Memo to Jason Chaffetz: “Free speech” doesn’t mean only speech you approve of

Regardless of your feelings for Rosie O’Donnell, she- like any other citizen- has the right to speak her mind. You need not like what she has to say, and you may not appreciate her point of view, but the 1st Amendment guarantees her the right to speak freely. That’s true for any American citizen…and for a Republican congressman to send out a fundraising emailing with a plea to “HELP ME SHUT DOWN ROSIE O’DONNELL” is about as reprehensible as it gets.

That’s not democracy; that’s the sort of tyranny good, God-fearing, Conservative White patriots- like Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)- claim to despise.

Rep. Chaffetz, like many Republicans, seems to be arguing that Ms. O’Donnell doesn’t have the same free speech rights “REAL” Americans take as their birthright. Because he disapproves of her freely speaking her mind and the attention she garners for it, she must be “SHUT DOWN.” Silly me; all this time I’d been thinking Republicans were all about freedom and liberty.

The problem appears to be that Chaffetz feels the only views a citizens should be allowed to express are those which are considered acceptable and reliably Conservative. Liberals and Progressives need not apply…because, as any REAL American knows, they hate America and the baby Jesus all good, God-fearing ‘Merican patriots hold dear.

I get it; generating righteous outrage is a time-honored political fundraising technique, one that’s not native to either party. In this case, though, advocating for “shutting down” a citizen whose only “crime” is exercising her free speech rights under the 1st Amendment is both reprehensible AND un-American.

Chaffetz and his staff should be reminded the 1st Amendment applies to all Americans. Free speech rights don’t come paired with an ideological litmus test. His job is to protect and defend the Constitution…and I seem to recall that Congresscritters take an oath in which they promise to do exactly that. Such an oath isn’t applicable merely when it’s convenient- protecting and defending the Constitution doesn’t require an ideological litmus test.

This might be a good time to remind Chaffetz that “defending the Constitution” means recognizing that it applies equally to ALL Americans, not merely the ones whose views he finds acceptable. Also, if you’re advocating for “shutting down” a citizen guilty only of exercising her free speech rights, you’re violating the oath you swore when you took office. “Protect and defend the Constitution” aren’t merely empty words…unless you’re a Republican ideologue committed to democracy only insofar as it keeps you and your party in power.

This is how democracy dies.

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