Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Bird Flu Hits America!! (in an irresponsible TV movie)
Do you believe in freedom of speech or just in freedom of speech that doesn't cramp your style?
You widened the point out way beyond the specific protestors claiming that if Wal Mart sells Brokeback, our youth will all go gay. And you took your argument that protesters are wrong and the book sellers/movie distributors are right to an extreme by adding that Wal Mart shouldn't cave to people saying they shouldn't be selling a special edition of Protocols of the Elders of Zion (according to the site you linked to, the volume they're selling is devoid of the disclaimers and historical context included in editions found in all other bookstores) because of this wider issue.
Since I'm completely certain you don't approve of the contents of that book—again, a manual and justification for countless acts of murder, terrorism and torture perpetrated across vast swaths of space and time by Tsarist priests and Cossacks, Klansmen, storm troopers and today's Islamists, to name a few—then you must be criticizing anybody anywhere who wants to criticize or shame someone into not offering a particular piece of art or entertainment. Presumably, this is on a general First Amendment basis.
I'd have to assume that by your choosing to take, on principle, Wal Mart's side on the Protocols issue, that you would have nothing but contempt for people who publicly condemned a bookstore for selling, say, a manual on how to build a dirty bomb or a step-by-step guide on how to lure and molest children. Repugnant as the books were to you, you'd side with the publishers and the bookstore, and against the protesters, on principle.
Okay, I can respect that. You're a man of principle. To the people who want to protest the selling of Brokeback or Protocols, the people who want theaters to stop showing trailers for United 93, you say, "Shut up and pay the price for living in a country with free speech." Their very act of criticism, I'd guess, makes them worthy of criticism by you. Okay, you support this overarching principle: You don't have to support the content of free speech to support free speech absolutely. And you'll always side with the people making and selling objectionable content over those that would try to shame them.
But why, then, doesn't that principle apply to the makers and broadcasters of a bird flu MOW? Suddenly, the content is so objectionable that you have to make an exception to your fierce stand and become one of the public critics saying, 'you shouldn't do this!'? This is where you draw the line? And what about the Mafia cop? The makers of that are worthy of public criticism despite their rights of free speech? They should reconsider even making this because it might send the wrong idea about Italian Americans or glorify a despicable character? These guys deserve to be called names and shamed? Just by putting out an MOW with bird flu as its topic, they're "deplorable"? Now you'd side with protesters and against the creators and publishers or broadcasters? In those particular cases suddenly the offensiveness of the content trumps the network's absolute right to put it out?
This is what I was referring to when I mentioned consistency. If you're going to side with any studio, network, publisher against any protestor of something they put out, regardless of the content, then in my opinion you should do so consistently and not make exceptions for content that happens to get your goat.
Otherwise, you're just like Howard. And Howard can get away with being inconsistent because he can afford to have the Constitution changed if he wants.
That said, I appreciate that you're not trying to make anybody stop production on either the bird flu or the mafia cop shows and, also, that you're not telling anybody to stop protesting Brokeback or Protocols or anything else. So while I still think there's some inconsistency in your approach to what is essentially four like cases, you are not at all inconsistent in what you think the law should DO about any of it, so on that level we're both consistent and we both agree: The government must let the people make the mafia cop and bird flu shows, the bookstore sell Brokeback and Protocols as well as the dirty bomb production and child molesting manuals, and you and me and everybody else should be able to be as vocal as we want in protesting it all.