According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, David Barash “is an evolutionary biologist and professor of psychology at the University of Washington.” He blogs at the Chrony’s “Brainstorm” blog that I occasionally peruse (and I’m wondering more and more why I ever do so).
Barash recently wrote a post with the ominous title: “Major League Baseball Takes On the First Amendment.” I was intrigued thinking that perhaps Bud Selig and his evil minions at MLB were attempting in their typical wisdom to change yet another cherished institution. First the wildcard and now the 1st Amendment! How could they possibly think it is a good idea to go after something as cherished as the 1st Amendment which secures free speech – as well as a number of other rights – from Congressional interference ?
I wondered if Bud and his boys were going to lobby Congress to restrict free speech on the public sidewalk outside stadiums so that the Red Sox brass don’t have to listen to wise fans mocking the absurd signings of John Lackey and Carl Crawford. Or was MLB going to ask Congress to rewrite the law so that journalists have to pay a rights fee every time they mention the name of an MLB team? So what was going on, I wondered.
But as I read Barash’s post, I could not find a single reference to Congress (or even the Federal government or the states). Apparently, Barash thought that the Miami Marlins was taking on the 1st Amendment by suspending one of its employees for, as Barash explains, expressing “his man-love for Cuba’s invalid former caudillo, Fidel Castro.” I highly recommend actually reading the 1st Amendment when such claims are made – or ideally, an author should read it before writing such a thing:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Professor Barash should note that there is no mention here of the right to say anything one pleases without consequence. It is a claim against the government alone, not private citizens or employers. I do think the Marlins went overboard by suspending the manager for something of so little consequence (though I know the team is worried about offending Florida’s anti-Castro Cuban-American community who are a key part of its fan base). But this isn’t a 1st Amendment issue at all Professor! Or perhaps this scholar of evolution thinks the Constitution is evolving too right before our eyes and has been changed to include something not found in the original text and I missed it?!
* BTW, I know that authors of newspaper op-eds don’t always write their own headlines. However, I am assuming that Barash wrote the headline for this piece. If not, shame on the Chrony instead.