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February 20, 2022 1:06 pm

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February 20, 2022 1:06 pm

America was built on the premise of free speech, but today's news is filled with examples of limiting people's expression. From prohibitions against misinformation, to book bans and state laws restricting how teachers can discuss such topics as racial injustice, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Correspondent David Pogue talks with writers and academics about free speech and a corresponding climate of self-censorship; and with a New Hampshire history teacher who says, "The ghost of Senator McCarthy is alive and well in some of our state house hallways." Performing as the group Tears for Fears, English pop rockers Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith had hits in the 1980s with such songs as "Shout" and "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." But after an acrimonious split in 1991, the two didn't speak to one another for nine years. They have since reunited, and are about to release Tears for Fears' first album in 17 years, "The Tipping Point." Correspondent Tracy Smith sits down with Orzabal and Smith – soon to embark on a U.S. tour – to find out how their musical collaboration helped heal a personal tragedy. Two years ago, Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker were set to star in a New York revival of Neil Simon's "Plaza Suite" when COVID-19 shut down Broadway theaters (and practically everything else). Now, the show is finally set to open, and two years after interviewing the husband-and-wife duo, "Sunday Morning" anchor Jane Pauley sits down once again with Parker and Broderick to talk about the unprecedented hiatus. These stories and more on this week's "CBS Sunday Morning" with Jane Pauley.

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I'm Jane Pauley, and this is Sunday Morning. Freedom of speech. It's guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution, but it's complicated. What if you don't agree with the views someone else is expressing? Libel and slander aren't legally protected, but most speech, however unpopular, is. And as David Pogue documents, in recent months, there are those both on the right and the left who like to do away with the books, words, and tweets they object to. We've always been proud of our freedom of speech.

If you don't agree, please just observe. So these days, why are so many people trying to shut each other up? There's been a tsunami of laws all over the world that restrict free speech. Our understanding of the First Amendment and understanding that free speech is evolving.

The proposed law says that teachers should be loyal. It's a really scary time to be a teacher. Coming up on Sunday morning, the rising cost of free speech. Real-life wife and husband Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick are headed back to Broadway after a lengthy intermission due to COVID. This morning, they give us a peek behind the curtain.

Hello, Sam. March 2020, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick rehearsing before the pandemic. Oh, yeah, we skipped it. When did a troupe of actors on Broadway ever experience coming back after a two-year hiatus? That's never happened.

No, not even close. Ahead, the show must go on. Tracey Smith catches up with the 80s rock band Tears for Fears together again after all these years. Tears for Fears was a platinum-plated hit machine until co-founders Roland Orzeball and Kurt Smith had a bitter breakup. So how long did the two of you go without speaking? Nine years. Nine years, two months, and three days. Four hours, six minutes, 24 seconds. And now, they really have something to talk about.

Tears for Fears, later on Sunday morning. Morocco remembers the fairly forgettable presidency of Franklin Pierce. Lee Cowan talks with comedian turned wildly successful media mogul Byron Allen, plus opinion from Charles Blow, and more.

It's a Sunday morning for the 20th of February, 2022. And we'll be right back. Author Evelyn Beatrice Hall best captured the principle behind free speech when she wrote, I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. But do Americans really believe that?

Here's David Pogue. When someone says something we disagree with, should we shut them up? In 1927, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis had an answer. The remedy to be applied, he wrote, is more speech, not enforced silence.

Well, in that case, the internet should have solved everything. It's nothing but more speech. And yet, lately, the news is full of stories about people trying to limit other people's experience. A proposed bill would regulate classroom discussion on race span.

Most discussions of sexuality and gender identity in schools. The Tennessee school board under fire for removing a holocaust novel from its curriculum. Spotify taking heat once again over its most popular podcaster Joe Rogan.

A new Georgetown law administrator has not even started his job yet, but he's already facing calls to be fired. I would argue that the coach, Joe Rogan, I would argue that the culture of free speech is under attack in the U.S. And without a robust culture of free speech based on tolerance, the laws and constitutional protection will ultimately erode. Jakob Mushangama is the author of a new book that documents the history of free speech. People both on the left and the right are sort of coming at free speech from different angles with different grievances that point to a general loss of faith in the First Amendment. The free speech erosion is even happening in schools. Since January last year, Republican lawmakers have introduced more than 150 state laws that would restrict how teachers can discuss race, sexual orientation, and gender identity in the classroom.

It's about making up false narratives to further a political goal of your own. Jennifer Given teaches high school history in Hollis, New Hampshire. It's a really scary time to be a teacher. We're self-censoring. We are absolutely avoiding certain things and ideas in an effort to stay within the lines as best we understand them. In New Hampshire, a new law limits what teachers can say about racism and sexism, and a conservative group is offering a $500 bounty to anyone who turns in a teacher who violates it. The ghost of Senator McCarthy is alive and well in some of our state house hallways. What would happen to you if you did step afoul of this law?

That can result in the loss of your license, and so I would not only be unemployable at my school, but I would be unemployable anywhere. But what I don't understand is this is New Hampshire whose motto is live free or die. Yeah, yeah.

There's a lot of emphasis on the or die part of late. That's a very serious freedom of speech issue. To me, that is so far off the rail. UC Berkeley professor John Powell is an expert on civil liberties and democracy. He's especially alarmed at the record number of books that are being banned in schools all over the country. Conservatives object to books about sex, gender issues, and racial injustice, and liberals object to books containing outdated racial depictions. You can't make the Holocaust a nice thing. It wasn't a nice thing.

You can't make slavery a nice thing. That makes people uncomfortable. It should make people uncomfortable.

The goal of education is not comfort. So if someone really wants to challenge the Holocaust, let them challenge it, but don't ban a discussion on it. In the mid-1800s, English philosopher John Stuart Mill proposed that governments limit free speech only when it would cause harm to others.

He wrote a book called On Liberty, On Freedom, and he was very concerned of the government silencing people, that citizens had to have the right to express themselves. Our laws have generally followed that guideline. In the U.S., public speech can't include obscenity, defamation, death threats, incitement to violence, harms. To this day, I can't swear on broadcast TV or strip completely naked.

Sorry, folks. But Powell says that the recent restrictions have more to do with culture wars than with preventing harm. I want to regulate that because I don't like it. To me, that's wrong. That's problematic. So there's a difference between saying something that makes you uncomfortable and saying something that damages society or incites to riot.

Right. And discomfort is not the same as an injury. But these days, there are entire new categories of speech that can lead to harm. Now there's a concept of disinformation, where you deliberately engage in lies, in fact, to cause harm, to cause injury, to exclude some people. But what it really means is that our understanding of the First Amendment and understanding of free speech is evolving.

It has to evolve. It's probably no coincidence that the new censorship culture arose simultaneously with social networks like Facebook and Twitter. The First Amendment was conceived as a protection of citizens from restriction of expression by the government and not by private companies or other entities. Jillian York is the director for international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and she's written a book of her own. So, for example, Donald Trump getting kicked off of Twitter and Facebook. Is that censorship? Is that bad censorship?

Is that good censorship? I think Trump getting kicked off of Facebook and Twitter is kind of complicated. But the thing that really concerns me the most is that someone like Mark Zuckerberg, whom none of us elected, has the power to remove an elected official.

I think that should really worry us, even if we do feel that Trump should be silenced. York says that the big tech companies censor our speech every day, sometimes by mistake, but always without supervision or transparency. We saw protest content around Black Lives Matter removed on Facebook's platform, wrongfully.

LGBTQ content has been removed, as well as things like art and satire. According to Mushangama, social networks censor us in another way, too, by making us afraid to speak at all. It was actually the survey from 2020 by the Cato Institute which showed that 62% of Americans self-censor who are afraid to sort of express their political views on specific topics. And I think it shows this paradox. Americans enjoy the strongest legal constitutional protection of free speech probably in world history, but they still fear the consequences of being fired for speaking out on certain political views.

And that's not a healthy sign. But it's not just America. Since 2019, at least 37 countries have passed laws that increase censorship of individuals or the media, including in Europe, where Gillian York lives. There's a lot of debate right now in Germany, for example, over a fairly recent law that restricts hate speech online, but also creates penalties for things like the country's insult law. So, you know, insulting someone online could be penalized financially. Overall, it would be easy to get depressed by these attacks on free speech, especially if you're a teacher, like Jennifer Gibbon. What's the end point for you if this keeps going this way in New Hampshire?

Oh, I don't know. There is a point where you start going, maybe, maybe I've had it. But if it cheers you up any, Jakob Meshangama points out that we still enjoy more freedom of speech than most countries. If we were having this discussion in Russia or Turkey, you know, someone would pick me up when I go down on the street and you might not hear from me for a long time. He says that we should fight to maintain our freedom of civil discussion and never take it for granted. I'm not saying that free speech is just great and doesn't entail any consequences. It does. We should think about how do we mitigate misinformation?

How can we ensure that we counter hate speech without compromising free speech? And, you know, it's an experiment, but I would argue that it's been a very beneficial experiment and one which is very much worth continuing. The unmistakable music of Tears for Fears filled the airwaves in the late 80s. Then came the inevitable breakup.

Now they're back and speaking with our Tracey Smith for the record. Okay, go ahead and sing along. In 1985, this song, Everybody Wants to Rule the World, was a top 10 hit for the British pop group Tears for Fears. And it was only the first of many. On MTV and on the radio, their music was inescapable. And now, 40 years and 30 million albums later, it's practically unforgettable. These days, lead singer Kurt Smith has a bit less hair. Roland Orzeball, the group's co-founder, actually has a lot more. Both are 60 years old and their signature sound is as flawless as ever.

We met them at Kurt Smith's home in Los Angeles during a rare break in rehearsal. So, how are you? We are pretty good, thank you very much. I'm very good. Very good? Yes. Excellent.

Yeah, I've never felt better. Is that true? Is that true?

They can laugh together now, but the fact that they're even speaking is kind of a miracle. In 1981, Orzeball and Smith were just two talented kids from Bath, England who shared a love for music and a mild obsession with pop psychology. Our driving force was a theory by a Californian psychologist called Arthur Janov, who became famous, well-known because of his primal scream theory.

And so, we bought into this big time because we could like really blame our parents. And you could almost hear the angst in their music. Their first album, 1983's The Hurting, was dark, brooding, and insanely popular.

Their next album, Songs from the Big Chair, was even, well, bigger. And on their first U.S. tour in 1985, the boys were mobbed at every stop. It was a bit crazy because you couldn't really go anywhere. Because of the fans?

Well, you couldn't really leave the hotel, yeah, your hotel room. What were the fans like? Young. Young, yeah.

Young? Well, we were young then. I mean, for me, the idea that someone could scream at you and like be crying at you, when they don't actually know you, was peculiar. I always find that hard to deal with.

You know, you kind of want to go, really, I'm not what you think I am. But they were rock stars. And with success came conflict. In the years that followed, Smith and Orzeball's relationship fell apart.

And in 1991, Smith left the group in what was a very bitter breakup. You eventually made the split? Yeah, I mean, you know, it was something we were both feeling. I just made the decision that, you know, I wanted to go and I wanted to move to New York. And it was, you know, in retrospect, it is that trying to find yourself.

I didn't want to be that guy from Tears for Fears. Both kept making music and kept their distance from each other. So how long did the two of you go with that? Nine years, nine years, two months and three days.

Four hours, six minutes, 24 seconds. The ice finally broke in 2000, when they started speaking again, and then playing together, like this 2017 gig in Rio. But they say they didn't really find their groove until they started writing together.

Their new album, The Tipping Point, is their first in 17 years. So is it fair to say that this album is getting back to just the two of you? Yeah, it feels that way. We sat down literally here, right?

Right here. Right here, yes, with two acoustic guitars and started writing. We hadn't written together with just acoustic guitars, singing just the two of us since we were probably 18 or 19.

Is that right? Since you were teenagers, you haven't done it. What did it feel like? It felt necessary, you know, absolutely essential. And now they're making music that feels just as personal as it did in the old days. The title track, The Tipping Point, was inspired by Roland Orsaball's late wife Caroline, who died in 2017 after a long battle with alcoholism. We'd been drinkers, wine drinkers, and like in England, it's kind of accepted as being okay.

I'm drinking a bottle and a half of wine a night, you know, that's just me. Now Caroline was matching me and she was quite a small woman. So her problem was largely due to alcohol. Orsaball wrote of his wife as a ghost of her former wife. Orsaball wrote of his wife as a ghost of her former self.

For Orsaball, the process of making the album was often difficult. Doing it with an old friend made it bearable. Roland, for you, did it change the way you looked at your relationship with Kurt?

Yeah, absolutely. I try not to tear up now. We went from butting heads to actually enjoying each other's company and most importantly, understanding each other's strengths. Seems they're stronger than ever now.

Tears for Fears will be out on tour again soon, sounding pretty much the way you remember them. Do you two need each other? To do this, especially at this time in my life, definitely need them. Especially at this age, as Roland says, it's like the more help you can get, the better.

Help them up the stairs. That's what he likes. This is The Takeout with Major Garrett. This week, Stephen Law, ally of Mitch McConnell and one of Washington's biggest midterm money men. List for me the two Senate races where you think Republicans have the best chance of taking a Democratic seat away. Nevada, New Hampshire. Not Georgia. Well, Georgia's right up there but New Hampshire is a surprise.

In New Hampshire, people really just kind of don't like Maggie Hassan. For more from this week's conversation, follow The Takeout with Major Garrett on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Wow. Wow.

A standing ovation for me? I love it when people need cash. You may know Byron Allen as the star of television's Real People. And comics unleashed. But Byron Allen wears another hat. He's an entertainment tycoon. And he could soon become an NFL team owner.

Lee Cowan has his Sunday profile. It was a gray, cloudy day when we visited the Weather Channel in Atlanta. So damaging flooding will be expected.

Highway 80 could be closed. But inside, the network's new owner, Byron Allen... That was great. Thank you. ... was beaming as bright as the sun.

I bounce out of bed. Let's go. Let's go. Let's play this game because it's nothing more than a... It's just a game.

Let's have it, you know? High stakes though. High stakes.

Look, business is a contact sport. Allen seemingly came out of nowhere back in 2018 with an all-cash offer for the Weather Channel, which has provided content to us here at CBS News, among others. He paid $310 million, making him the first Black American to own a 24-hour mainstream cable news network.

And then Allen announced this past week that he's also putting in a bid to buy the Denver Broncos, which, if that goes through, would also make history, making him the NFL's first Black owner. You're like a great white shark. You're just like swimming around. I'm a great black shark.

I don't sleep. I'm just always on the hunt. When is enough enough, I guess, in terms of buying things? When we're the biggest company in the world and there's no close second. Yeah. That's it. That's the goal. That's the goal.

The Broncos purchase would top off a media portfolio that includes 36 TV stations, 12 cable networks, six streaming platforms, and several distribution companies, all under the banner of the Allen Media Group. There are kids out there that look like me, but when they see that, it's going to change their perspective of themselves. He started changing perspectives in front of the camera first. Make him feel welcome, would you? Byron Allen. In 1979, he became the youngest stand-up comic ever to get one of those coveted slots on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. All right, my best friend is like half black, half Jewish, Abdullah Steinberg. He was only 18.

Buys Afrosheen wholesale. While still attending film school at USC, Byron Allen. Allen was picked to be one of the hosts for NBC's Real People. That brought back a lot of wonderful memories. Byron, what memories? You just got out of high school. Well, I didn't say they were old memories. But Byron Allen wanted more.

When you learn the business side of show business, you can do and own and have all the shows you want. He's been around Hollywood a long time, but he's not of Hollywood. His roots were planted a long way away.

That hydrant right there, that was my swimming pool. Byron Allen Foulkes grew up in Detroit. This was our first house. He wasn't poor, but he wasn't rich either. I can remember he was playing executive when he was like five and six years old. He had an office and his office was in the basement.

That's his mom, Carolyn Foulkes. Is that right? Yeah. You have like a desk and a... Yeah. And I sat at the desk and I just talked to imaginary executives. I don't know where that came from.

I don't know where that came from. As a kid, he had an exhaustive reservoir of ideas to make money, like collecting wayward shopping carts and returning them for cash. I was the king of collecting grocery carts. I dominated that business. His mom remembers another. Have you forgotten about the worm farm?

Oh boy. You had a worm farm? Yeah, I had a few businesses that didn't go the way the business went.

It looked good on paper. And it's tough being the mother of a worm entrepreneur. Entrepreneur. His first shot at earning real money came at the Rollercade Roller Rink. Allen's grandparents built it in 1955, back when a black-owned business didn't interest many banks.

My grandfather, he couldn't get a loan. He literally, he built this place brick by brick. It's exactly what I had to do with my business.

I had to build it myself, brick by brick. Even today, African-Americans do not have access to capital. It's not predatory, so you can be in business. Even as a boy, almost every black family he knew, he said, worked for someone else. What Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously called the other America. But it is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.

And the fact is that millions of Negroes, as a result of centuries of denial and neglect, have been left bootless. That injustice got wound pretty tightly into Allen's DNA. King was assassinated just a year after making that speech. His mom says, even at seven, Allen took it pretty hard. How as a mom do you explain that to a son?

There are no words to explain because you're trying to wrap your brain around it yourself. The idea of equal financial footing for everyone grew more and more obvious for both of them, the older they both got. Even after watching prominent black Americans make it all the way to the top. When Berry Gordy sold Motown, and I understand why he sold Motown, I was in the back of the room and I started crying. I started crying because I felt like we, as African Americans, we have to own something.

We don't own anything. Which is why in the early 90s, Allen and his mom joined forces to own their own entertainment show, their own entertainment show, Soup to Nuts, even syndicated themselves. No more middlemen. When I literally sat at my dining room table and I called all 1300 television stations. Every single one? Every single one of them, probably 50 times each. And literally after about 40 or 50,000 no's, I was able to squeeze out 150 yes's. There was no other way to go at that point in our lives. It's about taking risks and just moving forward and seeing if something will work.

And we didn't see that it wouldn't work. Bit by bit, he ended up in nearly every market in the country. This might be an indelicate question, but how much is it worth now, a company? It's definitely worth billions. Billions. It's definitely worth billions. I wouldn't sell it. I wouldn't sell it. No, no, no.

I don't want to sell it. That's because he sees it as leverage, not only to increase black targeted programming, but to demand a seat at the table for black owned programming too. Do we or do we not have economic inclusion?

And the answer is no. We have to correct the greatest trade deficit in America, which is the trade deficit between white corporate America and black America. When media giants like Comcast, AT&T and what's now Charter Communications refused to take his channels, well, he filed multi-billion dollar lawsuits against them alleging racial discrimination.

In the end, all the suits were settled and several of Allen's channels were indeed added to their lineups. I used the Civil Rights Act of 1866 section 1981, and it was put on the books to protect the newly freed slaves, to make sure that we as African-Americans, we had economic inclusion. There's some people who say that that's sort of bullying. That's a bit of a bullying tactic to get your product out there. What do you say to that?

It's real simple. If it's OK that we don't have economic inclusion, then you're the problem. You call me the bully.

I call you the racist, perpetuating economic genocide. Ladies and gentlemen, we proudly welcome Byron Allen to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Last October, at the age of 60, with his wife, Jennifer Lucas, and their three children by his side, Byron Allen finally got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It's fitting in a way. He spent years trying to break down barriers to equality that were, in fact, just as hard as concrete, and now there he is in concrete, right next to another type and his hero, Johnny Carson. This is one America. This is everybody must succeed. Black, white, Asian, Hispanic, everybody must succeed without exception.

Without exception, no exception. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick were all set to open on Broadway when COVID came to town, happily curtain going up on better times. Hi, isn't it strange?

It's Groundhog's Day. Much of the pandemic has felt that way, like our visit with actors, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick. Two years ago, we met at this very spot. The two of you have worked together before, but never as husband and wife, and never, never worked like this. Certainly not like this.

Like this. When did a troop of actors on Broadway ever experience having a show, closing down the theater, and two years later, coming back? That's never happened.

No, not even close, I don't think. Back in March of 2020. This is room 719. Suite 719. Plaza Suite had just arrived on Broadway.

I couldn't, I couldn't impose like that. After a sold out run in Boston. I'm one of the people that saw Plaza Suite in Boston. I was there. We had the flu. We had a very bad flu, which I'm still questioning.

I enjoy the mystery of was that the flu or was that COVID? And just as they were about to begin the first performance in the Hudson Theater, Broadway went dark. We were on this side when they told us the governor said we had 20 minutes to clear out.

We were in this area somewhere. Thinking they'd be back in a couple of weeks, not two years. But in that time honored tradition, the show must go on. Why is that? It was a priority for both of us. I mean, sincerely. And as dates were shifting, this play stood kind of in the center of everything.

And trying to guess patterns of a pandemic are impossible. In the early days of the pandemic, the couple did what many people at home were doing. Well, at first I was very like, well, I'll make the most of it and make some beans. And then somebody called me a bean dad or some incredibly derogatory word about people who were making beans. Who soaked beans overnight. No more beans. And they both been busy.

Oh my God, she just blocked me on Instagram. Reprising her role as the iconic Carrie Bradshaw. And he's starring in an upcoming series about the opioid crisis. But before all the movies and television shows, there was Broadway. Matthew Broderick has been a Broadway star since his first Tony at 21 as Neil Simon's alter ego in Brighton Beach Memoirs.

And at 13, she was Broadway's beloved little optimist, Annie. I'd like to be an optimist, but they live longer. Is that right? Because apparently I'm not one. But I'm married to one. He's going to outlive me.

They do live. They're wrong, but they do Neil Simon's life. Are you sure it's not the 14th? I go through this with you every year when it comes to money or dates or ages.

You're absolutely unbelievable. Neil Simon's Plaza Suite is a comedy about changing marital mores in the 60s. It occurs to me 1968 wasn't a great year, but doesn't it feel good to go back in time to get out of this century and revisit 1968 in a way that feels different than it would have been two years ago? Yes.

For better or worse, women's roles and men's roles, sexual politics, economy, class, culture, it really is of its time. What's going on here? What's going on? What's going on? Are you going to tell me where Mimsie is? Are you going to take an oath? You're not going to blame me? I take it.

I take it. Parker and Broderick playing three couples in three acts. It looks spectacular.

This was her first visit to the theater in two years. This is what Karen wears under her. We shouldn't show this, but yeah, give her some extra weight.

Let's just show it. They found dressing rooms, her makeup, candy, costumes, eerily, just as they were. Funny to find everything stayed the same when everything is so different. You were supposed to be way, way moved on past Plaza Suite and the prospect of learning lines.

I thought they would come right back. They did not. Please tell the story without naming names of the person. I just was on stage with a lot of people and an actor who had a lot of lines coming up and he grabbed another actor. I was standing right near them and said, what's the name of the woman I'm about to talk about? Her name. I can't remember her name. I used to do that on live television for an interview.

I would say, thank you for being here. Yeah, sure. I forget names in this play all the time. Sometimes I just say a name that pops in my head and nobody minds.

But then I have to remember what I changed it to. The names that he says rather than the names Neil wrote are pretty amusing. In five days, the theater doors will open again. We feel confident that this time around, we'll at least get to leave the gate. And the show goes on. For God's sake, Neil. What are you so nervous about? Matthew Broderick, you've got people who are going to come and see anything he's in, I'm in. And that's 30, 40 people right there.

30 or 40? Yeah. And then your devoted Sex and the City generation. We'll see.

So come out, just talk nicely to her. We already had nice talking. Now we're going to have door breaking. It was such an amazing experience in Boston. I just hope we can somehow find our way back there, because this is a very wonderful play.

No way, don't, don't! Tomorrow is President's Day, a day when we honor our nation's greatest leaders. And a perfect opportunity for Morocco to tell us about the man considered one of the most considered one of the worst. Complete without our 14th president, Franklin Pierce, the only president from New Hampshire. The funny thing is people from New Hampshire don't really like him that much, so. Joan Woodhead is president of the Pierce Brigade. We have a shirt that belonged to Franklin Pierce, and you can see it says F. Pierce. Founded in 1966 to rescue conquered New Hampshire's Pierce Mance from destruction, and to salvage the reputation of the man who once lived here. He was known as a really good looking president.

Is that right? Yes, he was. Harry Truman thought he was the most handsome president we had in the White House up until his time. But why is Harry Truman the arbiter of good looking presidents?

Well, I don't know. That's the only comment we have from another president. He may have been the most handsome man ever to serve in the White House. And says University of Virginia's Michael Holt, Franklin Pierce had a great personality. He was probably the most amiable president we've ever had. Even historians who are hostile to him remark about how pleasant and friendly he was. At Bowdoin College, he began a lifelong friendship with the future Great American novelist, Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hawthorne would write Pierce's campaign biography.

It's probably not as interesting as some of his novels. Right. It's no scarlet letter.

No, it's no scarlet letter. Thank God for that. Injured after falling off his horse during the Mexican American War, Pierce, a Democrat, served in both houses of Congress. A compromise candidate, he won his party's nomination for the presidency on the 49th ballot. We polled you in 44. We shall pierce you in 52. That is a great slogan.

Yes, it is. Pierce was elected in a landslide. What good things did he do in office? While Professor Holt composes himself, let's return to the Pierce Mance, where we learn about Pierce's reforms to the Postal Service. Stamps were perforated under Pierce. Right. So that it was easier for people to separate the stamps. Yeah, he's the postage stamp guy.

Gary Sparks is a volunteer guide at the Mance. He also helped ensure that American farmers had a good lease of supply of guano. Guano? Guano, yeah. The Guano Islands Act of 1856, signed into law by Pierce, scooped up the rights to unclaimed islands rich with guano, aka bird poop, a natural fertilizer prized at the time by American farmers. FYI, Midway, site of a pivotal battle in World War II, is one of those islands. So did this result in the mass importation of guano?

It resulted in a good steady flow of guano, yeah. So why then does Pierce have such a crappy reputation? Because he played a major role in bringing on the Civil War.

There's that. In 1854, Pierce signed into law the Kansas-Nebraska Act, allowing voters in the Kansas and Nebraska territories to decide whether to allow slavery within their borders, negating the earlier Missouri Compromise, which had prohibited slavery in those areas. He made a terrible mistake in endorsing the Kansas-Nebraska Act and then jumping in with both feet on the pro-Southern side. In Kansas, violence broke out between pro and anti-slavery forces in a kind of preview of the Civil War. And the outrage in Northern states was so intense, it led to the creation of the Republican Party.

He thought making concessions to Southerners was what was necessary to preserve the Union. Not even Pierce's hometown could forgive him for the Kansas-Nebraska Act. They burned him in effigy in Concord because of his pro-Southern actions. Pierce's political woes could only be matched by his personal ones. All three of his and his wife Jane's children died young. Eleven-year-old Benny, the last surviving one, killed in a train accident traveling with his parents just two months before Pierce's inauguration.

The grief was almost more than First Lady Jane Pierce could bear. Sort of went into mourning, draping the White House in black, and really didn't come out in public until almost the end of 1854, almost two full years into the administration. After a single term in office, Pierce sought renomination but was rejected by his party. He returned to New Hampshire in 1857 to a home that later burned down.

Only the front steps of this house remain. After Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, every house on this stretch, except Pierce's, displayed an American flag in commemoration of the Great Emancipator. An angry mob assembled asking why Pierce wasn't paying respect.

He mollified the crowd by explaining that he too was sad, but that his long years of service spoke louder than the display of a flag. Franklin Pierce died in 1869 at age 64. Does Franklin Pierce deserve his ranking as one of our worst presidents?

I'm not trying to dodge this one. I don't think Pierce comes down as one of our best presidents in any way. But he wasn't a terrible, awful person. This morning's opinion is from New York Times columnist and Black News Channel host, Charles Blow. The lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till ignited the civil rights movement.

And nearly 60 years later... I am Trayvon! The killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin ignited the Black Lives Matter movement. It was the killing of Emmett Till that Rosa Parks says that she was thinking about when she refused to give up her seat on that bus. I am Trayvon! It was the killing of Trayvon Martin that set off waves of protests that grew for a decade and culminated in the massive... Hands up!

Hands up! Global summer protests after the murder of George Floyd. I can't breathe!

I can't breathe! Ten years ago this month, Martin was killed by neighborhood vigilante George Zimmerman in a Sanford, Florida apartment complex. At the time, I published a column in the New York Times entitled, The Curious Case of Trayvon Martin. I interviewed Martin's mother, Sabrina Fulton, by phone for that column.

She was still in shock and disbelief. A few days later, on a Wednesday, activists organized a Million Hoodies March in New York City. Justice for Trayvon! Justice for Trayvon! That Friday, President Barack Obama famously said, if I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon.

The next day, I interviewed Fulton in person in Miami for another column. That's when I first noticed in Fulton what I would come to see in other so-called mothers of the movement. The rapid emotional vacillations between crying and laughing, these women being reluctantly formed into leaders when all they really wanted to do was go home and grieve. As Tamir Rice's mother told me when I first interviewed her, I'm tired and I'm overwhelmed and I just want to go to bed.

Or as Sam DeBose's mother told me when I first met her, all I want to do is just shut my door and cover up and never open it again. These were the women with tears on their cheeks but still in their spines, insisting that the world registered the magnitude of what had been done. When George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering Martin, the hashtag and the movement – Black Lives Matter – was born.

And it is all because of his mother. Her fortitude and determination made it possible. As in Till's case, Martin's killer was not convicted. The victory was not in the moment but in the offing. Something about both cases struck like a bell in America. We are Trayvon! Trayvon had not survived his encounter but his legacy survived in rallying cries and whispers. The killing of Trayvon Martin cleaved this new era of civil rights into before and after.

The death of the boy wearing the hoodie and carrying the candy changed the world. Thank you for listening. Please join us when our trumpet sounds again next Sunday morning. Hi podcast peeps. It's me, Drew Barrymore.

Oh my goodness. I want to tell you about our new show. It's the Drew's News podcast and in each episode, me and a weekly guest are going to cover all the quirky, fun, inspiring and informative stories that exist out in the world because well, I need it and maybe you do too. From the newest interior design trend, Barbie Corps, to the right and wrong way to wash your armpits, also we're going to get into things that you just kind of won't believe and we're not able to do in daytime television so watch out. Listen to Drew's News wherever you get your podcasts. That's your good news on the go.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-29 13:49:34 / 2023-01-29 14:06:27 / 17

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