I’ve long held the belief that NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has presidential aspirations. That belief has been bolstered of late by a number of his actions and public postures, including his myriad bits of self-congratulation regarding his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic (his horrific decision to send elderly patients back to nursing homes is, apparently, meant to be forgotten).

This week, we got another bit of peacocking. Cuomo signed a bill that bans sale of “hate symbols,” including the Confederate Flag on property controlled by the state.

I’ll leave the question of whether the hammer-and-sickle and Che Guevara’s bereted visage are on the banned list for another time, though I suspect I know the answer.

As anyone who’s watched the Blues Brothers knows, the First Amendment protects the rights of even those we revile to “speak” as they wish, and that includes neo-Nazis in Skokie. Disagreement and revulsion are not exceptions to freedom of speech. The only exceptions are “speech” that violate others’ rights, including slander, libel, incitement, and intimidation. Selling a confederate flag to someone who wants to buy one doesn’t fit any of those exceptions.

And Cuomo knows it. He admitted there are Constitutional issues, though he calls them “technical.” While state-owned-operated businesses can indeed decide what is sold therein (and that’s within the governor’s and legislature’s purview, restrictions on private sellers run into 1A problems. Nevertheless, he supports the “spirit” of the legislation.

Robby Soave at Reason reminds us that SCOTUS has upheld the rights of private actors on public property, even when those actors are engaged in overtly hateful behavior. So, I’m betting Cuomo wants it to go to the courts, because a correct ruling would be one that’d motivate the willfully outraged, i.e. the activists on the left who are shapers of the early Democratic Presidential Primary process. Cuomo, being of the wrong “identity,” needs to fatten up his bona fides for that crowd to feast upon, so that he can stand out from the crowd when he throws his hat in the ring.

Imagine the headlines, and the response. ‘Supreme Court Upholds Swastika Sales!’ ‘Cuomo Denounces “Radical, Racist” Court!’ ‘The Court Says Selling Confederate Flags is A-OK!!”

Cuomo then gets to be the white knight tilting at “hate speech,” having shoehorned himself (by SJW rules, he is an “oppressor” until he proves otherwise) into the matter by way of an overtly unconstitutional action.

I’ve long witnessed behaviors that suggest many on the Left find the Constitution more of a hindrance than a foundational document, given how often they try to circumvent its plain language. Given the Left’s affinity for big nanny government and its increasing authoritarianism, it’s not surprising. The Constitution was written to stand athwart the power-hungry, even if their motives are pure, and certainly if those motives are self-serving. Cuomo’s little bit of moral preening has a veneer of purity laminated onto a core of cynicism. I’m certain he knows that this sort of thing isn’t how a government of a free society is supposed to behave, but he’s doing it anyway.

I wonder how the Left will react to a petulant egomaniac seeking the White House not long after they spent four years gnashing their teeth over a petulant egomaniac winning the White House.

Actually, I don’t. The Joy Behar Rule tells me how it will go. As long as he advances the correct policy points, he’ll be accepted, defended, and supported. So it goes with tribal politics. We’ve witnessed that for at least the last three decades.

Cuomo will get years of free press from this as it gets challenged in courts, with the ability to charge free speech supporters with racism and hate-bigotry and thus dismiss challenges to his censorious ways even as he purports to respect 1A, which will serve his higher aspirations well. That he’d be obligated to take an oath to defend and uphold the Constitution, and mean it, probably doesn’t enter into his thoughts.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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