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Friday, August 20, 2010

Free Speech or not so Free Speech?

“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”.

On June 25, 2010 a group of high school students were taking a monument tour of the nation’s capital when they made a spur-of-the-moment decision to sing the national anthem at the Lincoln Memorial, but were told to stop by U.S. Park Police.

The area where they were standing and singing is an area that is restricted for this type of activity,” said Sgt. David Schlosser. “Schlosser explained that performances, regardless of content, are banned to “maintain a contemplative and reverent area for the Lincoln Memorial, for the other guests and visitors.

If my memory serves me correctly it was Marian Anderson, the great African-American opera singer, who in 1939 gave a concert on these very same steps. The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused permission for Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. At the time, Washington D.C. was a segregated city and black patrons were upset that they had to sit at the back of Constitution Hall. The District of Columbia Board of Education also declined a request to use the auditorium of a white public high school. As a result of the ensuing furor, thousands of DAR members, including First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, resigned. Harold Ickes, then Secretary of the Interior, granted her permission to give the concert at the Lincoln Memorial on that Easter Sunday. The first song she sang was “My County Tis of Thee.”

Every Friday afternoon, at 5:00 p.m. Muslims get out their prayer rugs and begin to pray on the sidewalks and streets of New York City. No arrests are made. No one is asked to leave. The ACLU does not file a lawsuit; the Texas based American Atheists Inc. is silent and the mainstream media pays little attention. This is a common practice in the City of New York.

Every holiday season we hear a parade of stories where schools and civic organizations have banned the singing of Christmas Carols, nativity scenes, Christmas trees and even Santa Claus in the public schools, civic auditoriums and the public square. Even traditional Christmas parades have banned the playing of Christmas Carols by the local high schools bands.

Last week the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that 14 crosses placed along Utah highways to honor fallen Utah Highway Patrol troopers violate the U.S. Constitution. “We hold that these memorials have the impermissible effect of conveying to the reasonable observer the message that the State prefers or otherwise endorses a certain religion,” the Denver-based court said.

This week after a long radio career Dr Laura Schlessinger, radio talk show therapist, announced, on the syndicated Larry King Show, that she was leaving her syndicated radio show at the end of the year in order “to say what's on my mind and in my heart and what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry”.

Why did she resign from her radio career? One day a few weeks ago she had an African-American caller, who was in a mixed marriage. The caller was complaining about the way she perceived she was being treated by her white relatives and neighbors. During the conversation, to make a point, Dr. Laura used the “N” word. She then repeated it three more time in succession. She also added that on HBO and in the entrainment industry the word is used constantly.

It did not take long for the ghoulish, unwashed, pot smoking bloggers from Media Matters sitting in their pajamas in their parent’s basement to begin to blog all over the Internet as to what a racist Dr. Laura was. I have listened to Dr. Laura many times on satellite radio and I was always amazed at the losers who would call her show, especially the women in abusive relationships. These women while being constantly physically or emotional abused would decry the relationship, but refuse to leave it. They were so starved for acceptance they would give up their self respect and self esteem to stay with the abuser.

No doubt Dr. Laura was ill advised to use the “N” word, certainly not repeatedly. Perhaps she had just heard too much. I can’t get into her head, but in all of the times I heard her broadcasts I heard no racist or homophobic comments from her.

We live in a society where you cannot say the “N” word and the following alphabetical list of words in public; “B”, “C”, “Fa”, “Fu”, “H”, “L”, “MF” or “W”. Had I used any of these words growing up I would have received a good dose of Ivory soap in my mouth.

Today we need to walk around with a guide book to free speech. Soon we will be like those folks in the film, “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, where once the aliens take over your body you become a peaceful automaton and a member of the collective. If you veer of course those pajamas wearing ghouls will get you.

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