Legislator Writes to Boss of Equality Advocate: Shut Him Up!

Rob Tisinai

September 7th, 2012

In an astonishing assault on freedom of speech, Democratic state legislator Emmett Burns wrote to a man’s employer and asked him to shut the man up and shut the man down for advocating marriage equality.

Really. Burns wrote to Steve Bisciotti, owner of the Baltimore Ravens football team:

I find it inconceivable that one of your players, Mr. Brendon Ayanbadejo would publicly endorse Same-Sex marriage, specifically as a Raven Football player. Many of my constituents and your football supporters are appalled and aghast that a member of the Ravens Football Team would step into this controversial divide and try to sway public opinion one way or the other. Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment and excitement.I believe Mr. Ayanbadejo should concentrate on football and steer clear of dividing the fan base.

I am requesting that you take the necessary action, as a National Football League Owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employees and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions. I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing.

Please give me your immediate response.

The second paragraph stuns me. Somehow, though, the last sentence’s commanding tone makes the whole thing even more chilling.  Just to recap:

This is a state legislator…writing on official Maryland House of Delegates letterhead..to a man’s boss…asking him to shut down his employee’s free speech.

It would be bad enough if Burns had applied pressure directly to Ayanbadejo. But going through his boss? Can you imagine if state legislators starting calling your employer — or worse, writing them on official letterhead — demanding that you stop exercising your First Amendment rights? That’s abuse on top of abuse.

This is at least as bad as when a Chicago alderman tried to block a Chik-fil-a store because he didn’t like the owner’s opposition to same-sex marriage. (I was away at the time, without Internet access, so let me state for the record: the alderman was an ass). To me, though, this seems worse, because contra Romney and the current Supreme Court, a corporation is not a person, and the power gap between an city alderman and multibillion-dollar corporation is not as frightening as the one between a state legislator and a private citizen.

Should Burns should resign over this? At the very least, he should sit barefoot on Ayanbadejo’s doorstep for three days, wearing a hairshirt, forgoing food and shelter, until Ayanbadejo accepts his apology. Burns is a public servant — we use that language for a reason — and his first duty to protect our rights.  He’s abused his power, demonstrated his incompetence, and violated his oath of office.

Also, like so many of our opponents, he spouts nonsense even though Google is just a keyboard away. “I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing.” Really? Here are a few players I’d like him to meet.

Emmett Burns’ mix of ignorance and arrogance is all too common among our opponents. No surprise, though: each one breeds the other in a falling spiral of self-righteous egomania. I suppose I can take comfort in one thing. The National Organization for Marriage, a group that trumpets its principled support for liberty and opposition to government overreach, will be quick and fierce in its denunciation of this legislator.

Right?

Jarred

September 7th, 2012

Rumor (disclosure: I started the rumor) has it that Mike Huckabee has declared that the eighth Thursday in never will be Brendon Ayanbadejo Appreciation Day.

Tor

September 7th, 2012

So it was cool for David Tyree to express his opinions against marriage equality. According to Wikipedia, he also once played for the Baltimore Ravens.

TampaZeke

September 7th, 2012

Huckabee should be calling for a Freedom of Speech Ayanbadejo Appreciation Day any minute now!

TampaZeke

September 7th, 2012

Remember when Michelle Obama spoke of those who would shut the door of opportunity behind them?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Emmett “Shut the Door Behind You” Burns.

MattNYC

September 7th, 2012

I pray that someone will run against this fool, so I can make a contribution to that campaign…

Timothy Kincaid

September 7th, 2012

The top headline over at the National Organization for Marriage’s NOMblog is

“NFL Star Burgess Owens Tells Blacks Not to Vote for Obama Over Same-Sex Marriage”

Irony, meet Mr. Burns.

Timothy Kincaid

September 7th, 2012

MJC

September 7th, 2012

This is PRECISELY what the First Amendment forbids. It protects free speech against repercussions from the government.

This Congressman is an idiot.

Lindoro Almaviva

September 7th, 2012

Good thing for him I am not Brendon Ayanbadejo because I would march my butt to the ACLU and sue him for violating my constitutional rights and let him defend himself in court. I would do everything in my power to destroy his political career, and unlike Brendon, what Mr. Burns did is illegal and in writing.

I hope someone does take this to court, some bullies need to be bullied back so they know how it feels.

David Roberts

September 7th, 2012

This is a rare instance when cries of First Amendment violations are spot on. Burns really should consider resigning over that one.

MAJeff

September 7th, 2012

The Vikings’ Chris Kluwe has written a response.

Michael C

September 7th, 2012

Thank you for including that link, MAJeff. After reading that, there’s nothing left to add to the conversation. Kluwe said it all.

CPT_Doom

September 7th, 2012

Apparently Mr. Ayanbadejo’s own response was more muted. From what I read he simply noted that Burns had managed to give the issue nationwide attention and should be thanked. The Ravens management had an even better response – they acknowledged receiving the letter and had no other comment.

Jay

September 7th, 2012

Burns is a Democrat? Shouldn’t his party be calling him out for this nonsense?

Proud to live in Baltimore and proud to root for the Ravens, by the way.

Hunter

September 7th, 2012

Maybe if the citizens of Maryland wrote to their legislators demanding that Del. Burns be censured for violating the civil rights of a private citizen, Burns might figure out that he screwed up.

JohnAGJ

September 8th, 2012

As a history buff, I like how you work in the clash between Pope Gregory and Holy Roman Emperor Henry. Nice touch! :)

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required)
(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

 

Latest Posts

Clinton Pays Private Visit With Pulse Families, Pays Respects To Victims

Today's Agenda Is Brought To You By...

Today In History, 1987: Reagan Names Gay Man To AIDS Commission

Born On This Day, 1816: Charlotte Saunders Cushman

Born On This Day, 1858: Edward Prime-Stevenson (a.k.a. "Xavier Mayne")

Trump: "I Will Protect Our LG, BTQ Citizens From Hateful Foreign Ideology"

PayPal Co-Founder Peter Thiel: "I'm Proud To Be Gay, I'm Proud To Be a Republican, I'm Proud To Be An American"

Today's Agenda Is Brought To You By...

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.