Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | July 29, 2019

A Clear and Present Danger

Should Freedom of Speech have Limits?

It is becoming commonplace to see and hear aggressive, angry talk against the United States and President Trump. What is both disturbing and annoying is this talk is coming from both citizens and elected officials who are enjoying the benefits of our country and its booming economy.

While freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution; it would appear that common sense and decency should have some impact on what is being said.

The Bill of Rights to the Constitution of the United States of America (ratified in 1791) provides certain specific protections for the citizens of the United States and protects freedom of speech in the first amendment.

Amendment 1

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.

While we all benefit from that amendment, should there be limits on freedom of speech? It can be generally agreed that certain speech can be inappropriate and harmful, such as yelling out fire, fire, in a crowded theater when there is no fire. While the principle of free speech is sound, there obviously has to be limits on what is said and when it is said.

The Bible provides guidelines for morality and speech, but when it has been abandoned as an objective standard then the door is thrown open to a subjective approach to both morality and speech.

Shortly after the writing of the Constitution, it was determined there were potential dangers to unlimited free speech which resulted in passage of the Sedition Act of 1798:

Sedition Act of 1798

Seven years after the First Amendment was added to the Constitution, the federal government passed a law restricting freedom of speech. In 1798, Congress passed the Sedition Act. War seemed likely between the United States and its former ally France. Members of Congress were convinced that people sympathetic to France would try to stir up trouble for the new nation.

“Congress and President John Adams believed that the Sedition Act would help control pro-French troublemakers by forbidding criticism of the federal government. “Sedition” generally means the incitement of violent revolution against the government. The Sedition Act of 1798, however, went far beyond this. It required criminal penalties for persons who said or published anything “false, scandalous, or malicious” against the federal government, Congress or the president.” (Constitutional Rights Foundation, crf-usa.org/america-responds-to-terrorism/a-clear-and-present-danger)

Later, another act was passed by Congress, the Federal Espionage Act of 1917.

Federal Espionage Act of 1917

“Another major attempt to regulate freedom of speech occurred during World War I. In 1917, Congress passed the Federal Espionage Act. This law prohibited all false statements intending to interfere with the military forces of the country or to promote the success of its enemies. In addition, penalties of up to $10,000 and/or 20 years in prison were established for anyone attempting to obstruct the recruitment of men into the military. In 1918, another law was passed by Congress forbidding any statements expressing disrespect for the U.S. government, the Constitution, the flag, or army and navy uniforms.” (op cit)

Clear and Present Danger

In 1994, a Tom Clancy novel, starring Harrison Ford, “Clear and Present Danger” hit the screens and gave life to the expression “a clear and present danger.” In the movie a drug cartel was seen as a threat to the United States and was declared to be a clear and present danger to the United States.

The term was created by an opinion from the Supreme Court in 1919 written by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

“Justice oliver wendell holmes jr., writing for the U.S. Supreme Court in Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47, 39 S. Ct. 247, 63 L. Ed. 470 (1919), stated: “The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.” The Free Dictionary, legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Clear+and+Present+Danger

What is interesting to me is that the threat has, in the past, been seen as external; in 1798 it was the French, in 1917 it was seen as Germany in World War I. Now it seems as if we are in danger from forces within in addition to forces from without.

Liberal Globalism

Today we are faced with a challenge to the very foundation of our nation; our existence as a Constitutional Republic is under attack from within by both words and deeds as never before. A strategically placed, highly vocal minority is seeking to overturn our Republic and replace it with a one-world globalist state, subject to a higher, global power. The danger emerges as some of those seeking this overthrow are actually in elected government offices and have the authority to vote on legislation that can seriously harm our Constitutional Republic.

Liberal globalists can be found in both political parties and have sought to advance globalism regardless of the party in power. This tactic has been hugely successful until a severe bump in the road was encountered, the election of a confirmed nationalist named Donald J. Trump to the office of president. The anguish and frustration that has been caused by the presidential election of 2016 would be difficult to overstate.

Many of the available forces possible have been brought to bear on President Trump and his administration since the election; this reminds me of Israel who has been under constant attack since its emergence in 1948. Both President Trump and Israel have been extraordinarily successful in the face of constant aggression by those who oppose them.

What is our Christian Responsibility?

For the church, there is only one answer and that is the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The church’s responsibility is to present Jesus Christ as the only solution to man’s problem with spiritual death. It is only though the new birth that anyone must be saved; that is the message of the church.

For individual Christians there is another perspective and that is our responsibility as citizens of a Constitutional Republic. Paul had no say in the selection of Nero as Emperor whereas we, today, have a say in the election of those who will govern us. As Christians we have a responsibility to vote and work for the Christian principles in which we believe and seek to elect those who will support Biblical principles and the Constitution of the United States.

Nationalism has been God’s plan for the world since the Tower of Babel whereas globalism has been Satan’s plan. During the Tribulation, globalism will have its way with the Antichrist in control under the influence of Satan but this will be truly short-lived and be ended by the Second Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus.


Responses

  1. Amen, Brother Bower!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. On spot for sure!!! Jesus in me, the Hope of Glory!!! Wellsaid, Dr. Bower!!

    Liked by 1 person


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