Tuesday, June 8, 2010

BURN: What The First Amendment Is NOT

Hellin Thomas retired...or was pushed the wake of her flaming antisemitic statements.  That has nothing to do with the First Amendment.  The First Amendment is about freedom, not license.

Any of us are free to say what we will, without reprisal from our government...sort of.  But none of the exceptions...and there are a few...apply here.  Hellin Thomas, bigot that she had been, is, and will be has a perfect right to say any damn thing.  The Federal government nor the states can legally prevent her, or punish her under the law.

But none of us have a license...a complete freedom from say things.  Nor does the press.  What we say ALWAYS has consequences, and the First Amendment never was intended to suspend cause and effect, just to make one set of effects off-limits to government.

Thomas has a right to her views, and to express those views.  She has no right to any particular venue for publishing those views.  No newspaper has to hire her or retain her.  And no other person has any obligation to listen to her.

Strangely, there are apparently many people around the world...and here...who just do not get this whole "free speech/press" deal.  Some are folks that really should know better.  (h/t The Corner)
But it's the next bit of the story that concerns me. She was also dumped by her speaking agency, which issued a statement: "In light of recent events, Nine Speakers is no longer able to represent Ms Thomas, nor can we condone her comments on the Middle East."
The agency's president, Diane Nine, later emailed HuffPost to say: "We no longer represent Helen for books or lectures or anything else."
So, in the land of the free, where freedom of speech is guaranteed under the constitution, a person who expresses what are deemed to be controversial views is effectively gagged. Has Ms Nine never heard of Voltaire?
Well, I can't speak for Ms. Nine, but my guess is that she knows her Voltaire at least as well as Roy Greenslade.  Even I know that Voltaire would not contend that Ms. Nine HAS to represent Thomas, as that would certainly impinge on Ms. Nine's rights.  And I very violently disagree that Thomas is "effectively gagged" because a speaker's bureau declines to represent her.  I mean, there are several hundred million of us who are "effectively gagged" if that is true.

But Mr. Greenslade makes it clear why he has so much trouble with this simple application of liberty; he hates liberty.
It is one of those rare occasions in which one can see clearly how people in America who are willing to express anti-establishment opinions are demonised, marginalised and finally excluded from public debate.
Did I say "people"? I mean, of course, those who are identified as liberals. Right-wing TV and radio hosts can say what they like, however outrageous. Some iconoclasts are obviously freer than others.
See, to the collectivist Greenslade, this is one of those "rights" that are only properly seen through a lens of  ideology.  He is impelled in pure knee-jerk to put this in a LEFT-RIGHT framework.  And Thomas has been an undeservedly honored member of the MSM in America for decades, while many of her colleagues held their noses, knowing her race hate, and protecting the truth FROM the American people.

Ideas have markets, just as do other things in which free people may trade.  Hellin Thomas destroyed her own brand all by herself.  In the wreckage of that, nobody HAS to give her a megaphone, though someone still may.  If Thomas is seen  by enough people as having valuable things to say, she will find people to help her transmit them.  A quirky little outfit called Al-jazeera comes to mind.

Just by way of reminder, I wanted Thomas to stay right where she was, and to live a long and outspoken life.  Nothing would have better served the interest of showing Americans who we are dealing with in the MSM than good OLD Hellin.


  1. "I wanted Thomas to stay right where she was, and to live a long and outspoken life."

    Absolutely. I was born in Skokie, a largely Jewish suberb in northern Chicago. Some time in the 70's, a neo-nazi group decided to have a parade in Skokie, initiating a huge brouhaha. Obviously, their message was intended to be deeply offensive and even inciteful to the community, but were they within their first ammendment rights to express it? It was decided to allow the "parade" - which ultimately consisted of about a dozen really silly looking idiots in brown shirts, generating more laughter and ridicule than outrage. Putting these morons on "parade" revealed their inane reality.

    Hezbolah Helen has not been gagged. She is free to stand on any street corner and spout anti-semitic swill to her little black heart's content. Giving her the honor of a national stage to do so has been offensive, but is a testimony to the very freedom she would deny Israel. Speak on, O clueless one!

  2. I remember the Skokie mash-up as one of the few times in history when the ACLU was on the side of the angels (but memory is tricky).

    I know I should not be, but I do find constitutional ignorance on such a fundamental question appalling. I love Krauthammer, but even he was confused.

  3. I must have missed something. I heard Krauthammer say Thomas should not have been removed, albeit not for the reasons you cite - but her status as the "Great Dane" of the WH press corpse, or something. (Spelling and terms intentional)


    I thought, and so did Mark Steyn, that he was pretty fuzzy on the "free speech" deal. See if you agree or not.

  5. Seems Charles was more interested in Thomas being kept around so she would be compelled to defend her indefensible remarks rather than a first ammendment reason. Said response of tortured semantics would indeed have been entertaining and enlightening of the absurdity and hypocrisy inherent in anti Semitic rhetoric.

    I think we agree her 1st Ammendment rights do not include having a front row seat in the WH press room.

  6. "I think we agree her 1st Ammendment rights do not include having a front row seat in the WH press room."

    Yep. We could go way beyond that, too...

  7. 1. What if she had said all descendents of slaves should go back to Africa?

    2. Would Mr. Greensdale be equally supportive of a white supremacist sitting in the front row?

    3. The fact that Mr. Greensdale can express his opinion without fear of a fatwa should say something about our First Amendment.

  8. 1. There would be blood...

    2. Heh...

    3. Greensdale is a Brit, but I take your point. Plus, if Thomas was a conservative, Greensdale would be howling for their blood (see No. 1)