Here’s a plan which probably has roughly the same chance of succeeding as a NASA mission to land on the sun, but it’s attracting more than a little attention this holiday weekend. One of the “reasonable discussion” voices in the gun grabbing movement will be familiar to regular readers. He’s CNN’s Pier’s Morgan, who reasonably told someone who dared to suggest the Second Amendment was still important that he must be “a very stupid man.” The British, non-citizen’s repeated commentary about the need to start snatching up all of those nasty guns has now drawn some attention of an unwelcome sort, as reported by The Daily Caller.
Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto Saturday night joined in the chorus of American voices suggesting that British-born CNN host Piers Morgan could legally be deported from this country for his televised attacks on the Second Amendment, and pointed out the legal precedent that leaves Morgan vulnerable to deportation.
Morgan began the dispute when he complained on Twitter Saturday about a petition on the White House’s “We the People” Web page that asks the government to deport him.
“British Citizen and CNN television host Piers Morgan is engaged in a hostile attack against the U.S. Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment. We demand that Mr. Morgan be deported immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights,” the drafters of the petition wrote in their introductory statement.
They’ve already gotten more than 15,000 signatures as of Sunday morning, out of the 25,000 needed to trigger a White House response. This is entirely symbolic, of course, since there is no way that the White House would suddenly deport one of their biggest cheerleaders, and even if they did it would set a horrible precedent. I do agree, however, with Taranto on the merits that Morgan’s position – as a non-citizen – is hardly assured. They had a brief exchange on Twitter covering this subject.
“Ironic U.S. gun rights campaign to deport me for ‘attacking 2nd Amendment rights’ – is my opinion not protected under 1st Amendment rights?,” Morgan tweeted.
“Your opinion is protected, your presence in the U.S. is not. See Kleindienst v. Mandel (1972),” Taranto replied to Morgan.
While this may be technically true, one of the crowning and wonderful ironies of our system is that we can criticize anything we like, including the Bill of Rights which allows us to do so. Of course, not being a citizen, one could argue that Morgan’s rights might not be quite as generous, but we traditionally allow a broad platform for anyone to participate in the free exchange of ideas. (No matter how offensive they might be.) Further, citizen or not, Morgan is ostensibly part of the media. If the day has actually arrived when the United States government starts shipping journalists out of the country (even if we’re stretching the definition a bit here) then we’ve got a real problem.
But this also brings up another question for me. We’ve been running this little “We the People” petitioning experiment for a few years now. Do we need to continue with it at this point? I mean, has there ever been a single, meaningful proposal brought up there which wasn’t already under debate and consideration by Congress which actually went anywhere? (I’m not saying there hasn’t been. I just can’t think of one, but would be happy to hear any examples.) I mean, if they could actually produce something productive, like diverting PBS spending into funding the blimp that guy is building to find Bigfoot, then I could see doing it. But thus far it really looks like little more than a diversion for bored people who want to draw some headlines.