Free Speech Draws Criticism from Constitutional Defender

This morning the following comment was posted on piece I wrote almost two months ago:

Lee Arthur Rice II November 10th, 2010 at 11:06 am

“The name is Lee Arthur II of the Shines-Rice family. Unfortunately, the reporter is sadly mistaken about my actions. Had he taken the time to ask and speak with properly and in a professional manner he would have discovered the true regarding my drawing and actions. It is hypocritical and unethical to claim to be a reporter and not understand how to be or act like one. Much love and God bless.”

Mr. Rice’s comment was in response to the following image and caption about his art work. The story was a commentary piece on the re-launch of Bryan Fisher’s Idaho Values Alliance with new president Gary L. Brown. The publicized media event was sponsored by the conservative Idaho Freedom Foundation.

Idaho Values Alliance Press Conference Obama Swastika
God led African American artist Lee Arthur Rice II, (left above center) from voting for Obama to making him out to be a Nazi. At a public event where the media was invited to cover events taking place on State property, Rice exercises his Constitutional First Amendment right to free speech through displaying his art and handing out marketing materials. This staunch defender of the Constitutional Freedoms and Liberty that made this country great, hypocritically attempted to prevent this member of the press from taking a close-up of the swastikas Rice drew in Obama’s eyes.

Lee Arthur Rice II, Barack Obama, Nazi, Swastikas, Artist

Artist Lee Author Rice II handed out this double sided sales flier at a public media event Sept. 19, 2010 Constitution Day, promoting his art work of President Barack Obama with swastikas in his eyes. The other side is dedicated to promoting his right-wing conservative political group, Son's of the Republic.

Mr. Rice – First of all I, the reporter, am a woman not a man. Secondly, your art work was on display at a publicized event, on public property and the media was invited, making your attendance and display fair game for editorial use.

I vividly recall noticing your framed art piece leaning up against the large replica of the U.S. Constitution, I was intrigued. My first thought was, “Wow that is really good, great likeness.” My second thought, “What’s an Obama supporter doing here?” It seemed incongruent with the event’s Tea Party-esk message. Approaching closer to investigate I discovered the swastikas, it was shocking.

Before I had a chance to snap a photo, you handed me your flier. When I went to take the shot you said I could not take a picture because it was copy written. I told you it was a public media event on public property, and so I took the photo.

The images were news worthy then and are still. I did not see you keep other media from filming or photographing you or your work. However, you tried to stop me and I think we both know why. That, Mr. Rice, told me all I needed to know. There was nothing about my conduct that was unethical, unprofessional or hypocritical as you claim.

Like so many of your political ilk, there is a fundamentalist reverence for the U.S. Constitution. Yet, for those who do not pass the religious conservative litmus test, the Constitution gets conveniently tossed aside. Your selective application of the First Amendment on the steps of the Statehouse on of all days, Constitution Day is rich with hypocrisy.

Your flier, posted to the right, told me the meaning of your drawing. The other side of your pitch to sell your Obama-is-a-Nazi art work is all about the “Sovereign” group God led you to, that apparently moved you to draw swastikas in the eyes of an, otherwise beautiful portrait, of President Obama. Readers can decide for themselves.

Mr. Rice, you will notice on the top of the piece you commented on it says “COMMENTARY” which means, “critique,” “description,” “observation” or “review.” (thesaurus.com). I simply described what I observed as opinion.

Despite your distorted version of the facts and questioning my integrity, I have left your comment as a dissenting viewpoint on this very website, something your friends at the Idaho Values Alliance will not do.

We live in a country where I get to say what I want, and so do you. That is what freedom and liberty are all about. As a Jew whose family immigrated to the United States through Ellis Island escaping the Czarist Pogroms of 1905, I have a deeply personal understanding of what is, and is not, a Nazi. Obama is NOT a Nazi by any stretch of the imagination.

Although I find your art work extremely offensive and inflammatory, as an American, I wholeheartedly defend your right to display it loud and proud as a piece of provocative art and your expression of free speech.

Mr. Rice, if you truly feel I have misrepresented you or your work, then I invite you to sit down with me for a one-on-one, on-the-record interview, so you can explain why you felt compelled to draw swastikas in the eyes of a drawing of our first African American president and why you have a problem with me reporting my opinion about it at a public news event.

I promise you, and my readers, to ask fair and reasonable questions, to listen respectfully and accurately report your answers. All you have to do is send me an email to schedule it and show up.

Idaho Values Alliance Re-Launch Draws Sparse Crowd and Offered Mixed Messages

COMMENTARY

Idaho Values Alliance President Gary L. Brown.

IVA President Gary L. Brown

Former abstinence educator and pastor of Coeur d’Alene’s NorthStar Church , Gary L. Brown, stood at the steps of the Idaho Statehouse Friday and announced his new role as president of the Idaho Values Alliance.

IVA had been dormant since former polarizing Executive Director Bryan Fischer left Idaho to become a national figure with the American Family Association and is now famous for his anti-Muslim hate speech.

Brown addressed a small crowd of about 30-40 for Constitution Day about the country now being, “[E]mbroiled in a different kind of war [from the American revolution]. This is a war being fought on the battlefields of the hearts and the minds of every American and every Idahoan. This is a war that is not being fought with muskets and bayonets. The weapons of this war are ideas, principles and values.” Continue reading

We CAN have it all, same-gender marriage & religious freedom

Marriage Equality CoexistNo matter what side you are on in the debate over same-gender marriage, there is a simple path for everyone to get what they want, full civil rights for same gender couples AND protection of the institution of marriage. How? The conversation should never include religion period!

As citizens of this country, we are Americans first. As a democracy, we are governed first and foremost by our Constitution. In that document is the protection for religious freedom AND equal protection under the law.

Although many Americans are Christian, not everyone is! We are Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Agnostics, Spiritualists, Atheists, Humanists and everything in-between. Within each of these belief systems are conservative, moderate and liberal factions.

How then as a free democracy can we possibly think we can solve any social or political issue when religion is part of the discussion? It’s worse than trying to herd cats.

Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy, president of the national Interfaith Alliance, put it very simply, “In a democracy, the Constitution trumps all.”

If you want a theocracy, get an island and start one. If you value REAL freedom and Democracy, let’s separate the legal contract, rights and responsibilities of what we now universally call marriage from religion entirely for EVERYONE.

The solution is civil unions for all and marriage only for religious groups. ALL religious organizations will have an exemption and don’t have to ‘marry’ anyone they don’t want to. However, anyone can become Civilly United.

That’s the easy part.

Each side must to give something up. ALL Americans have to give up the term “marriage” and ALL Religions have to give up preventing LGBT people from obtaining full rights and responsibilities that now come with heterosexual marriage in all states and federally.

That’s the hard part.