On AM760 this morning, we discussed whether police should have forcibly ejected a man from a Cleveland Indians game last night for wearing Lebron James' new Miami Heat jersey. The move was deliberately provocative and this guy was certainly a jerk. But the use of public resources - in this case, municipal police officers - to remove the man for simply wearing an article of clothing seemed to me like a blatant trampling of the man's First Amendment rights (take AM760's online poll here to vote on whether you think it was appropriate to eject him).
After all, the First Amendment and the case law around it is damn clear: you have an absolute constitutional right to express ideas that others may not like, the government (in this case, the police) are constitutionally prohibited from stopping you from exercising that right, and anyone who physically assaults you for your lawful speech is the criminal wrongdoer - not you for simply exercising your rights (and if you disagree with this basic statement of fact, you oughta read the U.S. Constitution and ponder just how genuinely anti-constitution or, dare I say un-American, your thought process really is).
During the show, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter joined us for an interview and I asked him his opinion on the whole matter, which prompted him to deliver an impassioned defense of the First Amendment. Ritter, a lawyer and former prosecutor, said (and I agreed) that Americans not only have the right to wear expressive clothing (as long as they fall within basic obscenity laws), but also to expect that fellow Americans will not physically harm them for doing so, and to further expect that police will not deter their speech.
So I pressed Ritter on his answer, asking him about Denver Nuggets' star Carmelo Anthony. If Melo leaves Colorado for another team, does Ritter believe people should be able to wear Melo's new team jersey to Colorado sporting events without fear of police ejecting them?
Listen to the audio of Ritter's response here* - and I'll give you a hint: I agree with Ritter, and if Melo leaves, I may be wearing his new jersey at a Nuggets game in the near future, if only to exercise my constitutional rights.
* Note: Ritter does not in any way endorse someone wearing Melo's new team jersey - he's not hoping someone does. He is simply commenting on whether or not they have a right to.
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