Good news on the Free Speech front

While you probably won’t hear it reported quite this way anywhere else, today the Supreme Court voted 8-0 (Alito didn’t vote, probably because he was too new to have reviewed the case) on a case that upholds our freedom of speech. Nearly everyone else will report this as good news for anti-abortion activists, which it is – but, I’m more thrilled about the protection of our free speech, and related freedoms.

In SCHEIDLER et al. v. NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN, INC., et al., the Supremes ruled that federal extortion and racketeering laws don’t apply to organized demonstrations and protests.

If you recall, the NOW had filed suit against a pro-life group, claiming they were in violation of the RICO and Hobbs Acts, resulting in a federal injunction against the protesters, which in my opinion was a travesty. After 20 years, it appears that uncommon sense has finally prevailed.

Not that I’m in favor of burning down clinics or injuring medical “professionals.” Violence is violence, and there are laws in place to deal with those issues. What NOW had done was to block organized protests. Various social activist groups, as well as the AFL-CIO, had joined with the anti-abortion groups to fight this ruling.

Again, this will probably get more press under the “abortion” heading, but I think that the real victory is for our right to organized free speech.

Here’s a link to the AP article: MSNBC, and a link to the court’s opinion:

The Consequences of Free Speech

Okay, I haven’t written for a while – not that I haven’t a lot to say, it’s just being “in the moment” and the moment is usually ill-timed. Yeah, I know, that doesn’t make any sense at all, but neither does much of what I read, so I figure I’m okay.

I’ve been thinking of bestowing a Free Speech Award to Denmark because of the whole cartoon-Allah thing. I know they’re not even Americans, but you have to admit, this whole thing has given us a great object lesson about Freedom of Speech: As the Apostle Paul said, “all things are permissable, but not all things are beneficial” (my translation). Or, as someone else has said, “Your freedoms stop where my freedoms begin.”

You see, we can guarantee the right of free speech, but we can’t guarantee that others won’t be offended, or throw some free speech right back at you. They may even decide to trample on some of your freedoms in retaliation, not to mention your face. Sure, there are laws against things like that, but the reality is that it hurts just the same. You can say what you want, but just watch out for what comes back at you.

As another wise man once said, “discretion is the better part of valor.”

My own quotable quote on the subject: “Be free, but don’t be stupid.”

Another Freedom of Speech Award – for “Selective Free Speech”

I think this award could be shared by a number of people who spoke at Coretta Scott King’s funeral, and used the platform for their own purposes, mainly to throw stones at the Bush Administration. Apparently nothing is sacred to the Left. However, due to a truly standout performance, I will give the award to none other than former President Jimmy Carter.

Carter has excelled lately at saying stupid things in public, and yesterday was no exception. Besides his comment that Hurricane Katrina was a civil rights issue, he slammed the President on the current spying issue, mentioning that King and her family were once, too, victims of wire-tapping.

He failed to mention, of course, that the wire-tapping had been ordered by Bobby Kennedy during the Kennedy-Johnson administration. So, I guess this award should be given for the best use of “selective free speech.”

Honorable mention should go to the Rev. Joseph Lowery, for the best dramatic presentation of rambling, illogical free speech, and to the brave person who invited Michael Bolton to sing.

The Freedom of Speech Awards

I love the concept of “Freedom of Speech,” at least the way it was originally conceived. Freedom of Speech was granted by the First Amendment to the Constitution:

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.

Of course, the founding fathers would probably have been a bit more concise in their wording had they conceived of the kind of perversities now considered to be “free speech” (some of which do not involve “speech” at all…), but that’s a topic for another time. I suspect they had in mind the abuses they had just fought against, specifically right to speak against the government without being shot or hanged (by the government, that is…).

Freedom of Speech is a wonderful thing. So wonderful, in fact, that I have decided to establish my own “Alden’s Blurt Freedom of Speech Awards.” This just means that whenever I feel like it, I will pick someone who is exercising their Constitutional right of Free Speech, and spotlight them here. There will be no trophies, money or other prizes, just the prestige of being mentioned here.

Now, I should perhaps clarify my own perception of who best uses their freedom of speech. My own slightly warped definition of Freedom of Speech is “the right to say really stupid things in front of millions of people.” I believe that this proves and champions America’s Freedom of Speech better than anything. I am limiting, at this point, the potential candidates to those speaking about political issues, but I reserve the right to amend this at any time.

The problem, of course, is that there are just so many people to choose from.

I am very pleased to announce the first ever Alden’s Blurt Freedom of Speech Award is going to none other than my old Senator from California, Diane Feinstein. She was speaking about why the Democrats are likely to vote in a party-line vote against Samuel Alito. The issue, of course, is that he is simply not a liberal.

According to the AP, she “said things are different from when the Senate considered Breyer and Ginsburg, who were confirmed 87-9 and 96-3 respectively.” She stated:

There was not the polarization within America that is there today and not the defined move to take this court in a singular direction …

Like Ginsburg was nominated because she was so moderate? And, like the “polarization” is something out of the Democrats’ control?

This absolutely brilliant statement by Ms. Feinstein, in my opinion (which is all that really matters here), has earned her this most prestigious honor, in proving that Free Speech doesn’t have to be true, thoughtful, or even logical. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what Freedom of Speech is all about.