What If We Treated the First Amendment Like the Second?

First Amendment (courtesy cojmc.uni.edu)

TTAG reader Dylan Schumacher writes:

What if we treated the first amendment like the second? Sure, you have the right to freedom of speech, but first, you must get a permit. But not too fast, before you are allowed to mock the government or become part of the press or worship freely, you have to take a class. This class can range anywhere from 4-12 hours depending on the state you live in. At the end of the class you’ll be asked to give a small speech to make sure you’ve learned how to use your freedom safely and responsibly . . .

After the class, now you can go to your local governing body to request your permit to speak freely, report the news, or pick a church/temple/synagogue/mosque, etc. Now, depending on what state you live in, good luck getting your permit. A few unlucky individuals among you won’t be able to get your permit to speak freely depending on your state’s issuance rules. You’ll just have to abide by the state standards on the subject and no free speech, worship, or press reporting for you. Sorry.
Now, for the rest of you, depending on where you live, it could take well over 30 days to even receive that permit. Don’t you dare think about speaking freely before you receive that permit either, as that will be a crime, up to and including jail time.
Once your permit arrives, congratulations! You can now speak freely! Yeah, you’ll have to take a class and renew it in a couple of years. But for now, freedom is here! But wait, there are some common sense, for the good of society, speech safety restrictions. Some private business establishments, have the right to refuse your permit. They can post a sign on their door, with a list of words that aren’t allowed in their establishment.
If you use those words in that establishment (again, depending on the state that you live in), the police can be called and you can be looking at criminal charges. We in the free speech community suggest you stay out of those establishments entirely.
Don’t forget, not only can any establishment who chooses make their domain a speech free zone, but there are other common sense restrictions about where your permit is valid.
Schools? Forget about it. We can’t allow you around children, who knows what you could say? Who knows what could happen?
Federal buildings are out, along with court rooms, and a host of other restrictions, for safety. In fact, some words and ideas are just off limits entirely unless you get another special permit and fill out more paper work (including finger prints!) with various government agencies.
Now, lastly, you have to remember that just because your free speech permit is valid in your state, it doesn’t mean it’s valid in others. Reciprocity is a tricky thing. In fact, if you have to wander into another state you could possibly get charged with a felony! A felony for crossing the wrong state line.
That felony automatically invalidates your permit, leaving you without your privileges the rest of your life, not to mention you lose your right as a citizen to vote. So be sure to know those state laws! Don’t go where your permit is not valid, and watch your mouth if you do!
Now, you might think all this “regulation” is a little much. But it’s probably not near enough. Do you have any idea how dangerous it is to let people say whatever it is that they want? Can you imagine what un-American ideas would spread?
There is nothing more dangerous in the world than an idea.
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