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Freedom of speech is “the right to communicate ideas and opinions without government intervention.” There are limits of course. You can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded room just for fun. Public obscenity can land you a hefty fine. And I wouldn’t suggest that you crack jokes about having a gun while in an airport.
But freedom of speech does give people the right to be stupid. In 1977, Neo-Nazis were permitted to march through Skokie, Illinois, home to many Holocaust survivors. Parents have sued schools to allow their children to wear shirts saying “Islam is the Devil.” After the recent shooting in Tucson, Arizona, the Westboro Baptist Not-Church announced its plans to picket the funerals.
Public speeches calling for the impeachment of the president. Marches in Washington D.C. to protest abortion. Rallies to support gay rights. Websites with rifle scope sights over the pictures of politicians. Writing obnoxious columns in city newspapers.
These are all examples of freedom of speech.
The nice thing about freedom of speech is that it gives me the freedom to say that some people shouldn’t have it. If it were up to me, some people would have their mouths surgically sewn shut and the world would be a better place for it.
In 1999, the Federal Government created Title 18 U.S. Code 48 (Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act), to prohibit the creation and sale of videos, pictures and books depicting animal cruelty. This law was in response to “crush videos,” in which women wearing high heels step on small animals (puppies, kittens, bunnies) and kill them by crushing them to death. I’m not really sure which is sicker — the people who make these videos or the people who buy them.
A decade later, the U.S. Supreme Court (April 2010) nullified this law, stating that the government had no right to restrict the sale of crush videos and dog-fighting videos. The reason given; making and buying this garbage is guaranteed by free speech.
The vote was 8-1 (Justice Samuel Alito dissented). Writing for the majority (of idiots), Chief Justice John Roberts said, “The First Amendment itself reflects a judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on the government outweigh the costs.”
Free speech? Videos of dog fighting and killing kittens is free speech? If I really had the right to free speech, the paper would print words right now that would singe your fingers.
But I’m digressing. It’s not the Supreme Court I’m mad at. No, it’s President Obama.
In 2007, Michael Vick, one of the highest paid football stars, was charged with running a dog-fighting venture (Bad Newz Kennels). On his 15-acre property in Virginia, Vick’s friends would drink and gamble as they bet on which dog would suffer a horrible death.
The NAACP and many African-American sports stars came to Vick’s defense (as if he had one). Stephen Marbury of the N.Y. Knicks said, “You know, from what I understand, dog-fighting is a sport. It’s just behind closed doors. I think it’s tough that we build up Michael Vick and then we break him down.”
It’s this type of free speech that sickens me. How would Marbury like he was slowly mauled to death? Yeah Stephen, that would be “tough,” really tough. Get real, you moron!
Vick did a little time for his crime and was quickly reinstated into the Philadelphia Eagles. Nice to know that you can make money from murdering dogs and still be an American icon.
But the worst was yet to come. President Obama called up the Eagles to congratulate them on giving Vick a second chance.
Did President Obama call up the dog handlers who worked to save the few dogs that survived Vick’s horror show? Did he call up the ASPCA to congratulate them on the work they do to put a halt to this barbaric practice?
Perhaps he called up Roberts to congratulate him on allowing people to again make money by filming these spectacles.
The dogs in Vick’s pit of horror did not get a second chance.
Someone hopefully will exercise their freedom to point that out to the president.
Los Alamos columnist