UCLA Professor Douglas Kellner argued in a recent interview for the university’s website that the First and Second Amendments are not “absolute,” and should be changed as society continues “growing and evolving.” The professor also blames President Donald Trump for school shootings.
Professor Douglas Kellner is an expert on a wide range of subjects. He teaches education, gender studies, and Germanic languages at UCLA. Additionally, he has published scholarly work on media and film.
In an interview highlighted by Campus Reform this week, Kellner offered some thoughts on a topic that is outside his areas of expertise; the Constitution and American politics. Kellner subtly suggests that his opinion on the Second Amendment was shaped by his personal experience with the Virginia Tech shooting. In April 2007, Kellner was on his way to deliver a lecture on Virginia Tech’s campus when the shooting was taking place.
“I was researching media spectacle at the time,” Kellner said. “I started reading about [the shooting] … and thinking about Columbine and other school shootings and the key ideas just hit me. It’s been the same idea for every one of these shootings – that we have an out-of-control gun culture and a crisis of masculinities. These young men who were in crisis… resolved it through these shootings and it became a media spectacle.”
Kellner ultimately argues that there should be restrictions on both the First and Second Amendments. According to Kellner, American “notions” of free speech and gun rights have evolved over time.
If you look at it, it always talked about guns and a well-regulated militia. From the very beginning, there has been the notion of regulation and the Supreme Court has held up all kinds of regulation. So, I don’t see the Second Amendment as absolute, just like I don’t see the First Amendment as absolute. In both cases, there need to be qualifications in certain contexts. And historically, our notions of both free speech and gun rights have changed. Society is continually growing and evolving, and so our Constitution and the Bill of Rights is changing historical meaning in different eras, and I think most people accept that.
In the full interview, Kellner also accuses President Donald Trump and his administration’s focus on immigration for the recent wave of mass shootings. “The toxicity of gun culture has created a new factor that we have never seen before, that was a major factor in the last few shootings, and that was the election of Donald Trump, and in particular, Trump’s rhetoric [on immigrants],” Kellner said. “There haven’t been particular racist school shootings before, or acts of domestic terrorism.”
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