I couldn’t help noticing the story in the New York Times last week about a longtime columnist on gun issues getting fired from Guns & Ammo magazine because of the reaction to his opinion that the Second Amendment has limits just like any other constitutional right.
The magazine received such vitriol from gun manufacturers who threatened to cut off their advertising unless Dick Metcalf, a respected expert on guns, was fired.
What piqued my interest was the lack of outrage coming from the right wing that simply expressing an opinion, as a gun enthusiast himself, would cost him his livelihood.
Where is Sarah Palin on this guy’s First Amendment free speech rights?
Where is Mike Huckabee?
Where is Bobby Jindal, or the Fox News commentators, or Utah’s local politicians who I have heard decry the treatment given to Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson for his anti-gay statements he made in an interview with GQ magazine?
Remember the reaction from the right when A&E suspended Phil Robertson, the star of one of its most popular shows, for comments that were offensive to the LGBT community.
"Free speech is an endangered species," Palin wrote on Facebook. "Those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us."
Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, was equally vociferous. "The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with," he said in a prepared statement.
Actually, he could have been talking about himself.
Robertson was suspended for, among other comments, saying that homosexuality is a sin, adding: "Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."
A&E has since rescinded the suspension, and I happen to be one of those cynics who suspect it was all a put-on to hype the already popular program.
Now, let’s look at what happened to Metcalf, described in the Times’ story as "one of the country’s most pre-eminent gun journalists.
He wrote a column for Guns and Ammo magazine in October titled "Let’s Talk Limits."
"The fact is," he wrote, "all constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be."
The reaction from the gun industry was so strong, Metcalf was fired, even though his column went through the magazine’s editors before it ran, and the magazine later clarified its devotion to absolute Second Amendment rights.
Metcalf told the Times he not only lost his job, but he has been blackballed by the industry, which is intolerant of any suggestion there be some regulations pertaining to gun ownership and use.
The right wing that was so protective of Robertson’s constitutional right to free speech has been absent on the silencing of a gun expert’s thoughtful essay on the balancing of constitutional rights because an important faction of the media is terrified of the firearms industry.
Our Utah politicians are just as bad as the national pundits who demonstrated such hypocrisy in blasting the punishment of Robertson while, by their own silence, give tacit approval to the banishment of Metcalf for exercising his constitutional rights.
Remember Judge Robert Hilder? He had been nominated by former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to fill a vacancy on the Utah Court of Appeals, but was rejected by the Senate. Senators used a number of trumped up reasons for denying Hilder’s confirmation, but the real reason he was bumped was that he had ruled as a district judge that the University of Utah had the right to limit the presence of firearms on its campus.
That, to our conservative friends in the Legislature, was intolerable.
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