~~Alexander Hamilton to John Laurens, August 15, 1782
Some days ago I was reading some of the speeches of Congressman Ron Paul, a Republican from Texas, and a candidate for the Presidency in 2008. I support Paul because of his strict adherence to the Constitution, our Founding Fathers original intent, his Christian worldview, and his unimpeachable voting record. I am very sorry to understand that the mainstream evangelical Christian conservative Right is not supporting him as much as they should be, and that they seem more comfortable with candidates like Huckabee, Romney, and even Guliani (here is a blog who addresses the issue well).
But back to the point. I was reading this speech by Ron Paul, delivered before the U.S. House on March 10, 2004, entitled "An Indecent Attack on the First Amendment." Here, Ron Paul discusses the "Broadcast Indecency Act of 2004," which was soon to be debated on the House floor.
We will soon debate the “Broadcast Indecency Act of 2004” on the House Floor. This atrocious piece of legislation should be defeated. It cannot improve the moral behavior of U.S. citizens, but it can do irreparable harm to our cherished right to freedom of speech. ... Though [it] may be motivated by the good intentions of improving moral behavior, using government force to do so is fraught with great danger and has no chance of success.This act was no doubt sponsored by many concerned citizens, most of them Christians, who, with the best of intentions, wanted to take some sort of action against indecency on the airwaves. However, as Ron Paul points out in this address, this bill, and others like it, will do more harm than good in solving the problem with society which we are witnessing today. Ron Paul explains:
What Congressman Paul continues to say, and what is his whole point is that the government bill
Regulating speech is a dangerous notion, and not compatible with the principles of a free society. The Founders recognized this, and thus explicitly prohibited Congress from making any laws that might abridge freedom of speech or of the press.
But we have in recent decades seen a steady erosion of this protection of free speech. ...
And it will be assumed [by the Right, who endorse the bill] that if one is not with them in this effort, then one must support the trash seen and heard in the movie theaters and on our televisions and radios. For social rather than constitutional reasons, some on the left express opposition to this proposal. [emphasis added]
But this current proposal is dangerous. Since most Americans – I hope – are still for freedom of expression of political ideas and religious beliefs, no one claims that anyone who endorses freedom of speech therefore endorses the nutty philosophy and religious views that are expressed. We should all know that the 1st Amendment was not written to protect non-controversial mainstream speech, but rather the ideas and beliefs of what the majority see as controversial or fringe.The temptation has always been great to legislatively restrict rudeness, prejudice, and minority views, and it’s easiest to start by attacking the clearly obnoxious expressions that most deem offensive. The real harm comes later. But “later” is now approaching.
- is not constitutional, since it contradicts the Bill of Rights by regulating speech and press; if any act should be passed by a legislature banning garbage on the air, it should be the state and local legislatures, not the federal legislature.
- will be completely ineffective in fulfilling its own aim: improving the moral character of the nation, or at least curbing the immorality so boldly expressed nowadays.
- will eventually make the way for future government officials to pass bills restricting permissible content on the airwaves, such as Christian evangelism or making a stand against immorality in society.
Merely writing laws and threatening huge fines will not improve the moral standards of the people. Laws like the proposed “Broadcast Indecency Act of 2004” merely address the symptom of a decaying society, while posing a greater threat to freedom of expression. Laws may attempt to silence the bigoted and the profane, but the hearts and minds of those individuals will not be changed. Societal standards will not be improved. Government has no control over these standards, and can only undermine liberty in its efforts to make individuals more moral or the economy fairer. ...If the Christian conservatives and voters, and other concerned citizens would learn this lesson, which Schaeffer and other like him (not to mention our long-lost-friend the Holy Spirit) has been trying to teach us, than we would be winning the "Culture War," and not struggling in the mud. We would realize that our victory lies not in the number of professing born-again Christians in our government, or in the proclamations they make which pander to Christians, or in bills and acts and court decisions which ban abortion, sodomy, etc., but rather in the ability of the people to govern themselves. Right now, Americans do not have that ability. To demonstrate this, let me ask if, in actual practice and not merely in creed, the majority of Christians in this country base their views and their morals (in everyday circumstances) upon the Word of God, or on what the majority thinks at any given time. Even in Christian circles, if someone were to object to something, and cite Scripture as the authority, that person often gets blank stares and is ignored, if not slighted and patronized. Our own daily lives demonstrate that we are not, as a nation, morally and intellectually prepared for what we riotously clamor: a smaller government. Until the moral character of this country changes, which, as Congressman Paul rightly deduced, must begin, not in the legislature, but in "our families, churches, and communities," and it MUST being in that precise order, than we will always need big government.
We should not ignore the smut and trash that has invaded our society, but laws like this will not achieve the goals that many seek. If a moral society could be created by law, we would have had one a long time ago. ...
If it is not recognized that this is the wrong approach to improve the quality of the airways, a heavy price will be paid. The solution to decaying moral standards has to be voluntary, through setting examples in our families, churches, and communities – never by government coercion. It just doesn’t work.
Nevertheless the foundation of God still stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and "let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity." 2 Timothy 2:19 (NKJV)
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:15-22 (NKJV)