You Either Abide by the First Amendment, or You Donâ€™t
By Frank Salvato
April 16, 2007
It really doesnâ€™t matter whether you find radio shock jock Don Imusâ€™s description of the women on Rutgersâ€™ basketball team offensive or not. In an age when you can turn on any popular urban radio station and hear most of the words used in George Carlinâ€™s â€œSeven Dirty Wordsâ€ comedy routine, the term, â€œnappy-headed hosâ€ can hardly be deemed offensive, especially coming from a shock jock. What is at issue is whether or not the politically correct have used bullying tactics to infringe upon the guaranteed right of free speech under the First Amendment.
I canâ€™t say that I am a fan of Don Imus, but then I canâ€™t say I dislike him either. I have never taken the time to listen to his radio show, nor have I viewed his broadcast on MSNBC. Being from Chicago, I grew up listening to Larry Lujack, Dan Walker â€“ the governor of Rock â€˜n Roll â€“ and later on, Jonathon Brandmeir and Steve Dahl. Imus wasnâ€™t a Chicago staple.
Of course, Chicago had its fair share of FCC-imposed and special interest group-inflicted radio personality suspensions, but those seemed to work more in the favor of the radio show being yanked from the air, than for the government or advocacy group. I predict that Imusâ€™s suspension will work to his advantage in the long run as well. Such is the animal of Americaâ€™s â€œcar accidentâ€ curiosity and sitcom attention span.
As I see it, the larger issues surrounding the Imus matter are: whether his First Amendment right to free speech has been usurped, and whether racial activism â€“ or any activism for that matter â€“ coupled with political correctness, have grown so out of control that they contravene the sanctity of our constitutional rights.
Where contact with the public is concerned, private corporations have scored great successes and made public relations blunders. Most of the time, these successes and blunders have to do with their sponsorship of a television or radio broadcast, although â€œNew Cokeâ€ stands in a class by itself. In each instance of success or failure, the free market has either heaped its approval through increased revenue generation, or demonstrated its dismay with decreased sales. Either way, the free market has always â€“ and will always â€“ be the best way to either reward or penalize private corporations for their good deeds or bad behavior.
CBS and MSNBC, the corporations that sponsor Dom Imusâ€™s show, and in the end Don Imus himself, will ultimately feel the effects of Mr. Imusâ€™s on-air conduct in their wallets. When dealing with millionaires and multi-billion dollar corporations, penalizing them at the cash register is always the most effective way to get their attention.
But we head down an extremely dangerous path, when we start demanding that someoneâ€™s speech be censored simply because someone or some group found something they said offensive.
Just like the term â€œseparation of church and state,â€ the notion that somehow there is a constitutional right â€œnot to be offendedâ€ exists nowhere in our Founding Documents: the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But just like the aforementioned â€œseparation,â€ special interest groups and secular leftists are making in-roads through the legislative and judicial branches of government to establish additional limitations to guaranteed rights actually found in the Founding Documents.
Secular and anti-religion zealots are doing everything, including applying special interest pressure on elected officials, and filing a never-ending litany of lawsuits to prohibit the free exercise of religion. Gun law advocates are making advances against the Second Amendment right to bear arms, city by city. The Progressive-Left and the one-world Socialists among us are incrementally chipping away at the right to freedom of speech by lobbying for hate speech legislation and, in the case of Dom Imusâ€™s statement, encouraging race-baiting special interest charlatans to advocate for the destruction of a 40-year career.
In each instance, these visionless elements seek to hijack our society despite the fact that they are challenging rights that are guaranteed under the Bill of Rights. In all cases, these anti-constitutionalists are attempting to establish a shadow rule of law based on the Marxist-Leninist Communist-Socialist principles of political correctness. Should they succeed, true liberty, true freedom will simply be something that is read about â€“ albeit in a politically correct context â€“ in revisionist U.S. and world history books.
The genius of the Framers work is in its ability to promote and secure the liberties of true freedom in the face of the ignorance of the mob mentality, even while it protects the right of the mob to exhibit said ignorance. In essence, and in reality, the Founding Documents guarantee an individualâ€™s right to remain ignorant, although it was the Founders' hope that Americans would choose to live a learned life. It never occurred to them that intellectually disingenuous opportunists would seek to install a â€œNanny Stateâ€ government for their own narcissistic purposes.
MSNBC and CBS have suspended Don Imus for two weeks, and he is set to meet with the Rutgers players â€“ the newly canonized â€œvictimsâ€ of his offensive behavior â€“ to issue his apology. Meanwhile a completely unimportant statement made by a shock jock that could have been rectified with the turn of a radio dial has turned into another victory for the enemy at the gates.
If I could divine one truth from this â€œscandalâ€ it would be to find out what CDs are in the personal music collections of each of the members of the Rutgers womenâ€™s basketball team. Something tells me that in each, there are CDs from rap music artists that offer words and sentiments that eclipse the so-called offensive words of Don Imus. In the existence of these CDs within their collections lays the ultimate hypocrisy of political correctness.
But, as Evelyn Beatrice Hall penned under the pseudonym Stephen G. Tallentyre, in paraphrasing Voltaire, â€œI may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.â€
See biography for Frank Salvato
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