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Are you worried that the recent lifetime ban of Donald Sterling from the NBA is a devastating blow to free speech rights in the United States? Well, have no fear: on The Daily Show last night, Jon Stewart explained: "This is not the death knell for this country's long and proud tradition of crazy talk." 

"It's good to see the distinction here between free speech and consequence-free speech," Stewart said. Because, clearly, America is in no shortage of "crazy talk." To demonstrate, Stewart turned to clips from the National Rifle Association convention this past weekend.

"If I were in charge, they would know that water-boarding is how we baptize terrorists," Sarah Palin said speaking to convention attendees.

Confused? Let Stewart sort it out: "That is Sarah Palin giving a speech where she is somehow conflating a sacrament of her faith with torture in order to somehow bring the fear of god to religious extremists." Right, that makes perfect sense.

But Palin wasn't the only one exercising her right to free speech at the NRA convention. Joining her was the "in no way under-medicated Wayne LaPierre," who went on a tirade listing all of the threats America faces, including "shopping mall killers," "airport killers," and, for some reason, "haters." 

Rick Santorum spoke as well, and as Stewart put it, "that's when shit got weird. Because at some point the perfectly acceptable support for sane-gun ownership got mixed up in the whole national culture war mess. Why would you be talking about [issues like same-sex marriage and Obamacare] at a gun convention unless you think somehow guns are part of the solution to these cultural disagreements."

But regardless of the sanity of their arguments, speakers at the NRA convention are still allowed to make them. So look at what happened to Sterling and fear not – free speech lives on. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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