresses woman like their objects, views minorities like criminals, opposition for the LGBTQ community, makes a mockery of disabled people, honestly, the list can go on and on. What makes you genuinely believe he cares about you?

President's Day was initially created to celebrate George Washington's Birthday but eventually was adapted to commemorate the presidency as a whole somewhere along the line. So this President's Day, as we reflect upon your President's legacy for what he's created thus far, I'm sorry. I'm not sorry he'll be remembered as one of the worst presidents to go down in history and I can't wait until this nightmare is over.

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