U.S.—While the First Amendment has typically been thought of as an ally of the progressive movement, activists on the right are now being accused of subverting the First Amendment into a weapon to express their viewpoint to others.
“Free speech can be useful,” said law professor Edmund Jones, “when it’s used for things like telling people what normal, everyday thing has been determined to be problematic. But what we’re now seeing is a very alarming, unforeseen use of free speech where extremists on the right are using it to influence people with their beliefs—beliefs very contrary to our own—and it’s making us rethink this whole First Amendment idea.”
This weaponization of free speech has been distressing to many progressives not used to having to deal with alternative viewpoints. The expectation is that the government would protect them from such things, but this new “radical interpretation” of the First Amendment allows the right to express their views even though everyone has predetermined what they’re going to say is bad and wrong.
“There’s no end to this,” said law professor Bryant Gilbert. “Not only are the right using the First Amendment to express their political views, but also to talk about religion. What are people supposed to do? Intellectually engage with them? No one knows how to do that anymore. We just have to shout ourselves hoarse, hoping to drown them out by yelling even louder.”