Free Markets, Free People
I must have missed it – when has Al Sharpton ever been a major player in NFL circles?
Yeah, that’s what I thought. So why is Al Sharpton calling on the NFL to reject a bid by Rush Limbaugh to buy the St. Louis Rams? What possible business is it of his?
In a letter sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday, Sharpton wrote that he was “disturbed” to hear about Limbaugh’s interest in the Rams and asked for a meeting with Goodell “to discuss the myriad of reasons as to why [Limbaugh] should not be given an opportunity” to purchase the team.
Sharpton argued that Limbaugh has been “anti-NFL” in his comments about several of the league’s players, specifically naming Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks Michael Vick and Donovan McNabb. Limbaugh sparked controversy several years ago by contending that the media want McNabb to succeed simply because he is black.
In addition, Sharpton wrote that Limbaugh’s “recent statement — that the NFL was beginning to look like a fight between the Crips and the Bloods without the weapons — was disturbing.”
Hmmm … as I recall, the remark Limbaugh made about McNabb was he got more media coverage than he deserved, probably because he was black. Limbaugh believed McNabb is/was an average quarterback not deserving of such coverage. I happen to disagree with his assessment of McNabb, but felt his comment was more about the media and our culture than about race. And former Miami running back Mercury Morris finds Limbaugh’s remarks about gangs and the NFL to make “some relative sense.”
But back to Sharpton. I love the “anti-NFL comments” line used by Sharpton who is now, apparently, the arbiter of all things which are “pro-NFL” I guess. Sharpton’s smarter than he acts at times though – he’s picked up on the fact that playing the race card is becoming detrimental to those who play it. So he’s shifted a bit and now features himself as the savior of the NFL, substituting “NFL” for “black”. Essentially Sharpton is asking the NFL to discriminate against Limbaugh because Al Sharpton (whose only real connection to the league is most likely watching football on Sunday) finds Limbaugh to be unacceptable to him as an owner in the NFL.
Yeah, that’s a good reason to turn him down. I’m sure the other owners will weigh that heavily in their decision making process – right after “is it a good bid” and “do they have the money”?
Tell you what Al, the best way to make sure Limbaugh doesn’t get the team is make a better offer. In a capitalist system, that’s how it works. And, truth be told, that’s what worries Sharpton, isn’t it?
The title is a quote from Eugene Robinson’s latest effort in which he indulges himself in another leftist “history began January, 20th, 2009″ moment. His ire and the reason for his rhetorical question comes on the heels of the announcement that Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace prize and the derision by which that was met on the right.
Robinson then spends the rest of his article taking pot shots at those who find the award to be a travesty. But in the entire 700 to 800 word spread, he never once even attempts to justify the award. The best he can do is this:
Obama has shifted U.S. foreign policy away from George W. Bush’s cowboy ethos toward a multilateral approach. He envisions, and has begun to implement, a different kind of U.S. leadership that I believe is more likely to succeed in an interconnected, multipolar world. That this shift is being noticed and recognized is to Obama’s credit — and to our country’s.
Of course, as any student of foreign affairs will tell you, that all remains to be seen. But again, one has to pretend that there was no multilateralism in existence prior to Obama to make this sort of a claim. And, of course, that’s simply not the case. So if Robinson’s reason for the prize is to be taken seriously, then the detractors are correct – it’s a travesty.
In the short term at least, it has become what most thinking people realized when it was awarded to Jimmy Carter - the “You’re Not George Bush” award. In reality, the Nobel Peace prize has degenerated into a political award given to those who best reflect the politics of the decidedly leftist award committee. It has little to do with peace. It has nothing to do with objectivity. It has everything to do with partisan leftist politics.
There are certainly many more worthy candidates who’ve worked very hard to bring peace to troubled areas. But they simply don’t provide the committee with the political visibility it craves. And they certainly don’t provide the committee the platform from which to make some sort of statement about what it finds acceptable in US politics and, frankly, what it doesn’t.
Anyone who brings as weak an argument to the table as has Eugene Robinson must in the back of his mind realize how undeserving Obama is of this award. To say he’s really accomplished nothing of substance in his first 9 months as president is an understatement. But it is also a fact.
One of the reasons the Medal of Honor is so difficult to earn is because the standards of courage, sacrifice and bravery required are set at an almost unachievable level. And those standards are never compromised for politics or any other reason. That’s why when you see a man wearing the MOH, you know without having to wonder that he met those standards. And when he meets another MOH recipient, there’s no doubt in his mind that recipient also met the very same high standards of courage under fire that he did.
That’s why the MOH is revered so highly.
The Nobel Peace Prize has, as critics are now claiming, has become a travesty driven by partisan politics. It isn’t “highly revered” anymore. The fact that Robinson wants to keep up the charade that this “honor” is something worth having (much less deserved) because it is politically useful for his side to do so speaks volumes about his integrity. He claims the right thing to say is “congratulations”. But I have little doubt that had the committee awarded George Bush the peace prize for ousting Saddam, defeating al-Qaeda in Iraq, and returning the country to the people, Robinson would have been among the first on the “travesty” bandwagon. The last thing he’d have said is “congratulations”. He’d also have been among the first to wonder why he was being accused of “hating America so”.
Those who remember the period before January, 20th 2009, remember when the Eugene Robinson’s of the world thought dissent was the highest form of patriotism. Now, with history beginning on that date for those like Robinson, dissent is just plain old hate.
Funny how that works, isn’t it?
Stuffed in the National Defense Authorization Act is something which has absolutely nothing to do with defense, but is a law that “progressives” have desired to have on the books for a long time. Named the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, its purpose is to make crimes against certain groups punishable by harsher sentencing if it is determined the crime was driven by “hate”.
Since the votes weren’t present in the Senate on a stand-alone basis, Senate Democrats have attached it to the defense authorization bill as an amendment.
The crime bill — which would broaden the protected classes for hate crimes to include sexual orientation and “gender identity,” which the bill defines as a victim’s “actual or perceived gender-related characteristics” — passed the House earlier this year as a stand-alone measure.
Republicans object to the law on First Amendment grounds:
Beyond that, GOP lawmakers feared the new bill could infringe on First Amendment rights in the name of preventing broadly defined hate crimes. The bill’s critics, including many civil libertarians, argued that the hate crimes provision could chill freedom of speech by empowering federal authorities to accuse people of inciting hate crimes, even if the speech in question was not specifically related to a crime.
My objection, as usual, is that the GOP has accepted the premise of “hate crime laws” as being legitmate and are only arguing about the final form. The crime of murder, in terms of a result for the victim, isn’t any worse if it was driven by hate or not. In fact, it could be argued that murder, for any reason, is essentially a hate crime.
The reason for the crime is hardly the most relevant point. The result is what we can concretely and objectively judge and punish. The job of law enforcement is to ensure that a murderer is brought to justice by connecting him or her irrefutably to the crime. Other than that, I see little relevance in whether it was done because the person didn’t like gays or because the person wanted to get rid of their spouse. Murder is murder.
Another thing that bothers me is the title – The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This isn’t about just punishing what is deemed a hate crime, by whatever arbitrary definition they choose to define a hate crime, but instead “preventing” those crimes.
That means, as the GOP points out, monitoring and doing something about what is deemed “hate speech” because the only way to “prevent” a “hate crime” is to prevent (or stop) the speech which government decides might incite people to take action. No speech, no incitement. No incitement, no crime.
Now, it is important to note that we already have an exception to the 1st Amendment’s ban on punishing speech and that’s the “fighting words” exception. It essentially says words can incite undesirable and even criminal action and those words aren’t protected speech. What is being proposed here is an expansion of the meaning of “fighting words” to include words that Congress decides incites “hate” and then criminal behavior (thus the term “hate crime”).
Unfortunately the bill looks like it will be signed into law. The question, of course, is how broad the final bill will be and how badly it attacks our First Amendment rights.
Republican Sam Brownback offered an amendment to the Senate version which said the bill could not “construed or applied in a manner that infringes on any rights under the First Amendment” and could not place any burden on the exercise of First Amendment rights “if such exercise of religion, speech, expression, or association was not intended to plan or prepare for an act of physical violence or incite an imminent act of physical violence against another.”
With that amendment, GOP Senators supported the final bill. However when the bill went to the conference committee, key changes were made to the Brownback amendment by the Democrat controlled committee:
Where Brownback had insisted, and the full Senate had agreed, that the bill could not burden the exercise of First Amendment rights, the conference changed the wording to read that the bill could not burden the exercise of First Amendment rights “unless the government demonstrates … a compelling governmental interest” to do otherwise.
That means your First Amendment rights are protected — unless they’re not.
“A compelling governmental interest” leaves the door wide open for your free speech rights to be trampled on the government’s whim. Where the First Amendment was designed as a limit on government power (as was the entire Constitution), this law is a blatant attack on those limits and an attempt to expand government power. Additionally, instead of an objective standard by which to judge a crime, this attempts to identify and punish thought.
In terms of our civil liberties it is an incredibly dangerous and precedent setting move that will enable government – as long as it can “demonstrate a “compelling … interest” (which it will define) – to restrict or punish speech it chooses to categorize as “hate speech”.
Obama has said he’ll sign the bill when ready. With Obama’s recent LBGT troubles, this is a bone he can throw their way.
“I will sign it into law,” the president told a cheering crowd at the gay activist group Human Rights Campaign on Saturday. “Together we will have moved closer to that day when no one has to be afraid to be gay in America.”
The GOP finds itself in a no-win position. They can vote against the hate crimes part of the bill and be accused by Democrats of not supporting the troops, or they can vote for the Defense Authorization Act and the hate crimes portion becomes law.
I think we all know they’ll vote to authorize the defense spending. And with that vote, America will become a little less free as Democrats continue on pace to erode our liberties while they have the chance.