CNN: Darn it, this free speech at Tea Party rallies might just be protected

CNN reminds its readers today that dissent is patriotic barely tolerable in the Age of Obama.   In a report after the Tax Day Tea Parties grabbed so much attention, the news network — which also relies on the First Amendment — spends quite a bit of column space fretting over voter anger expressed at … well, peaceful public assemblies:


Letting disgruntled citizens vent is important to national security, experts say, but some messages emanating from angry Americans in recent weeks have pressed the boundaries of free speech. …

But the angry rhetoric is not isolated to fringe groups. Both mainstream liberal and conservative camps have joined the chorus, and while some of the language sounds threatening, most of it is protected.

As the Tea Party held its April 15 tax day protest against government spending, related groups were planning an April 19 protest at Fort Hunt National Park near Alexandria, Virginia. The purpose of the latter, the groups say, is to “restore the Constitution,” and the location was chosen because it is the nearest point to Washington where firearms can be carried openly.

What makes this article so laughable is how little of it has anything to do with the demonstrations themselves. There isn’t a single quote from any of the rallies in it. Instead, CNN talks about the fringe lunacy that occurs in activism on both the Left and the Right in order to paint the Tea Parties themselves as some sort of explosion of militia fervor, when anyone who attended these rallies know that’s not at all the case.

It does, however, contain a thinly-veiled slam at the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the hard-Left organizations that have been trying to turn Tea Parties into the latest boogeyman (emphasis mine):


A recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center says Patriot groups — which the center defines as “militias and other extremist organizations that see the federal government as their enemy” — are on the rise, and it loosely lumps in Tea Party organizations with the hate groups.

Yes, “loosely” is a loaded, editorial comment — but in this case, accurate. The SPLC has been reduced to using scare tactics and demagoguery for some time now, and even CNN can’t avoid criticizing their Chicken Little shrieking.

However, the rest of the article is mainly noteworthy for its inadvertent humor. For instance, we have the usual people getting the usual PC vapors over the use of language in politics:

[Dr. Jerrold] Post said he is concerned, however, about messages coming from the conservative base. Last month, GOP chief Michael Steele called for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be put on “the firing line,” and House Minority Leader John Boehner said that a congressman “might be a dead man” because of his health care vote.

“I find some of this rhetoric recently — ‘reload’ — quite scary,” Post said of a Twitter post by Sarah Palin directing followers to her Facebook page, which had crosshairs on the districts of 20 congressmen who voted for the controversial health care bill. “Some people are going to hear that as, ‘Take up your arms.’ “


Gee, it’s a good thing that Dr. Post never bothered to watch television in the US between 1966 and 1999, when William F. Buckley hosted a show called … “The Firing Line.” It was such a radical and dangerous show that it won an Emmy in 1969. These phrases are commonly used in politics, and have been for decades. Only when the commentariat decided to paint voter unhappiness over the radical agenda and skyrocketing spending of Democrats in power as something dangerous did the media decide to parse the linguistics of politics.

And again, none of these quotes even came from the rallies themselves. If CNN couldn’t find anything objectionable at the Tea Party rallies, despite embedding a producer and reporter in them, then why run this story at all?

Update: HA reader Pam Meister from Big Hollywood asks: “Say, didn’t CNN used to have a program called … Crossfire?”

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