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Too many Americans have a mistaken view of First Amendment rights

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I’m as staunch a defender of free speech rights as the next guy, but I recognize that there are limits to those rights.

Some folks, however, are BADLY MISREADING the First Amendment:

More than 4 in 10 Americans think the First Amendment protects them from being fired for what they say, and more than 3 in 10 think it applies to situations like A&E’s now-revoked suspension of “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll. But they’re wrong.

In the new survey, 45 percent of Americans said the First Amendment does not allow people to be fired from a job for expressing their views, while only 36 percent said such firings are allowed under the Constitution. Twenty percent said they weren’t sure.

Moreover, 35 percent think the First Amendment does not allow a television network to suspend an on-screen personality for expressing a politically incorrect point of view, while 43 percent said such a suspension is permitted under the Constitution. Another 22 percent said they weren’t sure.

In fact, the amendment — which starts with the phrase “Congress shall make no law” — protects Americans only against the government’s intrusion into free speech and does not apply to the acts of private employers. But that didn’t stop politicians and others from weighing in after “Duck Commander” Phil Robertson was suspended by A&E in December for comments he made abour homosexualityh and pre-civil-rights-era race relations that many people found offensive.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) said that, even if he might find Robertson’s opinions offensive, “this is a free countryand everyone is entitled to express their views.”

“In fact,” Jindal continued, “I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment.”

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) also weighed in, posting on Facebook that “Free speech is an endangered species. Those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.”

The high-profile conservative defenders of Robertson’s right to offend others showed a welcome, and very American, belief in the importance of free speech. What they seemed to be missing was a basic understanding of what actual protections people have or have ever had in the private sector. (Perhaps Jindal is not familiar with the use of “morals clauses” in entertainment industry contracts, which allow a performer to be fired for behavior that may bring the network into “public disrepute.”)

That confusion about constitutional rights isn’t limited to Republicans, the new poll finds. Thirty-eight percent of Republicans, 38 percent of independents and 29 percent of Democrats said they believed the First Amendment applied in a similar situation. More generally, 50 percent of Republicans, 45 percent of Democrats and 41 percent of independents said they think the amendment shields people from being fired for things that they say.

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26 Comments

  1. I don’t remember Piyush Jindal standing up on behalf of Janet Jackson during the Super Bowl. He’s a hypocrite taking political potshots for the entertainment value of his right-wing constituency.

    • thehereandnow1

      So Del, expressing your personal opinion and faith, while at no point endorsing, condoning, or calling for violence against a certain group, and not using any offensive names is the same thing as exposing your nipple to millions of viewers? And yet I suppose if it was a gay man being interviewed and he discussed how much he enjoyed sex with men that you’d find that ok?

      And you want to talk about hypocrite? How about liberals who take tiny signs of microscopic organisms found on Mars as signs of life, yet a breathing human being within a woman’s womb is not considered a life and should be allowed to be killed if the woman wants it to be. How’s that?

      • thehereandnow1:

        “And yet I suppose if it was a gay man being interviewed and he discussed how much he enjoyed sex with men that you’d find that ok?”

        You’re unwittingly demonstrating the misunderstanding of the First Amendment. Free speech has absolutely nothing to do with what one person (or a large group of people) consider ‘ok.’ Agreeable speech has no bearing on free speech.

        “How about liberals who take tiny signs of microscopic organisms found on Mars as signs of life, yet a breathing human being within a woman’s womb is not considered a life and should be allowed to be killed if the woman wants it to be. How’s that?”

        A fetus doesn’t breath. Breathing does not occur until it is outside of the womb, at which point your red herring argument becomes even more moot than it already was.

        • thehereandnow1

          The fetus has cell functionality much like the remains of that organism used to claim signs of life on other planets. Therefore you are wrong.

          With the speech remarks, libs love to claim that a gay man professing his love for the male backside is him expressing his freedom of speech. Can’t have it both ways libs.

          • Corey Hagemann

            It is free speech, the same as Phillie Phi’s speech was free as a birddog. If someone in my office went on and on about all the glorious anal, etc. sex they were having (S, L, G, B, T, Q–I’ll hire ‘em all) they would be reprimanded, maybe even suspended. Philistine works for what was once a very gay-friendly network, who felt the need to use their First Amendment rights to put on the air whatever FCC laws (not exactly sure who regulates cable) allows them to. Now that they’ve made the full transition from acceptance of others to acceptance of whatever will make them the most money, he’s back on.

          • Cell functionality and breathing are not the same thing. Therefore, you are a moron.

            As already noted, a gay man professing his love for the male backside is just as protected by freedom of speech as Phil Robertson’s comments. There is no having it both ways here.

            By the by, why is it I hear more about the logistics of homosexual sex from homophobes than I do from homosexuals themselves? Got something on your mind, thehereandnow1?

  2. Hank hill

    So the liberal,litmus test of opposing views is now reduced to what polls reflect instead of the entire verbiage of the Constitution? C’mon Pat, you mow as well as millions of DD watchers that the issue was all about the LGBT crowd beng ” offended” at language and as a course of reflective support every liberal institution and like minded intolerant liberal minion chimed in. As is always the case when someone opposes a liberal point of view, they’re branded as haters. Truth of it is though that there were, and are tens of thousands of people that supports Mr. Robertsons freedom of speech. The left doesn’t support freedom of speech, they’re about silencing speech of those who disagree with them. Go back to your poll driven data and tell me how many supporters called A&E in support of Phil and then tell me how many called in support of the LGBT crowd. My guess is that you won’t because it’ll reveal what people really feel and think about the issue. But of course they’ll be wrong as liberals are always right.

    • When Phil Robertson gets put in prison for expressing his views, we’ll have a chat about infringing on his freedom of speech. Until then, try reading the article Pat posted and not just the headline.

      Liberals aren’t “silencing speech of those who disagree with them.” You are living proof that that is not the case. If that was actually true, I wouldn’t be able to read your comment.

  3. HH, so you think the left is about silencing speech they don’t agree with. The whole anti-science crowd is from the right wing. If that isn’t an effort to silence the opposition, what is?

    The thing that irks most thoughtful people about far right fanatics such as yourself, is your lack of introspection and myopic vision of the world. You all project onto the other side everything you’re guilty of. And then you wonder why so many don’t respect your ignorance that is ultimately turned into the victim card.

    Say hello to your wife Peg. She seems to have a much better grasp on reality and forward thinking.

  4. Where did Jindal say firing Phil was unconstitutional? Your comments make it appear like he doesn’t know our Constitution. He DOES disagree with the firing, but doesn’t say it’s Unconstitutional. There is a HUGE difference. You make him to be a fool-talk about yellow journalism.

    • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) said that, even if he might find Robertson’s opinions offensive, “this is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views.”

      “In fact,” Jindal continued, “I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment.”

      Sure. Jindal didn’t say the exact phrase “firing Phil was unconstitutional.” But the above comment (taken directly from Pat’s post, FYI) clearly indicates that Jindal sees the firing (actually, suspension) of Phil Robertson as evidence that TV no longer believes in the First Amendment.

      Is Jindal just stringing together non sequiturs? Or did you just not read the post very carefully?

      If you want to argue that Jindal never said the action of unconstitutional, I can live with that. But only so long as you accept that Barack Obama is clearly not a socialist because he has never said the exact phrase “I, Barack Hussein Obama, am a socialist.” Or furthermore, that Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity are clearly not rational human beings because they have never said the exact phrase “I, (insert name here), am a rational human being.”

  5. Hereandnow: Not surprisingly, you seem unable to understand that the Duck guy’s First Amendment rights were in no way violated when A&E suspended him.There was no government involvement in the matter; hence, the First Amendment didn’t apply. Any media company has every right to suspend or fire anybody for almost any reason it chooses. In certain cases, there might be cause for a wrongful-termination lawsuit, but not on free-speech grounds.

    • thehereandnow1

      Not surprisingly you and people like Yeager do not seem to understand my point. When a homosexual person (male or female) is interviewed speaking their views, the mostly liberal media praise this person for being such a forward thinker. If a religious organization were to take issue and demand this person be removed from whatever media they starred in, these same liberals (who wanted Phil Roberston tarred and feathered) would be bashing that group, saying they are against that person’s first Amendment rights. They feel the rules apply to how they want, when they want.

      Time and time again, whenever anyone expresses an anti-Christian view, liberals praise this person. However, as soon as someone expresses their pro-Christian view, regardless of the fact that no offensive names were used or any call to violence made, these same freedom loving liberals want this person silenced.

      And any attempt to attribute the decline in the last season premiere episode as vindication or justification that Phil Robertson’s comments have come home to roost are lame, idiotic, and moronic as the liberals claiming victory. The show still drew 8+ million viewers. And it was still way better than any of the liberal crap being put forth on CNN or MSNBC at the time.

      • So, your issue isn’t with the reality of the situation, your issue is with a hypothetical situation? Or is your problem (as it sure seems to be) that homosexuals aren’t censored for expressing their views?

        Tell you what, sport: you go ahead and find any time that Pat or myself has expressed the view that a Christian should be punished or silenced for his/her views and we’ll talk. Until then, why not just admit what your real problem is: you don’t like homosexuals (a.k.a. you’re “losing your country”).

        • thehereandnow1

          Yeager, ha, ha, you’re funny. A hypothetical situation? I’m sorry I can pick out a specific instance of my point, there are way too many to mention. Though I do like how you’ve resorted back to the ol’ liberal playbook and claim that my “real problem” is I do not like homosexuals. 1, you don’t even know me. 2, at no point in any of my comments have I said anything against homosexuals. I have simply pointed out correctly (despite your repeated failed attempts), that liberals are very one-sided and have a dynamic view of free speech. You should be able to say whatever you want, shout it from the highest mountain top, as long as you completely agree with them. Say something slightly contrary, and they will work their hardest to silence you.

          Nice try Yeags, but again, you’ve failed.

          • Just one example would suffice. Especially if it involves either me or Pat calling for the punishment or silencing of Christians. If you have so many, it shouldn’t be that hard to relate one story to us. Before you go claiming that you have “pointed out correctly” that liberals are hypocritical about free speech, shouldn’t you provide at least one piece of evidence? Or is something conclusive in your world if you just repeat it over and over again?

            You haven’t used any offensive words, but your feelings about homosexuals and homosexuality are pretty obvious. Anyone with a functional understanding of context in the English language can figure that out. Besides, apparently, I don’t need to cite any actual evidence to claim victory in the argument.

            And where do you get the idea I’m liberal? Because I disagree with your myopic viewpoint? To quote a small-minded schmuck I used to know “you don’t even know me.”

      • than1 – What are the homosexuals supposed to do when they talk about Christianity and how its been used as a weapon against them throughout the centuries. I suppose you think the Jews are supposed to be sensitive to the Nazi belief system too?

        It’s about time some group stood up to the hypocrisy’s of religion and its just like people like you to play the role of martyr and victim when throughout history, your belief system has been responsible for the some of most heinous acts of violence known to man. Do I need to remind you how homosexual men came to be called faggots?

        • thehereandnow1

          Robert, let’s just put a stop to things right now. Somehow, someone with some ties to religion did something to you. It must have happened because every chance you get you’re blaming everything on religion. I’m sorry you find life so miserable.

          And even though you claim to be of such superior intelligence because you deny the existence of a higher power, you make the stupid mistake of assuming. I am in no way playing the role of a martyr. I am just continually defeating your sorry-ass comebacks. And no, don’t need you to tell the story of how homosexual men came to be known as the name you use. Though I think that since you seem to bring it up at the drop of a hat, you really enjoy that story.

          Unlike you, Yeager, and apparently Pat, I’d have no objection to anyone of any sexual persuasion/orientation telling about what they like/believe. As long as they don’t endorse violence against another group, go right ahead. It’s when that same person turns around and demands that a person who says a view contrary to his/hers be removed from a television show, have books pulled from shelves, etc. that there is a problem. See libs, part of being able to express your opinion is sometimes people will have opinions that differ from yours.

  6. By the way, “Duck Dynasty” ratings have declined sharply since this controversy arose:

    http://tvline.com/2014/01/16/duck-dynasty-season-5-ratings-premiere/

  7. Just for the record, when this Duck Dynasty incident first happened, I said Robertson hasn’t expressed anything that hasn’t been said by a large percentage of Christians who use the bible as a hurtful weapon to defend their prejudices and fears. I also said let the general public decide if his show continues to succeed or loses its high rating and advertisers accordingly (in so many words).

  8. Shawn Robinson

    This whole episode is an exercise in free speech. Phil makes a few comments to Esquire magazine probably common for people of his age, indoctrination and regional values. People all over the country chime in about whether they agree or disagree. No one is arrested or fined by the government.

  9. Steverino

    As the ratings plummet Duck Dynasty items will hit the clearance rack before going to the warehouse of leisure suits and earth shoes.

  10. hereandnow says to Yeager: “[Y]ou don’t even know me.”

    But, of course, hereandknow presumes to know everything about me and anyone else who disagrees with him.

    At least Yeager uses his real surname. And I use my full name. But hereandnow hides behind an alias. What a coward!

    • thehereandnow1

      Kudos to you Pat for being such a decent, stand-up guy as to use your real name on your own blog. That’s impressive.

      And Yeager, last words to you, seeing as you have trouble seeing the truth even if it was right in front of you, go scratch. How’s your functional understanding of the context of the English language handle that?

  11. Well, for a current example of some anticipated religion based violence, let’s hope that the white widow terrorists that are threatening mayhem over at the Russian Olympics are thwarted before they can inflict damage on innocent people. A friend of mine thinks while the USA counter intelligence has officials over in Russia to be ready to gather up all USA citizens should violence occur, they will also gather up Snowden in a clandestine event. It will be Putin’s gift to the USA for helping them overcome any potential threats of terrorist violence. Snowden should watch his back, even more than he already is.

    By the way, have you all noticed how the media first called those terrorists “white widows” but the American media has changed it to “black widows”. Is the American white majority to sensitive to have such things associated with their color? Better to associate violence with black is the message the MSM in America is projecting. Apparently the term “white widows” comes from the use of caucasian widows of terrorists who have been killed in the battles over there in Eastern Europe. The terrorist orgs get the widows to seek revenge for the loss of their husband. Look at what religion is capable of enabling. Sad and sick at the same time.

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