you have the right to not be a dumbass

One thing I’ve been reminded of lately (since the NPR reporter was fired for talking shit about Muslims on Fox News and the school board member was “encouraged” to resign after writing on facebook that all homosexuals should commit suicide) is that there are a lot of people in this country who don’t understand the scope of the first amendment. It’s not just Christine O’Donnell! I thought that maybe I don’t understand the scope of the first amendment either, so I did a google. Then I cleaned that up and started writing this post. Because stupid poop jokes are supported by my right to free speech. USA! USA!

As a US citizen you have the right to say what you want (within certain legal limitations related to libel, slander, etc.). You also have the right to deal with the consequences of what you say. You can’t call your boss a retarded twat with bad breath and no work ethic and then cry foul when he fires you. Even if what you said is true, getting fired by your twat of a boss does not equal someone trampling upon your first amendment rights. Being fired is not the same thing as being jailed or stoned to death.

From a wikipedia article (I know) about the first amendment:

When considering private authority figures (such as parents or an employer), the First Amendment provides no protection. A private authority figure may reserve the right to censor their subordinate’s speech, or discriminate on the basis of speech, without any legal consequences.  All may dismiss their employees at will…for good cause, for no cause, or even for a cause morally wrong, without thereby being guilty of a legal wrong.

Then I thought, well, NPR is partially funded by the gubment, so maybe that makes a difference in this particular situation. Then I found this (from a long article about first amendment exceptions that I slogged through, just for you) about a case related to the firing of a federal employee:

In Arnett v. Kennedy, the Supreme Court again balanced governmental interests and employee rights, and this time sustained the constitutionality of a federal statute that authorized removal or suspension without pay of an employee where the “cause” cited was an employee’s speech. The Court interpreted the statute to proscribe only that public speech which improperly damages and impairs the reputation and efficiency of the employing agency…the Act is not directed at speech as such, but at employee behavior, including speech, which is detrimental to the efficiency of the employing agency.

NPR didn’t handle Williams’ firing very well from a political standpoint, but it was legal. There’s little doubt that a reporter openly talking about his fear that all people who dress in Muslim garb are potential terrorists limits his ability to do his job for NPR (but not Fox News, obviously). The dude probably should have been shit canned a long time ago – he’d flagrantly violated NPR’s code of ethics numerous times.

As for the guy on the school board in Arkansas suggesting that all homosexuals, including children, should kill themselves, he’s allowed to spew that vileness from a first amendment standpoint. At the same time, people in his community can call for his resignation without infringing upon those rights. Again – you can say what you want, but you have to take your lumps after you do so.

And PS – putting aside the horrible, disgusting fact that someone ON THE SCHOOL BOARD said he wants gay children to commit suicide, people should have called for McCance(r)’s resignation (or actually, never put him on the board in the first place) a long time ago based upon the fact that he’s obviously really fucking stupid. The VP of the school board repeatedly uses the non-word thereselves? Did it never occur to him to wonder why there’s a little squiggly red line under that collection of letters when he types it out? Repeatedly?

Maybe he’s too busy thinking about going to the gym later. They have a really great steam room full of naked, redblooded, heterosexual male Amurcans. In fact, sometimes he stays in there thinking about how all the gay people need to die for so long that he gets all wrinkly and dehydrated…

13 Replies to “you have the right to not be a dumbass”

  1. Glad you wrote this. You’re right on. Dig your blog Crystal. The whole “free speech” argument is a pet peeve of mine, but then again unlike a lot of people, I’ve actually read the First Amendment. It only applies to private employers to the extent their industry is so heavily regulated that their acts constitute a “state action.” Other than that, most employers can fire your sorry ass for no damn reason whatsoever. Sign me up for one of those Fight Stupidization shirts when they come out. Your check’s in the mail. Really.

    BTW. Juan Williams is an asshole (for a myriad of reasons) but I think he said what a lot of people were thinking.

    1. Thanks, Rod. I’m hoping to get shirts printed up in the next month or so. I’ll let you know. You can represent the cause up in big D.

      And you’re right about Juan Williams. A lot of people in this country think the same thing. None of us are impartial, of course, but if we’re being paid to portray ourselves that way, we don’t get the luxury of saying shit like that on TV. Good thing his new employer sees things a bit…differently than his former employer.

  2. Wow! Nice post.

    Juan Williams “should have been shit canned a long time ago” is not something I ever expected to hear a lefty say, even after he took Alan Colmes’ place as the token liberal on Fox News.

    I was hoping to see a paragraph explaining that when you rush a political candidate while wearing a costume, and a bunch of big guys drag you to the ground and hold you down with a foot on your shoulder, that might qualify as 4th degree assault, but it’s not a violation of your freedom of speech.

  3. I never considered Juan Williams to be a liberal. Interesting. I guess its all a matter of perspective. The whole Rand Paul thing is scary if for no other reason than he might actually win. The horror.

  4. I’m looking forward to it.

    BTW, use of the words “stomped” and/or “head” in association with the MoveOn.org stunt have become my litmus test for determining who is too far to the left to reason with versus folks who are still capable of holding an objective discussion.

    (Just as use of any part of the phrase “9/11 Victory Hamasque at Ground Zero” quickly identifies folks too far to the hysterical right to be reasoned with.)

  5. Rod, I had always assumed that was the role he was intended to play under the Fox News guise of being “fair and balanced”.

    But to get an idea of how far off I might be in that presumption, I Googled the terms “juan williams liberal”. I haven’t read anything more than the titles of the links that came up, but they certainly support your statement that “its all a matter of perspective.”

    E.g., Catchy titles like “Juan Williams, Liberal, Not Liberal Enough For NPR” or “NPR Fired Juan Williams for Being a ‘Bill Cosby Liberal'”.

  6. Crystal – you’re a smarty-pants! Thanks for the slogging!

  7. Sean – I slog for you, my dear.

    Al – There’s a general assumption that NPR and PBS are leftist organizations. Being a lefty working inside one of those two organizations, I can say that isn’t the case. Not even remotely. Unless educating children (including teaching them to be tolerant and ask questions) and a belief in science (including evolution) are only for those of us on the liberal end of the spectrum. Which I don’t think is the case. NPR and PBS being part of the liberal agenda is as believable as the fact that there is a “liberal media” in the first place. It’s all bullshit and smoke and mirrors.

  8. After thinking about this a bit more, I realized one thing. Juan Williams is a smart mofo. Not only did he find an easy way out of his NPR contract, but he also greatly upped his value (price tag) to Fox News. So he played both organizations to his advantage and came out on top.

    He’s obviously not so stupid that he thought he could get away with talking shit about Muslims on Fox Fucking News. (slow clap) Bravo, Mr. Williams. Bravo. I hope the money’s worth it. Maybe you can spew some hatred about gays next. Then maybe talk about how some women just need a good knock upside the head every once in a while. Keep on making that green. Don’t mind the maggots. Shadoobie.

  9. Huh. I always thought educating children (including teaching them to be tolerant and ask questions) and a belief in science (including evolution) were two things I had in common with the folks to my left. Now I’m confused.

    Isn’t it the folks way out to my right who say “Don’t get wise with me, son!” and believe in Creationism or Intelligent Design?

  10. No, I’m pretty sure when we’re talking about public education, that’s a lefty thing. The folks to the right think everyone should pay their own tuition, regardless of age, and the folks to my left think that society benefits as a whole when our kids spend time in school (at local property owners’ expense) instead of in the mines or the factory or on the farm.

    And when someone values science over superstition, it may not correlate perfectly with left wing values, but these days there seems to be a higher rate of superstition to my right than to my left.

  11. Ugh. I read the phrase “I Slog For You”, and now I have Boy George and Prince competing inside my head.

    (“I’ll slo-og for ya” vs “I would, slog for, you!”)

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