Our First Amendment right placed second

By Matthew Hernberg

I am writing this opinion piece to set the record straight on what I wrote about on the “Young America’s Foundation New Guard Blog.” First, those who want to misidentify, ignorantly or willingly, what I said in order to fit their narrative is up to them. We have a more pressing issue at hand on this campus — our First Amendment right.

The knee-jerk reaction of my blog post that led to the internet witch hunt brought with it not only hateful comments from internet trolls, but also provided an opportunity for significant threats to be made. Specifically, personal information about my family members was posted.

In addition, the opinion piece written by Opinions Editor Tom Kozlowski, which was nothing more than a half page personal attack, really makes you wonder if those who say they are for equality and tolerance really mean it. Can you really speak your mind without those close to you being threatened? Isn’t this America — our America, our state, our campus?

I would like to point out that the beauty of the First Amendment is that it allows us the freedom to agree or disagree with each other. However, this does not make it appropriate for a person’s well-being to be threatened at the same time.

Sure, what I wrote on the blog is debatable, as are a lot of things in politics, but the posting of personal information about loved ones is really crossing the line. Of course I was expecting disagreement, that’s the purpose of opining: to excite what many would agree to be an apathetic campus. Nevertheless, I was not expecting a vicious Internet witch hunt.

How can we truly have thoughtful discourse if we are too busy worrying about being threatened? It is sad that we are at a point in our culture that I have to defend my First Amendment right of free speech against a particular group and individuals that espouse to be cultivators of open-mindedness. If they don’t represent what they say they do, then what do they really represent?

Those who saw the viciousness and vulgarity of the individuals and their various club members were just as shocked as I was in their extent of attacking me for merely expressing an opinion.

For anyone who is a young conservative like myself, not a Republican, they know that conservatism is about conserving our liberty, conserving the laws set forth in our Constitution and conserving our founding principles.

My blog post was a criticism of the philosophy behind a particular equality movement, which I view as based on égalité, which is not a founding principle of our country.

I attempted to convey the bigger picture that in an effort to have equality of results, in turn, limits the equality of opportunity for others.

Nevertheless, I am secure enough in my political philosophy to know that what I wrote was not hateful nor was its purpose to harm anyone. I am also secure enough in my beliefs to know that the status label that’s given to us conservatives is fascist, and both historically ignorant and false.

Lastly, this is about our First Amendment right to freely express ourselves. I wish Tom, who I sit behind in my Comparative Politics class, had turned around and took the time to ask me a few questions. I mean, I took the time to do my homework before I wrote my blog post, and you would figure he should have to do the same, especially, if he’s going to dedicate a half-page spread of slander with my name written all over it.

As a student body, we need to ask ourselves: are we paying for ourselves to be monolithic thinkers or are we investing in ourselves to be independent leaders in learning who are not afraid to question?