When Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Spector exercised his right to free speech last week, he prompted a quick response from Robert Bork. Known for being the first Supreme Court Justice nominee to be, well, “borked,” the judge was in no mood for Spector’s silliness. “I know Specter,” he retorted, “and the truth is not in him.”
What prompted Bork’s remark was the Senator’s suggestion – make that accusation – that the judge “had original intent, and if his original intent stood, we’d still be segregating the United States Senate with African Americans on one side and Caucasians on the other side.”
Both remarks were made Sunday on CNN’s Late Edition.
While Spector’s right to free speech is a highly valued freedom is without question. But the right to speak freely falls short of excusing some of the asinine excesses and down right abuses that often accompany that right.
It’s one of the of living in a free society. People have the right to say – and do – dumb things. And they exercise that freedom liberally.
Columnist Morton Marcus, for example, may have out-trumped Spector. While musing in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s recent eminent domain decision, he wrote that private property is “a privilege conferred by the government.” That, of course, would have come as a shock to the founders of nation whose sacrifices provided the framework for private ownership. It also irked Ross Bell, a Wayne County Libertarian. In response to Marcus opinion, Bell quipped, “Welcome to the USSA.”
Then there was the incident at the University of Georgia’s School of Journalism, reported in the Athens Banner-Herald.
John Soloski’s expressed concern for a co-worker’s safety – coupled with a compliment for her appearance – got him in hot water for sexual harassment. The compliment on his part turned to a complaint on her part and Soloski was found guilty. At the time, she didn’t act offended, he claimed. The event took place at a fundraiser for the school where the “offender” is dean.
Another recent abuse of free speech occurred in Victorville, California.
Bethany Hauf, a 34-year student at the local community college, requested permission to write a term paper. The subject? The effect of Christianity on the development of the United States. Her professor, apparently unacquainted with free speech or common sense, granted permission. But he added one stipulation: “No mention of big ‘G’ gods, i.e., one, true god argumentation.”
The professor, it seems, feared other students would be offended at the mere mention of a “big ‘G’ god.” Common sense prevailed. Hauf ignored the nutty professor and mentioned God 41 times. She receive and F. The professor received a law suit, compliments of American Center for Law and Justice. The story was reported in The Daily Press.
More insanity was seen in nearby Long Beach, California. According to The Los Angeles Times, a representative of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) voiced his objection to the Aquarium of the Pacific’s cafeteria including fish. “Serving fish in its cafeteria. serving fish at an aquarium is like serving poodle burgers at a dog show,” he said.
Speaking of animal rights, silliness isn’t uniquely American. The French have their own share of curious folk. According to AFP reports, Jacques Peyrat, the mayor of the Riviera city Nice, was accused of being cruel towards the rat he killed last week.
The report noted that Peyrat was visiting a trash collection area in Nice’s historic center when he spotted “a rat almost as big as a cat.” He grabbed a shovel and brought it down on the rodent, killing it.
France’s Society for the Protection of Animals (SPA) has lodged a criminal complaint against the Mayor. The report quoted SPA’s regional chief as saying, “A huge rat-clearing operation is necessary, but nothing justifies going off on a punitive expedition against these animals, which are attracted to the trash cans left out at night in the Old City by restaurants.”
But most noticeable is the good ol’ boy from Tennessee who is expressing his right to free speech by toting a Confederate Battle Flag across Dixie. H.K. Edgerton’s 1,300 odyssey is designed to draw attention to Southern heritage. He plans to march all the way to Texas.
Upon entering Marysville, Tennessee, Edgerton took time to lambaste the flag-banning school board for practicing what he termed, “cultural genocide” that is dividing blacks and whites, according to the Marysville Daily Times.
“I’m just an ordinary country boy from the South who loves the Southland,” he added. Edgerton, by the way, is black. And that causes one to wonder if he would agree that Arlen Spector’s attack on Robert Bork was, indeed, out of line.