Monday, January 17, 2011

Does the 2nd Amendment Protect Assholes?

Colorado radio station owner and personality pushes the limits on gun rights.

Brett Reese is not a conservative. He’s an asshole, but how far does an asshole half to go before it would be inappropriate for him to legally carry a gun?

Reese is a talk show flame thrower who broadcasts on radio station KELS-FM in Greely Colorado where he is also a member of the Greeley-Evans school board in Weld County. He threatened a “shootout” with a rival radio station’s owner if he didn’t stop calling businesses that underwrite Reese’s non-commercial radio station.

One would normally assume that he was talking figuratively albeit it irresponsibly and his comments were not to be taken literally. Nevertheless, he further helped stake his reputation as a mad man in many peoples’ views for his editorializing against Martin Luther King Day as a national observance calling King among other things, “a degenerate embezzler,” “a plastic god,” and “an American-hating communist.”

No doubt many on the left would consider such remarks “hate speech.” This writer would considerate his remarks ill-motivated lies and mischaracterizations. He walks a fine line between outright lies and grossly unpopular and unacceptable opinions.

Do these factors render him unworthy to carry a gun with a permit? It certainly makes his presence on the school board questionable unless he was elected to serve and that community desires a hater like him on their board.

The question is does being an asshole who expresses ridiculous opinions justify grounds not to carry a gun?

He claims he has received numerous death threats for airing his unpopular views. Surely, right minded people would challenge his assumptions in the snap of a finger. He goes on to defend himself by saying, "That's not what my push is. I think it's important for people to discuss any issue openly, freely and without being assassinated or bankrupted."

The cost of free speech, however, is that once one says something inflammatory, it becomes that person’s obligation to deal with the consequences his free speech brings. The same freedoms Brett Reese is exploiting in a hateful, hurtful manner are the same freedoms Dr. Martin Luther King exploited to enlighten a whole society to the wickedness of promises unfulfilled, of a population of Americans denied what most of the population took for granted on account of their skin color and origin.

King was a human being. He is not above criticism. An honest biography conducting a complete appraisal of his life would show some of his political positions were quite extreme. While it is constructive and noble to honor his great accomplishments, it would be equally wrong to deify him putting him above critical evaluation.

It is also unfortunate how many opportunists attempt to invoke King’s legacy and cloak themselves in King’s reputation attempting to say that their positions are an outgrowth of King’s vision. Some as radical as members of the New Black Panthers to paranoid nut jobs like Glenn Beck have attempted to do just that. Imagine that, Glenn Beck attempts to convince his audience of fawning bobble heads that he’s saying exactly what Martin Luther King might have said. If the angry little man had truly revered Dr. King, there’s no way in hell he would have held his rally of self justification held last August 28th on the 47th anniversary of King’s great “I Have a Dream” speech.

Supporting Brett Reese in any context is very tough to stomach. Perhaps his very presence on public airwaves could be contrary to his FCC license. While authorities should assume nothing, it is probably most appropriate that he be subject to a hot interview or hearing to determine his worthiness to carry a concealed weapon. Certainly, those responsible for issuing permits should be very clear what he means by “shootout.”

As much as it would be wonderful to argue otherwise, his way out of bounds remarks about Dr. Martin Luther King are protected by the 1st Amendment and unless his comments unlawfully insight violence, that’s no reason to deny him the rights the 2nd Amendment promise.

Brett Reese, one way or another, YOU have a lot of explaining to do.


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