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John Rosemond wants to return to the 1950s. Kentucky’s AG wants to return to the 1750s.
Sunday, July 21, 2013
The First Amendment Center last week released its annual poll, and though the results are not surprising, they are discouraging.
When Americans were asked to list the five specific freedoms in that amendment, just 59 percent could name speech. And it only gets worse from there: 24 percent could name religion, 14 percent freedom of the press, 11 percent the right to assemble, and only 4 percent the right to petition. Sigh.
After all these 16 years that the center’s been giving this pop quiz, Americans should be prepared. Or, better yet, understand what those rights ensure. But then if attorneys general like the one in Kentucky don’t get it (and let’s not forget our own AG, who wanted to silence an academic he didn’t agree with), what hope is there for America?
As the center was releasing its findings, the great state of Kentucky decided that it is fed up with the harsh, sensory deprivation type advice that parenting columnist John Rosemond dispenses in America’s newspapers. The AG and the psychology board are ordering Rosemond to stop dispensing advice without a Kentucky license to practice psychology.
Rosemond has a right to write what he wishes. Newspapers have a right to publish his columns, or not. Readers may read his missives or ignore them.
Kentucky’s attorney general need not insert himself into those choices. What’s next? Banning horoscopes as fortune telling? Or racing stats because they promote gambling? Or allowing a city council to yank letters to the editor that paint the community in a unfavorable light?
If authorities can exert the power of the state to silence Rosemond, they might as well gag Miss Manners. But if they stop to ask her the proper way to do this, undoubtedly she’d tell them that no, even if they use an heirloom gag embroidered by Betsy Ross, it’s still not proper, no matter their best intentions.
There are simple remedies for dealing with speech that one considers offensive. More speech is one, and elected officials certainly have the bully pulpit to speak however they wish. Readers of this newspaper can turn instead to Starshine Roshell or our own Ralph Berrier. They’re finding tons more joy in parenting than the stodgy, severe Rosemond ever could.
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