FROM FORWARD PROGRESSIVES
I’m sure by now most of you have heard about Phil Robertson’s anti-gay rant he went off on during an interview with GQ magazine, and the indefinite suspension by A&E that soon followed.
And wow, this situation has sure showcased how many people just don’t understand what “freedom of speech” means. So I thought I’d explain it nice and simply to those who wrongfully believe this is some kind of attack on free speech.
You know, since apparently I wasn’t clear enough the first time. Millions of people seem unable to grasp this simple concept.
Freedom of Speech: The legal means to say almost anything you want. Meaning that as private citizens, we’re allowed to say nearly anything (with a few exceptions of course) that we want without fear of legal prosecution for it.
Unless I’ve missed something, Mr. Robertson faces no legal ramifications for what he said. That’s what freedom of speech means. Freedom of speech does not mean we can say anything we want without ramifications for what we say from our peers or employers.
We’re free to be racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic — pretty much anything we want. We can be these things, no matter how ignorant, because that’s what the Constitution gives us the right to be.
But that doesn’t mean within a society we won’t face consequences for those “freedoms.” The suspension of Phil Robertson is not an attack on Robertson’s right to believe how he wants. It’s a consequence from an employer for him expressing an opinion which A&E feels represents them in a negative light.
When he signed his contract, it almost certainly included a clause that says he’s a representative of A&E and is expected to act accordingly. All public figures, whether they want to be or not, are representatives of something. Be it a company, a brand, a sports team or league – it’s the price that comes along with fame.
So, yes, he was free to say what he said – and now he’s paying the consequences for it.
Just ask Alec Baldwin or Martin Bashir, two gentlemen who were fired (well, Bashir “resigned” but it’s clear he was forced to do so) for expressing their “freedom of speech” rights. Hell, weren’t conservatives calling for Bashir’s firing? So it’s absolutely hypocritical that they’re outraged by Robertson’s suspension. Especially considering Bashir only had derogatory words for Sarah Palinwhereas Robertson ignorantly bashed tens of millions of homosexuals.
And Alec Baldwin’s show was canceled for anti-LGBT remarks as well. I didn’t see many conservatives up in arms about that — but clearly it’s all about whose ox is being gored now, isn’t it?
So once again, we are given the freedom of speech to say almost anything we want without legal ramifications for those words. But that does not mean that there aren’t any ramifications for what we have the freedom to say.
Until Mr. Robertson gets thrown in jail for saying what he said, his supporters need to stop crying about this being an “attack on free speech.” Because when they do, they obviously prove how ignorant they are about what “freedom of speech” really means.