Thursday, December 19, 2013

Free Speech Is A 2 Way Street



I had never heard of -- let alone watched -- Duck Dynasty, until yesterday.  Now I've certainly heard of it.  But no, I'm not about to start watching.  Or start a subscription to GQ Magazine.

Since the punishment for voicing an opinion offensive to some is termination from a reality TV show that seems to have a h-u-g-e following, cries of censorship and infringement of the First Amendment are being bandied about.

Since the agency invoking the punishment (A&E Network) is not the government, the First Amendment simply does not apply.  But certainly free speech -- as in the freedom to speak your mind -- is being infringed upon, because Phil Robinson is being punished for exactly that: speaking his mind.

While I strongly disagree with his opinions about gays, I will defend to the death his right to be wrong.

Although I did agree with his follow up comment:  "However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me.  We are all created by the Almighty and like Him I love all of humanity.  We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other."

If a large number of people are offended by his "speech" and can no longer stand the sight of him, then ratings will crash like a duck shot out of the sky.  Then A & E can cancel the show for lousy ratings.

Five years ago a prominent member of the Amherst Select Board wanted to have me arrested for mentioning (with a photo no less) in my usual forthright manner her clear violation of the residency requirement for the highest elected position in town government.

Interestingly enough she was also the one who told then Town Manager Barry Del Castilho NOT to issue a parade permit for the July 4th Parade because the private parade committee had rules forbidding political statements of any kind.

Now that was a clear violation of the First Amendment, upheld by a 9-0 Supreme Court decision.

As my friends at the ACLU would say, the way to deal with bad speech is with more good speech, not censorship.



"Many fans asked for my thoughts on the "Duck Dynasty" controversy. They pressed and pressed, but I refused to quack. But I can't duck this issue forever. I don't really care feather someone on a reality show said something about gays that didn't fit the bill. He's entitled to his opinion, even if it's for the birds. But the network also is worried about flocking with its base, so if it feels it should drake him over the coals for making his fowl comments, so be it. So that's migrate opinion."
--George Takei

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Odd that your example about free speech was a parade where political statements were FORBIDDEN. Perhaps you should slow down and read your own blog posts.

Larry Kelley said...

Not odd at all.

The Supreme Court clearly stated that the First Amendment forbids the GOVERNMENT from forcing a private organization to promote speech they do not wish to promote.

Anonymous said...

A&E as a private company has a right to decide what messages it wants associated with it. This is no different than any other company. For example, if a vice-president at GM or Ford started publishing racist remarks in their spare time they would be fired in a heartbeat.

Anonymous said...

A&E is not stopping any of the Duck Dynasty people from expressing their views. Any views.

They are only stopping them appearing on A&E's television show.

This is not censorship. It's a creative choice. Duck Dynasty cast members are paid to act a certain way. Reality TV is not very "real," as anyone knows. When they don't act in this way, they lose their job. This is true anywhere for any job.

It's not a free speech issue. It's a job performance issue.

Larry Kelley said...

I find it hard to believe A&E did not know about the GQ interview before it happened.

They should have had a flack at the interview.

Dr. Ed said...

This isn't "tolerance", this is "fascism."

The gay community has been claiming that it just wants to be let alone to do things which others find reprehensible. Things for which they would face summarily execution in much of the world -- rather gristly execution in places like Iran.

OK, tolerance goes both ways -- and when it doesn't, the middle ceases to hold. A&E doesn't have to have the show, but then companies don't have to advertise on it, people can boycott those who do, and they can demand that A&E be removed from their local cable network.

The gay community needs to be worried that their fascism will be used against them. Homophobia is one thing, Homo-HATRED is something else and something they need to be very worried about breeding. Very worried....

Dr. Ed said...

"A&E as a private company has a right to decide what messages it wants associated with it."

Not if you believe in things like "net neutrality." And Obama's FCC is talking about regulating cable.

It is, after all, a monopoly -- not as much now that there is the option of Dish -- but local communities grant a monopoly and as I once told a TelCo lobbyist, it isn't like I can go string my own poles next to theirs and have Ed's Telephone (or cable) company.

Dr. Ed said...

"A&E as a private company has a right to decide what messages it wants associated with it."

Not if you believe in things like "net neutrality." And Obama's FCC is talking about regulating cable.

It is, after all, a monopoly -- not as much now that there is the option of Dish -- but local communities grant a monopoly and as I once told a TelCo lobbyist, it isn't like I can go string my own poles next to theirs and have Ed's Telephone (or cable) company.

Anonymous said...

You know, if there was a "God Hates Fags" cable or satellite network -- offering pretty much the same programming at pretty much the same price, just calling itself the "God Hates Fags" network, in much of the country -- including much of Massachusetts -- it would run the others out of business in a week.

Something to think about in your praise of what A&E did...

Anonymous said...

Freedom of speech does not equal freedom to be on a reality tv show. Mr. Robertson is free to spew his hateful speech as much as he wants. And A&E is free to tell him they no longer want his services on their network. Mr. Robertson's suspension has not impeded in any way his ability to continue to give interviews and say whatever he damn well pleases.

Anonymous said...

And the local sheriff is free to tell A&E go FireTruck itself and refuse to help them film anything else in his county - and just did.

http://twitchy.com/2013/12/21/ticked-off-georgia-sheriff-refuses-to-assist-ae-with-future-productions/

The middle is ceasing to hold and we are rapidly becoming two nations -- one where saying anything anti-gay will get you hurt, and another where being gay will get you hurt. So much for tolerance...

Anonymous said...

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits a private employer from firing an employee because of his religion. ALL Phil did was express the beliefs of his religion -- not unlike a Jew explaining the Kosher laws.

So, let's say that Jane Doe is Jewish and gives an interview to the Gazette about her Kosher kitchen and all the rest -- does this on her own time.

And then the Evil WalMart fires her for this? Wouldn't that be a tad problematic? She's stating her religion's view on diet, Phil was stating his religion's view on sexuality -- how is it different????

Or would you have us go back to the days when businesses could (and did) post signs reading "Irish Catholics Need Not Apply"?

Do you or do you not believe in the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

Walter Graff said...

Isn't life funny. Hold up a picture of Phil Robinson and the Pope and you get two different results:

Both have the same beliefs about gays. One is fired for his beliefs and the other is Time's Man of the Year.

Dr. Ed said...

I think this is a sign of things to come -- Cracker Barrel pulled the Duck Dynasty stuff for just ONE day and then put it back -- and apologized to conservatives.

"You told us we made a mistake. And, you weren't shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings. You flat out told us we were wrong.

We listened.

Today, we are putting all our Duck Dynasty products back in our stores.

And, we apologize for offending you."


Tolerance & free speech for thee but not for me ain't gonna work -- and nationwide, there is a h*ll of a lot of more people on my side than yours -- just remember that...

Just remember that the problem with organizing boycotts is that when the other side outnumbers you 10:1, 20:1, or even 30:1 (when even folks on your own "team" are speaking out against what you've done), a counter-boycott can be used against you just as quickly and much more effectively.

https://www.facebook.com/CrackerBarrel/posts/602887726427665

NB: Note quote marks, italic font and above URL -- I'm quoting, not plagiarizing, and this time, I'm also the one who is actually doing it.

Anonymous said...

Watch A&E quietly bring him back in January. The gays have had their hatefest and LOST....