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Free Speech != Right to Airtime


So there is, apparently, a redneck actor on a fake-reality show called "Duck Dynasty" who turns out to be, in real life, an anti-gay bigot with completely humdrum and bigoted ideas of everyone's place in society. I'll let you gather your wits as you recover from your shock. Also unsurprisingly, he thinks that white guys with beards, guns and inappropriate sunglasses sit at the top of the heap. A&E, which broadcasts this paragon to culture, pulled on his leash and suspended him for a little while. There are good odds that he will be back when the storm of righteous indignation has blown over and everyone who never cared about Duck Dynasty in the first place is no longer paying attention. You could, however, count the seconds until the social networks exploded with outrage for "taking away" said bigot's right to free speech. This is not an accurate synopsis of the situation. Phil Robertson retains his right to free speech. He lives in a country that shows an inordinate amount of restraint vis vis moronic opinions like his. Calling his opinions moronic is also not, in any way, limiting his free speech. His employer is also not limiting his right to free speech. Said employer has simply decided to take away the megaphone that they had given him. They calculated that they would be better off without him for a while. No one is <i>entitled</i> to a nationwide platform to disseminate boring, hateful and insipid ideas. He is free to tell all of his friends and passersby in the street all about his ideas. None of us, however, has the obligation to listen. Such an obligation on our part is not implied by Robertson's right to free speech. We have, in fact, always been a country that allows free speech while at the same time ensuring that no one is really listening to anyone else. We've got that down to a science. Robertson is a run-of-the-mill Bible-thumper who thinks that his opinions are refined because other people who know even less than he does told him that they were. He has climbed a molehill of thought and thinks he's planted a flag on Everest. He got fooled into thinking that the fancy GQ interview was a good place to let the world see just how awesome and smart he is, how he's got it all figured out---and how homosexuals are to blame for all that ails us. Just like the Negros before them. And the Mexicans. And the Communists. And the Jews. And the Poor. *Yawn*. File under: Storm in a Teacup.