If You Can’t Beat ’Em, Shut ’Em Up

Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday dear Prometheus Unleashed
Happy birthday to me

(To be sung to some nondescript original tune, most assuredly not the traditional “Happy Birthday” tune.)

And no, I’m not going to go into any great remembrances of the past year — I’ve decided to just go ahead with business as usual. After all, if you want to know what’s happened across the last twelve months, you can browse through the archives, right? And besides, I’m still too sick to do a whole lot of deep thinking right now (though I think my fever may have finally broken — knock on formica).

U.S. HouseToday I thought I’d mix a fraction of Monday’s irritability with yesterday’s amused mockery. And in today’s Post, there’s a story that just fits the bill: “Lawmaker Incensed About Ad On Metro.” It would appear that Republican (naturally) Representative Ernest Istook freaked out upon seeing (or being told about, more likely) an ad for Change the Climate, a nonprofit group dedicated to the legalization (and taxation) of marijuana. Never mind that this is exactly the type of political speech explicitly protected by the First Amendment. Istook is deliberately trying to quash the voices of dissent — voices that are getting louder every day. As with any social issue, when your position can’t stand up to reasoned debate, it just might be time to reexamine that position.

ConstitutionNever mind that Metro did initially refuse the ad, relenting only when faced with an ACLU-sponsored First Amendment lawsuit — as already happened in Boston. No, Istook wants to punish Metro for actually listening to its own lawyers. He’s introduced legislation to cut Metro funding by $92,500 and bar any transit system that receives federal funds from running ads from any group that promotes marijuana decriminalization. He’d rather Metro — and any other transit systems down the road — spend thousands more defending an utterly indefensible position. I don’t know if the guy’s just seeking personal publicity or he’s an utter moron.

One thing’s for sure: He’s given Change the Climate more free publicity than their ad ever did. And to top it all off, I love the response by Change the Culture founder Joseph White: “Yes, we wanted to stimulate debate, but we didn’t think a nutcase congressman would try to eliminate free speech... If they don’t like what we’re doing, they ought to read the Constitution and get a life.” Well said. (And just in case anyone’s looking for corroboration of Istook’s “nutcase” status, yes, he is one of those folks pushing for the anti-gay marriage Constitutional amendment.)


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