I hardly even know what to say about the petition to deport Piers Morgan, now at over 80,000 signatures. I mean, yes, it is a little bit funny to picture the President explaining why we’re not going to deport Piers Morgan: you can imagine the scene appearing in a dark comedy. But then it stops being funny because America is not supposed to be dark comedy; it’s our actual country. Eugene Volokh has discussed the legal aspects, which is interesting, but hardly necessary, because c’mon, folks, this is America. We’re the country that put freedom of speech number one in our bill of rights. We, every one of us, should be better than this.
I know that it is a tiny number of people who have signed the thing, compared to the actual population of the United States, but it’s a little distressing that even a tiny number of Americans don’t know that in this country, we don’t use the law to punish people for speaking their minds.
I once had some very nice young members of the Chinese Communist Party earnestly explain, in tones that indicated they expected to clear up some puzzling misunderstanding, that Nobel-prizewinner Liu Xiaobo was quite properly being incarcerated by his government. “He broke the law” one of them said, rather passionately. “Any country would put him in jail for that.”