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Friday, July 24, 2009

K'ville's Nathan Tabor Needs To Read The Constitution Before He Comments About It

You can read the full article for yourself, but Tabor's screed ("A Tale of Two Constitutions") starts like this:

In the era of President Barack Obama, more than ever we will witness examples of selective application of the US Constitution's First Amendment.

...Two recent cases reveal just how partisan advocates of First Amendment truly are. One might argue that the USA actually possesses two separate Constitutions: one to control patriotic US Citizens, and one to allow the most offensive even hate-filled rhetoric.

Tabor then tells of Case #1, involving a supposedly radical Islamic group holding a symposium in a Chicago Hilton Hotel entitled "The Fall of Capitalism and the Rise of Islam".  Much to Tabor's distress, the federal government didn't rush right in and close it down.  First Amendment freedom of speech and all that.

Tabor then contrasts that with Case #2, involving a shopping mall kiosk owner in Concord Mills, North Carolina (the largest mall in NC).  The owner had displayed anti-Obama, anti-liberal bumper stickers and posters -- his kiosk was called "Free Market Warrior".  After receiving some customer complaints, the mall decided not to renew the kiosk owners lease.  (You can find more info here)

Tabor concludes:

So, my friends, there you have it. In Chicago, members and supporters of a radical Islamic group are allowed to exercise their First Amendment rights, but an American citizen and small businessman is denied his right to advertise items that oppose a sitting president. And the US Constitution continues on its downward spiral -- protecting radicals and terrorists, but not protecting American citizens and capitalists.

No, Nathan.  Get a clue.

The First Amendment prohibits the government from banning speech.  That's just what happened in Case #1 -- the group, offensive as its message might be, had every right to conduct a peaceful symposium, and the government couldn't interfere.  The group was protected by the First Amendment.  The hotel Hilton could have stopped them, but they (apparently) didn't want to.

With Case #2, the government wasn't even a party to the controversy.  The mall closed the kiosk owner down, and it was their right to do so.  Yes, they CAN shut you down for your political viewpoint (see below). Their property, their rules (and if enough people complain, they can change those rules.  That's how the free market works, people).

In each case, a private business made a decision about how to run its business and who to do business with.* Others may or may not approve of their choices, but in any event no First Amendment issue arises.

This is what happens when idiots try to make a point without knowing what they're talking about.

* There is, one could argue (wrongly**), a discrimination issue, but even that has nothing to do with the First Amendment.

**  But no, there is no unconstitutional discrimination.  The laws protect discrimination by private businesses based on race, religion, sex, etc.  Not on political viewpoint.

UPDATE:  Freemarketwarrier.com is the website for the kiosk's company.  They sell stuff like this:

_Obama_Comes_fro_4a60f001146cb_170x150

And have blurbs like this:

The majority of 2008 was formed by millions of Americans who succumbed to a politics of personality. Since the development of mass-media, demagogues skilled at counterfeiting personal connections to millions through an impersonal medium have preyed on those willing to be duped. The masses who see Obama as someone who will personally take care of their needs are just such dupes. They could not explain what the economy does when it works right let alone what’s wrong with it. But with minds programmed for a more primitive tribal society, they are looking for a father figure (or perhaps a sugar daddy) to spare them from the need to think and be responsible.

One step removed from this, are those who see the president as a symbol because of his color. (If the president looks like me, then my team has won somehow and that must be good for me. Alternatively, my white guilt will be appeased if I vote for a president of a different color.) One is tempted, given the genuine historical limitations suffered by black Americans, to sympathize. But the cure for racist identity politics has never been more racist identity politics in the other direction. And for the vast majority of Americans today who have no pre-1965 memories, it is wrong to allow them or yourself to be defined by things that never happened to you. You were not handicapped by slavery or the Irish potato famine, or the pogroms in the Ukraine or the internment of Japanese Americans, etc. You are your own person and you're living your life today. It's important to study history but it’s equally important to live your life today. If you confuse the two you end up voting for Obama instead of getting a job.

It's not particularly offensive in my view.  But as I said, it doesn't have to be.  The owners of the mall can decide they don't want it in their property for whatever reasons they want, so long as it is not racist, gender-biased, etc.

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