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April 29, 2004



Rene Gonzalez is as entitled to his viewpoint as all of you you are to yours. The First
Amendment protects ALL free speech; especially free political speech. I
don't like what Gonzalez said about Mr. Tillman either. But he should be
allowed to question people's motivation to "blindly" follow President Bush
and his military campaign in Iraq. He's allowed to guess the motivation of
Mr. Tillman to join the army and turn down an NFL contract and not come up
with the same answer that everyone else does. Vietnam taught Americans that
they have a right to question the government's activities and not just
blindly follow them. We are NOT one nation under one patriotic viewpoint.

Even hate speech is protected by the Supreme Court (R.A.V. vs City of St.
Paul 112 S .Ct. 2538). The Constitution protects all kinds of speech
because the framers realized the value of debate in a free society (however
offending that speech is to anyone). You are entitled to disagree with Mr.
Gonzalez and blast away back at him in an op-ed piece. The
public can certainly trash Mr. Gonzalez all they want. But the UMass
President is not allowed to pressure Mr. Gonzalez into making an apology for
something he wrote, just because either happens to disagree with the viewpoint
and is in a position of power to do something about it. That is against the
law of the land.

I'm stunned to this day how many people in public life still don't
understand the First Amendment. I am going to do whatever I can to see that
Mr. Gonzalez is able to get an attorney to pursue his First Amendment rights
in this case because he will win.

The moment anyone has the right to singlehandedly silence dissent in a
society, that's when all the freedom the military is out there
defending, is all for naught. The real dishonor to Mr. Tillman's memory is
not Rene Gonzalez, its people like UMass President Jack Wilson.

Peter Caputa

Well said, Robert. I agree with your statements in principle. I merely said, I wouldn't have said what he said and I didn't want to repeat it on my blog, because I don't think it is worth repeating.

Wes Ulm

Robert, I'm not sure anyone here is arguing that Rene Gonzalez should be *suppressed* in his opinions. Methinks instead that people are responding to Gonzalez's free speech vitriol with... more free speech, exactly as we should be reacting. I'm not sure if Gonzalez was merely trying to be an agent provocateur here, but what he said about Pat Tillman was just so unconscionable I don't even know where to begin.

A lot of us have reservations about the Iraq war, including yours truly-- I opposed it from the get-go and still believe it to have been an unwise foreign policy move on the part of the Bush Administration, to say the least. However, (1) Afghanistan was a different matter altogether, a probably necessary war fought in direct response to the 9/11 attacks and intended to gut the al-Qaeda network and deny it its sanctuary in Afghanistan, which the conflict indeed accomplished to an extent. Tillman was fighting in this probably just and inevitable war in Afghanistan, not in Iraq. Furthermore, (2) whether Tillman was fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan, Gonzalez was way out of line to trash Tillman for merely doing his job as a soldier.

I'm constantly peeved about the way the anti-war protesters in Vietnam stupidly allowed their invective to spill over from legitimate criticism of the policymakers who sent the troops to war, to aspersions cast at the soldiers engaged in combat themselves. The grunts on the ground are just doing the scut work that the powers on high assign to them as a task; in lodging rebukes against the war, it is these decision-makers who should be upbraided, not the troops on the ground themselves who are carrying out their duties. This was Gonzalez's most unpardonable offense here, even more than conflating Iraq and Afghanistan: Rather than inveighing against the policy decisions and the highly placed Administration officials who actually pushed the war, Gonzalez chose to disparage a guy on the ground who forsook a lucrative career in the NFL for a dangerous job in which he felt he was defending his country from terrorist attacks. No matter what one's opinions on the war's justifiability, Pat Tillman himself did something indicative of rare heroism and self-sacrifice in our jaded modern age, and he volunteered for hazardous duty when most Americans (including the chickenhawks who declared unilateral war on Iraq) are perfectly content to sit on their duffs and watch CNN or FoxNews highlights of the combat operations as their "contribution" to the effort.

So yes, I agree with you that Gonzalez had the First Amendment right to express his opinion about Tillman. And the rest of us have the equal First Amendment right to condemn and deride Gonzalez at every opportunity for his hatchet job against someone who actually had the guts to put his own life on the line in Afghanistan in the name of defending those rights that we hold dear.


I think Mr. Gonzalez meant something more than force is the way to solve the problem (what's the problem anyway, religion or culture or whatever?) but let me remind you that force in the first hand is absolutely necessary since the evil power or any system proved to have an fatal imbalance simply wouldn't diffuse away and evil actions will continue to be committed if those systems are not exterminated. I am aware of this partly because I'm a mainland Chinese and I'm so much more aware of the importance of balance of power, of the most precious --freedom and any necessary means to protect or derive it.
Let me quote a saying from one of the Tsar of Russia himself:"There has never been revolution from the top."
Therefore, Pat Tillman is a hero. I salute you not only because you've realised the importance of freedom to humanity but have dedicated your life to the course of spreading it.

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