Letter: The First Amendment
It is unfortunate that I am forced to respond to an article that relies on phrases like “anarchistic behavior” and inflammatory references to Charles Manson, unruly soccer fans and Iran. It is even worse when the article makes statements that are not true.
Mr. Chase, in his column of July 22, says, “BDR 111 would create grounds for Charles Manson to sue a newspaper for publishing his photo with that swastika carved in his forehead.” That inflammatory statement is simply not true. Bill Draft Request (BDR) lll is just that, a request to draft – no language exists and no one, especially Mr. Chase, has read it because, I repeat, no language exists. To say it creates grounds for anything is a false statement.
Mr. Chase goes on to say, “Then, why a law that gives retribution to the wrong at the expense of free press?” Once again, an inflammatory statement about “retribution” and “expense,” based on language that he has dreamed up but, that in fact, does not exist. Another statement that is simply not true.
Mr. Chase says, “Mr. Hettrick’s impetus to pass this law was a newspaper article that contained a photograph” That statement is not true either. My impetus to submit a BDR was the request of a constituent.
Mr. Chase should read the First Amendment which not only guarantees free speech and free press, but the right “to petition for the redress of grievances.” It doesn’t say we must all agree with a grievance, it doesn’t say we must condone the situation that created the grievance -it says that each of us has a right to ask government to fix something that we think is wrong. And the article written by Mr. Chase is a prime example of why people have searched for some limits. With freedom of speech comes responsibility. The First Amendment wasn’t intended to protect Mr. Chase when he makes inflammatory, misleading statements or when he spreads conjured up falsehoods about my intentions and BDR 111. That kind of free speech isn’t right and it certainly isn’t responsible.
The constitutional right to free speech does not supersede the constitutional right to redress grievances. The Legislative Council Bureau legal staff is researching the BDR. If they determine there is no constitutional way to address the issue, the BDR will be withdrawn. That is the legislative process and is done with scores of bills on a myriad of topics each session. The cost of researching a bill is less than $200.
I will be happy to discuss this or any other issue with you. Call me at 265-4473 or e-mail to email@example.com.