Phil Robertson got kicked off Duck Dynasty (at least for a little while) because of something he said. What he said really isn’t important to this discussion, but A&E felt sufficiently disturbed by it to give him the boot.
And instantly, everyone lost their shit.
Fox News and their ilk cranked up their industrial-scale outrage machine and cried to the heavens about the sorry nature of “free speech” in our culture. Except there’s nothing in this event that suggests there’s anything at all wrong with the price of speech in America.
- Robertson was asked by GQ what he thought to be sinful and he was able to answer, presumably, from his heart.
- GQ was able to publish the account (to great effect, undoubtedly).
- A&E was able to exercise their right to expression by canning Robertson.
- Due to the massive popularity of Duck Dynasty, Robertson will undoubtedly have the opportunity to return to television (assuming he’s permanently off the show and the show falls apart without him) when another network exercises their right to free expression and picks him and his family up.
- Fox and the rest of the media nabobs are contributing mightily to the problem of greenhouse gasses by talking this thing into its atomic sub-particles.
- Several friends I have on Facebook have an opinion on the matter and are not shy about sharing it freely (let alone how the kerfuffle has added to the Twitter firehose of expression).
- Lastly, remember that our Supreme Court have elevated money to be the equivalent of speech and Robertson is terrifically wealthy meaning he has more potential “speech” at his disposal than likely all the people who will read these words combined (yeah, I don’t get a lot of traffic). Nothing that has happened will materially change his fortunes for very long (if at all).
The First Amendment restricts the government’s ability to stifle speech, not citizens and their corporate counterparts. A&E is freely enjoying their speech now as much as Robertson was in the GQ interview or MSNBC was when they canned Martin Bashir and Alec Baldwin (where was the outrage over free speech for Bashir, I wonder?).
“Free speech” isn’t freedom from having to deal with the consequences of what you say. It isn’t carte blanche to say whatever you want wherever you want regardless of your relative visibility in the media. It is not a freedom to be bigoted with no strings attached. It never has been and was not intended as such.
So, as far as I can tell, speech it still free as a bird here in the USA.