I’ve mentioned this before, but once again an idiotic ignoramus does not know what the First Amendment actually says. According to Towleroad, the rapper T.I. has a lot to say about gay people and the First Amendment. Specifically:
While T.I. makes clear that he supports anyone’s sexual preference, he then connects, in his opinion, a current oversensitivity among gay people with a consequential and ironic offense of the First Amendment. “They’re like,‘If you have an opinion against us, we’re gonna shut you down.’ … That’s not American. If you’re gay you should have the right to be gay in peace, and if you’re against it you should have the right to be against it in peace.’
In other words, gay people should just accept homophobic rhetoric because it’s protected speech. One wonders what he thinks about the noxious racist speech emitted by such groups as the Neo-Nazis or the Ku Klux Klan. I am also tempted to ask why gay people should not criticize offensive speech? Isn’t that also protected under his conception of the First Amendment?
Debating the stupidity of T.I.’s homophobia is shooting ducks in a barrel, and I will let others deal with it. (A homophobic rapper. What a shock!) However, his political ignorance should not be allowed to pass unnoticed. Deliberately misinterpreting the First Amendment is a very serious flaw, especially when you use it as a defense.
Here is the text of the First Amendment:
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.
The First Amendment guarantees five freedoms: (1) freedom of speech; (2) freedom of and from religion; (3) freedom of the press: (4) freedom to peaceably assemble; and (5) freedom to complain to the government when you have a problem.
Yet the First Amendment is also very clear that the all these freedoms are limitations on the power of the government. Congress shall make no law. Although this was expanded by the Supreme Court to include all government at the federal, state, and local level, the First Amendment does not apply to private citizens. This is quite deliberate. Ergo, as private citizens, we say or do whatever we want (so long as it is legal) in response to the malicious comments of others. Ergo, boycotts, rallies, newspaper editorials, public shamings, and loud, vociferous, criticism–none of this is prevented by the First Amendment. Conversely, the First Amendment was written so that all of these methods would be used because ideally, the antidote to hate speech is more speech. (One can debate whether that is true or not.)
The First Amendment is the last refuge of the hypocrite. The real problem is that the haters, the homophobes, and the bullies know they are losing the larger cultural war. Like many bullies, they are actually very weak and they cower when their victims fight back. (NOM and Maggie Gallagher are the biggest offenders.) What are they are actually saying when they garb themselves in this “we are the real oppressed” deception is that in the market of ideas they going out of business.
So, T.I. stop infringing on my right to criticize. It is every bit as protected as Tracy Morgan’s right (or yours) to say hateful, idiotic things. The First Amendment protects me too when I say that you are a homophobic ignoramus with no conception of what America actually is.
[Update: Tracy Morgan is very unhappy
about TI’s comments, and who can blame him? Morgan has done much public penance because of his routine, and now he is being dragged back into the spotlight when he clearly wants to just let the controversy die away.]