I found this article on the Air America web site and completely agree with it. It is quite long but clearly I believe it is worth it or else I wouldn't have posted it.
In Re The Recently Tasered Andrew Meyer: The First Amendment Canary In The Coal Mine Is On Life Support
By Lionel on September 19, 2007 - 10:48am
Rosa Parks. Lenny Bruce. George Carlin and his seven dirty words. Andrew Meyer?! Hardly.
No, the U of F student Andrew Meyer will not go down in history as a great civil rights leader or First Amendment advocate. The news anent Mr. Meyer has changed in every direction imaginable. He's been called a nut, a 9/11 conspiracy freak, you name it. Here's the latest.
And while the transcript of the event shows that there was plenty of blame to go around, the truth remains that an unarmed young man was manhandled by a group of heavily-armed and ostensibly well-trained law enforcement personnel, wrestled to the ground and shocked via Taser. And why? This last aspect must be questioned; was this necessary? He was down, subdued and, though loud and obstreperous, under control. Why was he tackled and arrested? Why was a Taser and its 50,000 volts administered? He was rude, loud and certainly not deferential to a man who basically abandoned his party during the 2004 "race." Meyer was angry and wanted an answer as to why the invited speaker, John Kerry, seemed to capitulate and not fight the Bush machine. Certainly not dulcet-toned, Meyer was angry. Angry. As were and are many of us. As Andy was pleading with the campus bulls to "not taze me, Bro," it reminded me of Cheswick screaming desperately for McMurphy to help him in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."
What frightens me and should concern you is the nonchalance that some people have for the various free speech implications here. Meyer was at a political lecture at a university and was loud, excited and agitated – the reactions that are ofttimes exhibited at universities during political debate and speech. What better place to be loud, excited and agitated than a university? What many of you centered in on was his rudeness as though that warrants physical extraction and electric shock. Have you ever seen the British Parliament?
But just look around. Look at these cases and our reactions to unpleasant or unwelcome speech.
Larry Craig. Sen. Larry Craig now famously toe-tapped and pleaded guilty to nothing and so many people fail to realize that he has a First Amendment right to proposition any adult anywhere for anything sexual. Period. Even the dreaded ACLU has filed an amicus brief in his attempt to withdraw his guilty plea to the disorderly conduct misdemeanor charge. This sounds like a modern day Miranda warning: You have the right to tap feet whilst in a men's room stall; you have the right to be gay. Some of my very liberal and progressive friends have smugly asserted that since they knew what Craig was up to, he's guilty. Of what?
Kathy Griffin. The heavily-Botoxed and surgically-altered comedienne Kathy Griffin won an Emmy for her eponymous television show, "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List." While accepting her award, the always appropriate and classy Griffin, who has repeatedly stated that she'll do anything for publicity, said, "A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. Suck it, Jesus. This award is my God now." And publicity she got in spades. Many people objected vehemently to this, as is their right. My good friend (sincerely) Bill Donohue and the Catholic League were incensed as were many. But who's Kathie Griffin? Is she to be censored, censured, what? She's a loud-mouth. Fine. So is our producer Al Goldpaint.
The Dixie Chicks. You remember that beaut. Embarrassed that Dubya was from Texas (and what Texan wouldn't be even though he's from Connecticut), Natalie Maines expressed this idea in the UK and was subjected to death threats and the like. Remember the O'Reillys harping on the fact that you can't criticize (a) the commander-in-chief (b) while we're at war (c) in another country. What?! Nobody seemed to notice or care.
Laura Ingraham's "Shut Up and Sing." Everyone's favorite conservative termagant, now caviling about smut in the media (I know, she's bored), wrote in this tour de force that entertainers should just do that: entertain. Unless you're Ronald Reagan, Charlton Heston, Bruce Willis, Bo Derek (I kid you not), Schwarzenegger et al.
Patriot Act, Warrantless Surveillance. Must I even remind you of this? Didn't think so. But we looked the other way, apparently too busy with other stuff. Ho hum.
Media Matters for America, Daily Kos and the Blogosphere. Bill O swears that Media Matters is liberal, lefty, media elitist, secular progressive (whatever the hell that means) and un-American and dangerous when it cites with specificity his own words. Go figure. The Daily Kos is likewise dangerous because it dares to remain the antithesis of Bill. Anti-Bill, anti-Neanderthal, un-American. Remember when he verbally manhandled Jeremy Glick whose father was killed on 9/11? Mr. Big Shot/Tough Guy called for Glick's mic to be turned off. Here's the transcript. No one batted an eye.
Cindy Sheehan. She was being used and exploited so say the Bush acolytes. How could she dare question this noble war and our brave commander-in-chief? Remember when she was arrested for wearing an antiwar T-Shirt in the House gallery last year? Big deal, right?
MoveOn.org on Petraeus. This brazen attack on responsible dissent will go down in history as one of the most egregious examples of stifling free and alternative speech. Lie after lie ensued therefrom. The counterfeit conservatives claimed that MoveOn received a "liberal" discount from the grey lady. Never happened. They then demanded that Hillary distance herself from the ad. Why? Then through some attempted apotheosis, Peaches was elevated to demigod status and was named a latter day Julius Caesar. He was off limits, so the cons said. They demanded that a general was not subject to criticism during a time of war. When else would the public comment on a general? Not a peep from the masses.
Rosie O'Donnell and "The View." Everyone from Bill O to the entire Faux News crew called for her head. How dare she question in any way anything this administration does or says about anything or anyone. How dare she question 9/11 official accounts. Speaking of "The View," did you hear that its new host Sherri Shepherd isn't convinced that Mother Earth isn't flat. I swear. Read.
Bill Maher. Tsk tsk, Bill. Now you've blasted everyone who questions the official account of 9/11 as a nutcase. Not every 9/11 Truthseeker believes in the controlled demolition theories advanced by some. You know better than that. So, Bill, are you saying you have no questions about the alleged facts? Or do you still sting from being spanked when you suggested that the terrorists were courageous? I supported your thoughts and right to express them and in fact agreed with you in many respects. You're what the Truthseekers call a "Gatekeeper." (Translation: shill.)
Sally Field. Her comments about mothers and war were expurgated Sunday night. Why? Come on, Junior! She was on the Faux network. Need I say any more.
Beware of the erosion of our First Amendment and, more importantly, its spirit. And it won't be necessarily from the government against whom the Bill of Rights protects us. What frightens me more is our casual disinterest in the importance of unfettered speech, expression and our nonchalance when we, not the government, but when we look the other way when limitations are endorsed.
As I've always said, our First Amendment rights will never be taken away; they'll be given away. By us.