Obama caves to fanatics on First Amendment
Angel Castillo Jr.Having sworn — twice — when taking office in 2009 that he would "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," President Barack Obama has shamefully decided not to obey his oath regarding the First Amendment.
Published: September 23, 2012
Published: September 23, 2012
Obama's ham-handed effort to intimidate Google, which owns YouTube, into taking down the controversial video "Innocence of Muslims" was a censorship effort worthy of the most intolerant Iranian Mullahs.
Obama's censorship effort was even more contemptible because it was aimed at pleasing and appeasing the radical Muslim fanatics who have been killing Americans, destroying American property and burning the American flag in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere.
Page, unlike Obama, understands that it is precisely when public speech is most unpleasant and indefensible that First Amendment rights need to be most aggressively protected.
That is why in 1977 the American Civil Liberties Union famously rose to defend an American Nazi group that wanted to hold a rally in Skokie, Ill., to aggravate the tens of thousands of Jews, including Holocaust survivors, who lived there.
It is thus impossible to explain why the fashionable Hollywood crowd that supports Obama's re-election campaign — and that depends on First Amendment freedoms to earn millions — has not risen in unison to condemn the president's effort to censor an Internet company that published unpopular speech.
Why are Obama re-election supporters George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Morgan Freeman, Bill Maher, Ann Hathaway, Barbra Streisand, Matt Damon, Will Ferrell, Tom Hanks, Samuel L. Jackson, James Earl Jones, George Lopez, Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, Susan Sarandon, Ben Stiller, Sam Waterston, Ron Jeremy and Betty White not publishing a full-page message in the New York Times and Washington Post to denounce the president's anti-free speech coercion?
To people around the world, including Obama, who want "Innocence of Muslims" to be taken down because it is offensive to some Muslims and incites some to violence, here is something to consider.
A Hollywood movie about the killing of Osama Bin Laden, which received generous help from the Obama White House in its production, will soon be released. The movie, "Zero Dark Thirty," will doubtless present a clear and present danger that it will offend and motivate more anti-American violence.
To be consistent, Obama should call Michael Lynton, the CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment and an Obama re-election campaign contributor, and politely request that the movie not be released in theaters, television, on the Internet or as a video game. He also should ask Google to take down the Internet trailer for the movie, which is already on YouTube.
Maybe then George Clooney will have something to say on Twitter.
Angel Castillo Jr., a former reporter and editor for the New York Times and the Miami Herald, practices employment law in Miami. He can be reached at email@example.com.