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Does the First Amendment need an asterisk?

It's not exacly about television, but...

Time for today's civics quiz. Who can tell me what the U.S. Constitution's 10th Amendment says? That's Muslimsign right: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people, but especially to any group of bloodthirsty Muslim lunatics that threatens to kill somebody if they don't get their way.''

That, at least, is what Stephen Breyer appeared to be saying last week when he compared burning the Quran to shouting fire in a crowded theater and seemed to invite a legal test of whether it's covered by the First Amendment.

Americans have been staging symbolic protests by burning and breaking things -- flags, draft cards, bras, comic books, Harry Potter books, Dixie Chicks records -- practically since the beginning of the republic, and mostly the Supreme Court has been on their side.

But, during an appearance on Good Morning America, Breyer suggested that might all be about to change. In response to a question about that nutjob Florida minister's plan to burn Qurans, he said the invention of the Internet means we can't just go around saying any damn thing we please.

``You can't shout `fire' in a crowded theater,'' Breyer said. "[Oliver Wendell] Holmes said [the First Amendment] doesn't mean you can shout `fire' in a crowded theater. Well, what is it? Why? Because people will be trampled to death. And what is the crowded theater today? What is the being trampled to death? It will be answered over time in a series of cases which force people to think carefully.''

In his courageous defense of the little-understood constitutional right of Muslim fundamentalists on the other side of the world to not be offended by a hick preacher in Gainesville, Breyer not only misquoted Justice Holmes' opinion in a 1919 case (Holmes wrote that there is no right to falsely shout fire in a crowded theater) but ignored 70 years of subsequent Supreme Court decisions backing away from it. Read my full op-ed on the First Amendment and American liberalism's apologetics to Muslim fundamentalists in Tuesday's Miami Herald.

Comments

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Ricky

Wow, Glenn, hard hitting stuff from the dude who usually blogs about important issues like CBS's Thursday night line-up and the inclusion of Three's Company into the TV Land rotation.

Ricky

But in all seriousness, good stuff.

patrick

Yeah but I wonder how many members of the "Supremes" hold a similarly idiotic view?

Ben

Good blog, but core principles of liberalism and true liberals would also support the right of the hick preacher to burn the Quran (however stupid it may be)...So please don't try to paint a position that it should not be allowed as "liberalism" view...

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