Ken Paulson, Director of MTSU’s The First Amendment Center Exercises His First Amendment Right Not to Speak on the Show

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Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed public affairs strategist Clint Brewer in the studio.

At the top of the third hour, Leahy and Brewer discuss Middle Tennesse State University’s First Amendment Center and the dynamics of the First Amendment and Paulson’s focus on peaceful assembly. Leahy added that Paulson declined an invitation to come on The Tennessee Star Report and talk about the Center.

Leahy: We had a story that I was delighted to write about yesterday. There is a First Amendment Center. This is a survivor of the John Seigenthaler Project that’s gone through many interactions. A guy by the name of Ken Paulson heads it up. It’s now based at Middle Tennessee State University. They are launching a major program to advertise and educate people about the First Amendment. That’s a worthy goal.

Brewer: Yes it is. It’s a very worthy goal.

Leahy: And I’ve written a book about the First Amendment. About the Bill of Rights and the Constitution for secondary students. We do a Constitution Bee here in Tennessee every year. This will be our fourth year. And we are going to do a national one here if all the COVID stuff works out.

We’re still working out the details. Well, I thought how fantastic! Let’s invite Ken to be on the program because they want to educate people about the First Amendment. He turned us down. He does not want to come on the program.

Brewer: What was the reason?

Leahy: Wouldn’t say.

Brewer: I know Ken Paulson a little bit. He’s a good man. He has walked the walk for a long time and not just talk the talk when it comes to the First Amendment. (Leahy laughs) I’ll say to you what I’ve said to a lot of journalists over the years now that I’m on the other side of the ball. The First Amendment is not just the freedom to speak it’s also the freedom not to speak.

Leahy: Exactly! And he’s exercising that right with us.

Brewer: I used to have a friend and I won’t mention him by name but he’s one of Nashville’s better reporters and he used to get all over me because I wouldn’t provide him a commissioner or some state official when I was in the administration that he wanted to talk to. And I would say hey look. I’m not infringing on your First Amendment rights but by them deciding to exercise theirs in the negative rather than the positive.

Leahy: Here’s the problem with that. The First Amendment Center based in Middle Tennessee State University their stated objective is to educate the public on the First Amendment.

Brewer: Sure.

Leahy: We have a forum here at The Tennessee Star and at The Tennessee Star Report. The public is out there listening to us. Our ratings are up, up, up, up!

Brewer: Sure.

Leahy: So it seems to me to be inconsistent with the mission of the Middle Tennessee State First Amendment Center for the director of it not to take up an opportunity, free. (Chuckles) We are not charging anything to come on and talk about the importance of the First Amendment.

Brewer: Everybody is different. My political views and my personal views are, you and I aren’t in 100 percent lockstep. We actually argue a lot on the show. (Chuckles)

Leahy: We have disagreements like gentlemen.

Brewer: We have disagreements, but I could go on almost any show whether it’s left or right. I think it’s people’s comfort level. I can’t really diagnose what the problem is. But you do have an audience and I think certainly anybody when you take the opportunity to go on this show and get the word out.

Leahy: I’ll tell you what my suspicion is.

Brewer: I bet I know what your suspicion is Mike. (Leahy laughs)

Leahy: He doesn’t like us because we are originalists and conservatives. He doesn’t want to share his views or have them challenged. Which I think they would be. You have to look at the site. He’s really big on the right to peaceably assemble which is great. But I think he’s tying that into the George Floyd protests. I think the problem there is going to be that I would probably point out, there’s a difference between rioting and peaceful assembly.

Brewer: There’s always a difference right?

Leahy: Ken Paulson, come on in. We’ll be nice to you. Clint will vouch for us.

Brewer: I will vouch for both of you.

Leahy: Ken Paulson, come on!

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.







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