The First Amendment was created to stop the Government from censoring not the public. In other words you can be fired for what you say if it directly affects the company you work for. You may become ostracized from a community or group of friends. These actions are not what the First Amendment was designed to protect against.
Recently we have two interesting examples of free speech and its consequences. Phil Robertson of the A&E show Duck Dynasty and Justine Sacco a PR executive both made statements which garnered much attention and some reaction.
Phil Robertson in an interview to GQ magazine was asked what he believed sin was. He answered in an honest way based on his religious beliefs.
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
This is the part often left out.
As far as Phil is concerned, he was literally born again. Old Phil—the guy with the booze and the pills—died a long time ago, and New Phil sees no need to apologize for him: “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”
Now I’m not a Bible thumper, in fact I have a hell of a lot of issues with the Bible. But wasn’t the American Revolution just as much about religious freedoms as taxes? Can a man not say what he believes?
Well, he can but there may be consequences.
A&E has put Phil on Hiatus. In the long term what does that mean? I suppose we’ll have to wait and see. Cracker Barrel removed Duck Dynasty merchandise that represents Phil. Then within days brought it back. (Cracker Barrel statement) Various groups have launched attacks on Phil which go much further than anything Phil has said.
These are not Government entities. They are private and if A&E wants to lose their highest rated show, well that’s their choice. It’s probably going to make the Robertson family even richer in the end.
“Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”
I really don’t know what was on her mind as she wrote that but of course it was a great opportunity for victims everywhere to complain. In fact by the time she landed she had lost her job.
InterActiveCorp said in their statement:
"There is no excuse for the hateful statements that have been made and we condemn them unequivocally. We hope, however, that time and action, and the forgiving human spirit, will not result in the wholesale condemnation of an individual who we have otherwise known to be a decent person at core,"
Was her statement in bad taste? Yeah probably. Did she deserve to be fired? Well since she was a PR executive, I’d say she did her company no favors with that statement and from a professional standpoint it wasn’t very PRish. So, the company would seem to have made a professional call. Did she have the Constitutional Right to say what she did? Yes she did. But she is paying the consequences.
I have only watched Duck Dynasty a few times. It was ok. They seemed like a fun bunch, but overall it’s not a show that draws me in. No reality show does. Mostly because they are not reality. All of them are scripted to some extent. But I like listening to their banter and Phil’s monologues. Justine Sacco I know nothing about. But I doubt she intended anything more than a smart ass remark.
Now, one could get the feeling I don’t support saying what you think. That’s not the case, in fact I wish more people would stand up and make their feelings known. I would prefer in a respectful way but if not that’s ok too. Stand by your convictions. Be civil and turn the tide on Political Correctness. If you believe your right then say so. Consequences and work both ways. You won’t be heard if you don’t speak out.