Saturday, January 12, 2013

White House response to Piers Morgan petition: Don't forget the First Amendment when speaking of the Second

On Thursday, the White House responded to the (more than one) "Deport Piers Morgan" petitions on its "We the People" site. Those who created the petitions were angry at Morgan who, in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, made pro-gun control statements on-air.

Morgan hosts a CNN show, "Piers Morgan Tonight."

Once any of the petitions reached the threshold of 25,000 signatures, the White House was required to issue an official response. They did so in a post entitled "When Discussing the Second Amendment, Keep the First in Mind Too." The title alone gives readers an idea of answer the White House gave.

White House press secretary Jay Carney wrote:
Thank you for participating in We the People to speak out on an issue that matters to you.

Let’s not let arguments over the Constitution’s Second Amendment violate the spirit of its First. President Obama believes that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. However, the Constitution not only guarantees an individual right to bear arms, but also enshrines the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press -- fundamental principles that are essential to our democracy.

Americans may disagree on matters of public policy and express those disagreements vigorously, but no one should be punished by the government simply because he or she expressed a view on the Second Amendment -- or any other matter of public concern.
It's something most people looking at the "Deport Piers Morgan" petitions from the outside in said: Morgan, despite the fact he is not a citizen, has the right to free speech. As most know, that right extends to pretty much anything, except things such as shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater, the frequently given example of what is not protected.

The White House "We the People" website gives people the right to start a petition on just about anything. If the petition reaches 25,000 signatures within a month (the threshold has changed since the beginning of the program), it receives an official response.

Some have said the program has "jumped the shark," though, with recent petitions like the Piers Morgan ones, as well as on requesting that the U.S. build a Death Star. One of the latest petitions to gain attention by the "jumped the sharkers" is one asking for a reality TV show starring Joe Biden.

That said, useful petitions have been created, such as one to label the Westboro Baptist Church a hate group and another to -- wait for it -- enhance gun control in the U.S.

You can read the full response on the White House website.



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