Thursday, August 19, 2010

B'rer Rabbit 'n' me....

Let me clarify a bit what I said below. This is not a "First Amendment" issue because the Constitution only restricts government action, not private action. What the First Amendment guarantees is that we can worship, or not, as we please, and the government cannot interfere (within limits). It also guarantees we can say what we like, and the government cannot interfere (again, within limits).

That's the "legal" First Amendment. The "cultural" First Amendment is what the President referred to when he said the First Amendment protected the establishment of Park 51 (I refuse to call it even a "mosque," as it isn't). He knew this was not, legally, a First Amendment case, because no government agency has denied permission to build this Islam cultural center. He meant we Americans tolerate various forms of religion, and that tolerance is symbolized by the First Amendment. And that's where he touched get the picture.

I hesitate to name my metaphor because it has become such an obvious metaphor for race, and I don't want to drag that into this discussion (Muslims are not a race, as the majority of the world's Muslims live in Asia, not in the "Middle East."). It is, however, in the original form the perfect metaphor for what's going on here. Still, let us say this is why you don't argue with fools; because people won't be able to tell the difference. When President Obama made this a First Amendment cause celebre (whether he meant to or not), he overlooked the other side of that "cultural amendment:" freedom of speech.

If you have the freedom to worship as you please, free from government interference, I have the right to criticize your worship as I please, also free from government interference. Now, of course, the polite response is to say: just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. So while I have the right to vilify another religion, or its practice, and the government can't stop me, does that mean I should?

And does that line of argument sound familiar? It is precisely there that Obama stepped into the trap, and Palin sprung it on him. She was right: just because they can build a mosque at Ground Zero (although they aren't, of course), should they? Isn't it a question of sensitivity?

No, it isn't; for the reasons I outlined below. But there's the problem, you see. You had to punch the....well, you had to argue with fools. And now you're stuck with 'em.....

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