Piers Morgan — a Brit on CNN who has been vociferously speaking his mind on screen and on Twitter since the Newtown, Connecticut shooting forced America to come face to face with its strange and co-dependent relationship with guns — has become a sort-of surrogate to absorb the frustration of a pro-gun segment of the population who really have very little to rail at in the wake of the tragedy.
Much of America’s reaction after the Sandy Hook shooting has been embarrassing (one only need look at the thriving Newtown conspiracy theory segment for an illustration), but this impotent and misdirected reaction is most accurately encapsulated in the vocal cries of some 80,000 Americans calling for the deportation of the CNN host because he dared speak out against guns in America.
Directing hate at Piers Morgan for saying reasonable, factual and emotional things in the wake of the tragedy in and of itself is foolish — Morgan didn’t spew hatred at anyone, and merely failed to concede ground on an issue about which he feels strongly. Which, as many have pointed out, is (last I checked) covered under the First Amendment — you know, the one you skipped over in your haste to embrace the Second.
I myself support legal gun ownership, but to pretend this particular shooting was due to any other issue than guns is a form of cognitive dissonance bordering on detachment from sanity. And this frenzy to paint the interpretation of the Second Amendment by those who have a financial stake in the sale of combat weapons as absolute is, as Morgan says, dangerous and unethical — don’t shoot the messenger.
In our rush to protect what we think are American ideals, the signers of the petition to deport Piers Morgan make a mockery of some very, very important ones. First and foremost, free speech.
Ironic U.S. gun rights campaign to deport me for ‘attacking 2nd Amendment rights’ – is my opinion not protected under 1st Amendment rights?
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) December 22, 2012
Under that First Amendment so ignored right now (but oddly frequently invoked when it comes to civilians disagreeing with one another), Morgan is allowed to speak his mind freely without sanction from the government. This protection was expressly enshrined to ensure an angry government would not suppress a free and unrestricted press with gags and sanctions.
Now Morgan, a member of the press, speaks his mind. And these supposed same Constitution-lovers call for the government to ignore the First Amendment and deny Morgan his rights. Because we don’t like what he’s saying.
Morgan himself made the same observation on Twitter, but the petition frames its shaky premise as a retaliation for an “attack” on the Second Amendment:
“British Citizen and CNN television host Piers Morgan is engaged in a hostile attack against the U.S. Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment. We demand that Mr. Morgan be deported immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights and for exploiting his position as a national network television host to stage attacks against the rights of American citizens.”
What we — and presumably, Piers Morgan — know is that when the Constitution was penned, its framers did not predict the advent of “assault weapons,” of guns that could shoot an entire first-grade glass to death in 60 seconds, or of firearms capable of the destruction weapons now widely available at Walmarts across America can visit upon us.
In the clip where Morgan managed to piss off gun rights advocates, the CNN host did call the guest “stupid” — but what it seems really burned people’s biscuits was that Morgan did not allow the guest to spin the issue unchecked. He stuck to his topic and, for lack of a better simile, guns, and refused to allow the man on his show to say that because Morgan advocates an assault rifle ban, he is a “friend” to criminals.
Piers Morgan is not an American — but in speaking his mind and telling his truth, he is embodying a very ideal that exists in stronger form in his adopted homeland than his country of origin. Adding to that, America is historically a country that welcomes and embraces those from other places, not one that exiles people who don’t drop into what a small group feels is ideal American lockstep.
You may not like what Piers Morgan has to say — but if you are truly an American, by our very founding principles, you should defend to the death his right to say it.