Just as the 2nd Amendment shouldn't protect assault rifle devotees, so the 1st Amendment shouldn't protect vile bigots. #PhilRobertson— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) December 19, 2013
Katie, Mary Katharine and Ed have all weighed in on the Duck Dynasty flap that's dominated the political news cycle for the last 36 hours, so I won't recapitulate the particulars -- but Morgan's preening assertion is instructive. He doesn't care for "assault rifles," so he thinks they should be banned for everyone else. He doesn't enjoy "vile bigotry," so his instinct is to strip constitutional protections from people whose words cross that line -- as defined by Piers Morgan, of course. Were Robertson's comments perhaps a bit crude? Sure. Did rattling off a list of sins invite furious denunciations of "comparing" X with Y, and paint-by-numbers "outrage" (see GLAAD's borderline-unresponsive condemnation)? Obviously. If Robertson were, say, running for public office, his inelegant phrasing might have different implications. But he's a self-described "Bible-thumping" redneck speaking candidly about his beliefs -- and doing so, by the way, while stressing that it's not his role to judge anyone. His follow-up statement on the contretemps was gracious. Are we at the stage where tolerance and kindness are insufficient? Have we crossed the threshold into the realm of enforced celebration? Enthusiastically embrace my values, or you're a vicious bigot, unworthy of free speech rights! Sorry, Piers, but that's not America. After enduring a torrent of Twitter criticism about his warped understanding of the entire notion of constitutional protections, Morgan backed off. A little:
Calm down, everyone. I'm merely exercising my own 1st Amendment freedom of speech rights to say Phil Robertson's a racist bigot.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) December 19, 2013
That's not what he tweeted initially, but whatever. It's unclear what good 'ol Piers actually believes in this case. What is clear is that he desperately craves attention. Maybe that's what coming in a distant third-place, night after night, does to a man. I'll leave you with a few thoughts:
By the way, fellow conservatives, our side's hands aren't clean in the pernicious BAN/FIRE/SUSPEND outrage wars either.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) December 19, 2013
It's fine to forcefully object to things that one finds objectionable, but the "ban hammer" should be wielded sparingly in a free society.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) December 19, 2013
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography