A pundit, or some other highly unqualified yet totally revered talking head, will say something outlandish, or at least seemingly outlandish, and sometimes that backlash from that statement will cause them to lose sponsors or even their job.
When that happens, invariably, they and their fans complain that their freedom of speech has been violated. Glenn Beck and “Dr.” Laura Schlessinger are two noteworthy examples.
Although it may or may not be hard to gauge how I feel about these cases, this editorial is not strictly about what they said, it’s more about their reactions and their fans’ reactions to the consequences of their actions.
In Beck’s case, it was his statement that President Obama is a racist that hates “white culture” that resulted in a boycott that has caused him to lose more than 100 sponsors.
He never gave any examples of Obama’s supposed racism, nor could he actually define white culture when asked, but that’s almost beside the point.
Schlessinger, of course, recently deciding not to renew her radio show after an African American woman called her about advice on what she should do about her white husband’s friends’ racist remarks.
Schlessinger said the N-word 11 times and said that the woman shouldn’t have married outside her race if she didn’t have a sense of humor.
Schlessinger said she wanted her freedom of speech back.
Beck’s fans have made similar statements regarding Beck’s freedom of speech with regard to the boycott.
They, and some people that share their views seem to think that freedom of speech means freedom from criticism and freedom from the consequences of that speech. That is an incorrect view.
Just as Beck and Schlessinger have a Constitutional right to say what they said, I have a right to say they are full of it as well as a right to say I won’t support them or the companies that sponsor them.
If I was an employer and one of my employees said something offensive, I would have the right to fire that person. As an employee, they would represent my company, and I wouldn’t want my company poorly represented. I also wouldn’t want that person to create a hostile work environment.
As an employee, I still have the freedom of speech. But I’m sure there are things I could say that would get me fired. If I made racist or misogynistic statements and as a result was fired, I’d have only myself to blame.
People like Schlessinger are announcing to the world that they can dish it out, but they can’t take it. I’m not sure of the P.C. term for someone like that, but I’m inclined just to call her a whiner.
If you say something that someone else doesn’t like, be prepared for criticism. That’s life.
Franklin Clark is a reporter for The Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.