Next, the United Way of Florida disinvited Susan Sarandon from an invitation, extended months ago, to speak. Sarandon, appearing on CBS's "The Early Show" to promote, we thought, her upcoming television movie, said this about the disinvitation: " . . . Well, I don't know what the real reason was, but the (United Way's) head visited Bush and then suddenly they came back and said it would be divisive for me to go because . . . my stance on the war might be divisive. And it's an interesting idea, you know, to say to people, ironic really, since we're supposedly liberating these people for a democracy and then you're telling people in this country where we have a democracy that you can't have a difference of opinion when the very basis for democracy is healthy discourse. . . . I know the American people are not stupid. And I know they believe in democracy in the way I do. And they support their, their, you know, Bill of Rights."
Now, one can debate whether the Hall of Fame exercised proper etiquette in extending, then withdrawing an invitation before offering Robbins an opportunity to say whether he intended politics. Similarly, the fairness of the way in which the Florida United Way branch withdrew its invitation remains open to reasonable debate.
But Robbins' and Sarandon's invocation of "democracy," "freedom of speech" and the "Bill of Rights" shows their total lack of understanding of the First Amendment and its application to the private sector. The First Amendment reads: "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 Hall of Fame is not Congress. The United Way is not Congress.
Hollywood's antiwar critics seem to want it both ways. They use their podium to espouse their leftist views, yet, when individuals and private organizations react negatively, they shout: "First Amendment"! No, Mr. Robbins and Ms. Sarandon, the First Amendment prohibits governmental interference with political speech. It offers no immunity from criticism, indeed, revulsion by consumers of your movies or by organizations that extend you opportunities to speak.
And, yes, the stars' ignorance of the First Amendment, frankly, calls into question their expertise in other matters -- like the war -- about which they speak.
Sometimes you can just really tick people off.
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