Lawmaker tries to shut up linebacker, cont’d

by Walter Olson on September 9, 2012

I’ve got a post at Maryland for All Families following up on the free-speech controversy that flared up when Del. Emmett Burns, a Democratic lawmaker in Annapolis, wrote to the owner of the Baltimore Ravens demanding he silence linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, a vocal advocate of same-sex marriage (earlier). Discussion elsewhere: Rob Tisinai/Box Turtle Bulletin, Amy Alkon, Howard Wasserman/Prawfs, BaltimoreRavens.com (team’s front office supports Ayanbadejo), David Frum, and a First Amendment analysis from Hans Bader.

Update: Amid widespread public support for Ayanbadejo, Del. Burns has now backed off his attempt to muzzle the linebacker [Baltimore Sun] Did any prominent critics of same-sex marriage speak up in favor of the Ravens linebacker’s free speech? If not, they missed an opportunity to underline the principled nature of their oft-voiced concern that those on the “wrong” side of the marriage issue will face official retaliation.

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Del. Emmett Burns to Baltimore Ravens: silence that troublesome player - Overlawyered
09.10.12 at 8:00 am

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1 Calvin A 09.09.12 at 10:32 pm

Wonder if we’d get the same hysterical coverage if a lawmaker wrote and asked that a player who supported traditional marriage be shut up? I suspect that the focus, instead, would be on the player’s “antiquated and homophobic” views.

2 Walter Olson 09.09.12 at 10:48 pm

We can venture a pretty good guess what the answer to that question is, because just a few weeks ago two elected officials did try to shut up Mr. Dan Cathy of Chick-Fil-A, whose views are the opposite of Mr. Ayanbadejo’s. What kind of coverage did we get? A national news story that went on for nearly a week; dozens of talk show hosts denouncing the threat to liberty; a “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day” promoted by Gov. Huckabee and others, and widely talked up in conservative outlets; and much more, until the officials backed down.

Maybe Calvin A found that level of coverage “hysterical.” I didn’t, because the threat to liberty from that kind of official intimidation should concern us a lot. That’s why I devoted numerous posts here and elsewhere to defending Mr. Cathy’s rights, and am equally glad to defend Mr. Ayanbadejo’s rights.

3 robert 09.10.12 at 3:45 pm

Don’t you know? Only owners of Chicken Restaurants have protected free speech rights! Not linebackers.

4 D 09.10.12 at 6:58 pm

I am disappointed in Del. Burns. We should encourage football players of all positions to speak articulately.

5 Richard Blaine 09.10.12 at 9:48 pm

Tar, feathers…. (w/ a nod & a h/t to the Professor)

6 MILF 09.10.12 at 10:51 pm

…and not to end our sentences with adverbs, D.

7 Cathy Young 09.11.12 at 6:12 am

Just curious–HAS there been any commentary on this from conservative bloggers/pundits? the ones who were up in arms over Chik-Fil-A?

8 Walter Olson 09.11.12 at 8:06 am

Cathy>Good question. Thus far, I’ve seen 1) a few Twitter and Facebook comments in the right direction from conservatives who aren’t well known; 2) extensive coverage from libertarian-leaning writers such as Eugene Volokh. But it’s hard to observe a negative. Possibly people like Mike Huckabee or William Bennett have spoken up on radio shows and I just haven’t heard about it.

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