Wednesday, February 08, 2006

What a way to end a legacy

I refer, of course, to the funeral of Coretta Scott King. Political posturing at a funeral is beyond the pale, but really it is not unexpected from the likes of Jimmy Carter. Martin Luther King was one of America's true greats. What his family has done in his name is bad enough. King's sons have ridden the "I have a dream" speech all the way to the bank. They say they are protecting King's image. Protecting it from what? I doubt MLK intended his message to be offered out only after a licensing fee had been paid.

If you read King's text, it sends chills not only because of the beauty of phrasing, but also because a lone man speaking truth to mighty power is so biblical.

America would reap the whirlwind, he warned. Revolt is here. A new militancy has emboldened black Americans. Racial injustice must be ended immediately, not gradually.

But today, for a news network to broadcast much more than the old reliable touchy-feely snippets of the 16-minute speech, it will cost money, lest they violate the family's copyright privilege. You want more than a couple of stock lines from the speech? Licensing fees start at $2,000.

USA Today learned the hard way after they were sued by the family for printing the entire speech. Freedom apparently comes with a price-tag and a copyright.