If a person reads Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, does that make him a fascist?
If a person reads Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, does that make him a Marxist?
Of course not! Many individuals may just want a better understanding of these beliefs regardless of their personal views.
How can one offer criticism about a subject when this person doesn’t understand what he is criticizing?
Every day, we are bombarded by people on Facebook, all trying to get our attention and asking us to “like” their page. These pages can be about movie stars, authors, models, television shows, sports teams, universities, and yes, even political groups.
Since there are political based pages, they can also vary by party, movement, individual candidates or even individual causes. The Tenth Amendment Center even has its own Facebook page, which you can access HERE.
But what if you lost your job because you “like” a page that your boss didn’t approve?
This is what happened to Deputy Daniel Carter of Hampton, Virginia. According to Carter, Sheriff B.J. Roberts terminated him for “liking” his opponent’s campaign page during the 2009 election. According to court testimony, Roberts allegedly told Carter after learning about his Facebook habits, “You have made your bed, now you are going to lie in it, and after the election you’re out of here.”
In April 2012, U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson ruled in favor of the Sheriff, saying that “liking” a Facebook page is “insufficient speech to merit Constitutional protection.” However, this ruling was partially reversed by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Chief Judge William Traxler wrote:
In sum, liking a political candidate’s campaign page communicates the user’s approval of the candidate and support the campaign by associating the user with it. It is the Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one’s front yard, which the Supreme Court has held is substantive speech. Just as Carter’s placing an “Adams for Sheriff” sign in his front yard would have conveyed to those passing his home that he supported Adam’s campaign, Carter’s liking Adam’s Campaign Page conveyed to those passing is home that he supported Adam’s campaign.
The ruling in favor of the former deputy is a good thing in concept, but the problem is the logic behind it is still flawed and it was decided in the wrong forum.
Almost two years ago, I poked fun at Tenth Amendment Center’s Mike Maharrey because on the side of my Facebook page there was a widget from the Department of Homeland Security. It was trying to encourage me to “like” their page by informing me that my friend, Mike Maharrey had already done so.
I teased Mike about this in front of our mutual friends. Now, anyone who knows Maharrey knows that in real life he doesn’t “like” the Department of Homeland Security. (Sorry Mike, if that lands you in prison one day under the NDAA.)
The fact is that Mike Maharrey actually “liked” the Facebook page of the Department of Homeland Security as a means to keep tabs on their public statements. Maharrey isn’t placing a Department of Homeland Security sign in his front yard. It is safe to assume that many political pages are receiving “likes” by many people who by all accounts, don’t like them. Again, an individual can be either supporting the page or keeping tabs on those who don’t share his view. This isn’t about placing a cyber political sign in your front yard, but actually signing up for an email newsletter.
More importantly, why is a federal judge ruling on a free speech issue centered around a local government? This issue should have been settled in state court based on the Virginia constitution.
That the freedoms of speech and of the press are among the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained except by despotic governments; that any citizen may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right; that the General Assembly shall not pass any law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, nor the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for the redress of grievances.
This is yet another example of turning the federal government into a liberty enforcement squad. While it may seem like a good idea when we get the result we seek, in reality, it creates a grave danger and obliterates the constitutional system.