Skip to comments.Firing the 'Politically Incorrect' is censorship
Posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:21 PM PST by rw4site
ROBERT Jensen is a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, but if a gaggle of irate Texans get their way, he won't be for long. He's one of a handful of academics who are protesting the war in Afghanistan and have been denouncing it loudly at campus rallies. He's gone so far as to call the United States a terrorist nation ("U.S. just as guilty of committing own violent acts," Outlook, Sept. 14) and to opine that our conflict abroad is a "war of lies, the culmination of a decade of U.S. aggression."
As Gregg Easterbrook reported recently in the Wall Street Journal, a letter-writing campaign is calling for the university to fire Jensen. Other campuses are similarly aflame. New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser recently denounced the City College of New York as "a breeding ground for idiots" after several faculty members voiced similar anti-American opinions.
Conservative pundits have pounced on this issue with a vengeance, arguing that while the First Amendment gives professors such as Jensen the right to say what they like, it doesn't shield them from the consequences of saying it.
This is true sometimes but not always. What really matters is whether the consequences are incidental or severe.
Incidental consequences are often unpleasant; the kinds of reactions you can expect when you say something asinine or unpopular in public. People ostracize you, write letters denouncing you, call you an idiot, as Peyser did the New York professors. This is fair play. After all, the critic has a right to free speech as well.
Severe consequences are something else altogether. They include things such as putting a gun to the speaker's head or threatening the speaker's livelihood. Firing professors such as Jensen for things they say at anti-war rallies falls into this category. You can fire a professor because he's a bad or unqualified teacher, but you shouldn't be able to fire him because he expresses unpopular views. Otherwise, the First Amendment would be meaningless. After all, how free can your speech be if your job is in peril if you say the wrong thing?
Yanking advertisements from network television shows should also be unconstitutional. This happened recently to Bill Maher, host of the late-night talk show Politically Incorrect, after he said a few politically incorrect things about the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack.
Why do I believe that rescinding ad revenue constitutes censorship? Don't advertisers have the right to advertise when and where they please?
Because Maher's show depends on advertising money for its survival, the advertisers were not just registering their discontent (they could have done that in a written statement), they were knowingly jeopardizing the show and thereby attempting to silence the speaker by forcing him off the air.
Of course, there is no law that prevents advertisers from revoking their support for shows. But if we are going to remain true to the spirit of the First Amendment, we should pass one.
A show's livelihood should not depend on its purveyance of correct speech, even when we're at war.
Advertisers should be forced, by contract, to commit their advertisements for a specified amount of time, regardless of what happens on a show. Either that or the networks should use a small portion of all advertising revenues for an insurance fund to cover pullouts. Otherwise Madison Avenue is, in effect, playing Big Brother.
Denouncing someone for his views is kosher. But intimidation and coercion -- including the kind of economic coercion that threatens jobs and livelihoods -- are censorship, however you spin it.
Response to Original - Jensen's words his own (U.S. just as guilty of committing own violent acts)
Humm, I don't recall ANYBODY in the media taking this position when baseball's John Rocker got hounded into an suspention for his Sports Illustrated comments and almost lost his job. Or, when Dr. Laura got hounded off television by the gay rights organizations. Would the author have the same opinion if a professor suddenly announced that they were a member of a far right hate group such as the Christian Identity movement and started making racist lectures? Of course she wouldn't. What hypocrites!
Yep , and your opinions were just published on the pages of FR, reaching a far greater readership than you imagined.....unspun and uncoerced.
However, intimidation , flogging, and other sorts of diabolical punishment isn't.
Sounds fair to me.
The key word in that sentence is "almost".
Or, when Dr. Laura got hounded off television by the gay rights organizations.
Dr. Laura is no longer on television because of poor ratings and for no other reason. If people had watched, she'd still be on.
All your money belongs to us.
As an employee of a newspaper, I think I'll use this line on the next person who calls to cancel his classified ad. "No, no, you can't cancel! You must keep running your help-wanted ad, even though the job is filled. You're taking away our ad revenue, and that's economic coercion!"
"Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever. " - Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)
I probably fit in the 'obscurity' class, but when do (did) you become 'Glorious?'
A law like this would in turn be unconstitutional, as it would violate the advertisers freedom to "associate" with whom he/she wishes. If an advertiser does not want his/her product associated with a blathering liberal, it is their choice not to advertise on that program.
Likewise, if a particuular institution does not want their good name tarnished by the acts of one or a few radicals whose ideologies differ, then the institution is free to dis-associate themselves. It's their right.
Any "laws" to the contrary would in effect "force" people to associate with those with whom they disagree.
Just as this professor has not lost his job either. There were many more people calling for Rocker to be fired than there have been for this professor. I don't recall anyone in the media trying to defend Rocker's freedom of speech or disagreeing with those who wanted him fired. My point still stands.
As a point of law, the 1st Amendment does in fact protect the liberal idiot professors from the ramifications of their speech -- not because they are liberal idiot professors -- but because one of them is employed by the City of New York and the other is employed by the State of Texas. If they were employed by private colleges or universities, they could be fired for the content of their speech (or for any other reason) without running afoul of the 1st Amendment, which would not even come into play, subject only to the terms and conditions of their private contracts with their employer.
There was a ceremony to commemorate the occasion. It was in all the papers.
It is sort of like the liberal idea of "bipartisanship". Conservatives must work to agree with the liberal slant; never the other way around. Diversity is when everyone gets in lock step with the left.
Message to the left: Don't push us too far. If you think the way we went to the streets during the attempted theft of the presidential election was scarey, just keep up with your "hate America" free speach crap, but remember to wear your "hard hats" when you take to the streets.
Then we agree. Neither the professor nor Rocker should lose their jobs.
We would need to eliminate the 1st Amendment to accomplish that.
I think that we all should take time during our work day, stand up, and praise the President, let's see how fast we get fired.
This is dishonest analysis of the situation with Jensen.
Professors express unpopular views all the time. People grumble about it, but they keep their jobs. That's not what Jensen did (and continues to do).
Jensen is flirting with sedition and treason against his country while it is under foreign attack. In his position at a state funded university, this carries especially repugnant connotations. It's like asking Coca Cola to keep paying a spokesman who constantly derides Coke in favor of Pepsi. The first amendment doesn't compell continued employment.
Advertisers should be forced, by contract, to commit their advertisements for a specified amount of time, regardless of what happens on a show.
They already are forced to abide by the terms of the contracts they sign. This goofball is now suggesting someone other than the parties involved in the contract should get to define the terms - all in the name of protecting sedition.
Only an utter moron thinks protecting sedition from legal consequences by private parties is an essential function of government.