Some guns—so-called “assault” rifles—we just don’t “need,” they constantly tell us. It isn’t that the President and his fellow partisans wish to prevent American citizens from exercising their Second Amendment liberties. They just wish to prevent us from obtaining those guns that no one needs in any event.
For the moment, we can put to one side the monumental presumptuousness involved in third parties instructing the citizens of a free society as to what they do and do not need. It is more important that we grasp what this little lesson entails.
When the Second Amendment deniers talk about “needs” with respect of guns, what they imply is that guns have a unique purpose: guns kill. Since, say, no one “needs” a so-called “assault rifle” for hunting, it is commonly argued, no one “needs” an assault rifle, for the only purpose of such a weapon is to slaughter.
Interestingly, the very same people who insist upon making this argument from purpose when it comes to guns ridicule it when it comes to almost everything else. Take the issue of sexual morality, for instance. For millennia, Christians (among others) have contended that sex is permissible only within the confines of marriage. According to this reasoning, sex has two purposes. Its chief purpose is reproductive. Yet it is also intended to unite the spouses. Since only marriage—heterosexual marriage—can fulfill this twofold purpose, sex within any other context is immoral.
This argument may or may not work. The point, though, is that those on the left resolutely reject this argument from purpose while relying upon another such argument to restrict the Second Amendment.
But let’s play along. Let’s assume that the left’s argument from purpose against the Second Amendment is sound. And now let’s apply it to the First Amendment.
A free people do indeed need a free press, for it fulfills the purpose of preventing government from becoming tyrannical. Those in the press are supposed to be forever vigilant against any and all signs of government corruption and abuse. They are “watchdogs.” It is on this basis that they are forever poised to take refuge behind the First Amendment when criticisms come their way.
However, what if our media figures fail to fulfill the purpose for which the First Amendment allots them free speech? What if they not only suspend their skepticism toward all government office-holders, but actually begin to side with some of them? And, worse, what if those politicians toward whom they’re partial are just those politicians who are anxious to expand the national government ever further? That is, what if they promote those plans that threaten the liberties of the very Americans for whose sake they exist?
Sadly, these aren’t really hypothetical questions. The blunt truth of the matter is that those in the “mainstream” media have failed to fulfill their purpose. And they have failed abysmally. Moreover, they have allied themselves with politicians, particularly those politicians like Barack Obama, who are all too eager to grow our gargantuan government even beyond its already monstrous size.
Since these same media personalities seem to agree with Obama that those gun rights that allegedly don’t advance the purpose of the Second Amendment can be revoked by the government, then maybe they can be persuaded that those speech rights that don’t advance the First Amendment should be revoked as well?
After all, the speech that comes from a free press is supposed to function as a check upon government. Outside of politicians, no one needs speech from the media that frustrates this function by strengthening the hold of the government over the citizenry. Thus, press-control, or media-control, may be necessary.
Maybe we should pressure the government into assembling a bipartisan commission to preside over congressional hearings in which the owners, managers, and even employees of various journalistic outfits are forced to answer tough questions about government-media collusion. Those organizations deemed guilty of propagandizing on behalf of the government will face stiff penalties, including and up to losing their licensing.
Media personalities will be permitted to exercise their free speech rights. But this means that they will be allowed to operate in the media only if they are using speech in order to challenge government.
To be clear, I am not seriously advocating any of this. My point, rather, is to point out the glaring hypocrisy of journalists and politicians who would never in a million years think to say the things about the First Amendment that they say about the Second.
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