October 10, 2011
We’ve been pointing out a variety of attempts to push back on the First Amendment lately.
One fertile ground for such attacks are local politicians carrying the “cyberbullying” banner, in various attempts to magically outlaw  being a “jerk” online, usually by making it illegal to offend  someone online.
Of course, making someone’s action illegal based on how someone else feels about it is all kinds of crazy.
It also would seem to violate the very principles of the First Amendment, which bar Congress (and local governments) from passing any laws that take away one’s right to free speech.
In the past, lawmakers pushing these laws have tended to simply ignore the First Amendment issue, and focus on screaming “protect the children!” as loudly as possible (never mind the fact that kids seem much less concerned about “bullying”  than all these adults seem to think).
However, it appears that some state Senators in NY are trying a new line of attack: going directly after the First Amendment and suggesting that current interpretations are way too broad , and it’s not really meant to protect any sort of free speech right.
Proponents of a more refined First Amendment argue that this freedom should be treated not as a right but as a privilege — a special entitlement granted by the state on a conditional basis that can be revoked if it is ever abused or maltreated.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Yes, that totally flips the First Amendment on its head. It is not a “more refined First Amendment.” It’s the anti-First Amendment.
It suggests, by its very nature, that the government possesses the right to grant the “privilege” of free speech to citizens… and thus the right to revoke it.
That’s an astonishingly dangerous path, and one that should not be taken seriously.
Of course, given their right to speak freely, state senators Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, David Carlucci and David Valesky have every right to put forth that argument — but similarly, it allows others to point out their rather scary beliefs.