Friday, October 22, 2010

Free Speech vs. Idiotic Speech

All of these pundits and politicians on the right who are calling for the de-funding of NPR over the firing of Juan Williams simply do not understand what the first amendment is about. As his employer, NPR has the right to set the tone of their broadcast, not Juan Williams, and not any other journalist or commentator in their employ. To go on another "news" outlet, as a representative of NPR and say things that run counter to the tone that the network tries to set is a flagrant showing of disregard for his employers. If an employee of Burger King went to McDonald's after work in his uniform, sat down and ate in the dining room and told everyone within hearing range that he eats there because BK sucks would be employed for very long?

Juan Williams has the constitutional right to say whatever may be rattling around in his empty head. But as a paid commentator for a news outlet trying to set a tone that is free of sensationalism and grounded in fact if he goes on another show and makes statements that run counter to that aim he has to deal with the fact that there are repercussions for that kind of behavior. He works for NPR, not the other way around. If Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly did a 360 on Fox and start endorsing the president's domestic agenda, pointing out the racism in the Tea Party and trying to point out that all Muslims are not terrorists they wouldn't be working for Fox much longer. And their firing would not be a suppression of their free speech, it would be an employer exercising their right to make sure that the tone of their programming suits their vision or agenda. Period.

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