Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The 2010 Muzzles

Each year on or about April 13th, the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression presents it annual Muzzle awards to those who have the dubious honor of having forgotten or ignored the First Amendment right to free speech. I like it that there's a center like this dedicated to the First Amendment. I really think it's the most important right we Americans have. The 2010 Muzzle awards Awards went to a motley crew ranging from a Congressman to various government agencies on every level as well. Here is the list of 'honorees':

1.U.S. Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL)
2.The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board
3.Chicago Alderman James A. Balcer
4.The Oklahoma Tax Commission
5.The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
6.The Texas State Legislature
7.The West Fargo School Board in North Dakota and Principal S.K. Johnson of Orange High School in California
8.The Administration of Southwestern College in Chula Vista, California
9.The Virginia Department of Corrections
10.The Puerto Rico Department of Education

In the interest of time and space, I'm only going to address the #1 offender. But y'all can read about the rest of them here.

The number one offender for 2010 is Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL)!!! Now this shocked me greatly. I actually kinda like (or is that 'liked'?) him and I would not have thought that this man would be so petty. Some of his Republican constituents are not happy with him and put up a website that parodies Grayson's website. Grayson asked in his lawsuit that the person who started the site be imprisoned for five years!

Okay -- who hasn't lambasted a politician? I plead guilty, guilty, guilty. Silly me -- I thought I had the right to my opinion. If everyone who ever posted a blog that criticized or made fun of a politician was imprisoned for it, there wouldn't be room for real criminals. (A they'd be coming to get me and a lot of others (Rain and Darlene? Think they'd let us share a cell?) Thank God for the Supreme Court who ruled:

"[W]e consider this case against the background of a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials."

In short, Grayson's suit is a huge violation of the First Amendment and that he didn't realize that sets off a warning to me. I truly resent the pettiness and frivolity of this suit. And I truly believe that if a body can't take criticism, then politics is not a the career for you.

Voltaire said: "I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it." I think our Founding Fathers had that in mind when they wrote the Constitution and that Grayson needs a review on its content.

What do you think?

Happy Blogging!!!!!!!!



  1. Oh my. How do these jerks stand to live with themselves.

  2. Anonymous4:01 PM

    hmmm. There's the right to free speech, but there's also the right to sue for libel and slander. Fine line, it seems to me. Hard to keep your sense of humor when you are being criticized or belittled or ridiculed. Best not to go into politics, if that's the case.

  3. Gigi: He wasn't slandered -- they just don't like him obviously. Obama is being slandered (I think) and he isn't saying a word which is taking the moral high road.
    And if you have never criticized your reps in Washington, you are living in lala land. I spent almost all of the 36 years my former congressman was in office criticizing him because he didn't do anything. We have the right to criticize those who govern us under the First Amendment.

    Chancy: I have no idea. It astounds me.

  4. Anonymous4:43 PM

    I have criticized Hawaii Senator Dan Akaka in letters to the editor as well as in my blog, so that's nothing new. As I said, best not to go into politics if you can't stand being criticized. I, myself, have THIN, THIN skin and get hurt easily -- which is why I have no desire to be in the limelight.

  5. I agree with Voltaire, and I agree with you, too!
    Deliver me from these Politicians who use and bend the Law for their benefit only!

  6. Anonymous4:58 PM

    You're right...the job description for a politician has to include the requirement of thick skin to criticism. However, there is a line where criticism turns into personal attack. Good luck defining it, but I know it when I see it!

  7. Gigi: I don't do politics after running a couple campaigns when I was young and idealistic and still belived in this country. Now I just assume that they are all crooks until they prove me otherwise.

    A few people wanted me to run a few years ago but scratched that when I explained that I refuse to belong to either den of liars and thieves. I just show up at City Council now and then and yell for my three minutes about whatever they're trying to foist on us. LOL It's funny because I get positive feedback from both sides.

    Naomi: It's one of my fav quotes. To me, the First Amendent is sacred as it should be to everyone.

    AITBR: I agree. If you put yourself in the public arena, somebody somewhere is going to be against you. AND as Harry Truman -- one of my fav presidents -- said: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

  8. I try not to think about such lunacy - as it only makes me mad.

  9. I'm originally from Florida!

    No comment, he says in complete embarrassment! Great Post!!

    John- Now in SC, I don't know which State id more embarrassing! :-)


  10. John: No need to be embarrssed. I live in Ohio -- we aren't perfect here.

    Judy: There's so much at stake I can't take chances. I think therefore I blog.

  11. WHAT AN IDIOT! Hey, they forgot the Number One person who should be at the top of this list....Sarah Palin. A Muzzle award...come on, that's the one thing she IS the perfect candidate for. ~Joy

  12. I think the jaw-dropping tidbit here is that this outrageous behavior by Grayson came from a Democrat! I EXPECT the Conservatives to behave that way; they have repeated tried to undercut funding for public radio and television because the viewed it as Liberal... likewise campaign finance law to muzzle the free speech rights of unions.

    More frightening to me are the number of speech suppression activities on the list at the hand of law enforcement. Ever since the (ill named) Patriot Act, police agencies seem to feel emboldened to exert powers they "think" they have. They are now confiscating cameras of people photographing or filming police activities or government buildings (neither of which is illegal)... but you can't fight them at the time; you have to comply and get redress through the courts.

    I don't give contributions to a lot of organizations, but I do contribute to the ACLU. Thanks for this eye-opening post.

  13. A blog is a little printing press and I love having the right to say what I want. It what America is all about!

  14. Joy: Somehow Sarah must not have deprived anyone of free speech that caught their attention nut I sure do like the muzzle idea.

    Robert: That it was Grayson threw me, too. As I said, I sorta like him. These awards are given annually to 'worthy' souls and since I'm a Constitution junkie, I pay attention. And no, I don't think I'm a liberal. I tend to be a moderate but I refuse to align myself with any party.

  15. Marty: Damn right!!!! Hallelujah and Amen!!!!

  16. Oh, How not amusing. My JC is on your list...Southwestern. It used to be the most liberal of all schools allowing almost anything if you learned something from it. Right outside the art building too.

  17. Maggie: It's not my list. It's the TJ Center's. Everything changes and not always for the best. This is not the country where we grew up. Sigh.

  18. These things are egregious. However, I think it's worse the way company employees and academics and students and such voluntarily censor themselves, because they know that speaking out could land them in trouble.

  19. Hattie: Unfortunately, most people can't afford to have the courage of their convictions. When I worked I couldn't -- my paycheck was more important because my ideals have never paid a bill yet.

  20. Well, I'm trying again today, Kay. All the Blogger accounts I visited yesterday wouldn't let me post. I'm not much on politics but these faux pas were interesting.


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