Derek Hunter

There’s an epidemic in this country, something that has or will affect all of us in our lives. And the government needs to act to protect us from those who may do us harm. This plague is particularly felt in schools. The children must be made safe.

President Obama, bravely speaking out against this horror, said, “We have an obligation to ensure that our schools are safe for all our kids.” Amen, Mr. President. Amen.

The best course of action to protect as many of our citizens, particularly children, as possible is to place sensible restrictions on this right we all share so as to prevent it from being used in a violent way. We can’t stop all acts of this violence, but if we could even save one person from suffering this fate…it would be immoral not to act.

I’m talking, of course, about the First Amendment, about words.

Every year, thousands of people, many of whom are children, are bullied by words. They’re made to feel bad for being overweight, having acne, braces, or messy hair. The list of things about which people are made to feel badly about is endless.

What’s worse is all the accidental bullying that takes place each year. People can build up a thick skin against drive-by “lard-assing” or an occasional swirly, but the accidental bullying that takes place through someone having more than you do or winning a game against you is hard to handle. These are the silent victims who don’t grab the front page of newspapers.

The horror of losing a game has sent many children to therapists in the hope of rehabilitating their self-esteem. The hair product industry has profited off the tears of people with cowlicks for too long.

Yes, words are sometimes used in self-defense. But for every, “I know you are but what am I?” there are countless more, “Your mamas.” And they can be used for fun, for making jokes. But for every joke there are untold “Nice shirt, geek!” cracks.

There are 171,476 words listed as currently in use according to the Oxford English Dictionary, and another 47,156 considered “obsolete.” Do we need that many words?

When you consider the average person has a vocabulary of 35,000 to 50,000 words, clearly we do not.

There are First Amendment extremists who will tell you freedom of speech is absolute, but it’s not. You can’t yell fire in a crowed theater; you can’t threaten the life of the president, and so on.

Derek Hunter

Derek Hunter is Washington, DC based writer, radio host and political strategist. You can also stalk his thoughts 140 characters at a time on Twitter.