Bryan Fischer’s man-crush on Vladimir Putin includes not only support for his anti-gay brutality but for a new law in Russia that bans profanity “at arts, cultural and entertainment events.” Fischer says we can and should do that here and the First Amendment won’t be violated in the least.
You make a film with obscene language in Russia, you won’t even be able to show it in a theater. Books, CDs and DVDs that contain profanity will have to be distributed in a sealed package with a visible warning label.
Violators are subject to fine of $70, while potty-mouthed officials can be dinged to the tune of $40 and businesses that are guilty can face fines of up to $1,400.
The new law, scheduled to go into effect on July 1, echoes the prohibition against blasphemy found in the Ten Commandments (“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain”) and will provide another example in which Russia’s public policy conforms more closely to biblical standards than Christian America.
Could a similar ban be instituted in the United States without violating the First Amendment? Of course. The free-speech plank of the First Amendment was intended by the Founders to protect political speech, not profanity, vulgarity, obscenity or pornography.
The Founders were eager to ensure that the new republic would be characterized by robust political dialogue on all matters of public policy. All would be free to inject their ideas and convictions into public debate without fear that they would be censored and silenced by a draconian central government.
But the Founders would be aghast at the thought that anyone, anywhere, at any time would think they were crafting a document intended to allow the unlimited use of the F-bomb in polite society.
Since this seems like a perfect place for a bit of profanity: Total bullshit. Fischer’s ignorance of the meaning of the First Amendment is nearly legendary; this is a guy, after all, who claims that only Christians are guaranteed religious freedom by that amendment. As for the founding fathers, is he not familiar with Ben Franklin’s often-ribald writings, like Advice to a Young Man on the Choice of a Mistress? As a bookseller, Franklin sold many books that were filled with what Fischer would undoubtedly consider to be obscene.
The notion that the First Amendment protects only political speech is both ignorant and extremely dangerous. Robert Bork tried to claim the same thing and he was equally full of shit. There is simply no evidence at all for this claim and much evidence against it. It’s also completely unworkable. Even if it were true, all one would have to do to avoid censorship is to attach a political claim to the end of a profane work, like the advocacy of free speech itself, which is clearly a political position.
This is just another example of Fischer’s authoritarian and theocratic tendencies. It’s quite ridiculous that such tendencies are found particularly in those who scream most loudly and ignorantly about freedom when it doesn’t apply.