Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Privilege, Not A Right

At the National Prayer Breakfast on February 3, President Obama was in character- not only his, but that of the annual Prayer Breakfast- throughout his speech.  Typical was his statement

In a democracy as big and as diverse as ours, we will encounter every opinion.  And our task as citizens -- whether we are leaders in government or business or spreading the word -- is to spend our days with open hearts and open minds; to seek out the truth that exists in an opposing view and to find the common ground that allows for us as a nation, as a people, to take real and meaningful action.  And we have to do that humbly, for no one can know the full and encompassing mind of God.  And we have to do it every day, not just at a prayer breakfast. 

Considering the source, it's pretty much what you would expect out of the event, as well as characteristic of a bipartisan approach that sees value in the opinions of all sides, especially those which want to take the President down.

Dr. Ben Carson, neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, took a different approach. He took a (justified) swipe at the veneration of sports over academics in the culture. But he also promoted several conservative values, including health care vouchers, a flat tax, disdain for what it misinterprets as "pc" (political correctness), and an obsession with the deficit.

A 7th Day Adventist, Carson also has criticized evolution in the past.  Nonetheless, he was selected as commencement speaker at Hopkins' School of Medicine.  Recently, he vociferously criticized same-sex marriage, and a in letter posted on the Health and Human Rights Student Group page, the School is asked to "select an alternative speaker that better represents the values of our student body and of our great University" because

On March 26, on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program, Dr. Carson compared gay relationships with pedophilia and bestiality: “Well, my thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman. It’s a well-established, fundamental pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality. It doesn’t matter what they are. They don’t get to change the definition. “

On February 7, Dr. Carson used the National Prayer Breakfast speech— which, like our commencement ceremony, is an historically nonpartisan event — to deride Obamacare, advocate lower taxes for the wealthy, and suggest that Christianity requires supporting Republican policies.

Dr. Carson has also used his platform as a famous neurosurgeon to promote the rejection of evolution: “Ultimately, if you accept the evolutionary theory,” he said, in a statement that would apply to the majority of students and faculty at Johns Hopkins, “you dismiss ethics, you don’t have to abide by a set of moral codes, you determine your own conscience based on your own desires.” This belief of Dr. Carson’s was unknown to many of us at the time of his nomination.

But Rush Limbaugh knows a mob when he sees one.   In one segment yesterday, Limbaugh described the students as a mob on three occasions:

Okay, folks, what we are witnessing here is we're in the midst of mob rule.  There was no other way to characterize this. 

So now we've got mob rule.  In the midst of all this talk about "equality," folks-- in the midst of all this talk about the pursuit of happiness and equality -- Dr. Benjamin Carson (who is the epitome of grace, by the way) is not allowed to voice his opinion, which is a formally mainstream position, by the way.

So, folks, I'm telling you: We're in the midst of mob rule now (in this case, led by the trolls at Media Matters), aided and abetted by the so-called mainstream media, the Drive-Bys. 

That frightening "mob" referred to the subject as a "world-class neurosurgeon and passionate advocate education" and professed "the highest respect for Dr. Carson’s achievements" who "value his right to publicly voice political views."   But, hey, one man's respectful letter is another man's vicious posse.

Rush's specialty is, as we long ago found, name-calling.  However, Limbaugh also expressed an impulse common to paranoid conservatives who profess to see liberals everywhere trampling on the Constitution.   Charging "Doesn't he have a "civil right" to free speech?" Rush implies that the students at the medical school are abridging one of Dr. Carson's constitutional rights.

But of course no one is threatening Dr. Carson's right to free speech, or to anything.  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."

That's "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech," though the restriction was extended by the Fourteenth Amendment to state government. Dr. Carson still is free to make a controversial statement, written, verbal, or through social media about those issues.  But there is no First Amendment right to be a commencement speaker.

Revering the United States Constitution means not only appreciating what is in it, but also recognizing what is not.

HAPPY PASSOVER                                                               HAPPY EASTER

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