Congress Tries to Muzzle Free Speech

MoveOn and Limbaugh measures reflect both sides' narrow-minded approaches to the First Amendment.

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It's almost comical to watch both political parties, but especially the Republicans, act selectively about the First Amendment. We still have one.

The GOP members of Congress went berserk over a full-page ad in the New York Times mocking Gen. David Petraeus and questioning his integrity. The ad was over the top and wrongheaded. However, the group had a right to say it.

A resolution condemning the ad passed in the Senate with many frightened Democrats going along with the Republicans. The chief sponsor was GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a reactionary who would follow President Bush over a cliff, no questions asked.

The Texan is up for re-election next year. Every voter there who still considers the First Amendment a legitimate right should examine his record.

The Democrats made their errant move by howling too much over Rush Limbaugh's stupid statement that service folks in Iraq were "phony soldiers" (plural) if they spoke against the war.

While I vowed some time ago not to mention Limbaugh's name again, thus giving attention to the right-wing bloviator, this was too inviting. Yes, Limbaugh is entitled to spew out his views with the same right as MoveOn.org. Democrats should leave it alone.

Yet, it is interesting that Republicans were silent about Limbaugh after going crazy over the anti-Petraeus ad. Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia, a Republican who should know better, even wanted to offer a resolution talking about Limbaugh's constitutional guarantee. Of course, he would deny that right to MoveOn.

Both sides are calling attention to their eagerness to demagogue and inflame an issue.

Cooler heads decreed long ago that citizens have a right to speak out, even a loud mouth like Limbaugh or a left-wing group like MoveOn.