Jesse Jackson Owes Apology for Advocating Political Imprisonment
"Our forefathers created the First Amendment to ensure a robust public debate and to prohibit the government from making laws to squelch political speech, even speech critical of our leaders."and then went on to say, in commenting on comedian Michael Richards highly publicized nightclub diatribe against heckling patrons,
"But obscenity has never enjoyed that protection, nor should it. Yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater does not have protection. Similarly, hate speech -- like that wielded by Richards -- has and should be illegal."Jackson has it wrong, all wrong. The First Amendment was not designed so narrowly to merely to allow political criticism. The First Amendment allows people to speak freely, to say ill-advised things, to make fools of themselves, to comment broadly, and also to be very, very wrong--and even evil-- in what they say.
To advocate illegality for unpopular speech is to advocate political imprisonment.
All over the world, courageous citizens of many countries are working to attempt to convince their government that freedom of speech is a fundamental human right. When a high-profile leader such as Jackson speaks in approval of suppressing a fundamental freedom guaranteed by our Constitution, he shows little regard for the work that has occupied him for his entire career.
Jackson should know better. On behalf of those incarcerated throughout the world for speaking their mind, for those silenced by governments who believe free speech is an unacceptable idea, for those global bloggers, locked-out by their governments from writing freely, Wilmette demands an apology from Rev. Jackson.
Jackson's thoughtless words represent a glaring assault on basic American freedoms, and displays a lapse of judgment as erroneous as that shown by actor/comedian Richards. But there is one difference. Richards is a celebrity without any known aspirations to be a leader; Jackson is a leader of high-profile Operation Push.
Neither of these men should be incarcerated, fined, or "brought to justice;" their thoughtless remarks are worthy of Constitutional protection, misguided as they may be. Nevertheless, we are very, very disappointed in Rev. Jackson.