What has happened in Connecticut to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the one guaranteeing freedom of expression? What about the similar provision in Connecticut’s Constitution? Is freedom of expression still the rule in the state?
Apparently not. For state Attorney General William Tong is joining a federal lawsuit to prevent publication on the internet of designs for plastic guns. Objectionable as plastic guns may be, they are already effectively outlawed. Since when can information itself be outlawed too?
And who should have the authority to decide what information to suppress? It’s not as if the designs for plastic guns are subject to espionage or copyright laws. The designs are already in the public domain.
This isn’t a question about plastic guns at all. It’s a question about government power. If government can outlaw information about plastic guns, it can outlaw information about anything else. Attorney General Tong and the courts shouldn’t have that power any more than President Trump should. The federal and state constitutions say nobody should have it.
Then there is the state’s recent prosecution of two drunken students at the University of Connecticut who one night a few months ago walked through campus playing a game of shouting dirty words, eventually including a racial epithet. They were charged under an obscure and unconstitutional law prohibiting “ridicule.”
Obnoxious as the drunks meant to be, if they were to be charged at all, at most the charge should have been breach of peace. But even that would have been a stretch, since nobody actually heard their racial epithet when they called it out.
Part of the walk of the drunks was captured on cellphone video by a student in an apartment who discerned the epithet only when the video was played and its audio amplified. He reported the incident, whereupon the university and news organizations reacted with all the politically correct hysteria they could muster, as if the Ku Klux Klan had descended on campus. Everyone was so disappointed when it turned out to be just a couple of drunks.
Now the drunks are asserting free speech rights in a federal lawsuit against UConn’s attempt to expel them from university housing. The drunks should win, if only because the university deserves rebuke for its cowardly political correctness.
Another free speech matter that has caused controversy in Connecticut recently but shouldn’t have has been the posting of anonymous signs bearing the phrase “It’s OK to be white.” The signs have been seen and denounced in Wallingford and elsewhere, including college campuses around the country. Some people claim that the phrase is a coded message advocating the oppression of nonwhites.
According to an official of the Connecticut chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, “The premise of this phrase is to bait people and start a fight. It’s such an innocuous phrase that if people are uneducated, they don’t see the problem with it. But it’s definitely dangerous.”
“Innocuous” and “dangerous” at the same time?
However the phrase is meant, it can be construed as consolation for whites who encounter attempts to make them feel guilty about “white privilege” or anything bad ever done by a white person throughout history. So since the phrase is “innocuous,” why not construe it that way? Why take the bait and call the police, as was done in Wallingford? Why not just respect the First Amendment?