It is fashionable for teabaggers and conservatives to cite the Founding Fathers’ original intent in the Constitution as a solution to every problem America is facing, but especially since Barack Obama was elected president. The ignorant neo-conservatives really have no conceptual understanding of the Constitution, but they still make reference to the Founders’ intent for every issue they feel strongly about whether it is taxation, education, or the Affordable Health Act. The Constitution has become a sacred cow of conservatives and alleged patriots, but they fail to understand the most basic premise of the 1st Amendment and become violently angry at any citizen who exercises the rights guaranteed in the document.
The First Amendment guarantees religious freedom, free speech, and freedom of the press and yet there are a great number of people who deny those rights to all Americans because they disagree with a message or an individual’s failure to follow the Christian religion. Many people who claim to be ardent supporters of America and its guarantee of freedom and liberty are the first to protest when another citizen exercises any of the 1st Amendment’s guarantees, and they make every attempt to silence free speech through intimidation, threats, and acts of violence.
The people most likely to impede other citizens’ 1st Amendment rights are generally neo-conservatives and religious fanatics who have anointed themselves super-patriots because they sing America’s praises, and as is normal for self-anointed patriots, their belief that anything contradicting their view of America is false and worthy of being silenced. These “uber-patriots” have taken the 1960’s catch-phrase, “America, love it or leave it,” to a level that makes Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin’s tactics pale in comparison. There are really horrible people who make it their practice to intimidate journalists, entertainers, and private citizens who do not praise conservative policies or accept religious dogma and it pollutes the Constitution as well as America’s reputation as a free country. In the neo-conservative ultra-religious segment of the population who hates equal rights and free speech, freedom is reserved for one line of thought; theirs.
There are documented cases over the past year-and-a-half of journalists who have been threatened with death, dismemberment, firebombing, and beheading that originate with uber-patriots and religious fanatics that are intended to intimidate and silence free speech and religious freedom, and they demonstrate how conservatives really feel about the Founding Fathers’ original intent in the 1st Amendment. In the following instances, the recipients of intimidation asked to remain anonymous to protect their families and property from retribution for speaking out. Also in each instance, local law enforcement and the FBI were notified about threatening phone calls, emails, and comments on blogs, but little can be done because in America everyone has the right of free speech; even if the speech is a death threat.
A newspaper opinion writer received a series of death threats for a commentary on church involvement in her local school district and was told to make her peace with god and write a retraction or she would be abducted outside of the newspaper where her truck was parked and taken to a field and set on fire. The writer parked her vehicle on a different street for the next two days and a caller informed her that they knew she was parking in a different area and would find her at her home instead. When the woman took a recording of the threats to the local chief of police, he told her to “get right with Jesus, write a retraction, and stop intimidating Christians.” The woman transferred to a different city and writes about local high-school sports and theatre.
A male journalist received a phone call from an irate conservative who informed him that unless he stopped criticizing the tea party, the true patriots of America would invade his home at night, tie him up and make him witness his wife and two daughters being raped and then dismembered before his eyes. The 48-year-old veteran told the caller he was calling the police and that was the last he heard from the caller for a week. At the end of a week, a letter arrived in his mailbox with a hand-drawn map of the route he took to drop his children off at school with a new warning that a firebomb would come through his living room window if he wrote one more article about the tea party. The writer has since relocated to an undisclosed city where he writes technology manuals for a software company.
In California, a reporter awoke to the sound of breaking glass and shouts of, “USA, USA” and “fucking traitor” for writing a column criticizing the city for spending tax dollars on firework displays instead of assistance for homeless veterans. The same young man wrote an opinion piece criticizing local churches for campaigning against same-sex marriage, and within a week of the commentary returned home from work to find signs on his yard ordering him to “obey your god” and “pray or die.” The writer has since moved to a different neighborhood where last month a letter arrived telling him there was nowhere he could hide that “god’s soldiers won’t find you.”
These types of threats are by no means unique to writers. When a member of the country group, The Dixie Chicks, remarked that she was embarrassed that George W. Bush was from the state of Texas, she received death threats from Republicans from around the country. Country radio stations pulled The Dixie Chicks hit record from rotation and furious conservatives held record-burning rallies to protest an American citizen exercising her right of free speech. Apparently for country fans and indeed, conservatives in general, the 1st Amendment’s guarantee of free speech only applies to conservatives. The angry Bush-supporters claimed they were livid because the singer criticized a sitting president while she was in a foreign country, but they have not boycotted or burned books written by Sarah Palin for criticizing President Obama while she was in Russia looking for Vladimir Putin.
It isn’t that conservatives hate the First Amendment; they just hate it when anyone exercises it by criticizing conservative policies or pointing out the myriad ways Republicans are destroying America. The advent of the Internet and commenters’ anonymity has increased the level of hate that conservatives and false patriots feel comfortable spewing at opposing opinions and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
The FBI says most threats journalists receive are from cowards emboldened by the anonymity the Internet provides and disposable cell phones, but at the same time, they give a warning that all journalists should heed. They said a person who takes the time to call, email, or write a letter is just one small outrage away from acting on a threat of violence. The good news is that although the FBI cannot act on every reported death threat, they know exactly who to arrest if the worst happens. The solution and better news is for conservatives, teabaggers, religious fanatics, and uber-patriots to afford every American the same freedom of speech and religion they enjoy because their free speech can be prohibited very quickly; when they are in prison for making death threats, or worse, carrying them out.