09/18/12 Free Speech Threats

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A Maryland legislator is the latest government official to threaten free speech. Delegate Emmett Burns (Democrat-District 10) recently sent a letter to the owner of the Baltimore Ravens.

Burns was upset that Ravens player Brendon Ayanbadejo made statements in support of same-sex marriage. Burns demanded the Ravens owner “inhibit such expressions from your employee and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious action.”

Owner Steve Bisciotti is well within his rights to ask his employees to limit their public comments.

But Burns demanding such action is way out of line. Although he’s a pastor, Burns sent his request on General Assembly stationery indicating he was acting as a public official. Even worse, Burns sits on the Economic Matters Committee which regulates Maryland businesses.

Not long ago, four big city mayors threatened to retaliate against Chick-fil-A because the company president told an obscure publication he was personally opposed to same-sex marriage.

Even the Feds are attacking the First Amendment. Last spring, Congress overwhelmingly passed H.R. 347. This bill gives the Secret Service greater authority to arrest citizens for engaging in peaceful protests — even in public areas if the Secret Service temporarily designates the area as “restricted.”

It’s deeply disturbing government officials feel so comfortable attempting to restrict citizen speech.