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.

Clear Channel Defends Defamatory Speech Against LGBT Community

Clear Channel and nationally syndicated conservative talk radio host, Jim Quinn, are once again on the hot seat with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. GLAAD is calling on Clear Channel to take responsibility for Quinn’s “pattern of ugly, defamatory attacks against the LGBT community.”

On Quinn’s Jul. 28 show, The War Room with Quinn and Rose, talking about the Boy Scouts Quinn said, “You don’t send gay men and young boys out together … But I would give you that pedophilia is far more rampant among the gay community that it is among the strait community.”

Freedom of speech is a right guaranteed to all Americans even if that speech is unpopular or distasteful. Yet, yelling fire in a crowded theater, when there is no fire, is a crime because it endangers people’s safety. Many gay groups believe this is hate speech, and as such, should rise to the same standard because it endangers LGBT people.

GLAAD’s Director of National News, Cindi Creager, told As I See It, “It is time for Clear Channel to stop enabling Jim Quinn’s troubling pattern of on-air abuse that “creates a hostile climate and puts our community in harm’s way.” GLAAD has requested an on-the-air apology from Clear Channel.

Clear Channel’s Chief Communications Officer, Lisa Dollinger, denied GLAAD’S request stating, “Differing views were presented in the broadcast itself and no apology for this discussion was warranted.“

During the three minute dialogue, Quinn’s co-host, Rose Tennent said, “Most gay men have nothing to do with the young boys … I wouldn’t want to say that all gays, you risk any gay leader, you risk a pedophile moment, because that’s not true. I have many gay friends who would never consider that.”

GLAAD claims Clear Channel’s response sends a message that it’s comfortable providing Quinn a platform to spread misinformation and they are benefiting from it financially.

Reminiscent of the recent Shirley Sherrod tape editing fiasco, Dollinger, seems to suggest Media Matters, who obtained the audio file, pulled an Andrew Breitbart stating the clip she was sent, “appears to have been edited and cut their dialog short.”

Creager told As I See It, “Media Matters made the entire clip of the questionable segment available. GLAAD transcribed that clip and included it in our Call to Action”.

Quinn has a history of making anti-gay comments, saying that “Gay sex produces AIDS” and “Thanks to the homosexual AIDS lobby, AIDS is a civil right.”

Dollinger was contacted for comment but did not respond.