What’s The Real Issue?

Published 8:41 am Wednesday, July 30, 2014

To the editor:

Local Republican party leaders are complaining that “the Democrats” are trying to deny them their First Amendment free speech rights by criticizing their booth at the recent Columbus Fourth of July celebration. The booth featured a dunking tank at which passers-by were encouraged to throw softballs at photographs of President Obama and other prominent Democrats and to buy T-shirts, bumper stickers and other paraphernalia carrying messages such as “Liberals Suck” printed on the silhouette of an Uzi submachine gun.

The Republican leaders’ complaint misses the point. The issue is not whether this juvenile display was within their First Amendment rights. It indisputably was.

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The real issue is why the Republican leaders decided to exercise their First Amendment rights in just this manner and what that decision says about their values, character and judgment.

Incidentally, it’s not just “the Democrats”.  The complaints of which I’m aware have been full throatedly nonpartisan (Democrat, Republican and unaffiliated voters alike).


— Jim McDermott