Is Prince Harry right to call First Amendment ‘bonkers’?
- The First Amendment of the US Constitution reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
- On Thursday, May 13, 2021’s episode of Dax Shepard and Monica Padman’s “Armchair Expert” podcast, Prince Harry stated the First Amendment was “bonkers” and “one which I don’t understand because I’ve only been here a short period of time.”
- Prince Harry’s comments received backlash from many conservative voices including Senator Ted Cruz, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, and Candace Owens. The former Brexit leader tweeted, “For Prince Harry to condemn the USA’s First Amendment shows he has lost the plot. Soon he will not be wanted on either side of the pond.”
- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle married in May 2018, and announced their decision to step down from the Royal Family as senior members in January 2020. In February 2021, the Queen confirmed their departure as working members and their loss of royal titles. The couple moved to North America in March, first, a borrowed estate from friend Tyler Perry, and second, a new home in Santa Barbara, California.
During the podcast interview in which Prince Harry made the 'bonkers' comment, the Duke of Sussex also said, 'you can find a loophole in anything. You can capitalize or exploit what's not said rather than uphold what is said.' While many are criticizing Prince Harry's comments, they are failing to see the truth in his words. While the First Amendment does bring certain freedoms to the American people, it also opens the door to a host of issues thanks to the exploitation of the rights it provides.
The First Amendment has been the source of some problems in the United States, especially in recent years. Freedom of speech has given a voice to individuals who want to spew hateful language and incite violence, and they use it as justification for their words and actions. In the past year alone, the United States has seen an increase in 'hate crimes and hateful incidents targeting Asian Americans during the pandemic.' The targeting of Asian Americans began with the spread of COVID-19, which some people had begun to refer to as the 'Chinese Virus' thanks to former President Donald Trump, who is credited with first using the term on Twitter. Trump's tweet was 'followed by an avalanche of tweets using the hashtag #chinesevirus, among other anti-Asian phrases.' This caused some US citizens to place blame on Asian Americans who they believed were responsible for the spread of the virus. The First Amendment allows ignorant and harmful hate language like this to spread unchecked out of fear of violating these homegrown terrorists' Freedom of Speech, and that certainly is 'bonkers.'
The First Amendment is vital for a free society. Discrediting its importance is like wishing a totalitarian society on us, where individuals cannot express themselves through speech, religion, and the press. There is undoubtedly a reason why the Founding Fathers placed it first in the bill of rights, with some deducing they knew to anticipate future threats against it and freedom as a whole.
Prince Harry admitted he does not fully understand the concept of Constitutional rights when he admitted during his interview, 'I sort of understand it.' His criticism of the First Amendment as being 'bonkers' is senseless considering how his home country does not value free expression the way America does. Take the concept of 'hate speech' for example: while controversial opinions can be harmful, they are still considered protected speech in America, yet not to such a degree in other countries. The issue with this debate begs the question, who has the right to determine what content is deemed unacceptable? This is sure to result in arbitrary lines being drawn, which the First Amendment thankfully protects against, even including invasive media coverage towards Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. However, their privacy concerns will likely ensue so long as they keep partaking in 'Hollywood-style interviews.'
The irony surrounding the comment is also problematic given that the royal couple moved to the United States, where many have come to enjoy more freedom. Rights in the US will not be changing anytime soon, and if this bothers them, they are also free to leave it. However, as long as they reside here, their First Amendment rights will be protected, along with every other American's.