Clearing The Confusion Between Private and Public
When Censorship Is OK
Contributed to TLB by: KrisAnne Hall, JD
This may not be popular, but it is true: One of the largest factors in the loss of #Liberty is the lack of understanding of the word “public.” The fact remains, just because I have a business where people can come in off the street & purchase my goods that does not make my business a public business.
The term “Public” as used by those who founded America was a term reserved strictly to places, products, and affairs conducted by government with the use tax dollars. Everything else is a “private” affair.
“…if once [the people] become inattentive to the public affairs, you & I, & Congress, & Assemblies, judges & governors shall all become wolves. it seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions;” Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787.
Americans have been taught to believe that just because I sell donuts in a store front to people I don’t know, I am engaging in a “public” affair.
Lets be clear: Public property is property purchased, maintained, and operated by the use of tax dollars. Private property is property purchased, maintained, and operated by the use of personal funds.
Now we are rapidly sliding down an extremely slippery slope where if you are doing something that is seen or heard by other people it is now a public affair.
Here is the problem with that error – Everything becomes publicly governed and NOTHING is privately owned. Your business is not your own. Your website is not your own. Your words, your life, your choices will soon belong to whomever has the most control and power over the public realm.
Now we have people claiming that just because privately owned social media platforms allows people to use their privately owned, personally funded platforms they are now somehow “public domain;” either because the people say so or the federal government says so.
The federal government has no delegated authority to designate a private business as public forum. When the FCC or some Federal Act, like the Communications Decency Act, attempts to force private businesses under government control by defining them as public businesses, Americans ought to recognize that as completely unconstitutional and fundamentally tyrannical (can you say communist?).
A shopping mall is NOT a public forum, it is a privately owned business. If a website, which is a privately owned and paid for internet address can be designated by the federal government as a public domain, what is to stop them from designating your home, a privately owned physical address, as a public domain? The communists actually did this in Russia.
People do not have free speech, press, or assembly rights on someone else’s private property. They have those rights on public property. See the definition of of public & private above.
If someone has entered into a contract or a lease agreement with a private company (such as a social media platform) the remedy is civil – between two private individuals. It is NOT a matter for government force.
Americans who claim to understand the principles of Liberty ought not cry out to government to force private property owners to surrender their private property rights to government enforcement of any message foreign and offensive to their own. Americans ought to see that as an unconstitutional taking of property rights.
Hannah Winthrop, one of our founding mothers, said this:
“How often do we see people blind to their own interests precipitately maddening on to their own destruction!” Hannah Winthrop to Mercy Otis Warren, 1773
When Americans who claim to be supporters and defenders of the Constitution conflate the terms public and private, demand freedom of speech “rights” on someone’s private property, and then demand government use the power of many to force submission of a private business owner to opinions, subjects, pictures, speech, etc that they do not believe, these Americans are truly maddening on to their own destruction. They must be unaware of an axiomatic truth:
The power of the sword you give government to force your beliefs is the same power of the sword government will eventually use to persecute your beliefs.
The purpose of a just government is to secure individual rights not to establish by force one person’s rights as superior to another. This entire conversation is why I endeavor to always be, Liberty over Security, Principle over Party, and Truth over Personality.
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