Freedom – n. the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint; the power of self-determination attributed to the will – Apple Dictionary, v 2.3.


Freedom of Speech

I’m an American living in America and the First Amendment says,

                                                   Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. [emphasis mine]

That’s it. Couldn’t be plainer. It’s expressed in absolute terms. That means that I can say what I want to say, when I want to say it, to whom I want to say it and in any way I want to say it and no government can stop me, muzzle me or inhibit me from saying what I want. That’s what it says, right?

Well, it looks that way, but because we live in this society together, this amendment isn’t absolute. Neither are the rest of them. We’ve decided that there must be exceptions for our mutual safety and for other reasons.

For the past 10 months there’s been discussion about incitement to riot. That’s an example of a restriction on freedom of speech being necessary to protect people and property from being harmed, in this example, by a mob, as happened on January 6, 2021.

Speeches were delivered to thousands at the Ellipse on January 6  by John Eastman, author of the infamous insurrection memo, Rudy Giuliani, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), the disgraced, twice-impeached former President of the United States and more. Following those fiery speeches the mob injured people, killed people and desecrated the Capitol Building, inflicting enormous damage.

Those speeches, that incitement happened, even though any reasonable person would know that such speech would likely incite the mob to cause harm to others. There is a law against that and it’s possible that charges of incitement to riot may be filed against these speakers for their dangerous, unlawful exercise of actually-not-free speech.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) is a White nationalist, neo-Nazi loving, Holocaust denial congressman who is so unhinged that several of his siblings have been outspoken critics of him and have urged voters to vote against him. His tweeted anime of him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocaso-Cortez (D-NY) and attacking President Biden with swords at last got him censured in the House and he was stripped of his committee assignments. That’s because he doesn’t have freedom to incite others to violence.

There is a strong sentiment to expel him from Congress. After all, “sharing an image of yourself killing a colleague would get you fired from virtually any job.” But this got worse. Right after being censured, Gosar delivered a clear statement of his lack of contrition by re-tweeting that dreadful, hateful, murderous anime. This guy isn’t just bad news; he’s dangerous, unrepentant bad news.

As bad, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced that if the Republicans regain control of the House following the 2022 elections, that he as Speaker will reinstate Gosar to his committee assignments. Sadly, I’m not surprised, as McCarthy has yet again tacitly endorsed violence.

207 Republicans voted against censure. Effectively, they were saying that threatening colleagues with violent death is okay with them. That’s our national leadership sending exactly the wrong message to our country in these perilous times. They are telling already angry people that committing violence is an okay remedy for whatever their dissatisfaction might be.

There is a lot of violent speech happening now. It’s coming from the mouths of hateful, dishonest cable blabbers. Ordinary citizens are calling for violence, a civil war and murdering Democrats. I don’t know if there are limitations on speech for all of that, but again, a reasonable person would know that such speech is likely to cause harm to others, just like yelling “FIRE!” in a crowded theater that isn’t on fire.

All of this makes me worry whether our few sensible limitations on freedom of speech have or will become completely ignored, allowing some to incite to violence those who would do us and our democracy harm, like braying the Big Lie to upend our democracy. That incitement is already happening.

Non-White Freedom

That’s an oxymoron.

Just ask Ahmaud Arbery. Or Freddie Gray. Or Trayvon Martin. Or Jacob Blake. Or George Floyd. Or .  .  .  oh, wait. You can’t ask them because they were all unarmed, doing nothing wrong and they were murdered.

Still looking for that “liberty and justice for all” thing. The 400-year-long search continues.

The Courts and Freedom

Here’s another take on freedom in a piece by Linda Greenhouse, What Happens When a Court Goes Rogue? Answer: Freedom gets pummeled into something insubstantial and we are left at risk of very bad things happening.

For that you can thank Mitch McConnell, who blocked hundreds of federal court appointments for the entire eight years Obama was president. That left hundreds of judicial benches vacant that Trump then filled, all without any oversight, putting extremists, cranks and incompetents into positions to decide our most important and sensitive issues.

Both the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court are making judicial decisions that are unworthy of our Constitution and unworthy of us and which are removing one freedom after another from We The People. Their decisions will stick if we allow such behavior to continue, because,

The behavior you tolerate is the behavior you get.

People Need To Be Free

The Latin Grammy Awards were awarded on November 18 in Las Vegas and it was quite the spectacle. Most notable were the awards for the best song of the year and the best urban song. Both of those awards went to the artists of one piece: Patria Y Vida – “Homeland and Life.” It is a collaboration done by Cuban musicians in exile and is a protest against the repressive Cuban regime. It is in support of the freedom protests going on right now on streets all over that island.

In all the years of human existence there has never been a people who didn’t want to be free. That stands in stark opposition to the ever-present power mongers who seek to limit the freedom of others and dominate them. But the people will not tolerate that domination and the repression of their lives forever. That’s what is behind the protests in Havana and Tehran and Hong Kong and Ferguson and Kenosha and St. Paul and Portland and elsewhere. People want to be free. People need to be free.

Here’s part of what one of the music collaborators had to say in accepting the awards:

“And to my mother who told me, son, have courage to do what my generation couldn’t.

“But mommy, it is you who has courage to allow your kids to fulfill their dreams. I dedicate this Grammy to all the Latina mothers in the world who fight for the dreams of their children. To a free Cuba!”

It falls to all we moms and dads to fight for the dreams of our children, to fight against those who would use violence to suppress us, those who would lie and cheat and steal our freedom away from us so that their little minority can dominate and suppress us.

Right now they are stealing our power of representation through gerrymandering and stealing our voices from the ballot boxes. And they will win unless we who love freedom stand and fight the good fight, because the thieves are cunning and brutal and determined.

That’s why this fight is never over. Enlist now.


The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
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One Response to Freedom
  1. Jim Altschuler Reply

    352 Days: A time in which We The People need to make most Americans realize the errors of the path on which We find ourselves.

    1080 Days: The time to exult in the damage done to date (lost lives, lost Freedoms, lost rights) and the denigration of our Constitution. Or it could be the time to realize the damage done and Join Together in peace and harmony to bring about a re-creation of the intentions of the Founding Fathers. They had some really good ideas and concepts that they passed down to Us, and We have allowed some among Us to trample on those ideas and concepts (And On Us!). This may sound like a very 60’s approach and/or the lyrics to a John Lennon song and maybe so, but it sounds like a really good idea to this writer.

    Maybe that’s the way to overcome the hostility and hatred and self-agrandizing at the expense of others in just 1080 days. Maybe something good can come from treating each person like an equal, like a human being, regardless of their age, appearance, lifestyle, where they or their family came from or how (whether) they believe in God. IMAGINE!