Sunday, September 5, 2010

To Speak or Not to Speak

The following post was originally written by me several years back, but the opinions within, still hold true today.  I hope that you enjoy.

A former NBA All-Star by the name of Tim Hardaway really found himself eating his shoes as he announced during a radio interview that he hates gay people.  He went on to describe that they make him uncomfortable and that he doesn’t think that their behavior is acceptable.  As stupid and paranoid as he sounded in his interview, I support his right to express his point of view.

The NBA Commissioner, David Stern, has removed Hardaway from all public appearances on behalf of the NBA because of his remarks.  I find that this action is over the top on the part of the commissioner; however, I also support his right and the NBA’s right to make the decision.

Am I confusing you yet?  I hope not, but never-the-less, the issue isn’t simple.  There is not a single person that wishes to be censored.  We have a right to free speech.  Our constitution guarantees that right.  What the constitution does not guarantee, is a right to be heard.  I can not come into your home and force you to read my article, nor can Jane Doe stand on a street corner and give a speech, hold people captive and force them to listen to her.  No, we do not have a right to an audience.

Some may say that the NBA is violating Hardaway’s right to free speech but are they?  I think not.  Remember, the constitution is designed to limit government, not the private sector.  The NBA is not the government.  The wording in the constitution is specific “Congress shall make no law……”  That means that the government may not abridge free speech; however, as unfortunate as it is, the NBA, Clear Channel, Disney or Haliburton, Exxon and Six Flags certainly can.

I’m sure that you all remember the Dixie Chicks debacle back in 2003.  They were performing in London and Natalie Maines said, “Just so you know, we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”  There was a huge backlash from the American public and sponsors forced radio stations all over the US to pull their music from the air.

Just like with the Hardaway comment, I disagree with Maines’ comment, but support her right to be an ass.  I support her right to express her opinions, regardless of whether or not I agree with them.  I also supported the right of the radio stations and sponsors to decide not to air Dixie Chicks’ music (on a side note, Maines’ comment was insulting, but not what I would call seditious and did not endanger our troops in Iraq or Afghanistan unlike some other comments that have been made since).

What I find to be the most comical about both the Hardaway situation and the Maines situation is the way that the two have been dealt with in the media.  In 2003, Maines was portrayed as a poor victim of big business and a poor victim of censorship.  Hardaway, on the other hand, is different.  I am not hearing a peep about his right to free speech.  In fact, other than hearing about what happened on the news, all I hear are crickets chirping about the subject (aside from talk radio, of course).

Where is the outrage in the media over the subject?  Where are the Hollywood pundits on this issue?  Why the silence?  I’ll tell you why.  It was the subject matter.  Maines was criticizing the President, whom Hollywood and the media despise (it’s a bit of sour grapes over their golden boy, Al Gore, losing in 2000).  Hardaway; however, spoke out against homosexuals, who are the Democrats’ newest pet project.

(As a civil libertarian, I have to express that I happen to agree with the Democrats on the gay rights issue.  I believe that people should live and let live.  If two men or two women wish to be ‘married’, then so be it.  Let them be happy.)

Back to the subject at hand, when should we speak out regarding our opinions or our beliefs?  Should anyone ever not be allowed to express themselves?  Is this really a slippery slope that we want to travel down?  These are all questions that only each individual can decide for themselves.

There is one thing that every free society needs to understand; with freedom comes responsibility.  With every freedom of action, speech or thought there are consequences.  If you are willing to take responsibility for your actions or your words, by all means, speak out and/or act.  Just remember, we all have a right to do and say as we please as long as we are not violating the rights of another.

In closing,  I would like to again say that we all have the right to speak freely, but we do not have a right to be heard.  No one has a right to an audience, but to deny anyone the right to express their opinions is simply inhumane.

Until next time..........

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