The First Amendment; The Future of Liberty

The following is an excerpt from KrisAnne Hall’s new book, Liberty First: The Pathway to Reclaiming America, set to be released in the next month.

The path to reclaim America has many avenues. One in particular is embodied within our First Amendment. Freedom of press, freedom of speech, the freedom to assemble…gave our founders the foundation to rise up and restore the Liberty that had been established by over 700 years of battle and blood. Writing as Silence Dogood, Benjamin Franklin made this observation:

“Without Freedom of Thought there can be no such thing as Wisdom; and no such thing as Public Liberty, without Freedom of Speech.” No. 8, July 9, 1772

Our founders saw the power of communication and the effect that it had on the people. Case in point: Patrick Henry’s speech in the St. John’s church, March 23, 1775. Even Thomas Jefferson, after hearing this speech said many could not recall exactly what was said, Henry’s speech was so passionate and so poignant that it “had produced a great effect” and Jefferson himself “had been highly delighted and moved.”

We cannot forget the writers of that day. Thomas Paine, was just a tailor turned journalist, perhaps a revolutionary version of the modern day blogger. His pamphlet “Common Sense” has been reported to have sold 120,000 copies in the first 3 months and half-million in the first year. John Adams reportedly said, “Without the pen of the author of “Common Sense,” the sword of Washington would have been drawn in vain.”

The women were not silent either. Mercy Otis Warren was just one of our amazing founding mothers. She was a prolific writer of newspaper articles and anti-British propaganda plays. Hannah Winthrop, wife of Dr. Winthrop, describes Mercy in January 1773 as “That noble patriotic spirit which sparkles must warm the heart that has the least sensibilities, especially must it invigorate a mind of a like fellow feeling for this once happy country.”

Through the freedoms of expression, these dear Patriots sparked a revival of Liberty throughout a land that would be soon known as the United States of America. Today is no different. We have Americans with “like fellow feeling for this once happy country” who have picked up the mantle that has been left before us – those that understand that the security of all Liberty rests upon the back of our freedom of expression.

One of the most influential forces in this present restoration effort has been “New Media.” New Media includes the internet, the blogosphere, Facebook, Twitter, talk radio and the like. Probably the biggest pioneers of the New Media have been Rush Limbaugh in the talk radio world and Andrew Breitbart in the blogosphere and grass roots journalism.

Rush has been a thorn in the liberals’ side for decades. Since his talk radio debut in 1984, his pioneering efforts have spawned thousands of talk jocks and laid the foundation for the modern day talk radio juggernaut. Why talk radio works and why it is conservative is simple: it includes the people. There is no public voice or input in the mainstream media. There is no feedback from the people on the nightly news. There is no immediate public voice in newspapers or magazines. There is no input or challenge to what is being disseminated in the mainstream media; therefore, it remains decidedly slanted toward leftist, statist ideology – matching the worldview of it owners and editors. In contrast, when the people are involved, the stance will tend toward conservatism – first, because conservatism is supported by the truth; secondly, because most Americas are truly conservative. That is why liberal talk radio cannot survive unless it is supported by taxpayer dollars. That is also why mainstream media is losing its viewership left and right and has been taken to the woodshed by conservative, new media. It is no wonder that those who cannot stand on the truth hate the free expression of it. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. remarked in the Supreme Court decision in Abrams v. United States , 250 U.S. 616 (1919):

“If you have no doubt of your premises or your power, and want a certain result with all your heart, you naturally express your wishes in law, and sweep away all opposition. To allow opposition by speech seems to indicate that you think the speech impotent…or that you doubt either your power or your premises. But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.”

The internet blogosphere provides a response to the monolithic, leftist voice in the echo chamber known as the mainstream media. The late Andrew Breitbart was one of the most impactful figures in this area of new media. Starting as an editor of the Drudge report (another foundational block in New Media) and then helping Arianna Huffington launch her site, Breitbart launched his own empire. With all his BIG sites and his internet journalism, he sparked the ire of seemingly every liberal in the known universe. I once heard Andrew tell a crowd that the key to making the biggest impact is “be petty.” Andrew was funny, brilliant and a tireless and fearless warrior and we must follow on in his footsteps. Every patriot should have a video camera and be a citizen journalist. Andrew used citizen journalism as well as anyone to expose the hypocrisy and nastiness of the left. He believed this was a battle “between good and evil” and he used new media to “shine light on the darkness.” The great thing about video is even if you have no talent to write, you can hold a camera.

Something Andrew Breitbart loved, along millions of other activists, is Social Media. Social media, like Facebook and Twitter, allows super-fast dissemination of information that is not filtered or controlled by some editorial board or other “overseer.” One of the difficulties in the late conservative awakening is that a large portion of the engaged citizens are older and less adept at some of the technologies like Facebook. We must continue to expand our social media networks. It may sound silly, but the more “likes” a page has the more influence and reach it has (same principle with Twitter). We need to get as many conservatives as possible connected on social media. We also need conservatives in the field of Journalism, citizen journalism and professional journalism (it’d be nice if there were a prominent Journalism school somewhere that wasn’t liberal). If you feel yourself a techno misfit, I encourage you to attend a Right Online conference held by American’s for Prosperity. There is no better grassroots techno training available. I have AFP to thank for much of what I know and understand about these new media outlets. It was at the Right Online conference that I got hooked on Twitter. It’s also where I became friends with Andrew Breitbart and Katy Abrams. I met Michelle Malkin and scores of other great patriot activists. AFP does fantastic work at keeping the citizen network connected, motivated and engaged.

We need more tweeters, more Facebookers, more talk show hosts, more bloggers. Keep writing the op-eds. Keep publishing books, newsletters, magazines, and pamphlets. Information is power and we must dislodge the liberal stranglehold on the media. I dream of a day when New York is not the media hub in America. This is the expression of our First Amendment. This God given right can be lost without active participation-we will use it or lose it. At least one of our founders felt it was the most important right protected in the Bill of Rights. Daniel Webster said:

“If all my possessions were taken from me with one exception, I would choose to keep the power of communication, for by it I would soon regain all the rest.”