That Damn 1st Amendment

Yesterday I wrote about how Dr. Laura saying her 1st Amendment rights were being violated because people publicly criticize the garbage that she spews on her radio show is total bullshit.  See, the 1st Amendment has nothing at all to do with anything other than the government censoring your speech or punishing you for exercising your right to free speech, neither of which happened to Schlessinger.  Here is what she said, though, when announcing why she is leaving the radio:

“The reason (for retiring) is I want to regain my First Amendment rights, she explained. “I want to be able to say what’s on my mind and in my heart and what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry, some special interest group deciding this is the time to silence a voice of dissent and attack affiliates, attack sponsors.”

At the end of my post, I pointed out that Sarah Palin has this same type of confusion when it comes to the 1st Amendment (this quote is from the 2008 presidential election season):

“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.” [via]

Now, it’s like fate has brought these two women together in a moment of total Constitutional misunderstanding, complete with Palin’s good ole’ metaphor of physically shooting down your political enemy (which isn’t new) and an implicit endorsement by Palin of Schlessinger’s n-word rant (which: why?  or wtf?).  Via Sarah Palin’s twitter page (which is ALMOST as good as her Facebook page).

[The first tweet chronologically, which is therefore on the bottom, says: “Dr. Laura. don’t retreat…reload! (Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence “isn’t America,not fair”)”  The second tweet that she wrote immediately after (and is the first one listed above) says, “Dr. Laura=even more powerful & effective w/out the shackles, so watch out Constitutional obstructionists.  And b thankful 4 her voice,America!”  Those are exactly as tweeted.]

I’m not really sure what to say about this.  It is complete idiocy (even the Hollywood Gossip blog gets that).

This has NOTHING to do with the Constitution and I am sick and tired of Republicans/conservatives/Tea Party nuts running to that document whenever they want to say anything about anything.  Especially when they use that document to restrict other people (Don’t they get it?  The Constitution is about rights, not restrictions.  FFS.)  What is “not fair” about criticism in the public sphere?  And what the hell is “not American” about it?  She’s just making shit up.  Out of thin air.  But obviously a good chunk of Americans will believe whatever without any proof at all (and I’m sure the fact that all these people who believe all these false things about the president don’t think those things because of his skin color.  At all).

Womanist Musings explains the move toward yelling “First Amendment” when you, a white person, are criticized for shitty racist privileged prejudiced things that you say:

I am absolutely fascinated with the idea that Dr. Laura suddenly feels restricted.  Though she is framing her argument in the first amendment, what Dr. Laura really wants is the right to be a bigot without consequence. As far as I can tell, her rights were not impeded.  She engaged in a conversation in which her language was obviously racist but somehow she is being stifled and unable to dissent.  What people like her want is not freedom of speech, it is freedom from consequence.  You see the issue here is that freedom of speech applies to everyone. […]

this is a reflection of Dr.Laura’s belief in the tyranny of the majority and White Supremacy. It is interesting that she claims her speech is being silenced, because what is actually happening is legitimate dissent to her language. If every caller were in agreement with her position, Dr. Laura would have no problem with the free expression of others, and this in of itself is a form of silencing.  To only be allowed to consent is to be oppressed.

Can I say it one more time, just for emphasis: “You see the issue here is that freedom of speech applies to everyone.” Brilliant.  And right on.

[Side note: I really wish Sarah Palin would stop using the “reload” metaphor because it is threatening and violent, and she means it against people like me, the ones who don’t like her and openly criticize her.]

Now I am going to let Joan Walsh over at Salon take it from here (I’m re-posting the entire thing because I sort of wish I had written it first):

On the same day Sarah Palin trashed the “cackle of rads” who “hijacked feminism,” she also came to the defense of a staunch anti-feminist, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, on Twitter.

Early Wednesday Palin attempted to declare herself a feminist, to celebrate the 90th anniversary of women’s suffrage. She tweeted: “Who hijacked term:”feminist”?A cackle of rads who want 2 crucify other women w/whom they disagree on a singular issue; it’s ironic (& passé)”

But about five hours later, she embraced the defiantly anti-feminist Schlessinger, tweeting, “Dr.Laura:don’t retreat…reload! (Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence ‘isn’t American,not fair’)” Then she added, “Dr.Laura=even more powerful & effective w/out the shackles, so watch out Constitutional obstructionists. And b thankful 4 her voice,America!”

Digression: It’s scary to think we just had a vice presidential nominee who doesn’t understand the Constitution, who thinks Schlessinger’s First Amendment rights “ceased 2exist” because she was criticized for haranguing a black woman who called for advice, using the word “nigger” 11 times. Again, Gov. Palin, the First Amendment protects us from government infringing on our speech rights; it doesn’t take away other Americans’ right to criticize.

But it’s also funny that Palin goes from pretending she’s a feminist to embracing the anti-feminist traditional-values preacher Dr. Laura, who is herself to family values what the four-times-married Rush Limbaugh is. (That’s no surprise; the two wealthy entertainers clearly live by the “Do as I say, not as I do” maxim.) I guess when it comes to Palin, right wing politics will trump feminism every time.

But Schlessinger’s anti-feminism had a very specific target two years ago: Palin herself. I vaguely remembered Dr. Laura expressing disapproval when Palin was nominated. But I didn’t remember how vicious she was. Here’s what Schlessinger blogged Sept. 2, 2008:

“I am extremely disappointed in the choice of Sarah Palin as the Vice Presidential candidate of the Republican Party. I will still vote for Senator McCain, because I am very concerned about having a fundamental leftist, especially one who is a marvelous orator, as President…  I’m stunned – couldn’t the Republican Party find one competent female with adult children to run for Vice President with McCain? I realize his advisors probably didn’t want a “mature” woman, as the Democrats keep harping on his age. But really, what kind of role model is a woman whose fifth child was recently born with a serious issue, Down Syndrome, and then goes back to the job of Governor within days of the birth?  I am haunted by the family pictures of the Palins during political photo-ops, showing the eldest daughter, now pregnant with her own child, cuddling the family’s newborn.

Now, you can see Palin’s Dr. Laura defense as the work of a big-hearted, forgiving mama grizzly. It’s also possible she forgot about Schlessinger’s diss (but unlikely, because Palin has a talent for holding grudges.) I’d take it as evidence that even among right wingers, sisterhood (as well as victimhood) is powerful. Whatever, they deserve each other.

As a fellow mother, though, I’d suggest Palin keep Bristol, a single mom, away from Dr. Laura. The syndicated bully treats single moms about as viciously as she treated the black woman who phoned in for help dealing with her white in-laws’ racism – and does it with far more frequency. I’m not sure why Palin is more outraged by “a cackle of rads who want 2 crucify other women w/whom they disagree on a singular issue” than by Schlessinger’s attacks on her and her daughter. Maybe she’ll explain on Facebook.

And you’re right, “cackle” makes no sense there, but since Palin has already bragged about her Shakespearean way with words, it barely merits mentioning anymore.

In related news (meaning that Palin tweet yesterday about “feminist” being a hijacked terms by “a cackle of rads”), you must see this amazing deconstruction of that tweet at Wonkette.


5 thoughts on “That Damn 1st Amendment

  1. Sarah Palin isn’t even worthy of the time you took to write this post (which I love). our freedom of speech is strong and unwavering. that freedom doesn’t come with impunity for the crap we often say.

  2. Pingback: Last Time « Speaker's Corner

  3. Pingback: Palin is NOT Shackled « Speaker's Corner

  4. Pingback: Rhetoric « Speaker's Corner


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