Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: Happy Birthday American Censorship  (Read 3956 times)

Bman

  • Guest
Re: Happy Birthday American Censorship
« Reply #20 on: July 29, 2004, 09:32:10 AM »
"But the result stands.  Political speech was punished."

What about slimfast? Do they not also have rights of free speech and free association? Slimfast is a private company. One of their endorsers engaged in speech that they found embarrassingly crass and that they knew would alienate a large sect of their customer base. They had every legal and moral right to fire her. What if she had done something worse? What a slimfast endorser publicly joined the Ku Klux Klan or the American Nazi Party? Would there be anything wrong with a company deciding that they wanted to disassociate themselves from that person then?

The bottom line is that there really has not been crushing of dissent in America since 9/11. Most of the "censorship" that's spoken of is private citizens and companies deciding not to associate, patronize, buy the records of (Dixie Chicks) people who say and do things that are contrary to our moral values. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.

jgruber

  • Guest
Re: Happy Birthday American Censorship
« Reply #21 on: July 29, 2004, 09:40:28 AM »
I have not suggested that Slimfast could not exercise their contractual options and fire Whoopi.

But the fact remains that "Political speech was punished."

You lost me on how Slimfast's free speech right was compromised.

I did not suggest that the punishment of free speech was a government action.

I thought I was pretty clear.  Why do you read so much into my postings?

"But the result stands.  Political speech was punished."

What about slimfast? Do they not also have rights of free speech and free association? Slimfast is a private company. One of their endorsers engaged in speech that they found embarrassingly crass and that they knew would alienate a large sect of their customer base. They had every legal and moral right to fire her. What if she had done something worse? What a slimfast endorser publicly joined the Ku Klux Klan or the American Nazi Party? Would there be anything wrong with a company deciding that they wanted to disassociate themselves from that person then?

The bottom line is that there really has not been crushing of dissent in America since 9/11. Most of the "censorship" that's spoken of is private citizens and companies deciding not to associate, patronize, buy the records of (Dixie Chicks) people who say and do things that are contrary to our moral values. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.

Bman

  • Guest
Re: Happy Birthday American Censorship
« Reply #22 on: July 29, 2004, 09:47:55 AM »
Jeffjoe,

You lamented that "political speech was punished." In the post before that, you proclaimed that "I'm sure things could be much worse, but is it freedom of speech when you cannot express your opinion without punishment. The point of my original posting was that this is not new.  We have a history of repressing speech that offends the powers that be that started over 206 years ago."

Read in context, it seemed to me quite clear that you were saying that Slimfast was wrong to fire Whoopi and that it was an example of political repression. If I misinterpreted your thoughts on this matter, than I apologize.

I did not say that Slimfast's free speech right was compromised. Obviously it was not. They fired her. What I strongly believe, however, is that in the post 9/11 world, many leftists (I'm not necessarily talking about you so don't take this personally) have created a conception of the first amendment that threatens the free speech and free association rights of Americans far more than those on the right. They constantly tell us that perfectly legitimate actions like firing a spokeswoman who says controversial things, criticizing anti-war speech, refusing to buy the records or burning the records (if it's your property there's nothing wrong with burning it) of controversial musicians, refusing to see the movies of anti-war actors, constitute a "chill climate for speech" or "censorship." Free speech is a two-way street. To even mention Whoopi Goldberg in the same sentence as the Alien and Sedition Acts is, to me, conflating two very separate phenomena that don't even belong in the same discussion.

MaroonOut2005

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 1666
  • Attending: Notre Dame
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Happy Birthday American Censorship
« Reply #23 on: July 29, 2004, 10:34:09 AM »
JeffJoe,

I believe your statement that, "Political speech was punished," is way to vauge to base a discussion around.  There are too many underlying elements about the Whoopi situation to just make a statement like that.

Yes, Whoopi was fired for making a statement.  However, what if she had gone on TV and lied about Slimfast?  What if she had went on TV and said that Slimfast products had been linked to severe medical problems, when they aren't?  Would you still be making the same negative statements about the situation?

An American has every right to freedom of speech.  They can even lie.  Businesses can't, but people can (except in special situations).  However, they will be socially reprimanded for this.  They constitution protects freedom of speech in one aspect:  the government cannot prosocute a person for speaking their minds.  Period.  That is all the constitution does.  However, there are other concequences for public speak that people must be aware of.  If you truly want to get your message across in America, then you have to accept the concequences that go along with that fact.  In fact, the message usually is more powerful if you are "punished" for it.

My question is, how would you deal with this scenario, JeffJoe?  You have made a lot of general comments, but you haven't given any solution.  Would you make the government punish the people who digrade people that speak their mind?  Would you prevent Slimfast from acting on their legal right to terminate an employee?  Let's hear about some solutions, not just about the problems.

Thanks and Gig 'Em,
Jason

buster

  • Guest
Re: Happy Birthday American Censorship
« Reply #24 on: July 29, 2004, 10:35:29 AM »
What I strongly believe, however, is that in the post 9/11 world, many leftists (I'm not necessarily talking about you so don't take this personally) have created a conception of the first amendment that threatens the free speech and free association rights of Americans far more than those on the right. They constantly tell us that perfectly legitimate actions like firing a spokeswoman who says controversial things, criticizing anti-war speech, refusing to buy the records or burning the records (if it's your property there's nothing wrong with burning it) of controversial musicians, refusing to see the movies of anti-war actors, constitute a "chill climate for speech" or "censorship." Free speech is a two-way street. To even mention Whoopi Goldberg in the same sentence as the Alien and Sedition Acts is, to me, conflating two very separate phenomena that don't even belong in the same discussion.

Leftists say refusing to buy records or refusing to see movies impinges on free speech? Maybe you meant refusing to sell records or show movies? (Not that I'm saying that impinges on free speech either, but at least it's an argument people actually make.)

jgruber

  • Guest
Re: Happy Birthday American Censorship
« Reply #25 on: July 29, 2004, 10:40:01 AM »
I don't think it is vague.  It's rather direct and exact.  She spoke a political opinion and she was fired.  That's pretty clear.

Why ask if she had said something bad about Slimfast?  That would not be political speech and it wouldn't have changed their actions.

What do I suggest?  Nothing.  I would not suggest any official action for or against Whoopi's speech.  Slimfast has a right to exercise their contractual options.  I would not interfere with that.

What I am saying is that it is not good for a society when political speech is punished.  That the current political atmosphere does not encourage fully free exchange of ideas.

That's all.

JeffJoe,

I believe your statement that, "Political speech was punished," is way to vauge to base a discussion around.  There are too many underlying elements about the Whoopi situation to just make a statement like that.

Yes, Whoopi was fired for making a statement.  However, what if she had gone on TV and lied about Slimfast?  What if she had went on TV and said that Slimfast products had been linked to severe medical problems, when they aren't?  Would you still be making the same negative statements about the situation?

An American has every right to freedom of speech.  They can even lie.  Businesses can't, but people can (except in special situations).  However, they will be socially reprimanded for this.  They constitution protects freedom of speech in one aspect:  the government cannot prosocute a person for speaking their minds.  Period.  That is all the constitution does.  However, there are other concequences for public speak that people must be aware of.  If you truly want to get your message across in America, then you have to accept the concequences that go along with that fact.  In fact, the message usually is more powerful if you are "punished" for it.

My question is, how would you deal with this scenario, JeffJoe?  You have made a lot of general comments, but you haven't given any solution.  Would you make the government punish the people who digrade people that speak their mind?  Would you prevent Slimfast from acting on their legal right to terminate an employee?  Let's hear about some solutions, not just about the problems.

Thanks and Gig 'Em,
Jason

jgruber

  • Guest
Re: Happy Birthday American Censorship
« Reply #26 on: July 29, 2004, 10:44:16 AM »
Where do you guys get this stuff?

buying or not buying tickets to movies or CDs does not stop free speech.

Firing a spokesperson within the limits of a contract, does not stop free speech.

When did I say anything like that?

I brought up Whoopi as an example of political speech that was punished.  That's a fact.  She was fired.  Slimfast had that right and I did not suggest that they were wrong to exercise their rights.  I brought up the incident to illustrate the state of the political climate.

What I strongly believe, however, is that in the post 9/11 world, many leftists (I'm not necessarily talking about you so don't take this personally) have created a conception of the first amendment that threatens the free speech and free association rights of Americans far more than those on the right. They constantly tell us that perfectly legitimate actions like firing a spokeswoman who says controversial things, criticizing anti-war speech, refusing to buy the records or burning the records (if it's your property there's nothing wrong with burning it) of controversial musicians, refusing to see the movies of anti-war actors, constitute a "chill climate for speech" or "censorship." Free speech is a two-way street. To even mention Whoopi Goldberg in the same sentence as the Alien and Sedition Acts is, to me, conflating two very separate phenomena that don't even belong in the same discussion.

Leftists say refusing to buy records or refusing to see movies impinges on free speech? Maybe you meant refusing to sell records or show movies? (Not that I'm saying that impinges on free speech either, but at least it's an argument people actually make.)

Bman

  • Guest
Re: Happy Birthday American Censorship
« Reply #27 on: July 29, 2004, 10:51:56 AM »
Buster,

I hear these claims being made all the time. It is, frankly, a staple of leftist commentary. I can't even count how many times I had an exchange like this shortly after 9/11.

Anti-war college student: The United States should not invade Afghanistan. We should make the war on terrorism a matter for law enforcement, not the military.

Me: Makes some very calm argument about why they are wrong.

Anti-war college student: I'm just exercising my right to free speech. There's truly a McCarthyite atmosphere in America today.

Similarly, entertainers are constantly claiming that their free speech rights are at risk. A few radio personalities elected briefly not to play Dixie Chicks songs because of sophomoric anti-Bush comments made by the lead singer and claims of repression poured in by the millions. Now we have the New York Times editorializing in favor of free speech rights and condemning fans for booing Linda Ronstadt's pro-Michael Moore comments and the casino's subsequent decision not to carry her show. We hear the same things when arrogant commencement speakers use a captive audience on what should be a happy occasion (college graduation) to deliver divisive anti-war messages and when students understandably respond by booing. The example of movies and buying CD's may be a bit of a caricature but I have heard many make it.

The point is that I'm a little tired of all of this. The first amendment guarantees that the government will not in any way inhibit the free exercise of speech. There is nothing wrong with individual companies and individuals lawfully punishing individuals that they strongly disagree with. My point was that I'm a little tired of hearing the first amendment's expanded as a rhetorical defense of any criticism or social ostracization.

Bman

  • Guest
Re: Happy Birthday American Censorship
« Reply #28 on: July 29, 2004, 10:56:41 AM »
"What I am saying is that it is not good for a society when political speech is punished."

I don't agree with this Jeffjoe. Sometimes it's good for society when political speech is met with condemnation and punishment. I'll repeat my hypothetical example and ask you for your opinion on it: What if a company spokesperson became a vocal and public supporter of the Ku Klux Klan? Would a company be right or wrong to fire that person? I know that this is a far more extreme example than Whoopi Golberg. But I don't want a society where there is never any consequences for political speech.

buster

  • Guest
Re: Happy Birthday American Censorship
« Reply #29 on: July 29, 2004, 10:58:56 AM »
I think you overstate the extent of the sort of thing you discussed, but maybe not (that depends on your personal experience, of course). Anyway, I understand what you're saying.

The point is that I'm a little tired of all of this. The first amendment guarantees that the government will not in any way inhibit the free exercise of speech. There is nothing wrong with individual companies and individuals lawfully punishing individuals that they strongly disagree with. My point was that I'm a little tired of hearing the first amendment's expanded as a rhetorical defense of any criticism or social ostracization.