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Friday, October 22, 2010

Freedoms, Fears, And Fox

It appears that a new narrative has begun threading itself through the modern conservative movement - a new definition of the freedom of speech.

And it all ties in with Juan Williams and NPR.

First, let's be quite clear - Juan Williams' freedom of speech was not taken away nor infringed upon. What happened was his employer exercised their legal right to end his contract and thereby his employment with them. This is something that conservatives don't seem to understand. Freedom of speech does not include freedom to gainful employment.

As Racheal Maddow sums up quite nicely:

This same sort of rationalization was more recently used when Sarah Palin came to Dr. Laura's defense after her use of racist language on her former radio broadcast:

Dr.Laura:don't retreat...reload! (Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence"isn't American,not fair")

Again, modern conservatives love to wave around The Constitution but either haven't read it or don't understand the parts that are quite clear.

What this all boils down to is that conservatives are unwilling and incapable of understanding the very basic concept they once championed - accountability. To put it another, more blunt way, freedom of speech isn't freedom from consequences.

In what I can only assume is a tactic to help mask this complete misrepresentation of the First Amendment and the rights of employers, conservatives have opted to take two roads: vilify NPR and use the spectre of Islamic jihad to stir the base emotions of reactionary conservatives.

Michelle Malkin takes a two pronged approach in utilizing the fear of "state run media" - not to thinly coded rhetoric of media that is government controlled and designed to decimate disinformation and propaganda tilted towards a specific agenda - as well as language used to create the appearance of Americans sympathetic to the causes of jihad:

Not one more red cent of public money should go to NPR, PBS and CPB. Let the speech-squelching progressives and jihadi-whitewashing apologists pay for their own propaganda. Free the taxpayers!

Malkin's article also includes an anecdote that Megyn Kelly used in her "interview" with CAIR spokes man Ibrahim Hooper - that NPR correspondent Nina Totenburg's comments regarding Jessie Helms were not met with similar force by NPR. However, are we simply to take Malkin and Kelly at their words, that no corrective action was taken? And while Totenberg's comments weren't exactly as Malkin is presenting them, as they are only highlighting an 18 second clip from a more broader discussion surrounding Helms.

While some conservatives will argue that I am claiming "context" while not examining Williams' statements in the same manner, perhaps they should read my previous post in which that is very much taken into account.

A more interesting, if not bizarre, approach that conservatives are taking up is that Fox"News" is somehow more tolerant than NPR.

So says Michael Barone in a must-read analysis of the firing of Juan Williams. But don’t take his word for it, because NPR’s omsbud says essentially the same thing in NPR’s defense.

Despite the fact that ombudsman Alicia Shepard isn't even remotely saying what Ed Morrissey is claiming, this line of defensive action by a conservative is leaving out one important factor - Juan Williams all too often towed the conservative line with his fellow Fox"News" employees - even going so far as to be a repeat guest host on Bill O'Reilly's program - but to being nothing more than a gimmick to help reinforce the "Fair and Balanced" meme.

I don't think Morrissey, or anyone for that matter, can claim there is a "tolerance" within the confines of Fox"News", as evidenced from this "interview" yesterday on Megyn Kelly's continued prime-time-opinion-program audition when she was "tolerant" of the views of a Muslim civil rights group representative:

What Fox"News" is tolerant of is, from not only my perspective, abject hatred of other's religions and races. Once can easily recall how Sean Hannity devoted a full hour to spin Duane "Dog The Bounty Hunter" Chapman's racist tirades, as well as giving Don Imus his own show on their "business" channel not long after he was fired from MSNBC for racially charged language. Bill O'Reilly even kept his job after his shock that black people behave themselves in a restaurant setting. Tolerance of the opinions and language outside the conservative realm doesn't seem to get the same, by any means.

Juan Williams is not suffering by any means, as his "freedom of speech" has just netted him a newly minted 2 million dollar contract and a wider role at the conservative home for all things "pro-Constitution".

But what of NPR and the ever evolving firestorm of criticism from conservatives? Well, it was inevitable, but Jim DeMint is planning on introducing legislation to the longstanding organization that, apparently, most conservatives have never really listened to.

Conservative Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina today announced plans to introduce legislation stripping federal funding from National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service.

The move comes following the firing of NPR contributor Juan Williams for comments about Muslims. Williams said among other things that he gets "nervous" when he sees Muslims on his airplane flights.

The firing prompted calls from Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and others on the right to strip NPR of funding, and now DeMint, who is beloved in the Tea Party movement despite his Senate perch, has taken up the call.

Much in the way that ACORN lost it's federal funding due to reactionary posturing by Tea Baggers in Congress, I'm not thinking that this is going to proceed much further than the "let's make a bunch of noise to distract from the issue" process. And more to the point, if Williams really is a liberal, would people like DeMint, conservative voters, and Republican Presidential hopefuls to be on his side?

At the end of the day, the freedom of speech is afforded to all of us. What we are not afforded is the freedom from consequences. But if you're in good with the folks at Fox"News", and your rhetoric is filled with enough red meat goodness, there's likely a nice financial windfall coming your way - maybe even your own show.


Tracy said...

I find it funny that a person who is so worried about civil rights and has written numerous books on the subject has no compunction about placing another group of people under his thumb. If the same comment were made by a white person in reference to a black man being dressed as the typical rapper and being "nervous" because that's how gang bangers dressed. He'd be all over that crying out discrimination, but he should be EXEMPT from any sort of employment retribution, ESPECIALLY since part of his CREDENTIALS are his civil rights roots. OH COME ON?!?!? Really?!?!? And then that woman in the next clip saying that he couldn't be a bigot really needs to look up her definitions before she tries to define words. He was being a bigot in his personal "fears" and "words". He just ruined whatever credibility he had as far as civil rights, because he apparently is only believing that it applies to some but not all.

That station is annoying and its anchors are annoying.

Bustednuckles said...

Who is Juan Williams and why the fuck should I care?
The reason I should care is because of the further horse shit that has become "The News".
It isn't news anymore, it is fucking propaganda with a nice side dish of personal prejudice.
I don't give a rat fuck who Juan Williams is, I don't watch that shit and the phony outrage over freedom of speech issues is horse shit too.
Hey, the guy landed on his feet with a nice fat paying gig.
Don't watch Fox News and be blissfully ignorant like me. I get my news from Driftglass.

Troy Camplin said...

Indeed, I agree that NPR did not violate Williams' freedom of speech. Only a government can do that. I do find it funny that it is only now, only with this incident, and liberals have discovered this distinction. Before now, everyone everywhere who got fired for such things had their freedom of speech violated as far as the left was concerned. Oh, that is unless they are the ones doing the firing, of course.

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