Our U.S. Constitutional right to freedom of speech has been in the news a lot lately. There has been a lot of discussion about what this freedom entails, even in the courts and their decisions. Currently the social norm for the definition of this freedom is that we can say anything that comes to mind, without limit. Maybe at first thought, that is what we all believe. But in practice, things are much more complicated than that. According to the Merriam Webster Law Dictionary, freedom of speech is defined as: “the right to express information, ideas, and opinions free of government restrictions based on content and subject only to reasonable limitations (as the power of the government to avoid a clear and present danger) especially as guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.” Does this actually mean we can say anything, literally anything? The subject of “reasonable limitations” is mentioned. If we talk about information for example, it better be true and factual. Otherwise, it is useless. Ideas and opinions about any subject can run the gamut without factual information. Thus factual information is critical for forming valid ideas and opinions. It seems pretty clear that any civil discussion must allow for the introduction of valid information by all sides. Where in this space is a breakdown of civility allowed? There should be no need for marches or protests of any kind in a civilized society. And there should be no need for war. If these things happen, it is because civil discussion did not take place on the given issues. When someone refuses to listen to issues raised by others, we act as barbarians. When we look into the facts for a controversial issue, we act civilized. And when we become informed, we can act with knowledge and confidence on that issue; confidence that we will come to agreement. I feel confident that the intent of the First Amendment was about guaranteeing each individual citizen the right to speak out on any issue affecting their lives. Each of us deserve to be heard. On the other hand, I do not feel confident of the following intents: That the First Amendment has anything to do with allowing unlimited money to influence elections, as in the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. That corporations can make political comments – a corporation is not a citizen or an individual. That individuals can say anything without reasonable limitations. Yelling fire when there is none, disparaging others with untrue comments (hate speech), and so on is not covered. Isn’t it about time for humanity to rise above all this. Let’s put our minds together and end barbaric activity for good by first respecting, and then listening.