Piers Morgan won't have to pack his bags after all.
Last week the White House, speaking through Press Secretary Jay Carney, politely, yet firmly, dismissed the petition calling for Piers Morgan's deportation posted on its "We The People" page. The ridiculous petition was signed by 100,000 seemingly outraged supporters of the right to bear arms -- like the assault rifle used last month to murder small children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
It wasn't exactly a nail-biting drama. The petition was little more than a cheap publicity stunt spearheaded by radio talk show host Alex Jones. Fortunately, as the White House reminded the petitioners, the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right to bear arms, does not trump the First, which protects freedom of speech. It's ironic that those who claim to be offended by the CNN host's "attack" on the Second Amendment show no respect for the First.
To be sure, Morgan was never in danger of deportation. Yet, as ridiculous as the petition was, the very notion that any American would demand his deportation for expressing his views on an issue of public concern is disturbing.
America's strength has always been its openness, its ability to attract the best and the brightest from all over the world and harness their creative energy for the common good. From our country's inception immigrants have flocked to our shores to build a better life for themselves and their children. They have fought and died for its ideals, strengthened its democracy, and enriched its culture. What kind of country would America be if it summarily deported people for speaking their minds? Let's not forget that our Constitutional rights, including the right to speak freely and the right to bear arms, have been purchased with the blood of citizens and noncitizens alike, many of whom have paid the ultimate price in defense of the freedoms we hold dear.
So why would those who disagree with Piers Morgan call for his banishment from our midst rather than challenge the merits of his argument? What are they afraid of? Did he make too much sense by suggesting that military assault weapons and high capacity clips should be banned? Are they really so threatened by his words? Could not his detractors have come up with a better response than to send him home like some unruly schoolboy?
Piers Morgan -- U.S. citizen or not -- has the right to freedom of speech under our Constitution. What's truly offensive is not what he said or how he said it, but that there are Americans who buy in to the twisted notion that, when it comes to immigrants, banishment and exile should replace reasoned debate.
Ironically, the folks who petitioned for Morgan's deportation owe him a debt of gratitude. By sparking a robust debate about gun control in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre, Morgan, perhaps unwittingly, has underscored the importance of jealously protecting our fundamental constitutional rights, including, among others, the right to bear arms.
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