By most accounts, it seems that Val Kilmer is a jerk. He has made degrading comments about his New Mexico neighbors and Vietnam veterans, and then backpedaled on both saying that he was misquoted.
Some of his comments and testy relations with his neighbors are recounted here.
Nevertheless, one does not lose his First Amendment rights just because he calls his neighbors drunks and his county a homicide capitol.
San Miguel County commissioners have insisted that Kilmer appear before them on June 23 and apologize for those comments. The alternative is that his zoning request to allow paying guests on his Pecos River Ranch is likely to be turned down by the county.
There is no doubt that politicians from the national to the local level have long memories and vengeful voting habits. However, it is rare to see elected officials like these county commissioners tie what they see as personal insults to their duties as representatives of San Miguel Canyon.
“It’s a situation that’s pretty volatile. The opportunity is there for him to come and set the record straight,” said David Salazar, the commission chair.
Set the record straight?
Kilmer made the degrading remarks about New Mexico in 2003. These people in New Mexico really know how to hold a grudge.
The ACLU has even jumped on board in Kilmer’s defense.
If a government body can yank comments from years ago and use them against people who appear before it, we may as well toss out any concept of justice and equal rights.
Elected officials have to at least pretend to be fair.
The ACLU has received criticism for its backing of Kilmer from groups such as New Mexico’s Committee on Chicano Rights (CCR). They claim that the ACLU’s defense is not over Kilmer’s First Amendment rights but a “cheap publicity tactic.”
The CCR claimed that ACLU’s backing of Kilmer is like backing the rights of the KKK to wear hoods. Actually, the ACLU has backed the Klan’s Constitutional rights numerous times, although I do not know of a case involving the wearing of hoods.
Whatever Kilmer once said about New Mexico was wrong and asinine, but he looks almost sane and respectable compared to the elected officials in his county.