August 19, 2010


In the span of just a few days, Sarah Palin has demonstrated that her ignorance of the First Amendment is total. One day after repeating her earlier call for Muslim Americans to "refudiate" their freedom of religion, Palin defended the disgraced Dr. Laura Schlessinger. But in tweeting that Dr. Laura's "1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist," Palin showed once again she has no idea what they are.

With no sense of irony, the former half-term Governor of Alaska and the same woman who once accused candidate Hillary Clinton of "whining" rushed to defend Dr. Laura not from government censorship, but from the "shackles" of public criticism:

Dr.Laura:don't retreat...reload! (Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence"isn't American,not fair")

For her part, Dr. Laura told CNN's Larry King the night before that she was quitting her radio show to "regain my First Amendment rights" supposedly lost after her staccato on-air use of the N-word:

"I want to be able to say what's on my mind and in my heart and what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry or some special-interest group deciding this is a time to silence a voice of dissent."

If that language of faux victimization sounds familiar, it should. After all, it's been a staple of the Palin persona since the moment she stepped onto the national stage.

Sarah Palin's first unfortunate run-in with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution came during the home stretch of the 2008 presidential campaign. During an interview with conservative WMAL radio, she regurgitated her usual talking points against the "elitism" and "filter" of the "mainstream media" before coughing up this nugget:

"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations, then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."

Then in May 2009, Palin extended her ersatz constitutional protections to Carrie Prejean, portraying her fellow beauty pageant contestant and marriage equality opponent as a victim of a "liberal onslaught of malicious attacks." Going one step further, Palin asserted:

"I can relate as a liberal target myself...I respect Carrie for standing strong and staying true to herself, and for not letting those who disagree with her deny her protection under the nation's First Amendment Rights. Our Constitution protects us all -- not just those who agree with the far left."

Two months later, Palin's First Amendment dullardry raised its ugly head again. In the wake of his apology for an unfortunate joke at the expense of Palin's 14-year old daughter, the soon-to-be ex-Governor said of David Letterman:

"Letterman certainly has the right to 'joke' about whatever he wants to, and thankfully we have the right to express our reaction. This is all thanks to our U.S. Military women and men putting their lives on the line for us to secure America's Right to Free Speech - in this case, may that right be used to promote equality and respect."

Alas, the same Right to Free Speech did not extend to her critics. When various bloggers and media outlets published reports that the Alaska Governor might be the subject of a criminal investigation, Sarah Palin threatened to sue.

All of which makes Sarah Palin's support of Mama Grizzly Sharron Angle altogether fitting. Of her protege, Palin said, "She's got GUTS and is putting up with more crap than she deserves because the libs don't know what to do with her and the support she has. And for her part, Sharron Angle has learned well at the feet of the master. As she told David Brody of CBN, "I'm not going to earn anything from people who are there to badger me and use my words to batter me with." And in her classic formulation for Carl Cameron of Fox News:

"We wanted [journalists] to ask the questions we want to answer so that they report the news the way we want it to be reported."

Sarah Palin couldn't agree more. As she lamented in the wake of her defeat in November 2008:

"I want to make sure that Americans do understand that there is a little bit of disappointment in my heart about the world of journalism today. And I don't want any individual journalist to take it personally but--I have such great respect for the role of the media in our democracy, it is a cornerstone, it allows the checks and balances. But only when there is fairness and objectivity in the reporting."

So she joined Fox News.

As for Dr. Laura's First Amendment rights, Palin tweeted Wednesday:

Dr.Laura=even more powerful & effective w/out the shackles, so watch out Constitutional obstructionists. And b thankful 4 her voice,America!

UPDATE 1: Sarah Palin might have felt differently in 1999, when Dr; Laura told the mother of autistic child, "I'm going to say something now that you need to hear. You need to have a life aside from this torture...Your son may not be fixable. In which case you're going to have to think of some kind of placement."

UPDATE 2: The ironies don't end there. In 2008, Dr. Laura blasted Palin, asking of John McCain's running mate, "what kind of role model is a woman whose fifth child was recently born with a serious issue, Down Syndrome, and then goes back to the job of Governor within days of the birth?" And in February, Palin attacked Rahm Emanual for his "R-word" remark in a private meeting, an attack which should now boomerang:

"Just as we'd be appalled if any public figure of Rahm's stature ever used the 'N-word' or other such inappropriate language, Rahm's slur on all God's children with cognitive and developmental disabilities - and the people who love them - is unacceptable, and it's heartbreaking."

(This piece also appears at Perrspectives.)

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