To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Thursday, October 29, 2020

New Observercast

Limits To Free Speech

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BY KAREN WEBB

In the last couple of days there have been two examples of people getting jiggy with word definitions for explaining why their actions should not be a threat to the life of the president of the United States. One of them everyone knows about and the other only those of us in Oklahoma City know about, so far.

First there is the cartoon in the New York Post and I am sure you know the one. There are police officers shooting a chimp and one of them is saying that they will now have to find someone else TO WRITE the stimulus package. The editor of the newspaper, if you are generous with the definition of newspaper, says the chimp represents the stimulus package. If that is the case then the police officer should be saying, “Now they will have to write another stimulus package because we just killed that one.”

The cartoonist says he wasn’t referring to the president; he was referring to the speaker of the House. I’ll admit that I am not as fond of Speaker Nancy Pelosi as I am of President Obama and both of them tick me off at times, but I would never suggest shooting either of them. I never suggested shooting Dennis Hastert or Newt Gingrich, so anyone is safe.

I am one of those who actually had a good time referring to George W. Bush as Curious George, but I was very clear about what I was doing. Bush isn’t as curious or as alert to the world around him as the Curious George in the book. There were times when Bill Clinton behaved like an ape and I said so, but it didn’t refer to his job performance as president.

I did not at any time suggest that we should shoot Bush or Clinton. I understand that the cartoon is offensive because it brings back some very unpleasant caricatures that are better off buried forever. Comparing an African-American to a chimp is disgusting because it never was a joke or funny, but shooting the president or the speaker is something else altogether.

The Klan waving the Confederate flag never had to do with preserving the Union.

Let’s bring this controversy closer to home. It involved an anti-choice activist and his sign. A police officer arrested him for having the sign in the window of his car. My first thought was “that is a big sign” and would have obstructed his view of oncoming traffic no matter which window he put it in.

The police officer arrested him for threatening the life of the president because his sign said “Abort Obama and not the unborn.” The man was really upset and said, “Doesn’t he know what the word abort means?”

My first thought was that the police officer must be a fellow anti-choice activist and is aware that abort means murder to an anti-choice activist. I once walked with a girl who had made the very painful decision to abort across a street to a clinic and several people yelled that it was murder. Had his sign said, “Murder Obama and not the unborn” it would have been clearly a threat to the life of the president, but it would have meant the same thing to an anti-choice activist.

You might wonder why I always say anti-choice activist. I am not pro-abortion and I have never met anyone who is pro-abortion, but I know a lot of people who are pro-choice and anti-choice. Every pro-choice person I know is pro-preventing abortions by preventing unwanted pregnancies and you do that by teaching EVERY form of birth control and not just using self-righteous condemnation.

I am a firm believer in free speech, but I believe the cartoon and the sign, at the very least, could give racists or other activists the idea that getting rid of the president is a good idea and I don’t mean by impeachment or electing someone else.

Karen Webb lives in Moore, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.