There are few things more nauseating than a tearful politician. Senator Dick Durbin’s shameful attempt to distance himself from his own remarks comparing the alleged torture of detainees at Guantanamo to gulag-level tactics is just one of many setbacks for free speech in the post-9/11 world. Speaking of 9/11, didja hear the one about Ward Churchill, the University of Colorado professor who recently ignited controversy when his lecture at New York’s Hamilton College was canceled after it became public that Churchill had made remarks comparing 9/11 victims to “little Eichmanns” three years earlier? And what would you say if I told you I spent Independence Day burning the American flag? The House of Representatives would say that there should be a constitutional amendment criminalizing my behavior. These and other First Amendment questions—specifically, what freedom of the press means in a time when only 16 percent of those polled in the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center’s 2005 State of the First Amendment survey know that it is one of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment—will be at issue during “State of the First Amendment,” the National Press Club’s panel discussion of the survey’s findings. The program begins at 6:30 p.m. at the National Press Club, 13th floor, 529 14th St. NW. Free. (202) 662-7501. (Chris Hagan)