First Amendment? What First Amendment?

The above video is a stirring rendition of a campaign song for Abraham Lincoln in 1860:  Lincoln and Liberty Too, probably the most effective campaign ditty in American political history.  It was sung everywhere by Republicans in 1860, from huge campaign rallies to small gatherings of Lincoln supporters.  Lincoln Wide Awakes would hold torch light processions throughout the North singing the song at the top of their lungs.  The type of enthusiasm generated by the song helped give Lincoln a popular vote plurality in 1860 and an electoral landslide. 

I think the song would probably be illegal under legislation proposed by Congressman Robert Brady (D.Pa). 

“Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) reportedly plans to introduce legislation that would make it a federal crime to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a federal official or member of Congress.” 

Critics originally took Palin to task for the apparent use of the crosshairs of guns to identify the districts. The controversy re-ignited Saturday after the shooting, since Giffords’s district was included on the map.  

Brady singled out the map as the type of rhetoric he opposed. 

“You can’t put bull’s-eyes or crosshairs on a United States congressman or a federal official,” he said. 

However, a Palin spokeswoman denied Sunday that the image was intended to depict gun sights. Palin offered condolences to the Giffords family and other victims of the shooting on her Facebook page Saturday. 

 Here is the ad from SarahPac that has Congressman Brady so worked up:  


The crosshairs on the map indicated members of Congress targeted for defeat by SarahPac.  Such targeting imagery of course is commonplace in political campaigns.  Only a moron, or a partisan hack, would think that violence in any way was implied by the use of this image.  As far as American political speech goes, this was pretty tepid stuff.   

Under the legislation proposed by Brady, much of American political discourse would come to a screeching halt.  “Throw the bums out!” “Congressman ______ deserves to be kicked in the behind for that stupid vote!”  “If they bring a knife to the fight we bring a gun!”  That last was from Barack Obama using a line from the movie the Untouchables.  “I want you to argue with them and get in their face!”  That also is from Barack Obama.   

“Politics ain’t beanbag.” as Finley Peter Dunne said long ago, and in America, a free country, our political rhetoric has often been strident, heated and always unregulated by the government. 

In regard to Lincoln and Liberty, I guess Congressman Brady would object to the line saying “the Slavocrats’ giant he slew” which was a direct reference to Lincoln’s adversary Stephen A. Douglas, nicknamed The Little Giant.  Then we have “We” ll fight till our cause is victorious“.  Quick, someone run for help!  Congressman Brady has just fainted!

Of course this is not a serious proposal.  This is just a bid by a Congressman for some cheap publicity, and to enhance his standing among the wackdoodle Left in his own party.  If the Congress did pass legislation so manifestly unconstitutional, I can’t imagine it being upheld by the courts.  However, it does say something that a Congressman feels that it is safe for him as a Democrat Congressman from an overwhelmingly Democrat district to thumb his nose at the First Amendment.  The shootings by the lunatic on Saturday were dreadful.  Shooting the First Amendment in response would be much, much worse. 

Hurrah for the choice of the nation!

Our chieftan so brave and so true;

We’ll go for the great Reformation —

For Lincoln and Liberty too!


We’ll go for the son of Kentucky

The hero of Hoosierdom through;

The pride of the Suckers so lucky

For Lincoln and Liberty too!


Our good David’s sling is unerring,

The Slaveocrat’s giant he slew;

Then shout for the Freedom-preferring

For Lincoln and Liberty too!


We’ll go for the son of Kentucky

The hero of Hoosierdom through;

The pride of the Suckers so lucky

For Lincoln and Liberty too!


Come all you true friends of the nation

Attend to humanity’s call

Oh aid of the slaves’ liberation

And roll on the liberty ball


We’ll finish the temple of freedom

And make it capacious within

That all who seek shelter may find it

Whatever the hue of their skin.


Success to the old fashioned doctrine

That men are created all free

And down with the power of the despot

Wherever his stronghold may be


They’ll find what by felling and mauling,

Our railmaker statesman can do;

For the people are everywhere calling

For Lincoln and Liberty too.


Then up with our banner so glorious,

The star-spangled red-white-and-blue,

We’ll fight till our Cause is victorious,

For Lincoln and Liberty too!








Published in: on January 12, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on First Amendment? What First Amendment?  
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