Video, Mulligan’s flap reminders that free speech is under attack
September 26, 2012 12:49 AM | 2615 views | 15 15 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Free speech — our most important and most basic right as Americans, as evidenced by the Founders’ decision to make its protection the subject of the first of the initial 10 Amendments to the Constitution — is under attack on every front. In Washington, President Barack Obama and his spokesmen have paid the briefest of lip service to the First Amendment while hastening to blame the outbreak of Mideast rioting on an obscure movie trailer about Islam. In the wake of those serial apologies by Team Obama there has been no shortage of prominent liberals eagerly asserting that the trailer in question should be suppressed. Its maker (who by most reports is admittedly something of a kook) was ordered by local police in California to “come in for questioning” — on a “voluntary” basis, of course.

Much closer to home, 20 or so people held a protest on Saturday outside of Mulligan’s Food & Spirits on Roswell Street in Marietta, which usually draws a crowd heavy on bikers, blue-collar workers and a smattering of lawyers from the Cobb Courthouse. Those who choose to dine there will note the menu boasts “The Obama Special,” which fittingly consists of a piece of fried bologna on bread.

But the bar is better known for the provocative messages that for years have graced its sign out front, many of them along the lines of “ICE Agents Eat Free” and one mocking goofy U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney of DeKalb, “Cynthia — Call Your Proctologist. He’s Found Your Head.”

Most of them are politically pointed and some of them are in questionable taste. Saturday’s demonstration was prompted by a recent sign that read, “I Heard The White House Smelled Like Collard Greens And Fried Chicken.” It apparently was an attempt to resurrect the dated cliché about black people being overly fond of fried chicken, and was an apparent attempt to appeal to those who find stale slurs funny. Likewise was the time when the bar started selling T-shirts that read “Obama ’08” and featured a picture of cartoon chimpanzee Curious George peeling a banana.

The protest was organized by the Marietta-based New Order National Human Rights Organization, which hopes it will be able to dissuade the bar’s owners from continuing to put up such messages. Good luck with that one. Besides, we suspect that those who put up such messages and those who protest them have a symbiotic need for one another.

The bigger point is that this is America, and if the owner of a bar (or anyone else) wants to say or write or publish things that make other people uncomfortable or even angry, he none the less has the right to do so. He might have to weather a storm of criticism — or worse — but we should feel lucky to live in one of the few countries in the world where that right to speak is deeply embedded in our Constitution. (It might surprise readers to learn that our free-speech rights are much more protected than those of citizens of Canada or Great Britain, to cite just two examples.)

Moreover, the First Amendment is designed to protect not just the rights of the majority, for the majority usually has little to fear from speaking its mind. Rather, the Amendment also is designed to protect the rights of the minority and the speech of those with deeply unpopular views — those who might otherwise be easily intimidated by their peers or by government.

One of those protesting on Saturday complained to the MDJ reporter that, “I believe I have the right to drive down the open road without seeing derogatory signs about African Americans, Jews or whatever.”

Not so. We do not have that “right,” because the only way to enact it would be to impose rigorous government and self-censorship on all walks of life.

Americans have the right to speak their minds, just as the owners of Mulligan’s and the members of the New Order group are doing such a good job act. But Americans do not have a “right” not to be offended. Our courts have held repeatedly through the years that your right to self expression outweighs the considerations of those who might be annoyed or angered by those expressions. And that is as it should be.

Sometimes it takes a thick skin to be an American — but in the long run, it’s worth it.
Comments
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Shannon McGauley
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September 30, 2012
Good point. The 1st amendment must always come first even if we don't like what we hear.
Santa Claws
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September 28, 2012
At least the wars on Christmas and Afghanistan and drugs will have to wind down. We cannot maintain those and a war on free speech too!
VFP42
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September 28, 2012
Free speech is under attack? Is that why AM 750 had to open their 95 FM station? Is AM being invaded?
Me too...
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September 27, 2012
Hey "Oh my...mistake"...I guess I also thought Mulligans was a gay bar. For me, its the clientele hanging out around there with the tight studded leather pants, sleeveless leather vests, & mustaches -- more Village People than Rough Riders.

Well, I guess they say to never judge a book by its cover -- I don't know though, these guys looked pretty genuine to me, not that there's anything wrong with it of course.

Maybe this explains the rude right-wing commentary on their sign, perhaps its all just an elaborate camouflage to make folks think they're a bunch of backwoods hillbillies while in reality its simply a flamboyant hookup location.

Of course I support free speech but I think I'll keep my car doors locked as I drive by in the future.
Maatf
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September 27, 2012
Ridiculous comment. If it is free speech for Mulligan's to post signage that is offensive to some - then it is okay for those who are offended to voice their offense. Free speech belongs to both sides.

However, good manners only belong to those who respect the dignity of others. Mulligan's definitely doesn't have good manners, something that is much needed again in public discourse.

There was a time, back in the 1950s and 1960s when we cared about that, when we had a sense of all being part of a community, and obliged by our common citizenship and common humanity to treat each other respectfully.
Oh my...mistake
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September 26, 2012
Wow, this is really funny. Having passed by Mulligan's location many times at nighttime, with their stand-alone location, very neat & tidy exterior, and of course neon signage -- I had always assumed it was....well, I had always assumed it was Marietta's proudest gay bar.

Wow, well I guess the joke is on me as these folks and their customers appear to be loudly and proudly old-time southern folk...then again, aren't those the ones that always fool ya.

Oh well, closeted or not....I think free speech (along with free expression and freedom of association) is doing just fine on Roswell Street.
Wrong again MDJ
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September 26, 2012
Free speech is not under attack with the idiots at Mulligans once again spotlighting their own sick sense of what they might call humor...

...however, the editors of this paper and the thumblessly-challenged numbskull patrons of Mulligans do seem to want to infringe on the free speech rights of those protesting Mulligan's street signage.

Who, who
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September 26, 2012
Who got that juvenile court job vacated by the guy who won the superior court job?
AndHow!
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September 26, 2012
"(It might surprise readers to learn that our free-speech rights are much more protected than those of citizens of Canada or Great Britain, to cite just two examples.)"

Google the phrase "libel tourism", for example.

Kevin Foley
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September 26, 2012
President Barack Obama tells the United Nations “We do not ban blasphemy.”



President Obama defended free speech and the U.S. Constitution in his annual address to the United Nations. Obama made his address Tuesday, September 25.



Obama made his remarks against the backdrop of growing calls for international laws against the “defamation of religion”, or “blasphemy.”



Explaining the virtues of a free, open and tolerant society, Obama urged Muslims to embrace free speech and to give up anti-American violence. The U.S. President warned the U.N. General Assembly that "The impulse towards intolerance and violence may initially be focused on the West, but over time it cannot be contained."

Seven One Four
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September 27, 2012
President Obama also insinuated in his remarks:

We will not protect our diplomats or foreign service employees so don't worry about any meaningful retaliation from the U.S.

We don't want to offend anyone connected with the extreme Islamist movement, because we are afraid of what they might do or say.

We don't mind if you burn and desecrate our flag and our country because we obviously deserve it.

We will always give in to the rantings of muslim backed leaders because we don't want them to criticize our leaders.

Sometimes what isn't verbalized is more telling than what is.
FROM TEXAS
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September 26, 2012
If you don’t like the messages don’t read them; what make the liberals mad is most of those statements are true. These same people that want to sensor the bar are okay with Sarah Palin’s family being verbally attacked; it’s always a one way street for them. I wouldn’t ever watch the View and the same reason we don’t watch NBC other than to gather the propaganda that is being pushed by the White Wash House. You no longer have valid news reporting in this country it’s now just controlled by the socialist in charge of the media.
ComradeAnon
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September 26, 2012
So how is Free Speech under attack here? The movie you mention was produced with the expectation of inciting violence. That is not protected under the First Amendment. The protesters protesting at mulligans were exercising their right to free speech. The protester's comment about driving down the road and not having to see certain signs is wrong, but that is hardly an attack on Free Speech rights. MDJ, always a hammer in search of a nail.
otter357
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September 26, 2012
i agree. Mulligans' sign isn't being suppressed. This editorial is exists to provoke the fake outrage that seems to be so popular now.

There's a socialist in charge of the media now, didn't you know?

Mulligan's is a hero for their collard greens and fried chicken signs.

Mulligan's is fighting for your freedom of speech, because they're in danger of being suppressed.

yeah Editorial Board, if you say so.

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