the can and can’ts of the first ammendment

i don’t want to have this conversation, so to speak.  i don’t want to have to deal with this nonsense anymore, but it seems i have no choice.  our nation is up in arms and divided due to a hillbilly’s right to freedom of speech.  phil robertson from duck dynasty, a show on a&e that is literally about duck hunting, said some very homophobic slurs and made remarks about black people being happier when they were under the boot of jim crow during an interview with gq magazine.  a&e decided that they didn’t want the heat on their backs for his remarks and suspended him from the show.  which has actually brought both sides of the political debate to the table many across the aisles agreeing with the other.  the first ammendment has been trotted out and aspects of it quoted to justify this man’s right to free speech.  but let’s take a look at what the first ammendment really says:

The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights.

ok folks, nowhere in here does it say a person has the right to go around saying anything they want to with no repercussions.  it says the government of the united states cannot prohibit you from speaking your mind, practicing your chosen religion nor can the government  persecute journalists for writing truths, even if against the government.  it also says that as long as you are peaceful, you have the right to assemble in large groups and protest something you don’t agree with.  this ammendment, as with all others, are in place to keep the government from trampling all over the people, plain and simple.  it is not licence to walk around saying anything you want to say, at the cost of other ppl, and have no consequences to that action.

so does phil robertson have the right to say homophobic slurs?  that seems to be the main issue that everyone is focusing on.  yes, yes he does have that right. BUT, and here’s where it gets a bit tricky, i have the right not to hear it and to live peaceably.  a&e as a private company in a capitalist economic situation has the right to not have him on their programming.  not only can the remarks slash ratings, they can impact advertisers, and therefore putting a&e in jeopardy of being at a monetary loss.

the first ammendment also covers freedom of the press, but there is a line there too, although lately it seems like that line is way too blurry.  when you are a journalist, you have the moral obligation to fact find  as much as you can.   you are not allowed to go on television or write a news story based on lies or half truths.   when you do that, it is called libel when written and slander when said, and it is against civil law because you are literally ripping a person’s reputation apart.  so how do “journalist” like rush limbaugh get away with saying some of the nonsense he says?  when you clearly identify yourself as an op-ed journalist you are giving your opinion, it is not news in the sense of factual information, it is the opinion of the “journalist” based, hopefully, in response to what is happening in the news.

the first ammendment covers my right to assemble with as many queer ppl as i want and make out on phil robertson’s street.  it gives me the right to say what i think of his nonsensical bullshitery.  it gives me the right to call him a fucking moron who has not read up on his own mythology.  it gives people of color the right to say what they want in response to his comments.  all protected under the same freedoms as his right to hate-speech.  and even though he did not call for violence the perpetration of hatred against members of the queer community, is violent in nature and can create mob mentality.  also, the absolute idiocy of his remarks about black people during the time before jim crow laws were officially repealed-anyone who lives in the south knows that jim crow is still alive and well-say that people of color are better off when they are oppressed.  it is ridiculousness shrouded in nonsense and sorry, phil robertson losing his job over what spewed from his crawfish eatin hole is not covered by the first ammendment.

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