- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 10, 2008


Try to follow this logic: Berkeley, Calif., isn’t “against the troops.” But its city council told a Marine recruiting station that it “is not welcome in the city.” The council also reserved special parking outside for radical activists CodePink, who chain themselves to the door to obstruct recruits. As the council sums up matters: “[I]f recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders.” Right, right: We all support the troops.

A public backlash ensued, with Washington lawmakers threatening to cut off federal funding to the University of California at Berkeley and elsewhere. Sure enough, the council began to backtrack. Mayor Tom Bates, the former Army captain charged with mopping up this mess, said that the original resolution “did not adequately differentiate our respect and support for those serving in the armed forces and our opposition to the Iraq war policy.” We don’t begrudge Mr. Bates a measure of damage control, but the red-carpet treatment for CodePink, to the detriment of recruits who might want to sign up, speaks for itself.

As if on cue, council members began braying about their First Amendment rights. “I guess they’ve never heard of free speech,” Berkeley City Council Dona Spring told the San Francisco Chronicle. This has things precisely backward. An official public act is at issue here, not the free speech of a private citizen.

Indeed, a strange First Amendment this would be. Miss Spring seems to think that the First Amendment makes her official acts as a public officeholder immune from criticism or lawful attempts to revoke funding. We’re not sure which is worse: whether Miss Spring seems to think that the First Amendment protects moronic speech from criticism or moronic public acts from challenge.

Of course, nowhere in the cry of “My free speech rights!” do these partisans consider the freedom of the “misguided” — we’d call them “patriotic” or “selfless” — who might actually want to serve in the Marine Corps or any other branch of the armed services. Miss Spring seems not to realize that her official act in public office works to the detriment of citizens who would express themselves freely by signing up.Just another day in the city that exempts itself from the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

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