Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ben Masel: R.I.P.

Ben Masel taught more judges, cops, lawyers, and just plain regular folks more about the First Amendment than any teacher, professor, lecturer, or conjecturer. It's fair to say Ben made a living off the First Amendment, in a much different sense than the shout-show radio and TV talkers who rely on the First Amendment to get away with the ridiculous nonsense they often spew.

Ben often used a bullhorn, but seldom raised his voice. He was never violent. He never tried to force his way of thinking on anyone, but did a great deal to persuade people to change their mind, and change their views.

Only a force as powerful as cancer could still a voice like Ben's, and, sadly, cancer took Ben this weekend. He was only 56.

As a news anchor, I interviewed Ben scores of times, on a variety of topics. He was involved in a lot of causes, and was a frequent candidate for office. He had a great sense of humor, which he needed, because he was arrested so many times in so many places. He almost always prevailed, and usually those who arrested him wound up getting an on-the-job lesson in how the First Amendment works.

Even though he was undergoing chemo this spring, and in the hospital a lot, Ben made it up to the Capitol Square just about every time there was a rally. Cancer wasn't going to keep Ben down. He was active to his last day.

Madison has lost an institution, and those of us who knew Ben - including the First Amendment - have lost a good friend. Rest in peace, Ben Masel.

1 comment:

  1. Ben was a mensch. (Look it up.)

    May his memory be for a blessing.

    Barry (not the Alvarez)