Hank Williams Jr., Monday Night Football, and the First Amendment

I’ve been watching Monday Night Football since its inception in 1970. It’s gone through lots of changes, but for since 1989 we’ve heard Hank Williams, Jr. ask: “ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?” Truth be told I thought for the first few years the singer was Eddie Rabbit but he died in 1998.

Back to Hank: he’s an unabashed Republican and does not support President Obama. We disagree on this, but I can appreciate his talent as a musician while disagreeing on his politics.

Alas, last week he went too far. He compared the golf summit between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner as akin to “Hitler playing golf with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.”

I’m of the belief that it will take about 200 years before any analogy with Hitler won’t inflame people and shouldn’t be used. But as an American I need to accept that any other American can disagree with me, and I have no Constitutional right to not be offended.

Mr. Williams is not of that belief.

ESPN elected to end their contract with Mr. Williams (there’s some dispute over whether he quit or was fired). Hank’s response was to say this:

“After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision. By pulling my opening Oct 3rd, You [ESPN] stepped on the Toes of The First Amendment Freedom of Speech, so therefore Me, My Song, and All My Rowdy Friends are OUT OF HERE. It’s been a great run.

OK Hank, here’s some hard truths:

The First Amendment does not support you. The text of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says this about freedom of speech: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Hank, the Constitution states that you cannot be arrested for anything you say in a public setting. It does not mean that you can say anything you want without consequences. For example, if you tell your wife she’s ugly and stupid she can’t have you arrested but that doesn’t mean she can’t make your life a living hell.

Hank: you live in a wonderful country. You should learn more about it.

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