Mr. Speaker, the First Amendment is first for a reason. It is the most important right we have as Americans and at the very core of who we are.

Without the First Amendment, freedom of religion, free speech, freedom of the press, freedom in assembly, the rest of the Amendments are meaningless.

The purpose of the First Amendment is to permit free and open discussion about the important issues of the day. It protects the right to speak freely about the two most controversial subjects of the day: religion and politics. This is exactly what was forbidden under King George, and it is exactly why our Founding Fathers chose to make it first among the original 10 in the Bill of Rights.

But, somehow, the speech police have decided to replace free speech with their self-determined fair speech. If it is not fair to them, then it must be banned.

What does fair mean?

Fair means different things to different folks. In some places in our country like Texas, fair is where you take the chickens or prized pig to sell it or eat anything you want to on a stick when it is deep fried.

Fair means different things to different folks. But the word ``fair'' is not in the Constitution. The Constitution protects free speech, not fair speech. It says Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, and the Constitution applies to the elitist speech control police whether they think that is fair or not and whether they like it or not.

Our Founding Fathers established individual rights to protect our liberties, not our feelings. We have become so caught up in the politically correct restriction that everyone has the right not to be offended that we are, in fact, losing the right of free speech.

Where does the Constitution say you have the right not to be offended?

The right of free speech belongs to the speaker and cannot be regulated by the listener because it may be offensive and certainly cannot be regulated by government because it is not fair--fair in the eyes of government.

But our most important freedom is being replaced by fear: the fear to speak openly. Some wish to prohibit the voice and speech of others they disagree with or if the opposing view may be offensive. So the controlists want speech regulated or, to put it bluntly, it must be politically correct.

It is interesting that the one place where diversity of thought, ideas, and speech should be promoted is at our universities. But universities are prohibiting free speech in the name of protecting the students, while at the same time professors say anything they want to say about all issues--the doctrine of free speech for me but not for thee.

To make matters worse, the controlists want government to regulate speech. That is a Stalinist concept. Stalin used government to silence all opposing views, views that offended the government and the elitists. It is not just those in the public eye. Everyone feels they must weigh every thought and decision against who and how it could possibly be offensive to someone, somewhere, somehow. It is ridiculous, and it is a threat to our freedom and our prosperity.

We cannot live in fear of speech. We cannot live in fear to speak.

The Founding Fathers intended free speech to include criticism of the government and to advocate unpopular ideas, including controversial ideas. Freedom of speech allows individuals to express themselves without interference of the government and truly debate all issues. But we must not allow that to be lost to this out-of-control, politically correct crowd that only wants to allow speech that agrees with their agenda and, literally, destroys anyone who disagrees.

Law professor Alan Dershowitz said: ``Freedom of speech means freedom for those who you despise, and freedom to express the most despicable views. It also means that the government cannot pick and choose which expressions to authorize and which to prevent.''

Voltaire, who lived at the time of our Revolution, said: ``I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.''

Lively disagreements are the foundation of a free republic.

George Washington said it very well when he said: ``If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.''

America must always remain a free and open space where the marketplace of ideas--even those we detest or disagree with--are freely expressed. It seems our very founding document is at risk of fading into the abyss of history.

The irony of it all is that free speech is becoming anything but free, and that ought not to be. We should all speak out against the controlling speech police.

And that is just the way it is.