Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Second Greatest Innovation

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

The First Amendment does not protect “speech which is outrightly lewd and indecent.” – Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr., who wrote the majority opinion in the landmark First Amendment case Roth v. United States (1957)

I was thinking a bit today about the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In particular about the First Amendment - which includes freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion. Why was I thinking of this you might ask? Because forty-two years ago on March 1, 1969 Jim Morrison, lead singer for The Doors, was issued a warrant for “lewd and lascivious behavior” after a show at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami. He apparently was simply “expressing” himself under his First Amendment rights.

I can’t be certain exactly what transpired on stage during The Doors concert that night in 1969 (I wasn’t even born yet). Nor can I or others be certain that what was alleged even happened at all. Although Miami authorities charged Morrison with lewd and lascivious behavior, indecent exposure, profanity, drunkenness, and later added an additional charge for simulated copulation on guitarist Robbie Krieger during the concert, in December 2010, Jim Morrison received a posthumous pardon by the state of Florida - thanks in part to the efforts of outgoing governor Charlie Crist, who cited lingering doubts about the singer’s actions that evening.

There’s no question that the First Amendment gets twisted, stretched, reinterpreted, and distorted at times to match the agendas of those that wish to use it as a sort of shield, a license to do whatever they want. You may not agree with Julian Assange. You may not find the music of 2 Live Crew to your liking. You may not agree with those that choose to protest outside the funerals of U.S. military personnel. You may not think highly of Lenny Bruce, Larry Flynt, or David Duke. But they all have a right to speak and express themselves (in the United States that is).

The freedoms under the First Amendment are freedoms not held by all throughout the world. If you live in the U.S. be thankful for these freedoms. Take a look at what's happening around the world and you'll see that people are fighting for these freedoms. Don’t’ take them for granted.

The First Amendment is arguably one of the greatest innovations of all time. In my opinion, it’s second only to toilet paper.

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