Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What is "Freedom of Speech" anyway?

First, I had never even heard of Don Imus before. I don't like "shock" radio, and have never felt the need to listen to it. I have stated before that I don't even think that "Freedom of Speech," as our forefathers saw it, protects vulgar or crude language. It should not give people the right to show pornography in public places or over the media. It has everything to do with free political speech -- the ability to speak out against perceived injustice and inconsistencies in our own country and culture, and nothing to do with "shock jocks."

But having said that, I'm disturbed at some people's downright legalistic interpretation of the First Amendment. It seems to say, in effect, "This guarantees the freedom of everyone else to believe what I want to believe, to watch what I want to watch, and to say what I want to hear."
I don't care if Don Imus and Howard Stern never are on the radio again. In my book, they are not worth the waste of time it takes to listen to them. I feel that local standards of decency should empower local governments to keep us from having to listen to such garbage. And the same goes for Snoop Dog, 50 cent, and the rest of the trash-talkers that our teens are currently making multimillionaires by throwing hard-earned pizza and paper-route dollars at them.
What amazes me is that when one of the aforementioned trash-talkers demeans women, authority, and entire racial and social groups with filthy language, not only are they protected, they are applauded. Chrysler lets one of them do a commercial with Lee Iacocca (if I still had even a small urge to ever buy a Chrysler, it's gone now).

Where was Al Sharpton when these trash-talkers were denigrating not just one small basketball team, but one half of the US population?

Next, who decided that Imus' little outburst was "racist?" It reminds me of the old (and hilarious) story Bill Cosby told about the time they put the bullet in the furnace during shop class. The bullet went off, and the students snickered.
"Who put the bullet in the furnace?" the shop teacher asked. They continued to snicker. "Who put that bullet in the furnace?" he asked again, and again, they just snickered. "It takes a pretty low-down type of no-good to put a bullet in a furnace," the teacher said. "Only someone with a terrible mother would raise his kid to put a bullet in a furnace."
"Wait a minute!" one of the kids yelled. "I didn't put that bullet in the furnace, and you quit talking about my mother!"

That's a little of what I felt when "reverend" Al decided to parade his own daughter out on his talk show and lump her into the group of girls that Imus had insulted. I think he insulted his own daughter more than Imus had insulted anyone. As far as I know, she never has played basketball for Rutgers. Also, I've seen the Rutgers team. It's not all black. In fact, it appears to have about the same racial make-up as most college basketball teams. Am I racist for saying that? No, just observant. For some reason, God has chosen to gift certain people with more ability on the basketball court, and I have noticed that a disproportionate majority of them happen to have dark skin. So what? More power to them!

If I decide to say that basketball is just a game for morons, is that racist? Could I say the same thing about golfers and not be racist, since only one of them is mostly black?

Why does someone lose a job for expressing an opinion? Sure, it might have been a stupid thing to say, but if we all lost our jobs for saying something stupid, we'd all be unemployed. I'll bet that even Mother Teresa said something stupid in her life.

I know for a fact that "reverend" Al Sharpton has said a lot of things that were not only stupid, but racist. Why doesn't he lose his job? And as stupid as he talks, he (shudder) usually makes more sense than Jesse Jackson. Why is it okay for some people to say something and we excuse it, but not for others? Why are people being fired for expressing opinions? What does the First Amendment have to do with all of this?

I believe we'd all be a lot better off without Don Imus and Howard Stern and Opie and Anthony spewing their garbage on us, but while we're at it, why not get rid of the hate jockeys that we call "rap artists" and the rabble rousers that we call "advocates of civil rights?" But why stop there? Some people don't like Al Franken or Rush Limbaugh, Hannity or Colmes, George Will or Sam Donaldson. Let's get rid of them all.

Freedom of speech seems to be a very elastic, variable concept. Popular cartoonist Johnny Hart died last Saturday, and in the midst of the accolades that were rightfully sent his way, comment was made about the "controversial" nature of his Christianity that was in his comics. He even had some newspapers drop his comic because of its "controversial" nature. I'm amazed that anyone would even think that Christianity, and one's self-expression of it, was "controversial." Our forefathers, who wrote the First Amendment, would have had no problem with Johnny Hart. If they could have predicted Snoop Dog, on the other hand, they might have just called the whole thing off.

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