09 June 2011

Hollywood is to the First Amendment as Crying is to Baseball

In spite (or perhaps because of) graduating from Harvard Law School, Ben Shapiro does not appear to have any familiarity with the actual First Amendment.  How else can one explain this nonsense:

It is time for Hollywood's free speech advocates to be counted. Where is Norman Lear, the founder of the Caucus and the liberal First Amendment organization People for the American Way? On Tuesday afternoon, I left him a message; I hope to hear back. So far, nobody on the left has spoken out clearly against such discrimination or in favor of an end to it. The same industry that fought blacklisting of communists tooth and nail seems content to allow blacklisting of traditional conservatives in Hollywood.
We will not stand for it. Americans want our culture back -- and we want it shaped by people from all sides of the political aisle. Discrimination in employment based on political orientation is a deep injustice, and a deeper act of hypocrisy on the part of Hollywood. The actions of Lionel Chetwynd are only the beginning. Beginning this week, the crusade for a free and open Hollywood starts in earnest. It will not end until Hollywood becomes a First Amendment town once again.

Maybe I’m being especially dense, seeing as how I’m only an armchair constitutional scholar, but I’ve scoured the first amendment dozens of times and have to see how it applies to Hollywood.  For those who need a refresher course, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution says:
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. [Emphasis added.]

Note who is specifically prohibited from abridging the freedom of speech:  “Congress.”  No other institution is explicitly prohibited from abridging speech.* Hollywood is not prohibited from abridging the freedom of speech.  The Washington Post is not prohibited from abridging the freedom of speech.  No private individual, organization, or entity is prohibited from abridging speech.**
As such, the first amendment does not apply to Hollywood.  Hollywood, insofar as it exists as an anthropomorphic entity, can hire and fire whomever it pleases.  Hollywood is under no obligation to hire anyone, nor is Hollywood under any obligation to give any or equal time to dissenting voices.***
Swap in “talk radio” for “Hollywood” and suddenly you sound like a neo-conservative.  That a neo-con political commentator is willing to make the same type of arguments, founded on the same flawed premises , as liberals do when discussing other media once again points to how there is little difference between liberals and neo-cons.

* Note:  A careful reading of the constitution would suggest that the power abridging anything to begin is reserved only for congress, so the federal and judicial branch would implicitly be prohibited from abridging freedom of speech.

** Although certain methods of abridging freedom of speech are prohibited, such as murder or assault, for example.

*** Of course, Hollywood advocates equal air time for liberals over media that conservatives own.  Yes, this makes them hypocrites.

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