“I don’t like your style, your politics, or your sense of humor. I don’t like what you say, or how you say it.”
—J.T. Walsh as Sergeant Major Dickerson in Good Morning, Vietnam
I’ve said before I am no big fan of the First Amendment. But if you’re going to have it, it’s got to apply equally to everyone, right?
Well don’t look now, but the dark forces of Political Correctness are on the march again.
It seems that the TLC cable network—ostensibly, “The Learning Channel,” which brings you such quality educational programs as Sister Wives (which, according to their website, explores the joys of polygamous households), Long Island Medium (a “reality” show tracking a psychic/palm-reading mom), The Virgin Diaries (which “takes you inside the lives of adult virgins who reveal the challenges, truths, and anticipations of losing their virginity”)—is running a series called All-American Muslim. All-American Muslim, as I understand it, is a day-in-the-life kind of thing chronicling what I’m sure are the riveting daily lives of five Muslim families in Dearborn, Michigan (what’s the over/under on whether they’ll have any discussion about Islamic views on homosexuality, or the treatment of women in predominantly Muslim countries?). Members of a group called the Florida Family Association complained to Lowe’s Home Improvement—among others—about the company’s sponsorship of the show, claiming that the program is “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.” Rather than deal with the flak of fighting about it, Lowe’s elected to stop advertising on the program.
Predictably, there is now much hue and cry from the Left. Russell Simmons—to much fanfare from CNN—has bought up the ad space left by Lowe’s, and has called for a boycott. California State Senator Ted Lieu called Lowe’s decision “un-American” and “naked religious bigotry,” and apparently is considering legislative action and an investigation into whether Lowe’s has violated California law (query how, or even what business this is of the California legislature, given that Lowe’s is headquartered in North Carolina, it made its decision after complaints from a group in Florida, TLC is headquartered in Maryland, and the show is filmed in Michigan). Michigan State Representative Rashida Tlaib—a Muslim legislator who has been among the most vocal in criticizing "racist" efforts to ban foreign law from Michigan courts (which she obviously reads as being directed at preventing the application of Sharia)—has complained directly to Lowe’s. And Michigan Congressman Keith Ellison has condemned Lowe’s for “uphold[ing] the beliefs of a fringe hate group and not the creed of the First Amendment.”
Is that so?
I’ve been studying my copy of the First Amendment. It reads, in its entirety, as follows:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
My copy seems to be missing the part that says it only applies when who you’re worshipping or what you’re saying is acceptable to the Left.
To be sure, Muslims are free in this country to practice Islam free from restraint by Congress or the States (subject, of course, to the usual compelling state interest restrictions applicable to any constitutional right). But notice that Lowe’s isn’t Congress or a State, and Lowe’s hasn’t restrained anyone from saying anything or anyone from practicing their religion. Lowe’s hasn’t made any statement critical of the show or calling for TLC to cancel it. Lowe’s hasn’t made any comment about Islam or Muslims. Lowe’s hasn’t done anything to attempt to prevent Muslims from practicing their religion. Lowe’s isn’t banning Muslims from its stores. All Lowe’s did was elect to discontinue its sponsorship of the program in an attempt to avoid controversy.
Who’s not upholding the creed of the First Amendment, Congressman Ellison?
Nobody in this case is discriminating against Muslims, or impairing their First Amendment rights. But apparently for these folks on the Left not only does the First Amendment guarantee Muslims the right to the free exercise of their religion (and TLC the right to the free exercise of speech in running the show), it also gives them the right to compel Lowe’s to pay for it, even if they conclude that they either no longer support the show’s content, or that they just don’t want the hassle associated with it. Interestingly, it never seems to occur to these folks that the same First Amendment behind which they so love to hide grants Lowe’s the same right of free expression and practice, which includes the right not to participate in someone else’s speech or practice.
How DARE Lowe’s bow to outside pressure to drop its sponsorship of a Islam-centered program?!?!
Isn’t it funny that these are the very same corners from which the cries came pressuring Atlanta-based law firm King & Spalding to drop its representation of the House of Representatives in defending the Defense of Marriage Act? These are also a lot of the same folks who will pour money into the ACLU to sue to make sure a 7-year-old can’t put up a Santa display in a classroom, or a Catholic college can’t hang a crucifix.
I’m not necessarily defending or agreeing with the opinion expressed by the Florida Family Association—I haven’t seen All-American Muslim, and I have no intention of doing so. I have no idea whether it’s dangerous Islamist propaganda, or simply mindless drivel. Nor do I care. What I do care about is the continuous push to shove Islam down our throats in the name of political correctness, and I’m sick to death of the eggshells upon which we are forced to trod lest we offend any Muslim anywhere about anything.
The fact of the matter is that Lowe’s has every right to make its own decisions whether, where, and how to advertise. It is absolutely free to sponsor programming or not as it sees fit, and that includes the freedom to pull its advertising for any reason it chooses, whether it be good and righteous, immoral and bigoted, or no reason at all. You have the right to speak and practice your religion, but you don’t have the right to force me to help you do it.