Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Glenn Beck Confuses the Right of Free Speech With the Right to Be Heard

And An Apology That is Not an Apology

For reasons no rational person can really understand, former Fox News commentator Glenn Beck has quite a following.  And recently he was given an award, believe it or not, on behalf of freedom of speech during which he used the occasion to issue a non-apologetic apology and to promote Glenn Beck.

<p> FILE - This April 26, 2013 file photo shows radio personality Glenn Beck at the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards in New York. Beck says he regrets that some of the inflammatory things he's said haves caused division in the country. He said Thursday, June 6, he didn't regret his opinions, just the way some of them were stated. He didn't specify which ones. He said he wasn't fully aware of the perilous times the country is in and the way people were at each other's throats. Beck accepted a First Amendment Award on Thursday from Talkers magazine, the trade publication for people in his line of work. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, file)

He wasn't fully aware of the perilous times and people "at each other's throats," said the conservative radio host, who accepted a First Amendment award from Talkers magazine, the trade publication for his industry.

Now since talk radio is dominated by conservatives we have to presume that the trade publication for the industry is dominated by conservatives and regards its mission as one to promote conservatives, conservative talk shows and conservatism in general.  That’s fine, they have the right to do so and should do so if that is what they and their wealthy supporters want to do.

But what they do not understand is the real meaning of freedom of speech.  Mr. Beck is astounded that people do not agree with or like his bombastic, fact challenged and divisive speech, and that they try to make those feelings known.

Beck said he was puzzled by activists who organize boycotts of people who say things they disagree with. Beck's popular show on Fox News Channel ended in 2011 after a successful advertiser boycott organized after he said President Barack Obama had "a deep-seated hatred for white people."

Also on the minds of radio executives Thursday was the boycott on Rush Limbaugh's show after he called a law school student "a slut" for advocating funding of birth control.

What Mr. Beck and others do not understand is that freedom of speech is not freedom to have your views heard in the media or to force people to listen to your views or to so dominate the media that competing views are not allowed access.  Mr. Beck and Mr. Limbaugh can say anything they want, but they somehow feel they have a God given right to have a place in the media to expound those views paid for by advertisers while at the same time denying that same opportunity to those who oppose their positions. 

Need any evidence of this?  The right wing was adamantly opposed to and finally destroyed the concept of the Fairness Doctrine, a regulatory framework that said since the airwaves belong to the public, those operating them under license from the government had an obligation to air all points of view.  This is heresy to conservatives, who deep down know that if the public sees or hears objective rebuttal to their remarks they will likely reject extreme conservatives.  And notice none of this dedication to freedom extends to Muslims, whom conservatives want to deny the basic rights they supposedly support for everyone.

As for Mr. Beck’s so-called apology, it was like this.

"For any role that I have played in dividing, I wish I can take them back," Beck said. "I don't wish I could take back the truth that was spoken but perhaps — not perhaps — many times I could have said it differently."

In other words, Mr. Beck is saying it is true that Mr. Obama has a deep seated hatred of white people, but that he, Mr. Beck just needed to explain that in different terms. Maybe something like "Barack the Muslim hates whitey" or "Obama wants to kill all white people" or something along the lines of "Obama thinks all white people are the devil's spawn".  Yeah, something like that would be better wouldn't it Mr. Beck?

Well Mr. Beck, thanks for nothing.  And yes you have a absolute right to say these things, but you have no entitlement to be given a platform in the media with which to speak.  And yes, while you can say anything you want, none of us have an obligation to patronize advertisers who put your disgusting views on TV or radio, and we won't.

1 comment:

  1. The flip side to what you're saying about the First Amendment not granting a right to be heard, is that it also does not grant a right to be free from private restrictions on speech such as boycotts, criticism, or getting fired by your private employer. Beck says awful things, is paid handsomely for saying them, and suffers no government persecution whatsoever. He is the furthest thing from a First Amendment crusader.