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Facebook and the Latest First Amendment Martyr

You may have seen this photo. The woman pictured, Lindsey Stone, is flipping off a sign at Arlington National Cemetery. Stone was fired from her job with a Massachusetts non-profit after she posted the photo to Facebook, and the picture went “viral,” as they say.

Stone protests that the picture was meant to be ironic – not disrepectful. Maybe so, but that excuse was not good enough for her employer. Predictably, commentators across the web started whining about Stone’s First Amendment “right” to post photos to Facebook “without retribution,” as one well-meaning, but misguided, veteran put it on Business Insider.

Sorry, guys. The First Amendment restrains only government suppression of speech. It was never intended to guarantee consequence-free speech. When the amendment was ratified in 1791, the Founders understood, for example, that individuals would continue to be liable to defamation lawsuits if they engaged in slander. And that’s a good thing, as I explain over at Fox News.

I sympathize (to some extent) with Stone for losing her job over this indiscretion, but her employer has every right to dismiss her. The First Amendment is not a guarantee of lifetime employment — unless you work for the ACLU. The full article is here.