Saturday, July 16, 2016

What Can You Say?

Let's take a look at that First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. This one hasn't had the same kind of play that the one about guns for bears gets, but since it is the first in a series, maybe it was significant to the authors. Or maybe it was just put there as a place holder until the editors found a better idea, but in the rush to get it out, they went to press with this freedom of religion and speech and press thing. They probably figured since it was an amendment kind of thing, and it could be fixed in rewrites.
But there it is: Freedom of speech. And that's why we have all these people opening up their mouths and saying things to test the limits of "free." Shouting "movie" in a crowded firehou"se: okay. Shouting "fire" in a crowded moviehouse: not okay. Go ahead and talk your fool head off, just try and keep other people's safety in mind, and maybe you should also consider people's feelings. You might not cause somebody to catch fire or get trampled, but you could find yourself on the wrong end of a defamation or libel suit just because you can't just say anything. If you do, you might have to pay for it. Maybe not cash money, but you could get in really big trouble. Court-type trouble. You might eventually find yourself in Supreme Court-type trouble.
The Supreme Court is where you could, eventually, have to argue your assertion that shouting "haddock" in a crowded fish house is not a danger to the public at large. You really have to push the bounds of taste and decorum to find yourself stand in front of a judge, let alone those judges. For the past few months, for example, a certain marmalade-infused gentleman has been testing the bounds of the First Amendment, but since he's running for president, and might eventually be the boss of those eight current and potentially nine judges, he feels pretty good about saying whatever it is that comes in to his "mind."
Imagine the surreality of the moment when the someone who chooses to spout off in his yam-hued wake happens to be one of those Supreme Court justices. Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg told CNN“He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego. … How has he gotten away with not turning over his tax returns? The press seems to be very gentle with him on that.” 
And how did Mister Squash respond? In a tweet, of course. "Justice Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court has embarrassed all by making very dumb political statements about me. Her mind is shot - resign!" In a constitutional cage match, my money's on Ginsburg. 

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