Stoneman Douglas students are once again the center of the gun control conversation. Now though, it’s because of the school’s response to the tragedy. They’ve mandated that the students wear transparent backpacks.
To say that this did not go over well is an understatement.
My new backpack is almost as transparent as the NRA’s agenda.
I feel sooo safe now.
— Lauren Hogg (@lauren_hoggs) April 2, 2018
Others, though, saw it pyrrhic victory.
Your new backpack is as transparent as your agenda. pic.twitter.com/e18bSSsdoi
— 🇺🇸 ƬЄƛƓƛƝ ƦЄƖԼԼƳ🍸 (@velvethammer) April 3, 2018
The thing is, though, is that this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. To see why, consider this thought experiment.
A man walks into a crowded theater and announces that he has a bomb that he is going to detonate it 60 seconds or right then if someone rushes him. The crowd devolves into a frenzied mass. A few people fall and get trampled to death by the panicked mob hurrying to escape.
A minute passes, but nothing happened. Two. Five. Ten…
There was no bomb. The man lied.
The government needed to respond but they didn’t want to curtail people’s first amendment rights. So, instead, they mandated that all future movie-goers will be subject to a full TSA-style search. If someone yelled “bomb!” again, attendees could relax knowing that they had to be lying. After all, a real bomb would have been found by the security screening.
Does this seem like a reasonable response? We ought to be leery about restricting people’s free speech — but is this the solution?
The obvious answer is no. The first amendment is not without limitations. You can’t slander someone. You can’t whisper military secrets into the ears of a hostile foreign power. You can’t yell “fire” (or, in this case, “bomb”) in a movie theater. To do so would be to tread upon the rights of others. So, to maximize overall liberty, we must accept clearly-defined constraints on even our most foundational rights.
I’ve written before that people ought to be pro-second amendment. But to be so is to acknowledge, as none other than Scalia insisted, that the right is not without limitations.
If you believe that the purpose of the second is to defend all our remaining liberties, it makes little sense to force them to fall on their own swords just so it can continue unconstrained