Thursday, October 28, 2010

Free Speech at a Price

Door Number 1:
After National Public Radio fired Juan Williams, NPR’s Schiller said that the "feelings that [Williams] expressed on Fox News are really between him and his psychiatrist ... but it is not compatible with the role of a news analyst on NPR's air."
Let me preface what I’m about to say with the fact that I love National Public Radio. For years I’ve listened to many of its program. The General Counsel for NPR was my law professor, and even volunteered to be my reference. So, I’m pro-NPR. And I think of Fox News as a conservative talk show masquerading 364 days per year (Halloween excepted) as the news.
Notwithstanding the foregoing (sorry, my legalese slips in now and again), but NPR got it wrong. Juan Williams was not expressing a “strong personal opinion on a controversial subject” in violation of policy. He was expressing his feelings, which is the starting point for good open dialogues and analyses, key ingredients of free speech.
I support Williams freedom of speech as much as I support NPR’s right to fire him. It appears it had cumulative reasons to do so, rightly or wrongly, but NPR outfoxed themselves, this time.
Door Number 2:
The vice-president of Arkansaw’s Mudland School District, Clint McCance, wrote on his personal Facebook page that he wanted gay people to commit suicide, according to The Advocate, a newspaper focusing on gay news. McCance used the terms "queer" and "fag" repeatedly, promised to disown his own children if they are gay and stated that he enjoys "the fact that [gay people] give each other AIDS and die."
To be clear, those are horrrendous statements. They were made under the guise of Christian beliefs (yeah, WTF, not so Christian, is it?), but it wasn’t bullying because it was not directed to any individual and it was on a private FB page.
Nevertheless, I support the First Amendment rights of McCance (who probably turned more purple than Barney typing his crap), as much as I support:
  • the town’s right to can his ass
  • the right of everyone to condemn him, including those from Little Rock’s Trinity Episcopal Cathedral who subsequently protested against him
  • the right of Anderson Cooper to wag his finger and wage moral outrage, on and on, on CNN
  • my right to wear a 100% cotton long-sleeved purple shirt on October 20th even though I forgot to wear green last March 17th.
Door Number 3:
I suppose I also support the right to burn flags and Korans in America, but not the correctness or wisdom of doing so.
Hell, let those who exercise these rights in these ways put their money where their mouths are. And let them pay heavily for it, because although love is free, their actions cost us all dearly by demeaning humanity.
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