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Another civics lesson is needed

Posted: December 19, 2013 - 5:27pm

There is a reason the First Amendment is the “first” Amendment. It is, to the great majority of us in the United States, the most important amendment. We are taught the foundations of this piece of work at an early age. While we may have been gazing out the window the day we were supposed to learn about Non-Enumerated Rights (the ninth amendment) or the quartering of troops (that’s No. 3), all of us believe we have a grasp of the top one.

Sadly, many don’t.

Usually those who scream about a lack of freedom of speech do so when they are met with resistance for those remarks. What they constantly fail to realize is that being able to say what they wanted in the first place without fear of being placed in prison is the absolute definition of free speech.

So wades into the water, Mr. Phil Robertson. The patriarch of the “Duck Dynasty” phenomenon was interviewed recently by Gentlemen’s Quarterly magazine — a perk of being uberfamous for repeating the word “happy” over and over again — and the conversation veered into his thoughts about homosexuality. Guess what? He’s not a fan. I’ll pause while you pick your jaw up off the floor.

He compares it, among other things, to beastiality and terrorism. He said he can’t comprehend anyone who wouldn’t favor the female anatomy over their male counterparts (I have to admit, I’m with him there, but I wouldn’t have talked about it so graphically).

Now, this space isn’t reserved to talk about his comments. That is a subject that has been played out time and time again. I would not expect a certain segment of society to be tolerant of all human beings. I’ve grown far too wise to believe that anymore.

No, this is a chance to discuss the freedom to speak one’s mind. Robertson certainly did that, and he will be able to do so time and time again to whoever will listen. Freedom of speech — other than that speech designed to incite violence or cause intentional mayhem — is an absolute right guaranteed by the Constitution.

Being on television is not.

Robertson and his clan have no more of a right to appear on the Arts & Entertainment channel than I do. What they have done, however, is create a demand for their show and their brand. In doing so, they most certainly have signed a contract with their employer that would contain several stipulations. One of those would be that they could be stripped of appearances if they ever said or did anything that could compromise that brand with viewers or advertisers. According to A&E, Robertson violated that contract, and he is suspended from the show indefinitely.

What has occurred since then is an outcry from such experts of the First Amendment as Sarah Palin (remember the history lesson she gave us about Paul Revere), Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and State Sen. Jason Rapert.

Palin defended Robertson’s statements by saying that free speech is an “endangered species.” Being able to say these words to every major news source, however, actually proves the opposite. Jindal said he was saddened that television stations don’t believe in free speech. Well, of course they don’t. That’s what unfettered capitalism is all about. If you are going to screw with the amount of money that comes in, you are going to be subjected to any penalties that follow. It’s actually something in which Jindal should take pride.

Rapert, as usual, used his pulpit to paint the white, conservative male as the one being persecuted. Mr. Rapert and I have had pleasant discussions about many subjects, but I wish he would please quit trying to play the victim. He (and I) know nothing about real persecution that has come upon all types of minorities throughout the history of this country. Sadly, I fear Rapert’s idea of Christian love is to love only Christians. I would wager that if he saw a homosexual lying in the street in need, what he would do would differ greatly from what Jesus would do.

See, I can opine about that because I have free speech. So does Rapert, Jindal, Palin and Robertson. What I am not guaranteed is the avenue to voice it. If the Log Cabin Democrat wanted to suspend my column privileges, it has every right to do that. It doesn’t stop my right to speak. It never will.

Why we have to keep teaching these simple civics lessons is beyond me.

(Ricky Duke is the Editor of the Log Cabin Democrat. He can be reached at ricky.duke@thecabin.net)

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reader
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reader 12/20/13 - 06:25 pm
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Amen

So many people consider the right to free speech and ultimate right to do so anywhere. Those of us who have had our comments deleted here on these pages even know better than that, or should.

The RWNJ's (Right Wing Nut Jobs) have to make a mountain out of a mole hill just to stay in the news and keep their mis-informed followers keyed up for the next fake injury to the constitution.

mikeng1994
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mikeng1994 12/23/13 - 03:27 pm
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Reader you are dead on wrong

Reader you are dead on wrong with you assessment of the RWNJ's. This Duck dynasty flap all started because GLADD had run out of things to say that supposedly hurts their feeling.

They seem to forget nobody cares about them. It is everyone's right to publicly say homsexuality is a sin. It says it and that can not be denied. Here's the deal tho. While those of us who are firm in our views, I for one will treat you like a human, not call you a terrorist or a bigot. I will even go so far, Reader, to shake your hand and say Merry Christmas!!

Raving Bear
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Raving Bear 12/20/13 - 09:06 pm
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When a small vocal group can

When a small vocal group can incite mobs the Republic is in danger. Look at the outrage over what Phil said compared to what Alex Baldwin said... its made up rage in order to service a political agenda. Anyone who supports mob violence, even if that violence is only verbal needs to check themselves.

MarkVaught
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MarkVaught 12/20/13 - 09:19 pm
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Wager

Mr. Duke, I'd wager that you'd lose your wager on Senator Rapert's supposed actions of a person in need. In your future friendly conversations with him, you might want to ask him about his many mission trips to Ghana, West Africa, and the assistance he and his fellow missionaries have provided to poor, starving communities in the region. In fact, I would go so far as to wager that not one individual that has been helped by his organization has ever been asked about his or her sexual orientation prior to receiving help from Mr. Rapert's group.

The fact that Phil Robertson lost his job for espousing his beliefs, and the details of the contract that may have forbidden him from doing so notwithstanding, the reason this issue is an issue at all is because the media is making one of it. Someone around here made some nonsensical comment about mountains and mole hills, but the newly-formed geography in the ocean of "nut jobs" is the result of the volcanic eruption of the media taking Mr. Robertson's statements and blowing them sky high. This is no more evidenced than by the very editorial to which I am replying. An editorial in a local newspaper in a land far, far away from GQ Magazine, GLAAD, and the cable entertainment industry.

If the order of the day was to minimize the perceived negative impact of Phil Robertson's commentary, then the obvious and logical move would be to simply ignore it. Instead, it fills every newspaper, website, cable news channel, and social media outlet. Why? Because, simply put, controversy - real or contrived - sells advertising. And what's more controversial than a openly religious wealthy white man saying *anything* about homosexuals that can remotely be parlayed into having a negative connotation? He said that homosexuality is a sin? Egad, the horror! He quoted the Bible to back up his opinion? Oh, the outrage!

Don't like someone's opinion on something? Better not to acknowledge it. Certainly best not to use the power of media to repeat it over, and over, and over...

Courtney Spradlin
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Courtney Spradlin 12/21/13 - 11:21 am
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Mark! Talking about what

Mark!
Talking about what people are talking about is one of the things we do. You're one of the many who has been beaten over the head with this story and is tired of it.
Don't worry, it'll go away soon.

Nice to see you again!

MarkVaught
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MarkVaught 12/21/13 - 03:33 pm
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Well, sure

But when outrage, negativity, and division is the predominant outcome of a particularly controversial subject du jour, the media is always there to make sure everybody gets their fair share. That's my point. You don't just talk about what people are talking about...you (the royal "you" - you know I love all you guys at the LCD!) quite often *dictate* what people are talking about.

The necessary civics lesson opined by Mr. Duke can also be applied in this way: along with the freedoms guaranteed by Amendment #1 come responsible usages of said freedoms. That's exactly what everybody's saying about Phil Robertson - "He's got the right to free speech, but he's not using it responsibly." Okay, fine, but it begs the question: Is the media using its rights properly by setting the tone of the conversation?

Nice to see you again, too! :)

well....
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well.... 12/21/13 - 08:36 am
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Actually

"I would go so far as to wager that not one individual that has been helped by his organization has ever been asked about his or her sexual orientation"

I wouldn't bet money on it. These missionaries have been going to Africa for a while pushing their anti gay agenda. In fact, three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals arrived in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks. One month after the conference, a previously unknown Ugandan politician, who boasts of having evangelical friends in the American government, introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which threatens to HANG homosexuals.
The Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill was passed by the Parliament of Uganda on December 20 2013 with the death penalty proposal dropped in favor of life in prison.

A new film, now playing in Kansas City, makes a startling case – that American evangelicals, in the name of doing mission work, have triggered something in Africa that’s very different from prayer and worship and medical help for the needy.

http://www.godlovesuganda.com/film/

reader
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reader 12/21/13 - 10:43 am
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Great Post

The revelation of talibangelicals going to Africa, especially Uganda, which is well known for its brutality, is a fact. It has been revealed in many media outlets and is a result of bigoted, hate filled talibangelicals (formerly called Christians) missions to the nation. Triple thumbs up for you well...

reader
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reader 12/21/13 - 11:09 am
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Not to mention

How much "Christianity" did for the Americas, North and South. Under the guise of a "mission from God", missionaries had millions of people massacred, entire nations of human beings, men, women and innocent children, who did not believe the same as the missionary. This is the intent of the radical Muslims now. Destroy infidels who do not think like they do. Religion has killed more human beings and history than any other force on the planet. Religions and their lemmings who believe they are doing "God's" work, do so with the secondary aim of conversion. Just like the Salvation Army. It does some good work, but only if you are a Christian. You must be a Christian to work for the so called "Salvation Army", the unarmed, prejudiced arm of the Talibangelical world.

mikeng1994
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mikeng1994 12/23/13 - 09:12 am
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You are no different

You attack those who disagree with your political leaning, Reader. If this were the 1500's and the days of the Inquisition, you would be right there at the head of the line holding the torch or the rope of the guillotine. That is the liberal way.

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