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Free speech does not require anyone to listen

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and press. It does not guarantee an audience that must listen. It does not guarantee you access to someone else’s forum.

If you write a letter to the editor of this newspaper or any other, there is no obligation to publish.

Why should it be any different when it comes to public parks?

On Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case in which a minor religious sect demands that a monument it has donated to a Utah city must be publicly displayed.

The church of Summum wants to erect a monument containing its Seven Aphorisms erected in Pioneer Park in Pleasant Grove City. The Associated Press says the aphorisms are summed up in words including “psychokinesis,” “vibration” and “gender.”

The church argues that, since the park already has a monument displaying the Ten Commandments, it has a First Amendment right to equal access to taxpayer-funded park space.

Last year a federal appeals court sided with the church and ordered the monument to be placed in the park.

There is a big difference between privately-funded speech and taxpayer-funded speech, but taking this argument to its extreme could produce ridiculous results.

“If the authorities place a statue of Ulysses S. Grant in the park, the First Amendment does not require them also to install a statue of Robert E. Lee,” the attorneys general of 13 states argued in an amicus brief.

Even more outrageous is the suggestion that a monument to the victims of 9/11 might have to share space with a monument donated by al Qaida.

All are free to speak but we need not listen nor be required to pay for it. Use some commonsense.

Or take my suggestion. Accept the monument and publicly display it at the bottom of the Great Salt Lake.


Now, I don’t really recommend clicking on the video below that is purportedly produced by the Summum Church. If it is not a parody, it should be. But if curiosity overwhelms click away and enter the silly world of Summum "philosophy."


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