Human and constitutional rights are always used by people as a platform. At times, they are correct. Other times, can it just be an excuse? The right to free speech, assembly, etc. Issues about these have come before the Supreme Court for years, and Supreme Court decisions have altered the meaning of what is considered freedom of speech and others. The problem is, no one gets the memo. Therefore, people think they have to right to say anything they want, do anything they want, anywhere or anytime they want. This is one of the most controversially part of the first amendment. I get it. EVERYONE is tired of being at home, and you know what, if people in general could be trusted, certain executed orders would not be required. People, we need to take responsibility for our actions. Today I went to Home Depot. They were only allowing a certain number of people in the store at one time. SMART MOVE. However, when you got inside, everyone was wearing a mask, but literally so close to one another, you would never think there was a contagious virus floating about. We all see the pictures of protesters on the news, and people going to parks and beaches that have partially opened. Really, they have no clue about social distancing. Especially, the protestors. Look at the couple of states that opened early. Their virus positive cases INCREASED. What are these people thinking and missing? With this said, let's take a close look.
TYPES OF SPEECH NOT PROTECTED: (courtesy of freedomforuminstitute.com)
Defamation (including libel and slander)
Incitement to imminent lawless action
Solicitations to commit crimes
What adds insult to injury is, there are conflicting opinions as to what can be said in public, versus what is said in private, and what defines private? Many educational institutes have debated this and believe their classrooms are a private setting. There is a great deal of case history on the subject.
WHAT IS REASONABLE?
Everyone has their opinions on what is considered reasonable. Generally, what is considered reasonable, as with many others considerations, is what the public, IN GENERAL, would consider acceptable. One of the most common examples would be yelling out "FIRE" in a crowded movie theater. This is something that used as a joke, could cause physical, emotional, and bodily harm to people. Under the auspices of freedom of speech, should this be allowed? My point is simple. Almost every one of our rights have caveats to them. They have been defined or altered over many decades. Therefore, we need to use a bit of common sense.
Regardless of the first amendment, NO ONE has the right to put others at jeopardy. You don't have to like it or agree with it, but it's a fact. Hence, the reason for executive orders. Face it, most do NOT act responsibly. However, for those who makes these decisions, they cannot win. They cannot please everyone but have a responsibility to everyone. If they keep the shelter-at-home orders, they piss off those, who by the way, don't act responsibly anyway. If they remove the orders, they now place people at risk. One way or another, some groups of people are going to bitch. However, no one will ever be considered at fault when they are protecting people, yet, if they don't, they are always at fault. Would you like to be those making those choices?
With regards to speech, clearly, what you say to your significant other in the privacy of your own home is considered private, but not what you say it in public. Keep in mind, if anyone is close enough to hear what you say, it is now public. Someone who overhears a sexual conversation you are having at work, even if they are NOT part of the conversation, could claim sexual harassment because they were offended. I say, if you don't like what you hear in a private conversation between others, walk away. First off, what the hell are you doing listening to begin with? Unless they are yelling it out. I do agree that discretion needs to be used, For example, what you argue about with your partner in the privacy of your own home, is between both of you, but when you do it when you are out to dinner at the table right next to mine, you have now made it my business. .
OTHER RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS:
Freedom to assemble is another. People have that right to a peaceful assembly, but they cannot cause destruction, riots, harm, or other acts to others. That becomes controversial because, what is considered harmful to some, may not be considered harmful by others. Simply put, everyone perceives things differently, thus the need for the court system to sort it out. The same applies to freedom of expression. Some feel walking down a street with body parts overly exposed is their constitutional right, yet, almost every city and state have laws regarding public decency. Frankly, it might be fine for you, but may offend others, or they are concerned about what their children see. How many times has this happened to you. You missed the last rest stop of the highway. The next one isn’t for 50 miles. Suddenly, you have to urinate and can't hold it any longer. You pull your vehicle over. There are no trees or bushes to hide in. You open your car door and position yourself that traffic cannot see you. A State Trooper pulls over and arrests you for indecent exposure. Is that a true fact? Who saw it? Who did it offend? Of course, you will fight it, and probably win. However, do you want to, or should you have to spend the time and money? There are scores of examples. It comes down to what is reasonable and what makes sense.
Constitutional rights are not written in stone as much as people think they are. There are many case histories to support other opinions. During these difficult times of Covid-19. People are expressing many thoughts due to the settle-at-home, and being out of work frustration. As we discussed, many are conducting protests. Many are NOT following social distancing guidelines, stating that it is against their constitutional rights. That still remains to be seen. There certainly are some valid cases, such as gathering and staying in your car to attend a religious worship. Isn't that social distancing? Many Mayors and Governors are opting not to take the challenge, and leaving it up to law enforcement to just remind people when they are seen not practicing these guidelines, and some are starting to make a stand because people do not get the message, and some states have started to fine violators for not following the mandate. I am sure these might either be throw out, or put to the test.of the law. With that said, any law requiring businesses, from a public health standpoint, to mandate this while the public is in their store is NOT a constitutional issue. It is a public health issue. The individual Departments Of Public Health will probably take the lead and fines might occur.
Most of this, as with all rights, comes down to a matter of common sense. The rule of thumb in most cases is, if you feel whatever you are doing can hurt or offend others, and you are in public, do not do or say it. When we are dealing with the unknown, and COVID-19 is still an unknown, we are always better off choosing the side of safety, rather than take a chance. If you choose not to, the issue becomes how you choose to express it.
Thank you ... Caesar Rondina
Check out my new private investigator series coming in 2020.
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