Over the past twelve months, the First Amendment has been under attack from those who wish to stifle the speech of their political opponents. The left has been responsible for most of the efforts to surpress the free speech of those with whom they disagree.
However, we would be remiss if we ignored individuals on the right who have shown the same disdain for the First Amendment.
At pro-Trump rallies, we have seen hard-left groups like Antifa use violence to prevent conservatives from expressing their political views. Leftist activists have used physical force to stop right-wing speakers from giving speeches on college campuses. Others have even proposed using the government to regulate political expression.
While many on the left have shown that they do not care about freedom of expression, this tendency is not exclusive to liberals. Last week, a conservative sheriff used his position to target an individual expressing a particular point of view. This individual publicly threatened an American citizen’s right to free speech. Conservatives who value the Constitution should take notice.
Sheriff Threatens First Amendment Rights
Last Wednesday, Fort Bend Sheriff Troy Nehls published a post on Facebook stating that he had received “numerous calls” about a truck who displayed a sticker which read, “F**k Trump and f**k you for voting for him.”
The decal also showed a hand with a raised middle finger. The truck was often seen driving on a particular highway. After receiving the phone calls, the sheriff took to social media to obtain tips that could help law enforcement identify the truck’s owner.
“I have received numerous calls regarding the offensive display on this truck as it is often seen along FM 359,” He wrote on Facebook. “If you know who owns this truck or it is yours, I would like to discuss it with you.”
Using the information they received, the sheriff’s office identified Karen Fonseca as the owner of the truck. Afterwards, they removed the post from Facebook.
In a statement, Nehls defended his actions. “Our prosecutor has informed us she would accept disorderly conduct charges regarding it, but I feel we could come to an agreement regarding a modification to it,”
Later in the week, Fonseca was arrested on an outstanding warrant related to fraud. The Washington Post reported that the sheriff’s office received a tip alerting them to the driver’s warrant. They also state that “the origin of the tip remains a mystery.”
While law enforcement arrested Fonseca on a charge unrelated to her decal, the timing of the arrest is suspect because it took place shortly after Sheriff Nehl threatened the truck driver for displaying the sticker. It’s impossible to know the sheriff’s real motivations, but his willingness to publicly intimidate an American citizen for expressing her political views is disturbing.
Conservatives cannot resort to using the same bullying tactics that many on the left use to silence opposing opinions. Our right to free speech is one of the most essential freedoms we enjoy; it is a vital component of the foundation upon which our nation was founded.
Sheriff Nehl’s blatant disregard for the sanctity of the First Amendment is but one indicator showing how far our political discourse has devolved.
While Fonseca has stated she intends to file a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office, it is not clear whether or not she has a case. Nevertheless, liberty-minded Americans of all political persuasions should be rooting for Fonseca — not because we agree with her opinion, but because we support her right to voice her views.
Nehl’s actions were a clear overreach of his authority and an attempt to infringe on the First Amendment rights of a citizen. When the government attempts to silence individuals with differing political views, the people must be quick to resist. This past year has shown us that the left has no qualms about preventing conservatives from expressing their political views. As Americans who value liberty, we must not allow any person or entity, whether on the right or the left, to determine the opinions we choose to express.