Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Frist Amendment

Not sure why I'm singling out Frist for this in my title, except for the pun value. But why the hell not. He's as likely as anyone right now to be the next Republican presidential nominee, so we should get our licks in early on the guy.

And I'm referring to an item I got through the ecumenical Carpet Bagger regarding a Republican Congressman wanting to pull Bill Maher's show off the air due to a joke about our military. Maher said:
"More people joined the Michael Jackson fan club. We've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit, and now we need warm bodies."

But Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala, of course) believes that such a statement is treason, and states "I don't want (Maher) prosecuted. I want him off the air."

Now, I'm no fan of Bill Maher. He can be really funny on occasion, but I think true political commentary is way over his head. He's just a joker looking for a quick laugh, and is one of those people who have gotten the "It's funny because it's true" idea backwards; and wrongly believes that if something is funny that it must be true. Limbaugh and Coulter are masters of that type of political commentary, and Maher is far too prone to go that way. Needless to say, something can be funny and false.

But the idea that Maher needs to be taken off the air?? Crazy.

And that just goes to show how wacky the right is. Because, here's the thing: This isn't just a violation of the First Amendment. It's what the damn amendment was written for. This is its purpose. To allow political jokers like Maher to state unfunny opinions and not worry about government punishment. Are individuals allowed to openly disagree with him? Of course. But a government official using his position to pressure a company to stifle its employee?? With a reference to criminal activity?? That's a different issue.

Now, I suppose if Bachus limits this to the letter he wrote, and doesn't try to do anything more; that's not so bad. But this really is getting ridiculous. Because again, we're not talking about a basic violation of the First Amendment, like Larry Flynt being prosecuted for what he prints. We're talking about the specific intent of the First Amendment. Whether or not you think we should support Flynt out of principal, this Maher thing is the exact kind of speech that's supposed to be protected.

And so that's where my post title comes in. Perhaps as a way to mollify the right-wing mobs that Frist hopes to ride into the Whitehouse, he'll do a little something to fix things for them. Nothing major, like a new amendment or anything. Maybe they'll just make it a procedural matter, like they were trying to do with the judicial filibuster. So maybe they'll decide, procedurally of course, that the First Amendment just needs a simple re-spelling; like by moving the "r" up a spot. And while they're at it, why not make a few minor procedural rewrites to the bill itself. Nothing major. Just getting it back in line with what our Founding Fathers must have intended. Or maybe I shouldn't be giving them any ideas...

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