April 20, 2000: Free Speech is our Constitutional Right

After being subjected to untold hours of the Elian Gonzales-athon and watching his cousin faint as regularly as the sunrise, the Cuban exiles wail, government storm troopers break down doors, Janet Reno (of Waco fame) attempt to explain her actions, reporters intone what it all means, Republicans threaten (televised) hearings, and Fidel Castro, wear that same ugly hat he’s been wearing for the past 40 years, it is obvious that the little boy is an irrelevant part of the theatrics.

Give him to his daddy and send him back to Cuba, for God’s sake.  He doesn’t know the difference or care.  When he’s old enough to make up his own mind, he can float back to Miami or get himself a hat like Fidel’s and try to eke out an existence in that economic paradise.  If he’s lucky, he might even be able to afford one of the 1963 Chevrolets still operating on the island.

Right now, his presence has presented a wonderful opportunity for those who don’t like Cuba and those who do to raise a little hell with each other.  Nothing more.

I know from personal experience about protests.  Those of us involved in Centennial Olympic Games found that the worldwide profile of the Games was a wonderful megaphone for anybody with a cause to espouse.  People would chain themselves to pillars in our lobby, block elevators, picket homes of the senior management, march around and fall all over themselves for some television face time (which the media was only too happy to oblige).  Whether the Games ever took place or not was immaterial.

Maybe it is a product of advancing years but I have come to the conclusion that the greater good of all is giving way to the special interest of the few.  It is the new American way.

The United States Supreme Court has taken up the issue of requiring the Boys Scouts of America to accept gay leaders.  I am going out on a limb here but I’m thinking that the ultimate fate of the Boy Scouts is not near as important to gay rights groups as making their point is.

The same gay rights advocates, I suppose, are currently threatening an Atlanta television station if the outlet runs the syndicated show, “Dr. Laura.”  I have never seen the show but I am told she has some very strong anti-gay opinions.  In a country that lists freedom of expression as the first of its Constitutional freedoms, we are witnessing a special interest group that is trying to squelch that freedom because they don’t like the message or the messenger.

I don’t want to make things harder for that station than it already is but if they do cave in, expect to hear more – a lot more – from me.  Don’t screw around with the First Amendment just to appease a special interest.  That is a dangerous precedent that should frighten us all.

No one is more adept at promoting a double standard of free speech than the Concerned Black Clergy, a group of inner city ministers in Atlanta.  Their leader, the redoubtable Timothy McDonald, was all over television decrying the damage done to race relations by noted philosopher, John Rocker, of the Atlanta Braves. Evidently, he can rant and rave but Rocker can’t.

“It is a message that says hatred is okay.  Racism is OK. Bigotry is OK. Homophobia is OK,” he said. “You can call people what you want to call them and in our society, it’s OK. We’ll give you a slap on the wrist.”  He totally missed the point.  Free speech isn’t always agreeable and can be uttered by the dumbest among us but it is our Constitutional right whether you like what they are saying or not.

I am incensed by the rantings of the attorney for Al Amin, nee H. Rap Brown who has made serious and unsubstantiated charges in defense of his client. I don’t like Al Sharpton, of all people, saying that we shouldn’t “rush to judgment” on Brown.  (As a matter of fact, I don’t like Al Sharpton.)  I don’t like using little boys for political gain, talk show hosts and Boy Scouts for gay right causes and imams and baseball pitchers for to promote reverse racism.   But I will hold my nose because it’s a free country and that is their right to do so.

Just don’t trample my right to free expression and free association while you scream about yours.