When our founders wrote the First Amendment’s free speech clause, they had unpopular speech in mind.
That is, they wanted to specifically protect speech that wasn’t common, wasn’t popular, and could even be considered revolutionary in a literal sense of the world.
They also had protecting criticism of the government uppermost in their minds. That’s because they had just spent more than a decade fighting a tyrannical British monarchy headed by a king that did not permit such speech and in fact, punished those who criticized him and the Crown in general.
But in recent decades, so-called “hate speech” laws have made a mockery of the First Amendment’s speech protections. Words and phrases that political apparatchiks and authoritarians in government have ‘deemed’ as ‘harmful’ or ‘hurtful’ have been criminalized under such laws, with real consequences for people found to have violated those speech codes.
Now, a state judge in Michigan has taken the insanity a step further: He has crossed into the realm of insanity with a ruling that can only be described as antithetical to our founders’ vision of free speech.
The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that hurting a liberal’s feelings can be considered a terrorist threat and punishable by up to 20 years in prison, which has prompted a response from activists and lawmakers concerned about the grave implications this ruling may have on the 1st Amendment. …
This appeals court ruling is pertaining to the case of 20-year-old Lucas Gerhard, a former Lake Superior State University student who was jailed for 83 days because a liberal classmate was triggered by a picture of a rifle he posted on social media. The court of appeals ruled that it did not matter that the hyper-emotional leftist who went to authorities was not intended to receive the photo. This may give the green light for liberals to report social media posts to authorities and compel terrorism charges in the state.
“Importantly, the issue is not whether defendant actually made a threat of terrorism, which would be a question for the trier of fact. Rather, the issue is whether, on these facts, defendant can be charged at all. The issue before us turns on whether a social media post made by defendant can constitute a ‘true threat,’” the court of appeals wrote in a ruling that literally threatens the freedom of every single independent thinking conservative and libertarian in the state.
Earlier, Big League Politics reported that Gerhard posted a picture to Snapchat of him holding an AR-15 — that’s it, nothing more. He didn’t threaten anyone and he didn’t ‘direct’ his Snap at the person who was, pardon the pun, ‘triggered’ by the photo.
“Taking this bad boy up. This ought to make the snowflakes melt — and I mean snowflakes as in snow,” Gerhard wrote after he purchased the rifle.
So this ruling is obscene. It’s beyond absurd. And now, as usual, a Republican lawmaker is trying to fix the situation; state Rep. John Reilly (R-Lake Orion) is preparing legislation that will deal with this issue and return the First Amendment to its proper status in Michigan.
Other free speech advocates are hopping on board, too.
“Last Friday, the Michigan Court of Appeals effectively revoked the First Amendment protection of every citizen of Michigan when it declared that your speech could be considered a criminal felony – based not upon the content of your speech, but on how anyone, including any left-wing lunatic, chooses to interpret it,” noted Adam de Angeli of the Rescue Michigan Coalition.
“By judicial decree the Constitutional rights of all Michiganders are in serious danger,” added Rosanne Ponkowski, President of the Michigan Conservative Coalition. “Prosecutors can declare ‘open season’ on anybody whose speech they disagree with. This is unconstitutional, immoral, and extremely dangerous in today’s toxic political environment.”
“There was a time when our courts and political leaders would vigorously defend the right of free speech, including speech they disagree with,” she continued. “It is time to stand up for the rights of every Michigander to speak.”