Palin: Wrong For/On the First Amendment

In a very short period of time, Alaska governor, young earth creationist and all-around douchebag Sarah Palin has exhibited a positively Rovian willingness to say absolutely anything for the purpose of putting herself and aged, infirmed malignant melanoma patient John “Walnuts” McCain in the White House. Stated differently, she’s a liar. A really, really BIG liar.

Of course, Palin is also extraordinarily stupid. It is, after all, impossible to be a reasonably intelligent human being living in 2008 and still believe that the universe is but 6,000 years old.

Palin’s rare combination of willingness to defraud and crippling stupidity leads to real problems when it comes to assessing why she says what she says. Was the appallingly inaccurate contention that just fell from Wasilla Gorilla’s maw the result of intent to deceive, stupidity or both? If both, to what extent did each contribute?

So it is with the breathtakingly crazy shit that being reported today. Palin appeared on a conservative radio program and gave an interview during which she said “she fears her First Amendment rights may be threatened by ‘attacks’ from reporters who suggest she is engaging in a negative campaign against Barack Obama.”

Uh, yeah. How does that work? Like this, apparently:

“If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations,” Palin told host Chris Plante, “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.”

It’s one of those painfully ignorant statements that one can’t determine whether to explain via stupidity or lying.

Palin made news during her Katie Couric interview by being unable to name a single U.S. Supreme Court case with which she disagreed other than Roe v. Wade. That at least suggests ignorance of how the First Amendment operates as a possible explanation.

On the other hand, she might just be lying again. After all, Palin told a group of supporters in Bowling Green, Ohio the other day that Joe the Plumber — whose name isn’t Joe and who isn’t a plumber — is an Alaskan with a distinguished military record. He’s neither, of course, but since when has lack of truth ever stopped Palin from saying anything?

Whatever the explanation, please make no mistake that Palin’s claim about the brutal rape and murder of her First Amendment rights is false. Social conservatives bent on festooning every public building with Jesus schlock are fond of saying that the Religion Clause of the First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. That’s incorrect, of course, but a similar statement holds perfectly true for another portion of the First Amendment: we’re guaranteed freedom of the press, not freedom from the press.

Freedom of political speech is the core value that the Speech Clause protects. Accordingly, Palin can, and on a multiple-times-daily basis does, stand in front of crowds and spout whatever ridiculous lies and idiocies she pleases. No one censors her comments in advance and no one seeks to fine or imprison her after the fact. That’s the full measure of protection the First Amendment guarantees.

But in Biblical Literalist Barbie’s strange little world, the First Amendment goes one very large step further by mandating that the press agree with every word she utters. Calling her a “negative campaigner” for saying the things she says is an “attack” on her that threatens the future of the First Amendment. The persuasive force of the media’s words is an ipso facto First Amendment violation.

Christ. You can’t make this shit up. No one’s imagination is that good.

Of course, in the final analysis it doesn’t matter whether Palin’s shockingly false claims about the First Amendment are the result of lies or stupidity. The real point is that when McCain drops dead early in his presidency — as he almost surely will — Palin would ascend to the highest office in the land. At that point her idiocy and/or stupidity would have the force and effect of law.

So, who ya votin’ for?

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