Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sarah Palin puts her ignorance on parade each time she spouts her peculiar view of the First Amendment

Sarah Palin has expressed the notion that criticism of what she says violates her First Amendment rights. She has done so at least once each year since 2008.

It began in the 2008 campaign, when she was criticized for speaking about then-Senator Obama's association with Reverend Wright. In "Sarah Palin speaks on the First Amendment," Glenn Greenwald wrote in Salon:
Somehow, in Sarah Palin's brain, it's a threat to the First Amendment when newspapers criticize her negative attacks on Barack Obama. This is actually so dumb that it hurts:

In a conservative radio interview that aired in Washington, D.C. Friday morning, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin said she fears her First Amendment rights may be threatened by "attacks" from reporters who suggest she is engaging in a negative campaign against Barack Obama.

Palin told WMAL-AM that her criticism of Obama's associations, like those with 1960s radical Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, should not be considered negative attacks. Rather, for reporters or columnists to suggest that it is going negative may constitute an attack that threatens a candidate's free speech rights under the Constitution, Palin said.

"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations," Palin told host Chris Plante, "then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."

... The First Amendment is actually not that complicated. It can be read from start to finish in about 10 seconds. It bars the Government from abridging free speech rights. It doesn't have anything to do with whether you're free to say things without being criticized, or whether you can comment on blogs without being edited, or whether people can bar you from their private planes because they don't like what you've said.

If anything, Palin has this exactly backwards, since one thing that the First Amendment does actually guarantee is a free press. Thus, when the press criticizes a political candidate and a Governor such as Palin, that is a classic example of First Amendment rights being exercised, not abridged.

This isn't only about profound ignorance regarding our basic liberties, though it is obviously that. Palin here is also giving voice to the standard right-wing grievance instinct: that it's inherently unfair when they're criticized. And now, apparently, it's even unconstitutional.

According to Palin, what the Founders intended with the First Amendment was that political candidates for the most powerful offices in the country and Governors of states would be free to say whatever they want without being criticized in the newspapers. In the Palin worldview, the First Amendment was meant to ensure that powerful political officials such as herself would not be "attacked" in the papers. Is it even possible to imagine more breathtaking ignorance from someone holding high office and running for even higher office?

In 2009, Palin published her fictional memoir, Going Rogue. When the book was criticized by John Bitney, who disagreed with how Palin had characterized him in the book, saying, "I'm just pilloried right and left and turned into the big bad wolf here for stuff I didn't do. It's like I'm this fictional character that she's decided to make me out to be this sort of incompetent slob," Palin's attorney, Thomas Van Flein said, "Going Rogue is Sarah Palin's book to set the record straight. It is her right to speak about the events that occurred in her administration and neither Mr. Bitney nor anyone else has the right to stifle that speech, ..." -- Anchorage Daily News.

Now, in 2010, we have Dr. Laura Schlessinger who decided to quit her radio program in order to "regain [her] first amendment rights." Sarah Palin then thought -- does she think? -- she could capitalize on Dr. Laura's predicament and began Twittering her ignorance:
"Dr.Laura:don't retreat...reload! (Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence"isn't American,not fair")."
Later she added,
"Dr.Laura=even more powerful & effective w/out the shackles, so watch out Constitutional obstructionists. And b thankful 4 her voice,America!"
There is something about this story that hasn't been widely reported:
After the N-word broadcast aired, Dr. Laura apologized for using the racial epithet. "I articulated the N-word all the way out -- more than one time," Schlessinger said. "And that was wrong. I'll say it again -- that was wrong." She said she "realized I had made a horrible mistake, and was so upset, I could not finish the show."
Is it possible? Could it be that Sarah Palin and others who claim that their First Amendment rights are being violated when their speech is criticized are remorseful? Or realize what a mistake they've made? Or what a fool they've made of themselves? But instead of admitting their mistake, they've got to throw up a "my rights are being violated" smokescreen in an attempt to divert attention from what they said. They really aren't so proud of what they said, are they?

Sarah, when you are criticized for something you have said, you can say it again! That's proof that your rights are intact. You can even say something more disgraceful, shameful and hateful if you'd like. You could even man-up -- grow some cojones? -- and apologize.


Joie Vouet said...

Thomas Van Flein's legal education surely didn't teach him that Sarah's view of the First Amendment is correct. Kids know better than that.


Politico's Ben Smith wrote Palin's Forgiveness.

Shannyn Moore has more of what Dr. Laura said about Palin in 2008.


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Joie Vouet said...

Margaret and Helen have posted Shooting the Schlessinger. A sample:

What Ms. Schlessinger seems to forget is that she indeed has the right to say the N word. In fact, she exercised her right to say the N word over and over again. And still today she could continue to say the N word until the Sarah Palin comes home. No one has stopped her from doing so just as no one stopped me from just now insinuating Sarah Palin is a cow. Schlessinger’s First Amendment rights are very much intact. The First Amendment, however, doesn’t prevent people from deciding that maybe the next time Laura Schlessinger says the N word a microphone shouldn’t be sitting in front of her.

Joie Vouet said...

Also see IM's RAM Comandeers Palin's Twitter account and attempts to do damage control.

She has posted on Facebook an argument that Dr. Laura isn't racist. They hope that post will provide a distraction. Hey! If you can't win an argument, try to start a different argument! Isn't that how we did it when we were ten-year-olds?

Joie Vouet said...

Oops! Sarah Palin may have tweeted herself out of existence!

But by unnecessarily rushing to the defense of Dr. Laura Schlessinger—after she dropped the N-bomb 11 times and told the caller “don’t marry outside of your race”—Sarah Palin might finally have gone too far and picked a fight she cannot win.

The few black conservative candidates, columnists, and media figures—who represent the GOP’s only hope for reclaiming the legacy of Lincoln and, with it, long-term demographic relevance—are not amused. They’re now saying what many in the GOP increasingly believe: Sarah Palin is not fit to be a serious leader of the Republican Party.

For someone with presidential aspirations to be spewing such nonsense about the First Amendment should raise doubts about Palin in anyone's mind. For her to then join and start fights leaves us to ponder what must occur in the mind of an insane arsonist.

Joie Vouet said...

See Media Matters' Incendiary rant exposes Dr. Laura (again) to read how this isn't the first time she has claimed critics violated her First Amendment rights. Could this have been the source of Sarah Palin's (conservatives') idiocy on the 1st amendment?