There’s a meme I’ve seen circulating on social media that goes like this: When country singers Dixie Chicks expressed their disdain for George W. Bush and his policies, they were praised for exercising their 1st Amendment right, yet when the head of Chick-fil-A expressed his 1st Amendment right, he was vilified. Now, this was probably true among “liberal” media, but the meme is presenting the story as if it’s a universal truth. It’s a great story, if you completely ignore the fact that people boycotted Dixie Chicks concerts and didn’t buy their CD’s, and that the women also received at least one credible death threat for what they said.
I’m not being partisan here. Quite the opposite. Everyone is entitled to free speech. Everyone. You don’t have to agree with what they say, but you have to concede their right to say it. Free speech isn’t just for people you like and think the same way you do. The entire point of having free speech is to foster dialogue and allow dissenting opinions to be heard. It’s a right that extends to every conservative, liberal, moderate, socialist, fascist, banker, hippie, tea partier, occupier, Christian, Muslim, Jew, big-A Atheist, small-a atheist, and every member of every other partisan group in America.
Free speech is meant to protect unpopular speech. Popular speech, by definition, needs no protection. -Neal Boortz
That said, speech does not come without consequence. You open up your statements to scrutiny, fact checking, and rebuttal. That’s not a violation of your free speech; if anything it’s a validation of your free speech showing that yes, your opinion was heard, and someone else is now using their right to free speech to chime in with their opinion. Not everything is one-sided. If you speak out against the sitting President to people who just want to hear your music, some people are probably going to get upset and speak back, and you’re going to have to own what you said. If you use your business as a platform for a controversial issue by making financial contributions to certain groups, you have a right to do so, but some people won’t like it and will use their right to free speech to talk back.
Even the media has a right to free speech now. The goal of journalism used to be to present facts impartially, but it was Fox News that went to court to defend the right to present opinion as news, and to uphold the idea that news doesn’t have to be factual because it’s an expression of free speech. It’s possible that you only got half the story on the Dixie Chicks, based on the media you watch, listen to, or read; the same is true of the Chick-fil-A story. Yet if any member of the media presents an obvious bias one way or the other, or outright lies, we can thank Fox for leading us all down that road. Frankly, I’m tired of having separate “liberal” media and “conservative” media, the Republican agenda and the Democratic agenda, this propaganda and that propaganda. I miss having the facts and the truth laid out plainly before me, and being able to use my own common sense and critical thinking skills to sort out my own opinions on things.
While I welcome disagreements with what I’ve written, disagreeing with things I’ve never said or believe is a different matter. The latter is intellectually dishonest to say the least. So if you disagree, be sure that you’re disagreeing with what I’ve actually written in context.