Yes, it’s true that the flap over Duck Dynasty is not a First Amendment issue, in the sense that, strictly speaking, it is not a case of government censorship — yet. But the First Amendment did not grant rights, it codified preexisting rights that, by nature and from God, belong to everyone, and not just in the realm of political speech.
So these words on the necessity of freedom of speech from “Cato” (John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon), written in the early 18th century, are certainly timely. From the famous Letter No. 15 of 1721 (often misattributed to Ben Franklin, who republished it):
Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as publick liberty, without freedom of speech: Which is the right of every man, as far as by it he does not hurt and control the right of another; and this is the only check which it ought to suffer, the only bounds which it ought to know.
This sacred privilege is so essential to free government, that the security of property; and the freedom of speech, always go together; and in those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call any thing else his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of the nation, must begin by subduing the freedom of speech; a thing terrible to publick traitors . . .
Freedom of speech is ever the symptom, as well as the effect, of good government. . . Guilt only dreads liberty of speech, which drags it out of its lurking holes, and exposes its deformity and horror to day-light.
Freedom of speech is the great bulwark of liberty; they prosper and die together: And it is the terror of traitors and oppressors, and a barrier against them. It produces excellent writers, and encourages men of fine genius. Tacitus tells us, that the Roman commonwealth bred great and numerous authors, who writ with equal boldness and eloquence: But when it was enslaved, those great wits were no more…
Freedom of speech, therefore, being of such infinite importance to the preservation of liberty, every one who loves liberty ought to encourage freedom of speech.
The Left used to hide behind “freedom of speech” all the time, but now that it believes it’s in the cultural ascendency . . . not so much. And should you demur that freedom of speech is in the Constitution, kindly remember that for the descendants of the Frankfurt School and its culturally malevolent notion of “critical theory,” there is absolutely no idea too outlandish to advocate, as long as its effect is destructive of the established social order, and no institution they’re not willing to attack. Everything’s on the table, except their putative good intentions.
“In those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call any thing else his own” — to them, that’s not a bug, it’s a feature. And if you don’t believe me, just ask Pajama Boy and his twelve best friends.