I have this scene rolling around in my mind like a movie. It’s the USA from the 1770s to the1950s knocking on a large door. On the other side of that door are Gen X’ers, Millenials, the older Gen Z’s and about half of the Baby Boomers. The dialogue goes something like this: “Hi. We’re the USA calling, and we want our common sense back.” After thinking about Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments, parents who cheat to get their teens into “the best schools,” and then dealing with the flack over Daylight Savings Time, I just want common sense back. Let’s break it down:
A fourteen-year-old student asked me if Rep. Omar had a First Amendment right to say whatever she wants. The end of class bell rang, so I answered quickly. Indeed, she can say those things, but Congress can exercise authority by taking action in the form of a resolution or censure or condemnation of said remarks as a response. What the student really wanted to know is if the First Amendment means what it says. It does. “Congress shall make no law….. abridging the freedom of speech….” That is, Congress can’t take away your right to free speech except in a few cases like these:
Incitement to imminent lawless action
Solicitations to commit crimes
(credit: Freedom Forum Institute)
Now that Ilhan Omar has the title of “Representative” before her name, a title that the voters of her district gave her, she is accountable to her constituents, her political party, and Congress for what she says. Common sense dictates that congressmen learn the rules of the Legislative body and accept responsibility for their words and actions. Common sense also asks how junior members of Congress can expect to speak out and not be held accountable. Ultimately, the people of her district can vote her out in two years if they are dissatisfied. The focus has been on Congress’ weak reprimand. Common sense places the burden of a person’s words on that person. Free speech is an individual right, not a collective one, and should be treated as such.
On parental cheating to assure their teens of the good life…. Raise your hand if you instinctively know that cheating is wrong. That’s what I thought. You have common sense. You can’t assure your child a happy, successful life- only they themselves can. College is a business and success is determined by the student’s will to succeed. If you know these things, you have common sense. And you didn’t need a degree from an Ivy League school to figure this stuff out.
Finally, have you seen the latest hashtag #LocktheClock? Seems that the time change has the country all wound up. Many states have legislation to rid us of the changing clocks ritual. Some states want to get rid of standard time. Others wish to banish daylight savings time. Common sense civics and citizenship dictates that we consider this issue when we’re not so tired from the time change!