The First Amendment mandates under no uncertain terms that government may not abridge the freedom of speech. Of course it means that every person has the absolute right to express unpopular, offensive and downright disgusting opinions, and government may not punish anyone for exercising that right.
After all, that was the purpose of the First Amendment. That’s the way it’s supposed to be in the United States of America but lately there has come in to existence an army of government speech police who think they have the authority to arrest the First Amendment. They punish people for engaging in free expression when they decide that they don’t like such expression.
Yes, these speech police don’t have constitutional authority to arrest the First Amendment. They can’t do it. It’s unconstitutional. But today they’re not only doing it, they’re getting away with it. They actually believe that they have the authority to adopt and enforce speech codes. It’s as if the First Amendment is null and void today.
The Florida State Attorney’s Office recently punished an assistant state attorney, suspended him from his job, for violating the office’s social media policy. Apparently, state employees in Florida do not enjoy First Amendment rights in their personal Facebook accounts. The speech police have adopted a social media policy arresting freedom of speech.
Assistant State Attorney Kenneth Lewis, an employee in the Ninth Judicial Circuit Florida State Attorney’s Office, was disciplined for posting a Facebook message in his personal account expressing what the speech police deemed “scathing“ opinions about the recent terrorist massacre in Orlando that left 49 dead and dozens wounded.
"Downtown Orlando has no bottom,” Lewis posted. “The entire city should be leveled. It is void of a single redeeming quality. It is a melting pot of 3rd world miscreants and ghetto thugs. It is void of culture. If you live down there you do it at your own risk and at your own peril… If you go down there after dark there is seriously something wrong with you. Disney does everything in its power to shield visitors of Disney from its northern blight. That doesn't change reality. Disney may be the happiest place on earth but Orlando is a national embarrassment. If this is an act of domestic terrorist it is so important that we don't publish the religion, name, or motive of the terrorist as not to offend anyone."
This rather benign series of comments is apparently what violated the State Attorney’s Office social media policy according to speech police officials. Lewis has been severely disciplined and is now subject to termination. He had been disciplined previously for making a “crack hoes” comment on Facebook in 2014.
In short his constitutional First Amendment rights to freedom of speech have been arrested and abridged. And it appears that the speech police in Florida are probably going to get away with it.
A judge in Daytona Beach Florida has already upheld a decision by the speech police there to fire a central Florida beach police officer who posted what were deemed “racist comments” on his private Facebook account about the killing of Trayvon Martin. Officer Todd Snipes was fired for posting messages allegedly “celebrating the shooting,” calling the deceased a “thug,” using a racial slur, and stating that people should know to pull their pants up and be respectful.
Were the comments he posted unpopular, offensive, and perhaps downright disgusting to some? Probably, yes. But in the United States of America a person has a constitutional right to hold and express such opinions. That's the purpose of the First Amendment.
The speech police have no lawful authority to arrest the First Amendment.