Freedom of speech

Remedial First Amendment For Conservatives (And Bill Maher)

Oliver Willis

Here, in full, is the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

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.

Our constitution explicitly says that you can say whatever you want to say without government interference. What it does not guarantee is any sort of platform to make that speech. The first amendment does not guarantee a right to a radio show, a tv show, a newspaper column, a website, or a stage show. It says that you can say things and the government has no right to squelch that speech.

Why do people not understand this? Conservatives, upset at the growing advertiser boycott of Rush Limbaugh’s hate speech, insist his first amendment rights are being infringed upon. No, they aren’t. Limbaugh is as free as a bird to be as hateful and misogynistic as he wants to be. That said, if people object to his speech and communicate those sentiments to his advertisers and they in turn choose to disassociate themselves from him — nobody’s rights are being infringed.

The market that conservatives claim to love so much, is in fact working.

Supreme Court: Violent video games may be sold to children

With the current 5-4 conservative majority on the Supreme Court of the United States, corporations once again rule over women, children and campaign finance laws.  This is one of the main reasons why Barack Obama should must be re-elected.  We need to tip the balance in favor of progressive thinkers on the Court. 

The only way to do that is with a Democrat in the White House.  Otherwise, the consequences of having a Republican as POTUS can and will be catastrophic for our Democracy.

Raw Story

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a proposed California law that would have banned the sale of violent video games to minors.

In a 7-2 ruling, both liberal and conservative justices agreed that the video games qualify for First Amendment protections.

“Like the protected books, plays, and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas-and even social messages-through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot, and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player’s interaction with the virtual world),” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the court’s majority opinion (PDF).

“That suffices to confer First Amendment protection. Under our Constitution, ‘esthetic and moral judgments about art and literature… are for the individual to make, not for the Government to decree, even with the mandate or approval of a majority,’” he added.

Justice Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer disagreed with the court’s majority.

“The practices and beliefs of the founding generation establish that ‘the freedom of speech,’ as originally understood, does not include a right to speak to minors (or a right of minors to access speech) without going through the minors’ parents or guardians,” Thomas wrote. ” I would hold that the law at issue is not facially unconstitutional under the First Amendment, and reverse and remand for further proceedings.”

[H/T: USA Today]

Robert Gibbs To Russian Reporter: No, Arizona Shooting Is Not “American”

Mediaite

White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs, speaking about [last] weekend’s shooting in Arizona, responded to one Russian reporter’s assertion that the shooting was somehow “American” – as in a wholly American demonstration of one practicing his freedom to… kill… people? We’re not entirely sure what the reporter’s thought process was.

In any case, here is how he phrased his question to Gibbs:

This is America, the democracy, the freedom of speech, the freedom of assembly, the freedom to petition your government. And many people outside would also say — and the quote, unquote ‘freedom’ of a deranged mind to react in a violent way is also American. How do you respond to that?

Gibbs asked the reporter to repeat “that last part” before issuing a very clear, concise response:

No, no, I would disagree vehemently with that. There are — there is nothing in the values of our country, there’s nothing on the many laws on our books that would provide for somebody to impugn and impede on the very freedoms that you began with by exercising the actions that that individual took on that day. That is not American.

There are — I think there’s agreement on all sides of the political spectrum: Violence is never, ever acceptable. We had people that died. We had people whose lives will be changed forever because of the deranged actions of a madman. Those are not American. Those are not in keeping with the important bedrock values by which this country was founded and by which its citizens live each and every day of their lives in hopes of something better for those that are here.

We hope that clears things up!