What's So Funny

We really ought to add an amendment to the Constitution. I don't have the phrasing down quite yet, but it's something to the effect that you should be allowed to say what you want and write what you want, just because. You know what I mean? Maybe it could read something like Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Can you imagine how great it would be to have a rule like that? All the problems it would solve? But what would we call it? It would have to be something catchy but stern, something that sticks in people's heads but isn't annoying, just like that "Autobiography" song by Ashlee Simpson. God, that's a good song.

Wait, I've got it! The First Amendment!

Think how much Ward Churchill could use something like that right now.

Unless you've been living in a cave or out scouring the reservations for some last-minute Native American ties, you've heard about Churchill, the University of Colorado ethnic-studies professor who, the media tells us, is a man embattled. Seems Churchill reacted to the September 11 terrorist bombings of the World Trade Center a little differently than the rest of us. While we sat glued to the television sets, weak with sadness and fear, Churchill fired up the laptop and wrote an essay saying the people in those buildings had it coming, and that's what you get when you're a cog in the U.S. oppression machine. Then, getting all Malcolm X on that ass, Churchill called his essay "Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens" -- he's working on drumming up some Muslim heritage -- and released it to the world.

The balls!

Three years later, the author of that essay was invited to speak at a college in New York, and all hell broke loose. Once everyone got wind of what he'd written, Churchill resigned from his position as the ethnic-studies department chair; Governor Owens said he wasn't going to invite Churchill to his birthday party; CU regents ordered an investigation -- and then apologized to the entire nation! Our bad, they said.

Think how much confusion and trouble CU could have avoided with a First Amendment. Then the regents just could have said, "We don't really agree with what that loony old coot wrote, but hey, you know, First Amendment."

And think how much those teachers and kids in Norwood could use a First Amendment. Norwood's that town out on the Western Slope where concerned parents and superintendent Bob Conder acted out a South Park episode with eerie precision by rounding up all copies of Bless Me, Ultima -- a classic coming-of-age novel by Rudolfo Anaya -- and throwing them away. Apparently one -- repeat, one -- parent found the book (which appears on a list of nine novels recommended by First Lady Laura Bush) a bit too spicy for ninth-grade consumption and threw a hissy fit to get it removed from school premises. Other town yokels jumped in with appalling fervor, and now you can't even fellate a librarian to get a copy.

You just want to grab these people by their fat heads -- the maniacs calling for Churchill's crucifixion for writing something they didn't agree with, the parents with nothing to do so they engage in witch hunts at their kids' high school like pathetic neo-McCarthyites -- and say, "Look, you fucking morons, you need to shut the hell up. Sometimes people say and write things that you don't agree with -- and you know what? Let them. Freedom of thought and expression is the most important asset we have as a society, and sometimes that means allowing things to be said, even when it hurts your whiny fucking ears."

If only there were some sort of amendment...

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Adam Cayton-Holland

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