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Football helmet with rainbow stripes
Was it the public humiliation of the profane tongue-lashing-gone-viral he received at the hands of Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe? Maryland state legislator Emmett C. Burns, Jr. isn't telling. But he is backing off his effort to silence Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo's vocal support for Maryland's marriage equality campaign:
"Upon reflection, he has his First Amendment rights," Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr., a Baltimore County Democrat, said in a telephone interview. "And I have my First Amendment rights. ... Each of us has the right to speak our opinions. The football player and I have a right to speak our minds."
If what it took to make Burns realize that football players get to have opinions is being called a "narcissistic fromunda stain," so be it. Free speech reigns!

Previously, though, according to the Baltimore Sun, Burns "defended his letter, saying Friday that a 'public person representing a public team,' should avoid commenting on social issues." It's not clear what he meant by "public team," since the Ravens are privately owned, a fact Burns clearly knows since he had so recently attempted to silence Ayanbadejo by writing to Steve Bisciotti, the team's owner, telling him to make his employee shut up about equality. To Bisciotti's credit, the team stood behind Ayanbadejo's right to speak his mind.

A guest preacher at Burns's church said Sunday, "The thing I love about this man is he is not afraid or ashamed of Jesus Christ ... What he believes he holds fast to, even when he has to stand sometimes by himself."

Except that he only found out he was standing by himself because his effort to use his elected office to try to silence someone for political disagreement rebounded on him so fiercely. His opinion makes him a bigot, and his effort at intimidation makes him, in Chris Kluwe's closing word, an asshole.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Mon Sep 10, 2012 at 02:47 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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