Last March, when the Supreme Court was about to hear arguments over the Washington D.C. gun ban, President Obama made it clear that he felt the Second Amendment was an individual right, but one he believed was subject to local limitation. He used the old “fire in a crowded theatre” argument to suggest that the same was true of the First Amendment, implying that virtually all of our unalienable rights could be limited by regional laws and plain old common sense.
Now that he’s faced with the Ground Zero Mosque controversy, all of that has been tossed out the window.
Speaking this past weekend, Obama invoked the founders’ belief in religious freedom, painting their inclusion in the First Amendment as an unassailable cornerstone of American freedom. Never mind that it was a rare instance of him mentioning the Constitution, and the foundation of the country, without enumerating its flaws. Obama’s reverence for the Bill of Rights was made perfectly clear. Obviously, this is a president governing under the precept that the Constitution is tantamount to holy canon…except he isn’t.
If the free speech and religious freedoms protected in First Amendment are suddenly so sacrosanct, why is it that Obama and his left-wing allies continuously push for a return of the fairness doctrine? They claim that talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and Glenn Beck are essentially “shouting fire in a crowded theatre.” Couldn’t the same, flimsy, argument be made regarding Ground Zero Mosque? Evidently, conservative radio shows do not enjoy the same level of First Amendment protection that’s been granted to an Islamic Community Center.
More specifically, in New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has gone on record saying that the First Amendment protects the right to build the mosque. Yet he has fought, for years, to expand gun control legislation in the city, claiming that the Second Amendment is limitable by local authorities. It seems Bloomberg believes that the constitutional rights of Muslims are protected beyond a shadow of a doubt, but law abiding gun owners? Sorry, your liberties are not nearly as important.
The ACLU has weighed in, rushing to defend Islamic First Amendment religious freedoms as unquestionable. The Constitution, they say, guarantees the right to build the Mosque. So what of their position regarding the Second Amendment? Clearly, if defense of constitutional liberties is job one, the ACLU must fight for all of them, right? Wrong. Officially, the ACLU “does not take a position on gun control.” However, they have gone on record saying that there is no “individual” right to own a gun, and they “disagree” with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that struck down the Washington D.C. handgun ban. In other words, they believe the Second Amendment is limitable by local law.
Clearly, all of these people believe theFirst and Second Amendments are easily limited when doing so suits their short-term political purpose. Why then are they so vocally claiming that the Constitution is beyond reproach in the case of the Ground Zero Mosque? Would Obama, and the ACLU, be rushing to tout their belief in religious rights if they were being used to build a “Christian Community Center” on the site of every bombed-out abortion clinic?
The president has said that his support for the Mosque is not a comment on the “wisdom” of building such a facility, only an assertion of the fact that they have the right to construct it. Most sane pundits agree that constitutionally, however distasteful, their rights are protected. Very few people, most of them fringe crazies, have tried to argue against this idea. The “wisdom” is now the question of the day – one Obama will not address. His desire to “vote present” on this difficult issue, by refusing to take a side, is now raising further questions about his view of the Constitution.
Perhaps it’s time someone asked Mr. Obama about the “wisdom” involved in his selective application of our unalienable human rights.
Robert Laurie is a Michigan-based conservative columnist and freelance writer. He also runs a daily political commentary blog at RobertLaurie.net.