Thursday, July 06, 2006

"Mr. President, when your administration came up with this "First Amendment," did it not foresee a problem like this might happen?"

With all the hubub over the New York Times national security stories,
(see here) the lonely libertarian was drawn back to the Cartoon Wars episode of South Park from a few months ago- This was the one where the cartoon Family Guy planned to show a cartoon depiction of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. In this scene, the clueless Washington press corp confronts George Bush about just what he's going to do about Family Guy.

[The White House, day. President Bush is addressing the White House press corps in the press room]
President Bush: I want to assure the American people that as President, I have exhausted every possible solution. Unfortunately, Mohammed will appear uncensored on Family Guy tonight at seven.
Reporters: [clamoring] Mr. President!
Reporter 1: [rises] Mr. President, can't the writers of the show be reasoned with? Don't they know they're putting the country in danger? [sits]
President Bush: I have come to... understand something about the Family Guy writing staff. Suffice it to say that they will not be persuaded by the possibility of violence.
Reporters: [clamoring] Mr. President!
Reporter 1: [same one as before] What exactly did you learn about the Family Guy writing staff, Mr. President?
President Bush: [thinks a moment, then leans into the mic and says in a low voice] I'm afraid that information is classified.
Reporters: [in unison] AWWW!!! [then clamoring] Mr. President!
TCO Reporter: [rises] Mr. President, can't you force the Family Guy writing staff not to write anything about Mohammed? [sits]
LSX Reporter: [rises] Couldn't you throw them in prison? [sits]
President Bush: Look! The fact of the matter is the Family Guy writing staff is protected by something called the First Amendment!
Reporter 2: And what exactly is this First Amendment, Mr. President?
President Bush: [beat] Uh you know, the right to free speech.
Reporters: [in unison] AWWW!!! [they begin to fight furiously and clamor amongst themselves]
Reporter 3: [rises] Mr. President, when your administration came up with this "First Amendment," did it not foresee a problem like this might happen? [sits]
President Bush: [beat] Well... We didn't come up with the First Amendment. It was already in place.
TCO Reporter: [rises] What do you intend to do about this "First Amendment," Mr. President? [sits]
Reporter 4: [rises] Forgive me, Mr. President, but this "First Amendment" sounds like a lot of bureaucratic jibbery-joob? [sits]
Reporters: Yeah!
Reporter 5: That's right!

I hope the irony is apparent- U.S. newspapers would not publish the Mohammed cartoons, but they will publish what the government has told them is important to national security.

Now the lonely libertarian is not one to say that the Times should not have published any of these national security stories- I'm not sure where I fall on that, and the truth is I don't have enough information to know how secret these programs actually were and how important it was to maintain their secrecy. But one thing is certain- the New York Times and the rest of the mainstream media are just as sketchy and just as politically minded as the Bush administration.


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