Apr 16, 2007

Freedom of Speech Part 2

I know I visited this issue a few weeks back after the court case. But this is a different element of the all-inclusive Freedom of Speech. As anyone who lives outside of a cave would know, radio host Don Imus got in a world of trouble recently for calling the Rutgers University girls basketball team a bunch of "Nappy Headed Hos." This led to much public uproar, calls for his ouster, MSNBC dropping the telecast of his show, CBS canceling his show on radio, and having the Rev. Al Sharpton come swooping in to "help" facilitate an apology meeting between Imus and the Rutgers team.

I am not going to defend Imus It was a horrible thing to say - regardless of the racial element of it. I don't know what context could have predicated a comment like that. I have a hard time believing that there IS an appropriate context for that to be said. But, I get a little touchy about this stuff. We see people make derogatory comments about gays, blacks, arabs, hispanics and get raked across the coals. They get fired or suspended or forced to go through counseling and therapy to "uncover the source of their hate." But, media people can make horrible and derogatory comments about men, whites, and Christians and float away on a cloud with nary a problem in the world. You don't believe me? We have seen Isaiah Washington, Tim Hardaway, and Don Imus publicly crucified for their comments, but Rosie O'Donnell has likened fundamental Christians to Islamic terrorists on more than one occasion and walked away unscathed. Media people slam Elizabeth Hasselbeck from The View for her conservative Christian views and we don't hear a peep. And how exactly were Imus' comments any different than the filth that Howard Stern punches out every day?

So, Imus, who was lambasted by the liberal media has now found himself a defender - in the aforementioned Rosie O'Donnell. She says she is afraid that she is going to become a target. Huh? How did that jump get made? She - the massive liberal mouthpiece - has begun publicly wondering if she is next as a target of the Conservative Conspiracy. Wait a minute - wasn't she one of the ones going after Imus? Wasn't it her buddies leading that charge? How did she spin that so quickly.

In addition, the gay movement has also seized upon this opportunity to point out that there is nothing on the books to protect them from "hate crimes" - like the "crime" of Imus' outburst. One prominent gay blogger went on a big rampage about how Imus got fired, but people like Mel Gibson, Isaiah Washington, and Tim Hardaway did not because their outbursts were at gays. So, now they are again pushing for support to be included in the Federal Hate Crime laws. If you speak out against homosexuality, you could be seen as guilty of a hate crime.

This is where I get confused. According to the media, we want to have the freedom of speech to bash conservatives, Christians, Republicans - and of course to look at porn. But, the Freedom of Speech does NOT cover bashing minorities or homosexuals. From what I understood from all of my history classes in college (of which there were many), the Freedom of Speech was intended to give people the right to speak without fear of government reprisal - as long as it was not damaging to others (ala the "fire in a crowded theatre" argument). So, where is that line? When does it become damaging to others?

I firmly believe that hateful and incendiary comments about minorities should not be allowed. I don't know if I would classify Imus' comment as hateful or just the idiotic ramblings of a very old man. But what exactly is a hateful comment? If I stand up and say something like "I hate this group," is that worthy of arrest? And why is that different if you replace the words "this group" with "religious people." In addition, are you honestly going to tell me that porn is NOT damaging?

If I am allowed to have the freedom to speak my mind for a moment, I think this whole thing has gotten out of hand. I think we have gotten so ultra-sensitive about stuff that it has actually made the situation worse. Now, instead of just writing off Isaiah or Imus, we have a huge national crisis where everyone has to wade into the problem - including one of the following: Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, former President Jimmy Carter, Sean Penn. Instead of teaching our children how to handle idiots who make stupid comments, we have taught them to litigate or overreact. When you look back on the racist comments of the past, they are so much more severe and ugly than the ones everyone is getting so hyper about. Think about it. What would the civil rights activists of the 60's have done with Imus' comment? They probably would have shook their heads and thought he was an idiot - and then dealt with the real problems like lynchings and getting the ability to vote. I think we have protected things that have no business being protected (porn) and actually we have encouraged people to be weak by never forcing them to deal with unpleasant comments.

I am a big fat smart white Christian male who works for a ministry who fights porn. Do you know how many rude comments I have heard over the years? The number of times people have said things about me or one of my groups that was hateful? I have been called nerd, freak, geek, fatso, tubby, "big guy," lard butt, whitey honky, Jesus freak, Fundamentalist terrorist, lazy, stupid... Should I go on? When is there going to be a national telethon to support me in my pain? When are the powerful in Hollywood going to go raging into the night to get those people fired? Oh, wait, they WERE those people. I forgot.

In the end, I'm glad that Imus got canned. I thought he was a ninny. But there are people out there that make his ridiculous comment seem like a punch line. This whole Freedom of Speech mess is only going to get worse. If I may be so bold as to say that.

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