Today’s news brings an excellent opportunity for a primer for those who don’t understand how the First Amendment works:
The University of Miami has an annual faculty art show. This year, faculty member Billie Grace Lynn made an “artwork” titled “American Mask,” which consists of three American flags turned into KKK hoods, to symbolize how America is a racist nation in which patriotism is a mask for bigots, neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Lynn claims she’s a patriot and loves America, and it was difficult for her to rip up the flags and make them into Klan hoods, but she wanted to make people “think.”
Well, she’s made them think, all right, but a lot of them think what she did is disrespectful, disgusting and offensive. Personally, I couldn’t agree more.
But here comes the tricky part: If I were a “progressive,” I would use the fact that I find her speech to be offensive as an excuse to tear down her artwork and punch her in the face to silence her. But I'm a conservative, so I won’t do that.
Instead, I will defend her right to create it, but I will speak out publicly about the fact that I think it is incredibly offensive; not only because it shows disrespect to the flag in the most heinous way, but it makes its “point” in such a broad, ham-handed way that it unfairly tars genuinely patriotic Americans who have legitimate concerns about the direction of the nation as racists, bigots and Nazis. I think that while she has a constitutional right to express herself, that doesn’t make it morally or socially acceptable to deface the flag in disgusting ways nor to impugn the motives and character of millions of innocent Americans. I would point out that we also have people in America who use violence to deny others their civil rights, and who hide behind black hoods and the ludicrous title of “anti-fascists.” And I would urge any parents thinking of sending their kids to the University of Miami, or any alumni being pressed to donate, to take into account the attitude and lack of taste and judgement evidenced by this story.
You know what that last paragraph was? MY free speech. I used it to answer her free speech instead of my fists.
And that, college students, is how the First Amendment works.
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