Sunday, April 17, 2011
It seems so hard for some people to understand. The First Amendment is not exclusive property of any gender, race, group, organization, or political party. It’s there for everyone’s benefit. The founding fathers were wise enough to know that popular speech doesn’t need much protection; it’s the unpopular speech that needs protection.
When you’re in Madison, the majority is decidedly left-leaning. Some lean farther left than others, some make a bigger noise than others, but the speech of ALL is protected. That includes Sarah Palin. What’s so hard to understand about that? Palin’s speech Saturday afternoon definitely reflects a minority view in Madison, and it’s fair to call it “unpopular speech.”
A Facebook friend of mine (John Roach) who writes a monthly column for Madison Magazine posted an update on Sunday morning saying “It would have been smarter for the unionists to remain silent and let SP talk all day”. This engendered a string of amazing and revealing comments, some of them from people who apparently think it’s just fine to try and shout down Palin.
Roach made another comment, midway through the string of responses to his initial post, that the Unionists have had the pulpit on the Capitol Square for two months, and no one has shouted them down. Someone then posted that the Palin folks had better audio equipment than the anti-Walker forces could afford (???), which apparently was stated as some sort of justification for trying to shout Palin down.
This is exactly the sort of thing that’s so troubling to the folks who are “in the middle”, so to speak. First, the affordability argument is absurd. Second, it’s the folks in the middle who are going to decide what happens next in Wisconsin, regarding recalls, the budget battle, and a zillion other political things. No one is going to change hearts and minds of the right or left. They’ve made up their minds a long time ago. Trying to shout down Palin sends a message to the folks in the middle that the left doesn’t really believe in free speech.
Allowing people like Palin and Trump to speak freely (although I’m convinced AFP gave Sarah a few bucks to show up in Madison) allows their views to be examined by all, not through the filter of Tweets or Facebook posts, and to be evaluated on the basis of their public pronouncements.
I’m a firm believer that the folks in the middle will make all the difference, and they have a right to hear voices on both sides.
Posted by Tim Morrissey at 10:24 AM