Thursday, April 12, 2007

Did Someone Repeal the First Amendment and Not Tell Me?

People's Exhibit A:

"Freedom of speech means the freedom to speak without fear of punishment or supression by the state. It does not mean freedom to speak without having to deal with the consequences of saying something stupid."

Amen to Doug over at The Liberty Papers! You can read the rest of his post on the Imus debacle here.

People's Exhibit B:

"Don't you check into the politics of the people you work with?"

This was asked by a Public Broadcasting System (PBS) executive of documentary film producer, Martyn Burke, after telling him that his film, Islam vs. Islamists (a film which looks at how fundamentalist Islam is stifling the voice of moderate, American Islam), would not be included in the PBS series America at a Crossroads which airs this month. The film was originally commissioned by PBS for the series at the cost of $675,000. According to a story on AZCentral, Burke alleges, "
I was ordered to fire my two partners (who brought me into this project) on political grounds." PBS was apparently concerned that the film would be biased because two neo-conservatives were part of the film's production team.

Ironically, as reported by The Washington Times, the series was created and given grant money (i.e. tax dollars) in the amount of $20 million while Kenneth Tomlinson was president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Mr. Tomlinson was forced to resign a year later after being accused of using a "political test" in the staffing of his upper-level administration and in selecting some program contents.


Heather_in_WI said...

Well, actually it is the first amendment {grin}, but I knew what you meant.

I don't think the Imus firing really violates the first amendment. The first amendment doesn't guarantee us the right to say what we want without *any* repercussions…. Hence the Dixie Chicks backlash and Rosie O’Donnell backlash, etc. It guarantees us the right to say what we want without fear of *government* intrusion. Although I personally wouldn’t have fired Imus, I believe CBS was well within their rights to do so.

As to the second thing you mentioned …. I’m fuming! The documentary looks really good, and as a tax payer, I’ve paid for it!

TheTutor said...

Ugh. See I shouldn't post when distracted. Yesterday was a bit overwhelming here. Thanks for pointing out my goof. I've fixed it.

I completely agree with you that the first amendment only protects us from gov't repercussions. That was kind of my pint but my distracted brain wasn't pointing it out well, I suppose. I am frustrated by citizens throwing the word "right" around so casually. When someone says that Imus doesn't have the "right" to say what he said, they are wrong. He has the right to say it, but he must also live with the repercussions of what he said. We have the right not to listen, CBS and MSNBC have the right to fire him, etc. Should he have said those things? I don't think so. I think they are morally reprehensible and ignorant comments. However, Imus has the right to be morally reprehensible and ignorant.

There is now a movement to limit what is allowed to be said on the radio. There is a movement (led by the group Media Matters for America)to remove some radio talk-show hosts because they are seen by some as "hateful" and "bigoted" in what they say. The hosts being targeted are:
Glenn Beck (conservative)
Neal Boortz (libertarian)
Rush Limbaugh (conservative)
Bill O'Reilly (conservative)
Michael Savage (conservative)
Michael Smerconish (conservative)
John Gibson (conservative)

Maybe they are hateful and bigoted. (I only listen to two of them with any regularity and a couple I had to look-up because I had never heard of them before.) All we really know about these hosts is that they disagree with the opinions of MMA. (I did a quick search of MMA's site, and could find no examples of where they accused any individuals with liberal leanings of hate speech or bigotry even though I can think of at least a few occasions off-hand. I generally don't listen to these individuals regularly, so my knowledge of their speech is limited, however, it makes me suspect of MMA's neutrality.)

I am afraid that the reaction to the Imus firing (which occurred as it should have, btw... within the capitalist system) is going to result in the censoring of what people are allowed to say and thus limit the freedom we have in this society to choose who we want to listen to and who we want to boycott.

Hopefully that is more coherent than yesterday's post. :)

Heather_in_WI said...

Oh my goodness ... both of your posts are *way* more coherent than I ever am on any subject! I love it when you get all riled up about something ... it means I will learn something!

I didn't know about that MMA movement. Yikes! The irony is, I suspect, that it is either founded and/or supported by the same people who protested in the 60s in support of freedom of speech.