One thing I can say in favor of Second Amendment champions: They keep it simple. Buy a gun. Wear a gun. It’s your constitutional right, so if you want to, do it. There’s none of the queasiness that circulates around the First Amendment.
On Wednesday I posted a response to a recent column the Sun-Times’s Mary Mitchell wrote about rape. I disagreed with her. A prostitute had showed up for a job and been forced to have sex at gunpoint. Mitchell thought that was less than rape, I didn’t.
Neither did Sharmili Majmudar, executive director of Rape Victim Advocates. She appeared Wednesday on WBEZ’s Morning Shift, disagreed with Mitchell, and for the most part made excellent sense. Host Tony Sarabia asked her if she’d heard from Mitchell.
Majmudar said she hadn’t and didn’t expect to. She continued:
“I do hope the Chicago Sun-Times really takes very seriously the outcry against it. I don’t think the column should have been published in the first place. It concerns me that Mary Mitchell is a member of the editorial board and that this was something that was allowed to get to print. So we certainly expect to be in conversation with the Chicago Sun-Times and Jim Kirk and hope to just provide information and education about what the realities of sexual violence are. Because a publication like the Chicago Sun-Times has a platform and to be repeating rape myths like this is not just irresponsible but it really is dangerous.”
So it goes with the First Amendment. Mitchell has been a Sun-Times columnist more than 20 years and long ago earned the right to be wrong. Actually, it’s a right that comes with the job. A columnist without strong convictions is a bore and won’t keep the column. A columnist who writes out of his or her strong convictions will pay the price every once in a while by sounding like an idiot.
But Majmudar wasn’t content to disagree forcefully with Mitchell. She said that because Mitchell was wrong she should have been silenced by her editors. And because they didn’t silence her, she expected a meeting with editor in chief Jim Kirk to set him straight on his paper’s “irresponsible” and “dangerous” behavior.
If the Sun-Times had spiked Mitchell’s column because—I guess, because the Sun-Times refuses to publish “wrong thought”—Majmudar wouldn’t have been invited onto WBEZ and a useful conversation wouldn’t have taken place. Conversations change minds. Censorship doesn’t.
Thursday morning, as I was thinking over what I wanted to say about Majmudar and Mitchell, I stumbled on the website of WEEI-FM in Boston. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had just endorsed his golfing buddy Donald Trump for president, and columnist John Tomase didn’t think this was a good idea. “It’s a free country,” wrote Tomase. “But man, can we please draw the line at Donald Trump?”
Tomase was appalled that a “thoughtful, well-spoken, and exceedingly polite” guy like Brady would put in a good word for a “self-promoting demagogue” like Trump. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, freedom of speech. I get it. But Donald Trump?” At least Tomase wasn’t saying the Patriots should have stepped in and shut Brady up. He wished Brady had shut himself up. Again, someone had presumed to tell us what he thought and someone else shot back that the world would be better off not knowing.