Does the 2nd Amendment trump the 1st Amendment?
A recent article in the NY Times resurrected the firing of Dick Metcalf from Guns and Ammo Magazine. Metcalf was an editor and featured columnist for G&A for many years. Up until he wrote an article suggesting that it was time to begin a discussion on the limits, if any of the 2nd Amendment, his credentials among gun aficionados was impeccable. It turned out that Metcalf was fired because his employers feared that his continued association with G&A would negatively impact its relationship with its big advertisers, who happen —surprise, surprise— to be major firearms manufacturers. Judging from the hate mail Metcalf says he’s received, it would seem that some folks got so irate over the idea that the 2nd Amendment had any limits at all, they were willing to shut him up, to the point of homicide. (For a quick look at what some of the limits are, or might be, go to http://agauchepress.com/2013/12/21/a-second-amendment-pop-quiz/ )
About two months later, Duck Dynasty’s patriarch, Phil Robertson, got suspended by the A&E channel for expressing opinions in public derogatory of gays. While the issue was not fleshed out, it seems clear that A&E’s executives feared the sponsors of Duck would not like one of their stars alienating a segment of their customer base. So here again, a private employer disciplined an employee for speech that their advertisers wouldn’t want associated with their brand. However, in this case, unlike the Metcalf affair, the Ailes/Limbaugh troglodyte faction began screaming about free speech. Suddenly they became gung ho 1st Amendment champions to shame the ACLU.
To hear the spin and hype oozing forth from Fox and Idiots-On-The-Air you might think there was a constitutional question here. In case anyone is in doubt, the constitution applies to the government’s use of power to stifle free speech (1st Amendment) or to limit firearms (2nd Amendment.) Private employers can justifiably terminate or suspend an employee who pisses off an advertiser or its customers. Just how long does anyone think Megyn Kelly would last at Fox if she came out while confessing she was a socialist?
The difference between the Metcalf and Robertson cases, as we all know but are reluctant to address, is only one of substantive issues. If you want to talk about limits to the 2nd Amendment, you’ve got no 1st Amendment rights. But, according to the spittle that contaminates the right-wing airwaves, if you want to put the hurt on gays or lesbians, you’ve got a constitutional right. So I guess the answer to my initial question is that the 2nd Amendment trumps the 1st over there in the far reaches of right-wing land. Mao Tse Tung said, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” I wonder how they would feel to discover they agreed with him.