Opinion: First Amendment lets you disagree

If I could bring back the Founding Fathers for anything, I’d ask them for more clarification on the Second Amendment. Guns for any reason, or just to maintain private militias? Background checks to keep the evil or mentally disturbed from owning guns, or a wide-open system so everybody could buy tools to defend against those elements?

I might want to ask them to explain that First Amendment, too. Americans are trying their hardest not to understand it.

Last night’s ESPN “Monday Night Football” broadcast offered a video tribute to Lions great Barry Sanders. Missing from that broadcast, and the one before it, was the Hank Williams Jr. song, “All My Rowdy Friends.”

Up until those two weeks, Williams’ song had always been part of the broadcast. But Williams had never compared a president to Adolf Hitler before, either.

While remarking about a golf game between President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner, Williams said, “It’d be like Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu.” Asked to clarify by “Fox and Friends” anchors, he said, “They,” in reference to Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, “are the enemy.”

Williams apologized and said his analogy went too far. ESPN still pulled his song the following Monday, and Williams pulled it after that.

“By pulling my opening Oct. 3,” Williams said, “(ESPN) stepped on the toes of the First Amendment freedom of speech, so therefore me, my song, and all my rowdy friends are OUT OF HERE. It’s been a great run.”

Williams has since released a song encouraging people to not watch ESPN or “Fox and Friends.” If nobody buys the song, perhaps he’ll say country music fans stepped on his free speech.

Bottom line, Williams’ rights weren’t violated. He said what he wanted to. No government entity stopped him. That’s where the First Amendment ends.

The First Amendment doesn’t bind ESPN to agree with Williams, or maintain a business relationship with him when they disagree. Nor does it protect Williams, or any public figure, from facing consequences when they use Adolf Hitler as a metaphor for people they have simple disagreements with.

But it’s tough to expect Williams to understand the First Amendment when our own government doesn’t.

The Onion, a parody news site, posted a series of fake articles and Tweets to subscribers Sept. 29, about members of Congress taking schoolchildren hostage and demanding $12 trillion in ransom.

The Washington, D.C. police said the Capitol was safe, and it planned to investigate. To help the investigation, I’ll happily send them a book full of Onion headlines like, “Tom Hanks This Week’s Guest President,” and, “Typo Results in 10,000 Acre Wyoming Skate Park.” Always consider the source.

The notion is that The Onion yelled, “Fire,” in a crowded theater. I’d contend it yelled, “Dinosaur.” Some found it funny. Others did not. But anybody who believes it has problems the D.C. police won’t be able to solve.