The Right To Complain
I'm not someone who believes that journalists should lose their jobs over controversial remarks, especially isolated, one-time comments. But if that's going to be the prevailing standard, then I want to see it applied equally. Those who cheered on the firing of Octavia Nasr, Helen Thomas and Rick Sanchez -- and that will include many, probably most, of the right-wing polemicists predictably rushing to transform Juan Williams into some sort of free speech martyr sacrificed on the altar of sharia censorship -- have no ground for complaining here. Those who endorse speech-based punishments invariably end up watching as the list of Prohibited Ideas expands far beyond the initial or desired scope, often subsuming their own beliefs. That's a good reason to oppose all forms of speech-based punishment in the first place. There's obviously a fundamental difference between (a) being punished by the state for expressing Prohibited Ideas (which is isn't what happened here) and (b) losing a job for doing so, but the dynamic is similar: those who endorse this framework almost always lose control over how it is applied. And that's how it should be.
I think Glenn's formulation misses the point - people have a right to complain about speech that offends them. What media entities do about these complaints is entirely up to them. Everyone has the right to complain. Attempts to chill this right are not only ineffective, they are wrong. Juan Williams won't be heard on NPR now, but he will be heard on Fox and almost anywhere else Williams wishes to speak. He won't lack for a platform. Just because someone complains does not mean a media entity must act. It's their choice. Fox of course will not only not drop commenters who engage in bigotry, such commenters become Fox All Stars. That's part of the Fox model. NPR obviously has a different model. As does CNN, etc. The myth that all viewpoints and expressions are accepted and aired is simply that, a myth. One person's "decency" is another person's "political correctness."
Speaking for me only
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