Who’s on First? The Second Amendment

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Sometimes I wonder why the Second Amendment wasn’t the First. How can the right to free speech exist if you don’t have the right to defend yourself against people who don’t like what you say—and reckon that killing you is the best way to get you to STFU. The counter argument: it’s the government’s job to defend free speech. The counter-counter argument: if you disarm the populace then criminals take over, the rule of law goes bye-bye and you can’t say boo to a goose without facing the business end of a gun. Once again, Mexico provides the perfect place to subject these ideas to field study. So let’s call singing free speech, assume the singers in question aren’t armed and see what happens when someone with guns doesn’t like what they’re hearing . . .

A number of performers of narcocorridos, ballads that recount the exploits and travails of drug kingpins, have been murdered in northern Mexico in recent years.

Last November, a singer-songwriter who performed grupero music and narcocorridos was gunned down along with two other people in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa.

Diego Rivas was killed by gunmen who opened fire at close range in Culiacan’s Lazaro Cardenas neighborhood, the Sinaloa Attorney General’s Office said.

Rivas, known for the hits “El amor no se vende,” “Los ojitos de mi Elena” and “Soy yo,” was drinking in the street with several other people when the gunmen opened fire.

Alfredo Herrera Gomez, a 24-year-old singer, was also pronounced dead at the scene.

Singer Sergio Vega, known as “El Shaka,” was shot to death while driving on a highway in Sinaloa on June 26, 2010.

Vega was driving to Alhuey, where he planned to perform with several other artists, when gunmen who had apparently been following him opened fire on the vehicle.

The 40-year-old singer was traveling with another person at the time of the attack.

Vega denied a few hours before his death that he had been the target of an attack.

The singer said he had bolstered his security in light of the attacks on musicians in Mexico in recent years.

Singer Carlos Ocaranza was gunned down on Aug. 16, 2009, as he left a bar where he had given a concert in the western city of Guadalajara and his agent, Jorge Altamirano Pelayo, was seriously wounded.

Ocaranza, who was related to a famous singer murdered in 2006, had just finished performing at the La Revancha bar in the city’s western section when two gunmen shot him and fled on a motorcycle.

Ocaranza was related to Valentin Elizalde, who was murdered on Nov. 25, 2006, in the border city of Reynosa by drug traffickers apparently unhappy with some of his compositions.

Elizalde and other singers perform what is known in Mexico as grupero music, a genre that includes so-called narcocorridos.

Reports claim that drug capos pay large sums for the ballads and more than a dozen grupero singers have been murdered since 1992.

In January 2008, Roberto Ignacio del Fierro Lugo, the publicist for Jesus Elizalde, Valentin’s brother, was murdered near a recording studio in the Guadalajara suburb of Zapopan . . .

In December 2007, a wave of violence was unleashed against various grupero singers, such as Sergio Gomez, 34, the lead singer of Grammy-nominated band K-PAZ de la Sierra, who was kidnapped and murdered after a concert, and vocalist Zayda Peña Arjona, 28, killed by a gunman who pursued her to the hospital where she was recovering from gunshot wounds.

That’s quite a litany, via borderlandbeat.com. My takeaway: if you want to speak freely live in a country where you can carry a big stick. First and foremost.