- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 21, 2002

The Supreme Court will be convening soon, and it will immediately have to make a decision whether to hear a case on free speech. The case involves target practice.
Now, I suppose you thought speech had something to do with verbal communication or writing. If only it were so. In Massachusetts, it is against the law to shoot at pictures of human images at gun club shooting ranges. This includes the likenesses of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, even though the government is busy trying to kill both of them.
I can understand how some politicians would get nervous watching gun owners take pot shots at human silhouettes, but I cannot understand how such an endeavor falls into the category of free speech. If you look in the dictionary, you would be hard pressed to stretch the definition of speech to flag waving and target practice. Of course, poor Mr. Webster didn't have the wisdom of the Supremes. The business of the Supreme Court is to tell us what our Founding Fathers really meant when they drafted to Constitution.
There is a concern that allowing firearm owners to practice shooting at the human form might lead to the killing of real people. So far as I know, there is no one interested in shooting me. However, I would just as soon see those who are interested in committing mayhem be proficient in hitting their target rather than taking down innocent bystanders such as myself. It looks like the Puritans are still in control in Massachusetts, despite the Kennedys.
While the Supremes consider this absurd free speech infringement, they must also consider another "free speech" case involving a 50-year-old Virginia law outlawing cross burning. Speech covers a lot of ground these days, and it is hard to imagine that those drafting our Constitution had any idea that one day, the First Amendment would protect those who would burn crosses or our flag. When examining some of the decisions handed down by the court, you have to wonder if common sense ever enters the equation.
The campaign finance law will soon be tested to determine if there is violation of free speech. That's the law that is supposed to regulate the amount of money pouring into our election process. The money will still be there, it will just be funneled in covertly. Of course, the good thing about the law is it will cut out a lot of political advertising 30 days prior to the election, which no one can object to. The way the justices interpret free speech covers so much ground you have to question why we need all those other amendments. The court has heard 18 free speech cases in the last three years.
I have often wondered where obscene gestures lie in the free speech equation. Where and when can I use them? Are they banned in the courtroom, where I am sure the temptation to use them is overpowering? What would happen if those presenting a free speech case at the Supreme Court level lost their case and subsequently gave the Supremes an obscene gesture? I bet their free speech would cost them dearly. There is a lot more to this free speech than meets the eye.

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