It’s my Christmas vacation, so lets take a break from code to talk about Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson’s problems. A&E, anticipating public reaction to Robertson’s anti-gay comments, suspended him. Which, I think, caused a lot of liberals to nod. But more surprisingly, it caused a lot of conservatives to start howling about freedom of speech.
Here, for example, is Bobby Jindal:
I don’t agree with quite a bit of stuff I read in magazine interviews or see on TV. In fact, come to think of it, I find a good bit of it offensive. But I also acknowledge that this is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views. In fact, I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment.” — The Times-Picayune
Because Conservatives never, ever complain about the great moral wasteland of television and Hollywood.
I also find the argument surprising because I can’t think of any conservative-friendly remedy. No one can tell A&E what to do with Phil Robertson. That would not only violate A&E’s freedom of speech, it would also be an restriction on the freedom of contract, a freedom much beloved by anti-birth-control opponents of Obamacare. And the argument that it is beyond to pale to criticize someone’s religious beliefs sounds an awful lot like advocating speech codes.
I think it’s reasonable to ask whether or not the response to Robertson’s comments were extreme. My personal preference is that people should feel free to say nonsense like that publicly, and that we weren’t so quick to shout people down. Visible idiots are always less dangerous than hidden ones.
But I think that’s an argument about civility, and dragging freedom of speech or the paradox of tolerance into it demonstrates a desire to score political points rather than make any constructive commentary. But perhaps the party of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter has some difficulty making civility arguments, too.