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."