Boycotting is a First Amendment Activity - Liberal Resistance

Boycotting is a First Amendment Activity

William B. Turner

This is stupid. So stupid, one hesitates even to explain it. It is also a useful indication of how “conservatives” in the U.S. think. They want to tilt all of the rules in their favor.

The First Amendment is a monument to western liberalism. We should perhaps not be surprised that any “conservative,” even a degraded, U.S. kind, would have trouble grasping how it works. It starts out, “Congress shall make no law….” Since government cannot exist without laws and Congress is the only entity in the federal government with the authority to enact laws, we can generalize from this statement to all of the federal government. Since the Fourteenth Amendment set a floor for citizenship rights, causing all relevant components of the Constitution to apply to the states, it now constrains government at every level in the republic.

The key point being that it constrains government. It has zero impact on private actors. No citizen, acting on her/his own behalf, can violate the First Amendment because it does not apply to them. This is a simple concept.

But it is one that poor, addled Laura Ingraham does not seem to grasp. Perhaps her desperation is showing as the list of companies that have removed their ads from her little show continues to grow after she made the very “conservative” mistake of defending absurd, Second Amendment absolutism by sniping at newly minted, high school gun control activist David Hogg after he made the rookie mistake of complaining publicly about universities that had failed to admit him.

He called for a boycott by advertisers of her show. Others called for a boycott of all Fox News advertisers. Some ill informed souls responded, without evidence, that calls for boycotts violate the Constitution.

This is nonsense. A boycott is a form of political protest. Perhaps one could call for a boycott over an issue that was not obviously political on its face, but one cannot pursue a boycott without engaging in politics in some sense because the whole point is to try to convince other people to do what you want them to do, which is the definition of politics.

The Supreme Court has been very clear that the key point of the First Amendment’s protection of “freedom of speech,” especially in conjunction with “freedom… of the press,” is to protect political speech. Even if one were to try to persuade some legislature in the United States somewhere to prohibit boycotts, the law would be very easy for a federal judge to strike down and the Supreme Court likely would not even take the case.

But poor Laura Ingraham decided to respond to the boycott of her show with a series on “defending the first,” presumably because neither she nor most Fox News viewers are smart enough to understand why this is rank nonsense.

Of course, good, U.S. “conservatives” don’t much seem to mind boycotts when they suit their purposes. They named their recent political movement after a major boycott in U.S. history – the Boston Tea Party, which was nothing other than a specific act effectuating a boycott of tea from a specific source.

Whoops.

And, as the tweet above notes, her first guest founded an organization that has also called for boycotts.

So, again, apart from how stupid Laura Ingraham is, the point here is that good, U.S. “conservatives” don’t understand the First Amendment, and they only like rules that don’t apply to them.