Censorship and Morality

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.

Those are the exact words the irresponsible hippies who founded this country chose when they wrote the First Amendment. Those words are important; they were very carefully and very specifically chosen, and they reflect, as Judge Napolitano has forcefully explained, a very specific understanding of what it means to speak freely, and what the government doesn’t get to do about it:

The freedom of speech, as the framers envisioned it, is a preëxisting right; it came before the United States government, it was never abandoned to the United States government, and the United States government is obligated to respect it. The people are fundamentally and inherently free to speak as they please, completely irrespective of whether or not their overlords like it. This freedom is also understood to be a freedom not merely to speak as you please, but to put those words into writing — hence freedom of the press.