Dinsdale smacks around Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline for his dumbass decision to keep certain records from making their way into the state public library system. But one particularly interesting nugget in Dinsdale's piece caught this meat patty's attention. The Strip noticed that it was Kline's Consumer Protection Division that actually did the dirty work, sifting through titles offered in a court settlement and rejecting 33 of them for their supposedly immoral content.
The Consumer Protection Division? Wasn't that the division of Kline's office run by a guy named Bryan J. Brown?
No, there had to be a mistake.
The Bryan Brown we knew, the one profiled by the Strip's colleague, Kendrick Blackwood, in a Pitch cover story last year ("Born Again," May 15, 2003), would never have gone along with an action that so clearly stifled expression of free speech.
Brown, after all, had spent his life struggling to expand the limits of the First Amendment. It seemed inconceivable to this meat patty that Brown would take part in something that smacked of censorship.
Here's how seriously the Brown we knew took his free speech rights: Once, he chose to ditch a house he owned rather than give up his hardcore beliefs.
The year was 1990, and Brown was doing what he did best: hassling abortion doctors and claiming that it was a protected form of speech. A young ringleader in a group of Indiana anti-abortionists, Brown was arrested more than once for organizing blockades of abortion clinics.
Brown and his buddies would form human walls in front of medical offices, screeching at the young women who were trying to get into the places and generally doing everything they could to disrupt the clinics. But one target fought back, taking Brown and others to court. A federal judge ordered Brown, his wife and another man to pay the clinic owners $61,616.
Screw that, Brown decided. Ducking the order, he quit his job, stopped making payments on his house, and left the state.
Take that, enemies of the First Amendment!
The exile found his way to Wichita, where he became a key player in 1991's intense "Summer of Mercy," when thousands of protesters did their best to shut down the city's abortion clinics -- and nearly shut down the city itself in the process.
Brown, meanwhile, had plenty of ideas about how to flex his free-speech abilities: He set up a phone service he called the "Godarchy" line. The hotline gave a daily recording of encouragement to the volunteers who were blocking streets and haranguing clinic employees and their clients. The line also conveniently announced which folks who opposed the movement were going to hell. Brown also organized groups of protesters to target clinic employees at their homes and even to target their neighbors.
Naturally, a free-speech warrior of that caliber was bound to run into more legal trouble. Brown was arrested multiple times outside Wichita clinics. Unlike dozens of others who simply paid their $25 tickets, however, Brown fought his on First Amendment grounds -- and won.
But Brown seemed to have met his match in federal Judge Patrick Kelly. Fed up with local law enforcement's response to the Wichita crisis, the judge instructed federal marshals to keep abortion clinics open and granted an injunction forcing protesters to stay off clinic property. After violating Kelly's order twice, Brown was hauled before the judge, who demanded that he promise to comply with the order in the future. Brown refused, saying he'd already promised his fealty to Jesus Christ instead. The judge jailed Brown for contempt and kept him in the lockup for 68 days. But Brown simply outlasted him. Never promising anything, Brown was let go.
After that kind of spiritual warfare, Brown naturally went off to law school. He entered Regent University, a Christian school in Virginia founded by televangelist Pat Robertson. When he was suitably equipped with a law degree, Brown went to work for the American Family Association Center for Law and Policy in Tupelo, Mississippi. During his tenure with that conservative Christian organization, Brown spent most of his time traveling the country making free-speech arguments on behalf of abortion protestors.
One of his clients, for example, was a man who was arrested for standing in front of a Texas high school holding a giant picture of an aborted fetus. Police argued that he was breaking the law by disrupting classes. Brown lost that one, but he won other cases, each time carving out more freedom for religious folks who wanted to express themselves on the job, in school or on picket lines.
Brown was just that kind of guy -- he stamped out all sorts of censorship.
So naturally, this skeptical sirloin couldn't believe that Mr. First Amendment would have anything to do with his boss's blatant musical suppression on behalf of Kansas communities.
Apparently, however, now that he works for Kline, Brown's days of righteous struggle are over.
When we tried to get our old friend on the phone, he dutifully directed the Strip's questions to Whitney Watson, Kline's spokesman, who spouted some blather about how Kline's decision is not a free-speech issue.
Shya right. If anyone could make a First Amendment case that the kids of Cottonwood Falls should have easy access to the psychedelic stoner rap of Cypress Hill, it was the old Bryan J. Brown.
One cushy government job later, however, and the warrior has become a lap dog. What a shame.