You know, it has struck me that many people haven't yet figured out what the First Amendment really says, and what it really does. Some Hollyweird celebrities are upset that their fans have stopped spending money on them. The Dixie Chicks have lost several performances and have also suffered a 40% drop in sales, as a direct result of Natalie Maines saying (while performing overseas) that they were "ashamed" that President Bush was also from Texas. Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon were disinvited from a ceremony at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Susan was also disinvited from a Tampa Bay fundraiser, because people started saying that if Susan showed up, they would stay at home. With their checkbooks. I have been getting several contacts from corporate sponsors who have been concerned about my "boycott" (which is still going on, by the way, there just haven't been any new episodes) of any and all advertisers on "The West Wing".
These celebs have just realized that We, The People, actually have the power to choose. We can choose where to spend our money, and if people choose Clint Black over The Dixie Chicks, that is their right. If people want to avoid watching movies that star any of these celebs (such as Susan Sarandon's recent made-for-TV movie about a woman suffering from breast cancer, which had the lowest rating of all the shows on TV that evening), they have that right, and it is NOT a violation of the celeb's First Amendment Rights.
I know I went over this once before, but let's try it again. First, the exact phrasing: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." That's it. 45 words. No fancy language (although a few words might be slightly archaic). I wonder how many of the celebs would be able to remember all the things mentioned and covered by the First Amendment (religion, speech, press, assembly, right of petition)...
But let's step back and listen to some of the things being said by the most outspoken of these "oppressed" people, Tim Robbins. He has said that a "chill wind is blowing" which apparently reminds him of his stint in the Government Gulags (alongside Barbra Streisand) for protesting against the guy who won the election (but they're not conceding anything, even 30 months later). But since that only happened in his fevered imagination, let's look at why no one is suppressing anyone's rights.
The issue about the disinvites: They (Tim and Susan) haven't yet been able to step in front of a microphone about any subject without somehow bringing up their position against the "unilateral war of aggression" against Iraq "who had done nothing to us" (according to a TV commercial starring Susan). Susan was on a tour promoting her movie (which, as I said, was about a very brave lady who was working at the South Pole when she learned she had breast cancer, and lacking all other alternatives, ended up doing the surgical procedures on herself.) That would be a woman who has shown the courage and stamina to deserve to have a quality movie made about her experiences, but Susan still turned one interview into a polemic on the war.
The Tampa Bay charity fundraiser had been told by at least thirty people who wanted to give money but would refuse if Susan showed up and started ranting about her decidedly anti-war views. Charities need those funds, and would rather people with checkbooks show up than a controversial figure, so they said, "Thanks for everything, Susan, now go away."
That's not a violation of anyone's First Amendment Rights. Period. Because it was not Congress who did it, it was a private agency. Much like the Hall of fame disinviting Tim and Susan from the ceremony celebrating "15 Years of Bull Durham". The HoF director was a former Reagan staffer, so he must therefore be trying to suppress the speech of the left-wing. After all, he invited Ari Fleischer to come speak about something else a few weeks later, but not Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon.
"Violations of First Amendment" and it must therefore all be the fault of President Bush and his administration.
Here's a clue... Even if everything they say were true (and I'm not stipulating any of it), it's still not a First Amendment violation. Private individuals and non-governmental organizations (like the HoF and charities) can control who gets to attend official functions of that group, and who gets to speak, and Congress hasn't done anything.
Tim and Susan are griping about their speech being suppressed on four different networks, and at the National Press Club, which was aired on C-SPAN. I wish I were that suppressed, I could use the publicity.
I'm just going to have to accept that this is the same group that did absolutely nothing while Klinton was bombing Kosovo and Baghdad (killing more civilians than all of our regime-changing military actions in Iraq to date). Maybe because they were too busy checking out all the cool little secrets in the White House, and bouncing on the bed in the Lincoln Bedroom.
In other news, I mentioned that my birthday is coming up in about four weeks, and I've told my wife I want to get my own domain and website, and she has agreed. It may be clunky as hell at first, but the look will remain the same, except for some pictures I get to use (I've run across a shitload of stuff I wanted to show you, but couldn't, because I don't have any FTP ability with BlogSpot.
Hang in there, friends, the new website will be coming, I promise! Hopefully before Memorial Day, if I can get my act together (or get some helpful advice) by then. Good morning!