Rosie O'Donnell speaks her mind. Don Imus does too. Ditto for Rush Limbaugh. All of them have said some pretty explosive things. Rosie implied 9/11 was an inside job. Bold assertion. Imus called some black women "nappy-headed hos." Pretty aggressive stuff. Rush suggested Michael J. Fox was faking Parkinson's symptoms. Rather strong words.
Many people want them to be fired for what they said. These people, all of them, are unpatriotic, plain and simple. Free speech means we can say anything we want and each and every one of us should celebrate and defend this right. We need not celebrate any of the words we disagree with but it is our responsibility as Americans to protect the rights of others to use them. Why is this not yet clear?
If we do not like what people in the media say we can simply turn the channel. Condemn their positions, sure, but when you imply they should not be allowed a platform to voice their views then you are against free speech. Plain and simple. The above "offenders" are paid to generate revenue. They are huge earners. Thus, they do their job. If you want to punish the employers who employ them, that is your right and, again, you may change the channel. If enough people do that the "offenders" will be fired. Okay? But do NOT imply that people are "out of line" who disagree with (or outrage) you. The whole value of free speech is that there ARE NO LINES! Zero. Once any lines are drawn we are instantly on a slippery slope away from freedom. For this reason, many Americans (including me) are outraged at the legal domestic spying instituted by George Bush. Lines drawn where there were none before. Freedom compromised, America compromised. To hell with the lines!
Now, let's study some of the fine citizens calling for the dismissal of Don Imus. Reverend Jesse Jackson claims there is no room for a racist on the radio and Imus should therefore lose his job. A bold, moral assertion from a man of God? Well, in 1984 the good Reverend, in a Washington Post interview, referred to New York City as "Hymietown." Anti-Semitic. In the 1990's he was exposed as an adulterer. He's a REVEREND! A moral beacon! Plenty of folks, for good reason, condemned his actions and words at the time but I did not hear many claims that Jackson should no longer be allowed to work! And that's the way it should be.
In 1987, Reverend Al Sharpton (who also wants Imus fired) insisted that teenager Tawana Brawley was raped by then-New York District Attorney Steven Pagones. The entire assertion by Ms. Brawley turned out to be a lie. Sharpton chose to never apologize for attacking Pagones. Morally bankrupt? You bet! Calls for his retirement? Virtually nil. As it should be. He has the RIGHT to say what he wishes and others have the right to contradict him. America. Rockets red glare and all that goofy bullshit.....
I have neither the endurance nor the stomach to detail the many lies spewed forth by Bill O'Reilly. Read Al Franken's nifty book, "Lies & The Lying Liars Who Tell Them" to explore this topic. As O'Reilly's executive producer, Andrea Mackis claimed (in 2004) that she was subjected to repeated instances of sexual harassment and explicit talk of phone sex, vibrators, and threesomes. Did O'Reilly really do that? Well, FOX paid Mackey millions so she would not expose her taped conversations with O'Reilly. And that was the end of that. Recently, O'Reilly has aggressively pushed for the firing of Rosie O'Donnell calling her a "wack job" who should not have a public forum. Okay then, Bill.
Another example of hypocritical nonsense: Several years ago, Christian Wal-Mart customers were offended that the stores carried a George Carlin book titled "When Will Jesus Pass The Pork Chops?" Everyone has a right to be offended. In fact, we have little control over our emotional reactions. But customers by the thousands in effect insisted that NO ONE should have the right to buy the book at Wal-Mart. Huh? And Wal-Mart pulled the (hysterical) books from each and every store. Mission accomplished by the Christians. It became clear to Wal-Mart that it was more profitable to limit free speech in this case than embrace it. Shame on those corporate pricks. And shame on the unpatriotic Christians who succeeded in suppressing the free speech of someone they disagreed with. They will be horrified to learn one day that George Carlin is in fact God and he will exact his fiendish revenge. Why do so many Americans claim they value freedom ("Greatest country on earth," "They hate us because we're free," etc.) but then demand that the voices of those they disagree with be silenced?
I wrote in an earlier post about The Dixie Chicks and Toby Keith. I was angered that southerners claimed that the women should "shut up and sing" while Toby's words (he is for the war) were embraced. Hollywood should apparently "shut up" unless it is Ronald Reagan, Charlton Heston, etc. Come on now, red states, are you for free speech or not? If you're for it then simply walk away from those you disagree with. And don't buy their CDs.
Many are outraged that rappers in this country sing about violence, easy money, and material wealth but even those who condemn them do not claim that they have no right to sing about what they wish. As it should be. Since when does saying something "horrible" translate into not being allowed to say it?!
Feel free to condemn the words of those you disagree with but, for the love of God, defend their right to say it! Now, feel free to delete this piece.
-Paul "Paul" Rosa