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A few weeks ago I had a note disagreeing with something I said. Then the writer ask me not to cite what was said, so I won't but there was one line that made my mouth drop open for a couple of reasons. The author referred to my love of the 1st Amendment. According to the writer, I "constantly site (sic)" it.

They are right. I am kinda partial to that whole first amendment thingy. Other than the tiny guarantee of a free press thing, and that whole free speech, yeah, I kinda like that whole first amendment. But just in case you haven't read it lately, let's just go through it.

First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...

I'm constantly amazed by how this is read in reverse. Everyone says, "separation of church and state"...meaning that churches can't influence the state. It's quite obvious that this is soooo not true. The dear 1st Amendment says that the government can't make a law that sets up a religion. It can't tell you what to believe and it gets better!

or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

... they can't stop you from practicing religion, any religion. In other words, they can't shut down churches...not even over COVID as they did in some states.

or abridging the freedom of speech,..

For those not sure what "abridging" is talking about, it means "reducing" so this COULD read "the government can't make a law limiting speech."

This is a big one for me. In this 21st century, freedom of speech is being policed by Facebook under the guise of "Community Standards." It is being decided by some obscure "Fact Checkers" who probably have no idea what the First Amendment even is. Until Elon Musk took over Twitter, you could be thrown off that platform if the mob decided that you were somehow "dangerous" for using words.

Unfortunately, our society has been brainwashed into thinking that you can't say what you think. Even on this website, attempts were made to shame or put pressure on people who entered the conversations happening here. I even had a private investigator thinking that they needed to discover the identity of a letter writer. That's where we are.

The funniest comment I heard was that "it's not even REAL people writing." Our technology hasn't gotten to the place...yet...where it can fake a specific opinion. So at this point, letters are still written by REAL people.

Quite frankly, I have no problem putting letters out as long as I know who it's from. Is it fair that I know and you don't? I think it is. I understand that we live in a very crazy world right now. I also understand that living in a small town, it's impossible to share your REAL feelings at the risk of perhaps losing your job or it affecting a job. Or your friendships. Or maybe even your family.

Remember pen names aren't unusual. Remember Mark Twain? How about Charles Dickens. Or Dr. Seuss. How about Louisa May Alcott? Or we can talk about C.S. Lewis, Benjamin Franklin, Agatha Christie, Voltaire.

Back in the good ol' days, people talked politics and then went on about their business. Not now. Now there is an obsession with shutting people down. As I saw, a desire to hunt them down and reveal them.

Our society has gotten to the place where we want to limit free speech by calling things that we don't like, "hate speech." This is where I roll my eyes a little. According to The Legalities Of Hate Speech ( they say, "According to U.S. law, such speech is fully permissible and is not defined as hate speech. Under the First Amendment, American citizens have the legal right to say whatever they'd like to. While much ado is often made about so-called "hate speech", no satisfactory definition for this type of speech exists within the confines of the law."

I'm not for people showing their ignorance, and yet, the ignorant are allowed to speak. What are you gonna do? It's okay to say whatever you want, as long as you aren't threatening someone, you're still allowed to say it. As I type that I'm having flashbacks because apparently, that's not completely true either. Personal experience says that you can make threats.

Anyway, that free speech thing, well, the government can't make laws shushing you. At least the constitution says you can't. The bad part is that our society is very quick to shut down free speech.

We are probably just a few decades from being hauled off for saying something someone doesn't like.

Remember that country that we fought to be free from? The one that gave us a reason for this 1st Amendment? In England you can be arrested for "hate speech."

"Hate speech laws in England and Wales are found in several statutes. Expressions of hatred toward someone on account of that person's colour, race, sex, disability, nationality (including citizenship), ethnic or national origin, religion, gender reassignment, or sexual orientation is forbidden. Any communication which is threatening or abusive, and is intended to harass, alarm, or distress someone is forbidden. The penalties for hate speech include fines, imprisonment, or both."

Ah, the use of words that causes "distress." I would bet that this article has done that already for some of you. In England I could be fined and hauled off to jail. Glad to say that my ancestors left that country!

or of the press;

Ah, the sweetest word for me, the whole idea of the freedom of the press. Without the press snooping around, you can get by with a whole lotta stuff. Without the press, you wouldn't know a lot of things that happen behind the walls of government especially. Our founding fathers know that you needed the press because of the government, I'm sure of it.

or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,

Ah, the right to protest. It says peaceably, that does NOT include the use of fire, baseball bats, guns, destroying anything or punching people, it says the people have the right to assemble peaceably.

and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Even without understanding what the word "redress" means, you probably know that it means that you can ask the government to make something right, to make up for a wrong.

So there you have it. Why I love the first amendment. It's the amendment that gives us the whole idea of freedom. Without it, we have nothing. So call me silly, but I really do love that first amendment thing.


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DE November 16, 2022, 12:49 am There ya go, whining about Facebook's & Twitter's "community standards". That ain't government, honey. That's the rules of their playground - absolutely no different than you establishing rules for this, your playground.

I wish I could say "I'm sorry your favorite bits of fiction don't make it past 'fact checkers'." because I'm not. If your story doesn't pass, perhaps you should look into it a little more - you'll learn all sorts of uncomfortable truths. Serious, if your only source is some mouthpiece on FoxNews or an article
GB November 16, 2022, 7:05 am Thank you. Great read, and I hope everyone reads it.
BT November 16, 2022, 1:45 pm DE: well Sweetie your mind must be twisted if you read this coming from Fox News. This came from none other than the Constitution of UNITED STATES IF AMERICA. She nailed each section. You sound bitter and ready to attack.
RL November 16, 2022, 3:12 pm DE is factually correct in paragraph one. The First Amendment applies to governmental entities, not private ones. FB, Twitter, etc can do what they want. This limitation of application to public entities however does not apply in other areas of the Constitution, but so far the courts have stated that it does regarding speech.

I do however find it so adorable that, based on the reference to her "favorite bits of fiction", DE actually think these "fact-checkers" are not a group of politically-biased hacks. Exhibit one being the stifling of the Hunter Biden laptop story which, what do you know, appears to have been dead on...

Light is the best disinfectant. The best counter to "bad" speech remains more "good" speech. The best counter to lies remains the truth.
AB November 16, 2022, 5:46 pm "In this 21st century, freedom of speech is being policed by Facebook under the guise of "Community Standards." It is being decided by some obscure "Fact Checkers" who probably have no idea what the First Amendment even is."

Bold words coming from someone who just a couple of weeks ago refused to entertain the notion of a news story about the danger COVID presents to Benton County this winter, and justifying that refusal by saying it was a professional response.

Anthony Bopp, who has the courage to take responsibility for what he says and proudly displays his name when he does so.
AB November 16, 2022, 7:21 pm "... they can't stop you from practicing religion, any religion. In other words, they can't shut down churches...not even over COVID as they did in some states."

Shutting down churches does not stop anyone from practicing religion, and the government certainly does have Constitutional grounds for prohibiting public gatherings of any sort when public health is involved.

Anthony Bopp
GB November 16, 2022, 7:53 pm FB and Twitter can do what they want as a private entity unless they are being coerced by a branch of government, such as blocking news or making sure only one side is allowed to be expressed. Such as the specific news about Hunter Biden and the corrupt business dealings by the Biden Crime Family just before the presidential election. In that case FB and or Twitter become an agents for the government and the Constitutional standards do in fact apply to FB and Twitter.
DL November 16, 2022, 9:26 pm I can't believe that there are still people that can't get this through their heads! The first thing you have to understand is, EVERYONE on the soil of The United States of America has the same "right" to Free Speech and FREE EXPRESSION. That means that EVERYONE has the same right. That FREEDOM, doesn't have anything to do with someone stopping another person from having certain words and sentences physically come out of their mouth. The only way a citizen could do that to another citizen, is to stitch the others mouth shut. YES, every person can make any and all words come out of their mouths, that they want someone to hear. But, EVERYONE on the soil of The United State of America also has the RIGHT to respond to what comes out of that mouth, by saying or expressing their opinion of what what was said. When people respond to something that is said, IT DOESN'T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH "SILENCING" OR SHUTTING SOMEONE UP! The words already came out of the person's mouth! How can that person be "silenced" or "shut up", if they've already said what they wanted to say?

Now, you spelled this one out yourself. The first line of the 1st Amendment is " Congress shall make NO LAW... " Then it goes on to list the things that Congress can't make laws about. Those things are; Religion, Speech (or expression), Press, or for people to peaceably assemble. Some people don't know what commas, semi-colons and the word "or" means. That first sentence applies to everything that follows it. Simply, Congress can make no laws respecting the freedom of speech. Even more simple... Congress can't make it illegal to say what you want to say! (Then, reread my first paragraph)

Every person that accepts a job, does so through a hardcopy contract, or an implied contract. Within that contract, the employer reserves the right to terminate any employee, if the employ, in public or cyber, does or says something that the employer deems detrimental to their business. The question the employer has to ask themselves is, could a possible customer choose not to do business there, because they heard the employee say something or do something. If the employer can say "yes" to that question, termination is a possibility. Some with the business of a social media platform. If someone breaks the rules that the business has made public, and, by breaking that rule, the platform could lose a member, they can ban you from their site. CONGRESS CAN MAKE ANY LAW THAT MAKES IT ILLEGAL FOR THAT BUSINESS TO THEIR FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.

So, just like I've said multiple times in comments on here... The only way our 1st Amendment rights can be taken away from us, is if Congress makes a law in respect to the freedoms listed in the 1st Amendment. Or, if a law enforcement officer tries to arrests someone for saying something.
DL November 16, 2022, 9:34 pm To G.B.

You really need to learn how life works on this earth. The only way that the courts would agree to accept Twitter and/or Facebook as entities of our government, is if they relied on tax dollars to run their business(s).
VC November 17, 2022, 4:02 am It's me, the author.
D.E. - What's this Fox News of which you speak? Don't watch it. Never have. I have, however, seen the White House press secretary talking about meeting with Facebook when it comes to what they should while it's not technically making laws, it's coming down from the White House on what should and should not be allowed on social media. Twitter sat down for an interview on the topic and I believe they said the same thing. Technically, the White House isn't Congress I're right on that.

Oh, I entertained it, but not every suggestion that comes in is written about.
As for the statement "the government certainly does have constitutional grounds for prohibiting public gatherings of any sort when public health is involved."
Please tell me where it says that, I honestly don't think the constitution does. But if I missed something, please share.

BK November 18, 2022, 12:34 pm Varlerie . . . I’m incensed!! Outraged!! Appalled!! Horrified!!! . . . that you continue to print the stuff offered by AB, DL, RB, NG . . . it’s disgusting!!! I demand that they be banned!! FOR LIFE!!! They’re obviously uneducated and have very little understanding of our system of government or our Constitution. The MISINFORMATION that they continually present should never see the light of day . . . EVER!!!


Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work???

Just curious.

Bill Keller
DL November 18, 2022, 2:38 pm Keller, I doubt that you've ever read the complete Constitution, let alone understand any of it. Everything in my previous comment is factual information. The first Amendment is written in English, using perfect grammar. That latter part is probably what confuses you. Proper grammar can help avoid a lot of misunderstanding in life. Take this example for instance. "What time is jack off today?" The only way to properly answer that question, would be to tell them when the guys are going to pleasure themselves. The way to ask that question properly, so everyone understands what the person is asking, is this... "What time is Jack off, today. The capital letter and comma make it possible for the reader to understand. Perhaps this one will make more sense to you... "I get inspiration from cooking my family and my dog." Unless you have cannible writing you notes, the proper way to write this is... "I get inspiration from cooking, my parents, and my dog." Now, that last comma is a situation where it's a matter of opinion if it's necessary or not.

So, go back and read the 1st Amendment, with this in mind. A comma separates different things, in a sentence. A semi-colon(s) is used in place of making a list or bullet points.

There is a different way that our founders could've written the 1st Amendment. It's as follows:
•"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
•"Congress shall make no law respecting or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."
•"Congress shall make no law respecting the right of the people to peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The people of the times of the writing of our Constitution, were well educated on Proper English, Grammar and Punctuation. They knew the need for the person on the other end of a writing, needed to understand, not just the words on the paper, but what those words actually mean. As time has gone by, American children haven't seen it necessary to put all of those extra marks on the paper. So, many children never learn how to write so they can be understood, or learn how to properly read using all of those extra marks on the paper. Being Autistic, it was hard for me to learn it too. But, I wanted to learn everything involved in being a proud American. I got by in school, but the internet has been such a wonderful tool to use, to review all of the things that I've learned, and to continue in learning more, at my own pace. Attention to detail is a specialty of mine. But, I have an extremely hard time thinking about, and understanding, any grey area between right and wrong. So, most times I don't bother with the grey area in situations. I just deal with right and wrong.

JO November 18, 2022, 3:14 pm I think it is wonderful that you would allow a person to use a pen name! Small town living, at times makes it hard for people to voice their opinion. The fear of being persecuted or retaliTion are two of the big reasons.I have lost count of the number of people that have commented to us on our situation and we ask them to voice it publicly, those are their fears. And we don't blame them because we have seen it done. My hope is now that you have said as long as you know who it is, and that you would never reveal that information, that some may use a pen name and be able to voice their comments without fear. Thank you Valerie.
NG November 19, 2022, 3:13 am Read this in the Gazette today and after reading this and all the people who were thrilled about Iowa being controlled by republicans I thought it should be printed here.

And Bill Keller you being incensed because we ALL have freedom of speech, says a lot about you and it's nothing to be proud of.

Editor's note: The text to an article by Steve Corbin entitled, "GOP’s next move: Rewrite the Constitution" was included along with copyright information for the Gazette. I would guess that because of that it shouldn't be included. But search for the author and title to read the article.

DC November 20, 2022, 9:15 am Just 1 example on silencing conservative views. There are plenty more very easy to find.

Dave Coots
GB November 19, 2022, 7:09 am DL,
again the twisted and perverted thought you express is often factually incorrect, and you really should spend some time learning the Constitution and case law. Twisting the truth such as the time you argued against gun rights and cited a New York case. You had argued the Courts sided with the Government on controlling through a city ordinance how a home owner keeps a gun inside their residence (loaded vs unloaded).
That was not the facts at all. The Courts actually sided with the gun owner and overturned the case. So to push the twisted agenda you keep it became clear to any reasonable person, you clearly did not know what you were talking about or you intentionally pushed a false narrative.
GB November 19, 2022, 7:45 am BK, as much as I agree that their comments and twisted views are disturbing and factually incorrect. They have a right to free speech. Most reasonable people who are educated on the facts view them as fools and clowns similar to the Jester in a Kings Court a few hundred years ago who's only purpose in life was to entertain the court with silly comments while acting like clowns.
In this country if you go back 200 years ago foolish people like these were often weeded out of the gene pool through natural selection. They couldn't just go to a store and buy food and clothing. They couldn't just ramble on with silly inaccurate statements because they would have been considered unpatriotic and quickly ran out of town. They would have had to actually work and hunt for food. Their adventures of chasing unicorns and picking wild flowers in the woods (unarmed) would have quickly found them on the menu for a predator such as wolves and bears. Hense the process of natural selection. Yet now we have warning labels on on equipment and even places which have allowed the some challenged people to survive and flourish. In the natural world they wouldn't. Think about that, you seldom see a stupid animal such as a deer, fox, racoon or coyote. Nature always weeds the weak out so that only the strong and smarter can reproduce. God made it this way. We humans put warning labels on everything and changed nature.
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