The exercise of Rights is most important when government power is at it’s zenith. In the case of the First Amendment Right to Free Speech, when the government wants to censor ideas, the expression of ideas or to restrict the exercise of speech against the government, the exercise of the Right to Free Speech becomes most important. One would hope that the need to invoke the Right to Free Speech against the government would be rare. For obvious reasons the most rare of the Rights should be the exercise of the Right to one’s life against the powers of government. That’s a Right that can only be oppressed by government once.
“Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law”, wrote Ayn Rand in the Appendix of her amazing book: CAPITALISM THE UNKNOWN IDEAL. http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ari_ayn_rand_man_rights Rand also explained other aspects of the idea of Rights, for example:
“The concept of individual rights is so new in human history that most men have not grasped it fully to this day. In accordance with the two theories of ethics, the mystical or the social, some men assert that rights are a gift of God—others, that rights are a gift of society. But, in fact, the source of rights is man’s nature.
The Declaration of Independence stated that men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Whether one believes that man is the product of a Creator or of nature, the issue of man’s origin does not alter the fact that he is an entity of a specific kind—a rational being—that he cannot function successfully under coercion, and that rights are a necessary condition of his particular mode of survival.
“The source of man’s rights is not divine law or congressional law, but the law of identity. A is A—and Man is Man. Rights are conditions of existence required by man’s nature for his proper survival. If man is to live on earth, it is right for him to use his mind, it is right to act on his own free judgment, it is right to work for his values and to keep the product of his work. If life on earth is his purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being: nature forbids him the irrational.” (Atlas Shrugged)”.
I believe that the descriptions and definitions of the elements of Rights and Individual Freedom have become so submerged within the psyche of Americans and so oppressed by most cultures outside of America that meaningful discussion is difficult. It’s why I found it necessary to take Northampton and three other townships to Federal Court for violation of the First Amendment and even though I’m not a lawyer I wrote up all of the brief’s and successfully answered all of the defenses of the defendants for over two years before winning.
The Right to Free Speech is a key difference between America and every dictatorship. For that and many other reasons America is an exceptionl culture. Even though I would hope that the exercise of the Right to Free Speech should be rare because that would mean it is respected by government, it is not. Like many other Rights it is neither respected nor understood by countries and cultures outside of America.
Unfortunately it is not understood by some of America’s sub-cultures either.