U.S. Bridge Federation Has Constitutional Right to Eject Bush-Bashing Bridge Players

Kudos to the United States Bridge Federation, which is showing spine in response to the self-centered actions of the team of women who used the world bridge championships as a platform to express their anti-Bush political opinions.

While “representing” the United States in communist China, the team held up a sign saying “We did not vote for Bush.”

The New York Times’ Stephanie Strom reports on the Bridge Federation’s response:

Three players— Hansa Narasimhan, JoAnna Stansby and Jill Meyers — have expressed regret that the action offended some people. The federation has proposed a settlement to [team captain Gail] Greenberg and the three other players, Jill Levin, Irina Levitina and [team member Debbie]. Rosenberg, who have not made any mollifying statements.

It calls for a one-year suspension from federation events, including the World Bridge Olympiad next year in Beijing; a one-year probation after that suspension; 200 hours of community service “that furthers the interests of organized bridge”; and an apology drafted by the federation’s lawyer.

It would also require them to write a statement telling “who broached the idea of displaying the sign, when the idea was adopted, etc.”

Alan Falk, a lawyer for the federation, wrote the four team members on Nov. 6, “I am instructed to press for greater sanction against anyone who rejects this compromise offer.”

The Times quotes a Danny Kleinman, said to be a “professional bridge player, teacher and columnist,” telling the Times by e-mail that “if the U.S.B.F. wants to impose conditions of membership that involve curtailment of free speech, then it cannot claim to represent our country in international competition.”

What an airhead Danny Kleinman must be. The First Amendment begins: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” and it continues “…or the right of the people peaceably to assemble…”

If the U.S. Bridge Federation membership does not wish to associate itself with players who do not believe in the maxim “politics stops at the water’s edge,” they have a Constitutional right not to do so.

This is a freedom of assembly, not a freedom of speech, issue. The right of the Bridge Federation to associate freely is being questioned by many, but no grand jury is sitting to consider an indictment against the bridge players.

A handful of the liberal bloggers who are defending the bridge players (for example, here, here and here) don’t seem to understand what the First Amendment says and means.

What a wonderful country we might have if all the liberals who use their freedom of speech rights read the Constitution carefully and with intelligence once in a while. (Right, Amy, dream on.)

Capping the idiocy of the story, the French delegation reportedlytried to make the whole kerfluffle a sexism issue (believe it or not). The delegation wrote in an e-mail to the U.S. team, “you were doing only what women of the world have always tried to do when opposing the folly of men who have lost their perspective of reality.” Good grief, girls, look up “projection” in the dictionary sometime.

No word on whether the French chicks held up a sign saying “We did not vote for Sarkozy.”

I checked the blog of Peg Kaplan, my favorite bridge-playing blogger; her posts on this are here and here.

Joe Hicks of Project 21 comes down hard on the team here.

Addendum: Jeremy Lott disagrees, but doesn’t say why.

Addendum, 11/17/07: I missed this link, and shouldn’t have, from Peg Kaplan’s blog. I agree entirely.

Addendum II, 11/17/07: Jeremy Lott says why. Sort of.

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