The ground zero mosque and the N word

August 19, 2010 09:15

Its tragic how the left is suddenly referring to the constitution as a guarantor of rights and not as irrelevant to government. The Leftist in Chief chastised those in opposition to the ground zero mosque by firmly reminding them that the Muslims have a constitutional right to build the mosque and he is right.

The constitutional right he is referring to is in the first amendment, the first of the ‘Bill of Rights’ that were added to the constitution to clarify the rights of the citizens and to limit the power of government. The first amendment reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

But just because there is a constitutional right to do something does not make it ‘right’. Take for example the recent flap about the Dr. Laura radio show. In discussing racism with a black caller Dr. Laura used the forbidden N word. She did not use it in a pejorative manner but was trying to get to the issue brought up by the caller. Dr. Laura has a constitutional right to use the N word even it if was pejorative. The same first amendment that guarantees freedom of religion guarantees freedom of speech. There is no law against using the N word.

But as a society we have rejected the N word as so derogatory as to be banned from the language (except in rap songs but that’s another discussion). This ban was not done by the government. This ban is by mutual consent of society. It is enforced by the scarlet letter treatment of anyone who dares utter it. In Dr. Laura’s case, as with others who have made actual or perceived racist remarks, commercial endorsements and sponsors have withdrawn support as critics draw attention to the incidents.

The debate over the ground zero mosque is similar. There is not nor can there be a government prohibition based solely on the religion. There can be legitimate questions of funding, suitability and other local issues but not a prohibition based on the religion of Islam. It is my understanding that there is already a mosque just twelve blocks from the proposed site which brings in to question whether denial of this one would be a constitutionally prohibited restriction on religion but that could be decided by the courts.

Like the with the N word there is an overwhelming public outrage at the idea of the Islamic mosque so close to the location of an Islamic attack that killed three thousand innocent people. Contractors, workmen and residents are all coming up with ways in which the public’s scarlet letter could be hung on the ground zero mosque idea. There are protests. Some businesses and workmen refuse to work on the mosque construction. Politicians that support the mosque and its Imam are being publicly criticized and could lose future elections over their decisions. This is all a legitimate type of public reaction to an action that is reprehensible to most Americans but is constitutional.

Will it work? Maybe. As the furor continues, at least it has brought awareness to questions regarding the motives of the Imam, the funding viability and the veracity of the proposal to the city. Perhaps enough public pressure on supporters and sympathetic organizations and politicians could change the outcome. It worked with the N word.

– Editor

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