Support and Defend
“I hereby do solemnly swear that I will support and defend this Constitution for the united States of America, against all enemies, foreign and domestic, so help me God”
Every peace officer takes an oath to protect citizens, enforce laws, and "support and defend this Constitution for the united States of America". We all know this and demand it especially when it comes to the First Amendment. We all want our say and expect the full force of the United States Government to allow us to voice every word that flows from our mouths.
"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."
But what happens when the words of others aren't to my liking?
Unfortunately we often try to silence them. We like, share, and retweet those words that align with our world view and hide, delete, even protest over the ones that don't. We take on the role of word police across social media without understanding the role of the real police in upholding this fundamental right - a right that we afford to every citizen and guest to our land without question.
Unless those words directly threaten the individual the police don't pick and choose the words they defend, the just "support and defend this Constitution for the united States of America". That even means supporting the right of the individual to speak out against the police. A pasttime which seems to be on the rise.
This morning the internet greeted me with a news story about a young man in Florida that decided to exercise his to right of free speech in a harmful and hateful way.
On Monday Orlando Police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton was shot and killed by an individual wanted for the murder of his ex-girlfriend and her unborn child. While responding to the scene to help Orange County Deputy Norman Lewis was killed in a traffic collision. These two brave officers lost their lives in an effort to obtain justice for the woman and her child while this young man took the opportunity to speak out against the police.
But the oath these officers swore to "support and defend this Constitution for the united States of America" was not just for that woman, it was for this man as well.
Your response, and mine, may be to pull that sign off his neck. We may want to lock him up because he is spreading hate and division. The words may be so offensive to us that we even resort to violence, but that is not possible for the officer that has sworn to "support and defend this Constitution for the united States of America".
This was the response of the officers that were not only grieving for the loss of their colleagues, but were the target of this young man's ire,
"...deputies told WTLV that the man is there regularly and said while it's distasteful what he's doing, they'll defend his First Amendment right to do it."
Thank a police officer today because you don't know what it cost for them to "support and defend this Constitution for the united States of America".