(AV17522) Spreading the Gospel of the First Amendment
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(AV17522) Spreading the Gospel of the First Amendment

but before we bring him on we’re gonna
go ahead and have a few words by Barbara Mac and I would like to say a few things
about her for those of you who don’t know her Barbara Mac is an associate
professor of journalism at the Greenlee school and probably one of the most well
known professors there as a professor she kind of inspires students to go
beyond that a sort of habit that you have to go to class and kind of rote
memorize notes and I mean you kind of you’re a robot in class and Barbara Mack
makes you stop what you’re doing sit down think and actually learn something
about the things that she teaches and I know a lot of us here maybe have had her
in classes before or maybe we’ll have her in classes in the future and you
definitely should look forward to having her for a law class and I swore I’d say
this if I had to introduce you so I would just like to say that she is also
made of Awesome and here is my Rebecca yeah you would think she was getting a
grade from me later a good one I’m sure it will be earned
there’s actually a reason I grade by student identification number only and
that’s how I never know whose work I’m grading I like to just grade based on
what’s in front of me I learned that taking the Iowa Bar Exam well good
evening and a formal welcome to Iowa State University’s celebration of first
amendment day it is my pleasure to be able to teach in the Greenlee School of
Journalism and communication and it is our privilege as a school of journalism
to in conjunction with the Society of Professional Journalists and Lee
Enterprises to sponsor this week’s First Amendment activities the First Amendment
is an incredible and important part of all of your lives and I hope tonight
you’ll learn a little bit more about how you can help other people realize the
importance of the First Amendment in their own it is my privilege this
evening to introduce our keynote speaker and following his remarks we’re going to
prevent present excuse me present two very important
awards I hope that you will stay for our question and answer session which will
follow our speech and our awards and I hope that you will talk with our speaker
and with our champions of the First Amendment at a reception which will
follow our activities our keynote speaker this evening is someone that
I’ve admired for a very long time indeed I’ve admired him for as long as we both
been lawyers which is the same year as I recall is 1977 he’s brilliant he’s dedicated
he is truly someone who believes that the role of the law is to be a force for
good and he also had the good sense to marry a very good friend of mine
Jojo del maguey was appointed to the bench after a distinguished career in
law that has one overriding theme and that is helping others his first job was
working on behalf of older and older Iowans and he authored a book that is
still being used today on helping older Iowans learn what services are available
to them through the state of Iowa he’s worked for the environment and something
that we all need to learn more about in that is water quality in our state he of
course has worked for civil rights on many many many fronts including working
for the Morris Foundation one of Iowa’s most important foundations for young
african-americans he’s even worked as a prosecutor he
tried fifteen murder cases I wouldn’t want to go up against him and he also
tried so-called white-collar crime cases you know the ones were greedy executives
defraud people of money I think he might want to consider going back to that I
know I’d feel better if he were the one in charge of guarding my tax dollars but
he isn’t here tonight to talk about crime he’s here to talk some very about
some very important work that he’s doing which is helping to spread the gospel of
the First Amendment he’s come to that by standing on the shoulders of some very
important giants who went ahead of him in the law you may not know it but Iowa
has an important history in civil rights Iowa is the first state in the Union to
license a woman to the practice of law the first case ever considered by the
Iowa Supreme Court was a case called in ray ralph a colored man which was
almost a twin to the Dred Scott decision except that 12 years before the Dred
Scott decision the Iowa Supreme Court considered it and decided at the other
way decided that Ralf a slave when he came to Iowa had become a person and
once you become a person you can’t be turned into property again Iowa is also
the home of the National Bar Association and for those of you who may not know
this most of you might think of the American Bar Association as being the
leading association representing lawyers but unfortunately in 1925 the American
Bar Association did not admit Negro lawyers or women lawyers indeed it was
not until 1948 that the American Bar Association would admit african-american
lawyers so George Woodson and who was a practicing lawyer in Des Moines at the
time and several other legal practitioners including the first
African American woman to practice law met in Des Moines and formed the
National Bar Association for the African American Bar we’ve been doing civil
rights law in this state a long time and I can’t think of any concepts that are
more integrally tied in our society than the concept of civil rights and the
concept of honest free open public debate probably our most important civil
right is as Abraham Lincoln said the right of people to govern themselves and
as Winston Churchill said you know democracy is a very very bad form of
government except for all the other forms of government mankind has tried
well the word gospel means good news and judge McGee I’d like to ask you to
come forward and spread the gospel of the First Amendment to us this evening
please join me in welcoming judge odo McGee oh you can hug a judge I’m not in
front of him right now it’s okay well good evening I’m well I’m overwhelmed I
mean I’ve been introduced a lot of times that I think that when I blew me away
well I’m kind of in formatted a so I hope I know it’s been a long time since
I’ve been in academia and I’m confident for my guy and so just sit back relax
and enjoy because I’m gonna try to make you have a good time as I spread the
gospel of the First Amendment professor Mac I think mr. showy is it
shall we yes fantastic and the school or the Greenlee School of
Journalism and also the Society of professional journalism I am I’m just so
pleased that you invited me to come and share at least some of the things that
I’ve been getting into or trying to get into because in the last few years I’ve
rediscovered the First Amendment and I am hoping that with the project that I’m
going to talk about later in the lecture and that it has some meaning to the
state of Iowa and to the people of this state because as just I mean I’m sorry
as Professor Mac said about ten years ago maybe a little bit less than that
that we were celebrating the 75th anniversary of the National Bar
Association and I was called on to create something or come up with a
concept to celebrate that August occasion and we were at the
governor’s mansion and I was thinking it what can I do and we’ve been talking and
friends said well you know let’s build a statute or something and that’s okay
yeah let’s build a statute and that’s a nobilis Patchett you know no nobody ever
ever do anything with the statute I mean just something people drive by and say
oh that’s a statute so let’s let’s do something what can we do that will will
impact the people of the state something that will mean something to
somebody something that will withstand for something so I remember back when I
was in college back in the understand bar but anyway what a long time ago I
lived I lived abroad I lived in Europe and spent a lot of times moving about
Europe but we spent quite a bit of time in London and I being a political
science speech and theater math major I like to go down to Hyde Park and
listening to the people who would go to the speaker’s platform in Hyde Park
it’s actually just a block of just a block those of you have not seen he’s
nothing that exceptional but I would go down and I would sit there good half of
the day I mean all kinds of crazy stuff I mean interesting so I’m not something
some sillies I’m crazy and all kinds of people get up there and and try to
interest to audience but you know people were always there and they were always
listening to what these individuals had to say exercising their First Amendment
right on the political issue of the day and whatever is going on here and
whenever is going on there and I thoroughly enjoyed that and that’s a
while you know are there any these types of places in the United States we know
Americans like the concept of speaking out in the public
you know yell at people all the time don’t and so I thought well you know why
don’t we emulate or do what the people in Hyde Park in London I do why don’t we
build something a speaker’s platform right here in Iowa you know and my first
mister do they have they have them in this country and I said well I don’t
know I’ve never heard of us because platform in United States and she said
well why don’t we we did the research went online did all this research we
couldn’t find that there were any speakers platforms in the United States
there was no places designated the public speaking where people could go
and yell and scream and that’s what it was for it was not for singing or
dancing you know anything like that you know we have a lot of places we can go
sing and dance and you can speak from those places too but they were not all
speaker’s platform and so you know Iowa is a unique place I’m I’m from
Mississippi lived in Chicago and came to school at Cornell College in Mount
Vernon unto drake law school and i mean i might and to try a little bit up my
conversation and talk later cuz i’m gonna talk about this in MO talk about
all my favorite First Amendment problems so I hope you won’t be too bored but you
give me a microphone and I have to tell you what I think but anyway um I just
thought it’d be a good idea if we could have a speaker’s platform in Iowa then I
said you know why not Iowa being known as you know if we can get this speaker’s
platform that I you know London High Park is known as the First Amendment
Park you know how about Iowa being known as the First Amendment state if we have
this platform where people will be invited from all over the world to come
and expose and talk about things out in public and yell and scream and and and
talk about anything they want to talk about as long as we’re talking about
some of the constraints later but this our speaker’s platform
so okay let’s try that so I developed this little concept called let’s have a
memorial but let’s not just do a memorial let’s do a speaker’s platform
at the base where people can come and talk about anything that they want to
talk about and we approached an artist on Chicago and asking can you develop a
monument and a speaker’s platform and he developed a concept for us and he said
hey I like that and I said that’s one why don’t we do this you can see I get
excited very easily why not we chisel the First Amendment in the platform and
then you can stand on the First Amendment and I mean he just thought
that was wonderful you can’t stand on the first go chisel it in and when you
walk up there the top you’re standing on the First Amendment I mean that’s you
see I even still get I said a thousand times but I still get a really nice
little feel about I’m going to Des Moines I’m gonna stand on the First
Amendment you know cute well maybe not too cute but anyway I
like them and so that’s what we’ve done we have designed a monument and a
speaker’s platform that is going to be across in the federal courthouse in Des
Moines where people can stand and speak on the First Amendment and I become so
interested more and more and more and the importance of the First Amendment as
I did my research and start to understand what the First Amendment mean
to us as Americans and I’ll talk a little bit later about some of the
problems that we are seeing with the First Amendment and and and how that is
frightened me to some extent the First Amendment to me is a mighty work it is
more than a constitutional protection against government interference with the
freedoms of speech press assembly and religion or our guarantee of the
separation of church and state it’s a cultural symbol like apple pie
best baseball and Shiva layer should I say fruit roll-ups email Texan and
4-wheel SUVs it reflects vitae attributes of the
American character and of course it is the cornerstone of our nation’s Liberty what more or what what more could we
have in Iowa you know speakers platform I mean god they reflect these types of
things it is known and cherished by virtually
all citizens even those who are unable to comprehend this essence and are not
able to recite its precise wording you know we’ve all had discussions with
people who when when they have said when they have been proven that they are
wrong claimed well they are say well I have a right to my opinion don’t I
they say or maybe they will tell you that I have a right to free speech and I
can say whatever I want to I heard the story about a wife one day her husband
had found a three-dollar era a mistake in their checkbook being somewhat strict
about the checkbook he pointed it out to his wife Sean her that she had added
incorrectly she said to him well there are universes in this eternal cosmos and
some of them and in some of them she said 2+2 is really seven so it is not a
mistake we’re just in the wrong universe he said well that’s absurd she countered
with that is your opinion I have a right she said to express my belief and that
is what I believe you can’t shut me up and of course he simply walked on away
and said I guess so as you know the first amendment was created to protect
our freedom of speech and that’s very very important now I’m gonna get into
the two or three things I want talk about the first thing I want to
talk about is hate speech and you know being a judge and been an
african-american it’s it’s difficult some time with this whole concept of
hate speech I understand that free speech is vital for democracy system of
government and I understand how great everything is but but do races have a
constitutional right to express their views in ways that severely restricts
the right of African Americans to be to live and to go where they please now
this is something I was if I as a southerner I tell people the story of I
lived we live in a small town actually it’s called Liberty Mississippi isn’t
that Liberty Mississippi you know I never really knew what Liberty world
until I mean I know you know but it’s a God I live in a town called Liberty
Mississippi it was the most segregated town in the world the guy lived across
the street from my parents my grandparents I should say my parents
from house but he had run across the streets within 100 yards but my
grandparents owned all the land back this way and he owned the land that way
and in his front yard he flew every day the flag of the
Confederacy now ready to fly the flag of the confessori but he had a spine in
this front yard they said no ins allowed there are all
kinds of things you know he would oh you know just hated everybody that my
grandparents would enjoy he just he was very political but he put that stuff
right this front yard all the time and we’d have to walk pad you know here’s a
little black Sambo sitting up there yeah when I was living in Chicago we used to
have a neighbor that have morning 8:00 every night they painted from black to
white and he painted back black defendant banana
seriously West Side Chicago near Oak Park I lived in Oak Park we are
integrated Oak Park and there at that time it and I tell you my labor had the
nerve to do that and then he finally got tired out he brought in a little Mexican
kid did a little kid with a sombrero but anyway what I’m trying to say do these
people have a right to express their views in ways that severely restrict the
rights of Americans to live and go where they’re pleased when does a racist
threat veiled and anonymous becomes a hate crime and should such a threat be
protected by the first a minute I have a friend his name is Anthony Griffin in
July of 1993 he was an african-american Attorney for the n-double-a-cp
in Gaveston Texas we periodically had gone to conventions but in that year we
say he went crazy he agreed to represent the KKK and a dispute that are arisen
from the clans effort to prevent the court order integration of an all-white
housing project in Vidor Texas v I do RS vitae the Klan member had conducted a
year-long campaign including 16 rallies and also he utilized direct intimidation
the mayor of the city had been threatened and for men in clans like
military garb threatened to burn down the housing projects if African
Americans moved in well one of the nice local judges says that he wanted the
membership of the Klan to turn over all of its name to facilitate the
investigation where the Grand Dragon refused Griffin my friend
argot his decision to defend the KKK by arguing that the Klan had First
Amendment rights that he was compelled to defend he said the Klan has a right
to meet and organize and they have a right to say as many terrible nasty
violent vicious things as they want to say Griffin did not see race as relevant
to the case well the n-double-a-cp dismiss River and told him that
representing the KKK was not conducive and in accordance with the n-double-a-cp
s mandate now the case illustrates troublesome and misconceive
relationships among the amendment to the Constitution in theory everybody know
that the 13th and 14th amendment to the constitution served as limitations on
the power of racist groups like the Klan to exercise traditional First Amendment
rights to free speech and to Association the Thirteenth Amendment outlawed
slavery and people prohibited depriving African Americans of their basic rights
that the law secured to all persons that amendment was intended not only to
eliminated slavery but also to eradicate the the badges of slavery such as racism
the 14th amendment prohibit denying African Americans equal protection of
the law and the Klan’s activity in veda directly denied African
Americans the right to live where their pleases so for they were they pleased so
we had a conversation at a meeting of the National Bar Association where my
friend came and people were upset you know how could he represent these people
and put himself into such a position now you know African Americans nervously
applauded the First Amendment in such a situation thankful for its protection
for some things but to always a little leery when you talk about you should
just represent or allow anyone to have these kinds of rights
many people who oppose restricting the First Amendment protections for hate
groups view hate speech apart from its actual cost in terms of human suffering
I’m just gonna make an argument for you and see if you like it it may be argued
as stated by linear Grenier that this social and historical denial implies
that the remedy for racism is to simply stop talking about race as if America is
a race neutral society everyone knows that hate speech is an integral part of
many white hate groups these groups use it to rally support to submit solidarity
to threaten their victims not to generate opposition of speech its
purpose is to intimidate humiliate assault and defame but also very
important very important it is to silence
hate speech can be compared to death threats liable a fraud more easily than
to remarks of someone who for example dislike smokers hate speech directed
against one black person or one person is an injury to all Americans so we know
how bad it is but to what extent should it be controlled and how should it be
control most hate crimes are called moo-ving crimes because they are
designed to keep blacks out of jobs out of communities out of school because of
segregation and fear white many times see african-americans as invading their
communities or messing with their way of living or have an affect on their way of
living but you know 46 states have passed laws prohibiting hate speech and
denying that type of speech constitutional protection
in 1990 Congress passed the federal hate crime statistics Act it was necessary
because in a sense a lot of hate crimes was whip sweeping across our nation but
even in 1992 the state of Minnesota said censoring speech when they outlawed
cross burning you know a minute old something like me I was raised at a time
in Mississippi back in the nineteen fifties and sixties where I mean cross
burnings and house burnings and all those kind of things but just I mean
they were rampant and of course we feared I mean the whole community feared
those kinds of things so the idea that a state or our society would support such
a thing was just appalling but the Supreme Court says a state cannot pass
the statute prohibiting cross burning even when down on someone else’s
property because that’s free speech now of course no one naively expects hate
speech and hate crimes to eliminate racism in the country because we know
that that comes from deep within one cannot even outlaw the entire realm of
racial speech because so often speech is as we know ambiguous you know I remember
that California raising commercial you know whether it raises you know dancing
planting up my son still has one of those California Raisins that you know
move anyway a lot of african-americans found that to be offensive but then a
lot of african-americans thought it was funny so you know you really don’t know
what hate speech is generally speaking I think we can all agree that people like
Rush Limbaugh they must be tolerated and so must taste this humor of others
similarly one cannot and should not suppress discussions of racial
differences in characteristics it is when speech is used to rationalize
discrimination and Prejudice that it move beyond mere offense into undeniable
injury that is in America as we all know it’s my right I have to
say what I want to say and I can speak as I choose so in truth you know we
didn’t like what my friend had done but we all when we thought about it say well
you know that was his right to represent the KKK and he should have done whatever
he could to happen through you can be offended by scarless and seek to prove
russia superiority or inferiority you can even say these theories should be
received in the same way that everyone else should be received but African
Americans are injured and threatened by the KKK and of course that should have
some meaning to someone but I guess as far as the First Amendment is concerned
it’s their right to speak as they choose alright soldiers speaking on hate crimes
because that’s one of the areas that that I really wanted to say something
about this afternoon if I spread the gospel of the First Amendment the next
thing I like to speak on a little bit is is this whole concept of obscenity and
which of course concern you Journal is quite a bit I’m fascinated with what has
happened in that area over the years I used to tell the story of we had a case
a civil case I had a guy who owned a dirty book store and he owned two he
owned Warren and Council Bluffs and he owned one in Omaha and he used to take
dirty books and dirty movies across the bridge and one day he was crossing the
bridge with a collection of his materials and he was stopped and
arrested and when he was stopping recipes well you know I don’t have any
problems in this one bookstore with this time but here’s what you know you know
what’s the problem and so he decided well you know we just
gonna go to court on this because I don’t understand I mean bookstore here
bookstore here why should I be able to transfer the materials back and forth
and you know that the whole concept of Senate is based on really when you get
down to the concept of community standards and one community standard was
different from the other community standards and as a byproduct of that one
place would accept these vile acts that were seen in these movies but one place
would not so what vile place do you think would not accept those those dirty
magazines that he was dragging back and forth huh Nebraska Nebraska’s standards
of decency is much different from the state of Iowa but anyway as we have
moved more and more into this era of the internet and all the stuff you can see
on there or we begin to wonder if community have any standards at all and
if any way we can really legislate what you see and do not see on the internet
and as you know a lot of states have tried to regulate the internet but they
have been unsuccessful in trying to regulate it and I think most of the
civil libertarians and everyone else think that there’s a good idea to leave
it open and then I’m gonna talk a little bit about something that’s also very
near to me and that is the importance of family with these kinds of things obscenity it fascinates me because I
think that it is a family issue you know I think it’s a mom and dad’s issue you
know controlling the internet and controlling all of that it’s something
that should be done by the family I mean I I truly believe that it’s okay to have
everything on TV even things that are repulsive vulgar and things that you
just don’t want to see because it’s just not appropriate for you I think parents
some of you might know I know Barbara and I know mr. Witherspoon
he knows that I do a program in the morning on TV I’m actually famous
locally in the morning cuz I do what they call truancy court and truancy
court in the morning is shown on TV twice a month I’m on TV I’m a TV star I
have my own TV show and all the kids who don’t go to school they come to truancy
court and I am a gentleman of the south so you can understand me when I say I
don’t understand how you cannot get your kid out of bed I don’t want to say how
you can’t make a kid go to school I don’t understand how you can’t make your
kid but I can’t make mine clean this room I guess but anyway other than that
I don’t understand why you can’t get your children to do things but every
week on that Court I am shocked because parents cannot get
their children to do anything they don’t think they can beat their kids you know
you really can’t but they don’t think that they can take
things away from their children and I just don’t understand that I have two
children and and we have a strict set of rules and data is strict on the rules
and I don’t even beat no kids no I don’t know anyway but I just don’t understand
why parents can’t make their children do things and so of course I don’t
understand why you can’t turn the TV off if there’s something that you want your
children to see I mean unless of course they’re like my daughter she’s 20 and
well she was 20 before she decided she was grown now she’s now she I can’t tell
her what to do cuz she’s grown she’s she’s smart enough not easily I’m grown
daddy but until she was 20 I could tell her what to do alright and I don’t
understand why it should not be a parental responsibility to decide what
your child can and cannot watch and why that should be a governmental
responsibility why should that be a situation where society has to define
what your standards are why why would it not be a standard where you just decide
if you go to church wonderful and you have these standards you say what you
want your kid to do and then your child should do that I am a strong believer
that it is you as a parent as an adult who impacts your child to such an extent
that they will potentially for the rest of their lives decide what is right and
wrong now it’s not gonna work all the time but it will work most of the time
so what I’m trying to say you know community standards as to what is
obscene and when it’s bad should be something that should be decided by the
parents and I’m an advocated advocated that one more I want one more and then
we’re going another but I want to talk a little bit about homosexual marriages
and I know this is an intellectual community so probably it doesn’t really
interfere but you know what in the morning it was shocking all of my
colleagues at the courthouse was shocked or we could sue ago when we read that
opinion now you know that there’s only two type of people that can marry folk
in the state of that’s ordained ministers and judges and
so as we gathered for lunch several of my colleagues and I the issue was you
know what to do about these gay marriages now I know this is a community
where everything is acceptable well a lot of stuff is but anyway we have to
decide and we gotta marry these people and I say these people because that’s
what they said because are we going to marry people who are gay and well we got
a nice note from the Supreme Court so that we had to marry everybody and so two or three of my colleagues oh well I
guess we have to marry him but you want to know 50% more than 50% of students
said they were not married people who are gay and so I have to decide now let
me make my argument and see what you tell me what I should do that’s what I
did to my church I took this to church I go to church every Sunday I took it to
my son is so close I wanted to know how many of them thought what they thought
about whether you know we should actually be involved in marrying gay
people what about this one of the people that
are I know very much sold out what was it an issue you know if you come to my
courtroom we want to marry you walk into the court you so I just want to marry I
don’t want to do that ceremony just just marry me I was fine your certificate and
you can walk out of the door and you’re married there’s no ceremony
there’s no under guard or in God or anything like in fact if you call and
ask for a wedding the first thing I asked you is it religious or
non-religious what percentage do you think say religious you think it’s 70
percent say they want to be religious 80 no less than 10 percent will say I want
to be married in the church or under God or in God I have God done I even have a
nice little prayer period I read the prayer if you want me to well you can
bring your own how many people you think help me read
that prayer I bet you I’ve read at one time and I’m Mary everyday just about I
met you I do I do a ceremony some time in eleven and I do one it’s for do it at
the late morning and sometime in the afternoon I’ve never I bet I’ve read
that prayer two times so why is it that preachers have gotten involved in this
thing called marriage that’s what I’m going to make an argument in a minute
someone proposed the fact that you know preachers or ministers have become in a
sense a agent for the state because in truth they are supporting a civil type
of situation and and there’s a great distinction between made to what is
civil and what is religious or what is you know in the nature of religion and
I’ll tell you everything we do is just a contract when you come into my office
for marriage I have you sign I have them sign I have it witnessed just like you
you know you might go and you do it make a contract you know you want to be
supported you want to know somebody who saw everybody signs so you have some
witnesses so it’s signed by the judge two witnesses and that’s that’s it you
don’t even have to do the ceremony so why is it that preachers have become
agents of the government wouldn’t it be interesting if we top preachers out of
the marriage thing altogether let’s think about this
just think about for a minute what if we just say everybody’s there I’ll go to
the courthouse to get married got me married by a judge and then if you want
to go to your church to be married that’s fine but everybody’s got to do
this civil ceremony and anybody can do that because anybody in contract can say
I mean we know that there is a constitutional requirement that anyone
who wants to have a relationship and enter into an agreement they can I said
our Constitution so let’s take the preachers out make everybody go to the
court and everybody get married in the
courthouse and then you can go and do whatever you want to – if you wanna have
a religious right you can if you don’t want that when you’re still married how
about that would that work well I’ve been told that I’m losing my mind
because pooches would never go for that but I thought about that would be a
great way to get rid of this problem because we are facing a dilemma in the
state and because we have marches just about every day down in the moon and you
know people exercise their first night and everyone is trying to say you have a
right to speak and the stuff that is sad and come from these folks smiles once
again it goes back to the whole concept of hate speech you know why are people
so hateful you know is it true or does anyone ever believe that if gay people
live in your community they’re going to infect your children I mean does anybody
really believe that you know that these people are deranged or mentally ill or
something I mean they’re do anyone I am happy with Iowa because I thought the
latest statistics that someone started I think I have it in some of my materials
and this says that 60% of Iowans are willing to accept gay marriage 60% are
willing to accept it I mean they don’t like it they don’t agree with it but
they’re willing to accept it and that put Iowa once again back in that same
area that I was speaking about error earlier an area where we as Iowans can
be so proud of what we have to say about the rights of people to speak and to be
themselves without worrying about what everyone else thinks about it once again
that makes Iowa a place where we can celebrate because not only the first
minute of state we also you know we are wonderful state where everybody at least
most people can be whatever they want to be nothing that fascinated me I’m gonna
just hit three or four and I guess my time is getting closer but anyway
another thing that fascinated me was some its concept of young people and the
First Amendment the night’s surveys and some of the
other ones that I’ve read said that young people don’t understand and really
don’t care about the First Amendment anymore basically they lose an interest
in it they don’t understand what the freshman is all about they don’t
understand what the the rights of people are all about they just you know they
they just don’t really understand the First Amendment and some folks are
questioning whether the First Amendment has a future in this country because of
the lack of interest by young people and what it means when young people are
questioned on such things as freedom of speech and religion and so on and so
forth they have a tendency to say yeah I think they your people have a right to
freedom of speech or freedom of religion they don’t even understand with things
such as right – but does anyone remember civics yeah maybe I take civics yeah any
of you take civics in high school do they still offer it oh I guess they do I
was under the assumption that civics was no longer offered you take a course in
American government but I teach on the local level in the morning I teach at a
junior college I teach at DMACC and I teach there because I like to contact
maybe in touch with people I say who are trying to make a living and trying to
educate themselves as well and I’m always fascinated that they don’t know
how to get into the process they don’t know how to go down to the courthouse
they don’t know how to go in and and you know even really pay a ticket you know
they just they just don’t know how to do anything it doesn’t seem like they’ve
been taught anything anywhere not practical use friendly type of
information where they can go and do something with the government or they
can go and take care of anything most time they walk in the front Destin if we
don’t have a person there giving them information they just walk I see them
all the time they walk in there and just stand there and just like they’re
overwhelmed by the building they don’t understand anything about what their
rights to do or anything they just kind of send them you know we’re it were is
and what kind of I and and so on and so forth well that’s what I’m fascinated
what our young people are interested in if they’re not interested in all of
these things that we think as being essential to the United States
remaining one of the greatest places in the world and I must tell you I guess
after Obama’s election I was never a strong hater of the United States or
anything like that but I believe you know I wear my I don’t have an own today
my American flag because I think it’s this truly the greatest country in the
world and I’d like to let people know that that it’s the greatest country in
the world and I think that you know we need to let young people know that and I
think they know that but do they take all of these rights that we have for
granted and think that even though we understand and know that our four
parents had to fight hard to get these rights that basically they’d always be
there is that what it is is that you just think everything is
gonna be there and you have to do anything to to keep it that way it’s
just like you know you own the house to buy a house that’s beautiful then you
move into it and move all your junk into it then it’s still beautiful and then
five years pass you know do anything to it ten years pass you don’t do anything
to it and then fifteen years the whole place is falling down on you but that’s
the way it is with the First Amendment in our country we gotta forever be doing
things to it we gotta forever be making sure that you
know we’re educating young people and that we are pushing young people and
that we are talking about their rights and why are they important you know they
have to fight and make sure that that even more people are given an
opportunity to have access to the system and have access to practice and
understand the freedoms that we have the right to practice religion the right to
to speak freely albeit the right to own firearms the right to privacy we have to
make sure that they understand that these these rights are very very very
important and that we’re doing everything we can to make sure that that
they are continuing to understand that I’m fascinated with you people in the
news media this another thing that fast at me I was
talking over dinner with some of the people involved in your area about you
know what what are you guys gonna do I mean now that seems like the registry is
getting ready to close down the newspapers are closing down all over the
country and we need people like you as well to make sure that the First
Amendment is protected and that you give us an idea of of what’s happening
because I mean you know what we get our news from is I don’t know I understand
most young people go online to get that news and if you’re gonna line you get
the news that you want to hear and the question that really bothers me is that
have we becoming so tunnel that we don’t hear what anyone else is thinking
because we only go to those sites in those places that are saying what we
want to hear what we want to feel we’re going to be like I mean I remember when
I grew up on CBS and NBC and ABC they supposedly I don’t know if they didn’t
know but they tried to make sure that the new the news was neutral and that
they presented everywhere in perspective on the average do we say that about what
is happening now on em NBC and Fox and all this I go to watch Fox News that a
friend of mine tell me you have to know what other folks are thinking so I have
to watch Fox News every time I go and I gotta get mad and I want to know what
what everybody is thinking so I mean I watched MSNBC and I watched the CBS but
I’m also spend some time every night if I can with Fox cuz I want to know what
people are saying about I must say please forgive me I judge is not
supposed to be politically uh but I’m it just state Obama free I mean so it’s a
given we met him when he first came to this
state and of course we just love him and we my wife is love but anyway we just
won anyway so I have to see what they’re saying about Obama everyday so I can get
mad well I want to get back and I’ve just
talked about a few things that I hope to be important and I hope I haven’t bored
you too much I’m gonna talk a little bit more about the strategies I’m gonna sit
down I wanna I want to really thank you for allowing me to talk to you I hope
I’ve said something that’s never interest to you but I hope if you get
some time if you get down to the morning we should be putting the statute in the
ground we hope by the fall and I hope you will come down when we get it in the
ground and get it in some type of shape if you will come down and talk to us
stand up on the first amendment in say something and do something because I
think that we in America have to support free speech even when when we don’t
don’t like it don’t care about it I think that it’s vulgar or not and of
course what we believe I’ll be that we have to support it if we’re going to
support America and make sure that it is a place where everybody can say whatever
they want to say whenever they want to say it like my friend Anthony I believe
that we all have to say whatever we want to say when we want to say it and even
if it’s not something I agree with or that I like that I believe because what
my parents taught me or how I was raised I do believe that you have a right to
say it I’ve never been really that offended by
words I tell the people straight when I was my first year of the judge and I had
a guy was before me he committed to murdering he walked into court and he
looked up at the bench and he saw here just african-american judge and he said
you know what do you want in word and I mean of course I have on any given day
30 people running around the courtroom all the time
and so he said and he said it out really loud it must’ve been the loudest thing I
ever heard it was Wow it just resonated in my ears but anyway and I can’t
believe it but you know you saw that commercial when EF Hutton speak
everybody listen well that’s what it was when he said that word everybody stopped
and waited to see what I would do well I looked at it and I looked back at
my paper and I kept right on working and I do believe he defeat him because he
wanted to say something to offend me and upset me but did I just get right on
going then after that everybody else kept on going what I’m trying to say he
had a right to say it if he wanted to it wasn’t right but he had a right to I
need to say I said it’s bonded 20 million no well that was me speaking
alright well I just like to say thank you so much for inviting me I think we
should support everyone’s speech as I said even when we don’t agree with them
I’m so proud of Iowa State for what it’s doing in this era and Barbara thank you
so much it’s so good seeing you we appreciate everything you’re doing in
everybody else thank you all for coming out I didn’t know what I was going to
talk about I hope I’ve said something that you found interesting and please
come and visit us in Des Moines and I hope you enjoyed the statute it is a
beautiful work thank you very much now if you’re in journalism 101 sit down we’ll give our students a chance to
clear and ask those of you who are remaining with us to come up a little
bit closer as we make two very important presentations I will tell you ladies and
gentlemen tonight we have two very special awards to present the Society of
Professional Journalists has selected two individuals for awards as champions
of the First Amendment a very special award that honors someone who has been
on the front lines of the war to defend freedom of religion freedom of speech
freedom of press freedom of assembly or the freedom to petition the government
for a redress of grievances the first person we’re honoring tonight can’t be
here with us but it’s our Provost dr. Betsy Hoffman
and she engaged in some heroic behavior that I’m very happy to say did not take
place at Iowa State in 2007 the University of Colorado where she was
president earlier this decade fired a faculty member for an alleged violation
of university standards the faculty member dr. Ward Churchill sued the
University and he claimed that his firing was really a response to
statements that he had made in 2001 about the events of 2001 he won his
lawsuit earlier this month and he won it with Betsey Hoffman’s
health in a deposition presented at his trial dr. Hoffman testified that
following the publication of his essay in 2001 she got a phone call from the
governor telling her to fire him she said No
at that point conservative politicians launched an all-out assault on dr.
Churchill and on dr. Hoffman and she still refused to fire him and defended
his free speech rights after she left the new University fired him
you knew university president fired him it’s tough to be brave and it’s
difficult to tell the governor of your state no particularly when you work for
him and that’s exactly what the free speech supporter and a good university
administrator needs to do when people are punished for thinking and writing
controversial things a university is a place where controversy yields new
knowledge disagreement is part of the learning process we’re happy she
defended her faculty and were even happier that she chose to come here
congratulations dr. Hoffman we’ll walk it over to beardshear Hall
I’ll give her a copy of these remarks but it’s still not gonna raise my salary
but now our second presentation this evening is a very very special one for
me it’s a privilege for me to present this award because this individual is
why I came to Iowa State as an 6 17 year old college student and it’s why I came
back here to be a faculty member this man is the reason I grew up as did many
Iowans with Jack Shelly’s distinctive voice as a part of my daily life Jack
grew up in Boone and as one of the rare mistakes in his life went to college at
the University of Missouri we still don’t understand he got smart and he
came home to Iowa and he came home to the radio station and later the
television station that we’d become his home for the next 30 years WH Oh in Des
Moines he started there in 1935 but there was
World War two inject took time out to cover World War two as one of the best
respected and best known war correspondents working in both the
European and the Pacific Theaters he was well known and respected for his
even-handedness and was one of the very first broadcasters to interview the
crews that dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki he was one of the
newsmen who was onboard the USS Missouri when the Peace Accords were signed and
he was one of only 20 journalists in the nation that were privileged to attend
the atomic bomb tests that occurred at Yucca Flats in 1953 jack was indeed in
lots of famous places at lots of famous times but he did much more than that to
a little kid growing up in Des Moines Jack Shelly’s voice was one of honesty
and truth in a time of difficult things like atomic bomb scares Cuban Missile
Crisis McCarthyism his voice told the real story the voice of the newsman that
you could respect and the voice of the newsman you could trust he came to Iowa
State in 1965 and I know that when I was a high school student looking for a
place to come to journalism school I looked at another school in Iowa and I
look at this journalism school and thought this one is the one that hires
real news people this one is the one where I belong he trained me and he
trained a generation of journalists he did a great job
we remain indebted to it congratulations jack Shelly in addition to a plaque we want to Jack
me have a nice memory of Iowa State then you can have with him all the time we’re
very proud of you now our other champion of the First Amendment
judge McGee would you please come forward he’s doing great work wonderful
work and I know you’re going to have some questions for him but before we do
that I get to present you with your own champion of the First Amendment award we
didn’t tell him about this one I’m trying to suck in now it is perfect
perfect to carry with you when you give the first speech on the First Amendment
I will do that we’re gonna have you come to the microphone in the middle here
very nice I’m a very simple guy really okay thank you
hello thank you for being here with us this evening your speech was absolutely
marvelous thank you I have two things I’d like to
say one could I make some kind of announcement to the wider crowd sure
tomorrow which is Friday the philosophy and religious studies Club will be
hosting Dirk deem to talk about the war on terror and Wattana MoBay and what the
Obama administration might do concerning foreign policy well you get the general
idea it’s going to be in 124 Ross Hall at five o’clock so please come if you
can and also I was wondering thank you by the way thank you what did you think
or what do you think about the additional or additional sentencing time
added on to crimes that are discerned to have some kind of hate element added to
them like say if I were walking down the street and I screamed some kind of
racial epithet before I went over and smacked somebody oh absolutely
how do you feel about that well you know a very interesting question in my
research I did study quite a bit about enhancements immense enhancement
provisions in crimes because you know you have enough salt you assault someone
and because you yell a name at them before you assault them it is called as
a hate crime which is an enhancement and of course villages we have to look at
those types of situations all the time the law allows the county attorney our
county attorney to enhance a crime if he perceived it as a hate crime you can add
several years to a person’s sentence if it is designated as a hate crime and
they have designated the the different types of hate crimes the gender sex race
national origin and so on and so forth well I’m hesitant about it to me as I
said I wasn’t a word you asked I mean if it’s to incite some kind of thing but I
mean there’s a slap because you call me a bad word I mean I
don’t know I mean I think a lot of folks think that that is a normal process and
we should do something because that is one way you can alleviate hate crimes
but for me it just seemed to be and I think we had a sentence or two long
anyway I mean I tell people I was a frosting for 20 years and barber was
talking about I’d convict you but I hated the sentence – you know I’ll
always send my assistant to do the sentencing cuz I mean unless of course
if the Heinie’s I mean he is from my background but you know if he’s just a
regular run-of-the-mill burglars and robbers and thieves I would figure out
you know society probably should have given him a break you know anyway that
was just my way of thinking but I mean I can Vic you now don’t get me wrong you
gonna go to jail I just didn’t want to be there to send you but no I I don’t
know I think sometimes we I think we’ve gone a little too far in that area I
think too much discretion has been taken out of hand of the court you know those
are the factors that was what we call exigent circumstances and when you come
to my court you can always argue that you should be give it a little bit more
time because of this and if you got up in argot maybe we would consider that
but I think to have it in the law I don’t think it’s a great idea we have
too many laws you know we are as you know the most progressive country in the
face of the earth and we have twice as many laws as any little small state that
is anything I mean we just have lost I tell people you walk down the street you
break the law ten times you do so no I think we did it’s a waste of time I
believe so and most county attorneys don’t not
really enforcing the truth and they’re the only ones that can add that language
in the statute and add that to your charge most kind attorneys simply don’t
take pay no attention to it so I’m sorry no no no that I didn’t have anything
else a one of the say thank you very much thank you very much and good luck
with your program tomorrow well that’s that’s an excellent question
and it’s one that my friend and I was just talking about on the way here about
you know out in California the belief is that the one reason why proposition 8
failed was because african-americans and other minorities supported it at a very
high rate we know that most African Americans are very religious and
basically if the proposition is presented in a certain way in fact my
friend I don’t know if I be invited back to his church done in the morning
Reverend keith ratliff is a strong supporter of the movement against this
gay marriage now to answer your question it’s another one of those things where
you have to understand and respect where people come from and gay marriage
although it’s prevalent I mean gay Nitz overall it’s very prevalent in African
American community and is a big hit in the black church I mean you you go into
a black church t they they’ve you know let’s see a choir director who’s
swinging and you know I mean having a good time and nothing to get something
about anyway so maybe they know it goes on but it’s one of those kind of things
that you know you’re super under the carpeting but you know God don’t like it
so we’re gonna say we don’t like it but really and truth is accepted and so I’m
disappointed that the African American community do not understand that we were
discriminated against and still are to a great extent and that we should respect
the rights of others I disappointed me of course I’m a pseudo liberal so you
have to understand where I stand but I really think it’s sad and unfortunate
but I respect it my mother and father would have never agreed to it my mother
strong Baptist my father strong Baptist they were oh no but you know I respect
their perspective I mean I don’t think it’s right but I respect it so as I said
it’s just from were they it’s where they come from it’s what they
understand and so you have to respect that you can try to change their minds
but probably not while several unions don’t work I think you find that many
states now are ready to go to civil unions but gay people don’t want civil
unions they want to be married you know they they think that a civil union is
less than marriage that’s why I suggested you hear my theory earlier
about why don’t we just let everybody be civilly married and take the religion
out of it by taking the religion out of it then
churches won’t have anything to do with it because it’s just a contract and that
would that’s why I’m opposed that way everybody would be married we can call
it a marriage now this is my problem as a person who’s fairly religious and I am
you know I don’t know what I marry and when I promised marrying a person who
come to me and say we’re religious we want to marry you marry us and use all
the religious requirements that you use in a regular religious marriage you know
I don’t know that’s one that I’m gonna have to deal with because I mean I I
separate civil from religious and I know if you go to I go to Corinthian Baptist
Church and I know my pastor will in fact I think I might be a communicator see me
knocking on your door interview because he might tell me you know you can’t come
here anymore if you’re gonna marry gay people I’m gonna do it anyway but you
know there is a possibility that that’s gonna be an issue
and my wife’s tell me is okay so so I’m all right my son I forgot my
Sunday School class said it’s okay dude they said go ahead and marry anybody who
needs to be married I want to be married and so I was very thankful for that and
that cuz the other reason I really go to that church to tell you the truth okay I
guess on that same issue I guess where I was standing with it was the fact that
they were supporting the Constitution and also under the Constitution is a
separation of church and state but this was an equal protection argument they
made an equal protection argument more than anything else in this ruling I
think it was about you know you cannot deny folk you could protection an Iowa
laws and it was they didn’t they declared the Iowa Constitution – I mean
Iowa our Constitution section that made marriage between a man and a woman to be
illegal it wasn’t the federal they had no it kept the federal stuff totally out
of there it’s not even an issue they just looked at the Iowa Constitution
only and I believe that they’re talking about a constitutional amendment if you
read the opinion the court was very very unless they get a new Supreme Court no
matter what kind of amendment they passed the court is probably going to
say that it’s unconstitutional I mean if you read that opinion it is just I mean
it’s mind-blowing I mean these guys set the brake guys the great guys but anyway
they sat down and wrote this so that you know if you read it you will know that
in Iowa gay marriage is it’s in and there’s no way you can get it out
because even if they would repair a constitutional amendment and say that it
was you know they still have the right to decide if they well maybe not but
anyway they’re saying they’re gonna try to but they can’t declare that you know
it’s not in accordance with what they really believe it not in course in
fairness to all and still make some determination I mean unless we’re gonna
write into the Constitution that people can discriminate and I guess you can do
that but they did it and they declared it unconstitutional will they do it
again if they write it in well they once again say it’s
unconstitutional and that’s unfair and then declare it and then we start all
over again I think so at least from what they said in their opinion which is
fascinating it’s great reading if you have time
beat it it’s just really a good job I’m sorry yeah anything fun I think thank
you again I really enjoy talking

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