As someone wrote a while back: "The First Amendment was designed to protect offensive speech, because nobody ever tries to ban the other kind.” The same applies to one who wishes to peaceably assemble.
With that having been said, my guess is, when the Floyd County Woman's Club held its Floyd County Arts and Crafts Festival last weekend, nobody complained about those vendors who were selling pots and whatnot. Why would they?
Just as nobody (I'm hoping) complained about the Muslim vendor who showed up yesterday at the Bland County Festival of the Leaves here in Bland selling copies of the Koran and
Well, a columnist for the Roanoke Times has a big problem this morning with someone selling published material at the Floyd County Arts and Crafts Festival with whom he disagrees.
He wants the vendor - who happens to also be the author - banned:
Racism doesn't belong at a crafts festival
By Christian Trejbal
Gary Walker has been a regular vendor for years. He's an amateur historian who self-publishes books about the Civil War and sells them at the event.
He's also a racist.
His revisionist history warms the hearts of some modern Confederates. After wading through his book, "The Truth about Slavery," I only felt dirty.
Walker is entitled to write his books, self-publish them and spread his message ...
The Woman's Club had consulted an attorney who said the group's bylaws do not allow it to single out a vendor based on his views.
Then change the bylaws. The club is a private group that has no obligation to give Walker a forum. (link)
Trejbal is right, of course, about the club's legal obligations. The leadership can ban any craftsman they want to ban.
But Steinbeck might have had something to say about such actions. As would Aldous Huxley. Faulkner. Arthur Miller. Walt Whitman. Salinger. Even J.K. Rowling. They too had, in one way or another, at one point in time in America's history or another, by one do-gooder organization or another, found their works to be banned. Were we the better for it?
If this columnist had left his admonition in the realm of challenging Walker's facts and interpretations, he would have been on solid ground (although I'm perplexed by the "... as long as people like Walker go unchallenged, we all share his shame" declaration), but he wants the author - and therefore his work - banned.
In the United States of America.
In the year of our Lord 2007.
My my my.
* I suppose it is in order for me to personally thank the organizers of the Bland Festival of the Leaves for being more enlightened than Roanoke Times columnist Christian Trejbal for having allowed one of Louis Farrakhan's followers to peaceably sell his literature without incident or calls for the man's scalp. But then there probably weren't too many liberals wandering in downtown Bland yesterday looking for reasons to be offended and authors to be banned. Most of us were there to enjoy ourselves ... and the funnel cakes.