During an interview on actor Dax Shepherd‘s podcast “Armchair Expert,” Prince Harry criticized what he believed was a First Amendment that permits just about anything to slide. He said “you can find a loophole in anything. You can capitalize or exploit what’s not said rather than uphold what is said.”
He’s not wrong about those loopholes. The First Amendment allows propagandists, conspiracy theorists, and flat out provocateurs to say horrible things under the umbrella of freedom. But protecting unpopular speech, for all its problems, is well worth defending. A lot of the controversy these days isn’t about the right to speak, but whether anyone should face any sort of consequences for their speech. (Getting banned on Twitter for expressing hate speech isn’t a First Amendment issue, by the way.)
But when someone from another country dares to criticize America in any way — especially when that person is from the Royal Family — you can bet conservatives are going to lash out. (The same people hated when President Obama pointed out our country’s flaws, too.)
For what it’s worth, Prince Harry admitted the First Amendment controversies are “a huge subject and one which I don’t understand because I’ve only been here a short time,” but that didn’t stop his critics from unleashing their fury.
That includes evangelist Franklin Graham, who took Harry’s remarks as some sort of personal attack:
… My ancestors were among those who came to this country to gain these freedoms. I am so thankful that I have the freedom to worship without government interference, and I thank God that the founders of our Constitution gave us this protection. Maybe Prince Harry could take some time while he is in this country to study our history, and I think he will come to appreciate that the First Amendment is part of what makes America great and one of the main reasons people have left everything to come here throughout history.
It’s ironic to hear all that from Graham, given that the Republican Party he supports wants to suppress speech they don’t like, like educating students about our nation’s racist history in school. (Other nations, by the way, also have free speech.)
In any case, Graham is exaggerating what Harry said, and it’s extremely condescending to suggest that Harry needs to educate himself on the matter when the GOP (and conservative Christians specifically) are in the business of ignoring history when it suits their political needs.
(Image via Shutterstock)