Southern author, former Wallace campaign activist, CIA agent and Reagan staffer Bob Whitaker has an editorial piece on his blog today about a First Amendment right which is almost never mentioned. Though the US Constitution is essentially a dead letter today and no longer taken seriously by most of those in government, it is still useful to consider the rights that our ancestors treasured – rights which are increasingly relics of the past. Whitaker writes:
There is not just a right to free speech. There is a right to hold meetings, ESPECIALLY meetings of people who are called “extremists.”
Approved people have no reason to NEED such a right to be specified.
I hear a lot about free speech for the big media, but nobody mentions the right to peacefully assemble.
This is in the Constitution because the people who wrote were themselves threatened by death for meeting for “extremist” purposes.
It does NOT say “the right to assemble for a politically correct purpose.”
The usual way of forbidding our meetings, especially on campus, is by saying that, while police will protect anyone ELSE from being harassed, “they cannot protect people from violence if the meetings are about heretical or extreme purpose.” So our meetings are routinely forbidden because THOSE WHO ARE NOT MEETING PEACEABLY will cause trouble. So the right to peaceably assemble is thrown out because thugs won’t like the meetings.
Considering that the Founding Fathers put in the first amendment because they themselves had been extremists and were threatened with thug violence, the idea that a group loses its right to free speech and assembly because THE OTHER SIDE might get violent with them would have been just what British authorities USED up to 1775.
When the Founding Fathers were talking “Treason” in 1775, someone who said it was OK to ban their meetings because they might cause riots — which they did — would not be looked upon as sane by the people who wrote the first amendment.
Allowing heretical views and extremist views AND THE RIGHT TO ASSEMBLE despite thugs was PRECISELY the reason for the first amendment.
Fortunately, no one brings it up.