FREEDOM OF SPEECH

When atheists put up anti-Christian bill boards in the cities where our recent political conventions were held, there was an out cry from religious groups. An out cry. No one took to the streets with AK 47’s and started shooting atheists. As with racial intolerance, religious intolerance is an unhappy facet of our lives that rational citizens condemn. But in our nation, at least, we recognize the fundamental principle that we all have a right to freely express ourselves on any issue, with limited exceptions recognized by the law (no, we can’t falsely yell “fire” in a crowded theater with impunity). In essence, then, we recognize the right of our citizens to make fools of themselves and worse in what they opine in any form of media. This principle of free speech is based on the logic that rational and thinking people will be able to decide for themselves whether what they digest in whatever form is true or not, appropriate and consistent with what they believe. It also expresses our belief that differing viewpoints, even those we may disagree with, should be respected for the greater good of promoting tolerance for what we may believe. And our leaders should always be conscious of and protective of these principles. This Administration’s and their cronies in the liberal media’s attempt to characterize the debacle in the Middle East as the result of an anti-Muslim video begs the question. To suggest, as this Administration has, that we should make some exception to our right to free speech when that speech may result in foreign fanatics attacking us here and abroad is, in a word, “Un-American.” As one commentator pointed out, what is the government supposed to do, start trying to censor every missive of any kind that might foment some crazy to commit a violent act? As bad as the violence abroad has been our government should be looking to punish those responsible rather than concentrating on the pretext that occasioned the attacks in an effort to obfuscate an objective view of its own foreign policy failures.

DOUBLE STANDARD

With all the outrage over the idiotic comments of the Republican candidate for senator in Missouri (see my blog, “Akin Comment”), where is the outrage over the comments of David Chalian? Mr. Chalian, after a long career at such networks as ABC, and serving as the current Washington bureau chief for Yahoo news was among a crowd of reporters shouting questions at Presidential nominee Mitt Romney when, with his mike still on, he opined to his fellow journalists, “They [the Republicans] are happy to have a party [in Tampa, the sight of the Republican National Convention] with Black people drowning (an apparent reference to Hurricane Issac).” His fellow journalists thought the implication that Republicans could care less about Black Americans dying in a natural catastrophe was funny. And, I suppose by implication, it would have been acceptable to party if it had been just White people drowning. After Yahoo fired Mr. Chalian, many members of the press came to his defense, in marked contrast to the universal condemnation by Republicans of the Akin comment. Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised by this double standard among the Fourth Estate. That there is an endemic liberal bias among the press is hardly news. But it is disappointing. As managing editor of my high school paper, I believed in the integrity of journalists. Whatever their personal viewpoints, you didn’t have to worry about bias when you watched Chronkite, Huntley/Brinkley or Jennings deliver the nightly news. When those news reports showed pictures of our young men in body bags in Viet Nam and protests on college campuses, it wasn’t necessary for our journalists to do more than stick to the fabled “five W’‘s” of journalism (who, what, where, when, why and sometimes how) when they added their comments to what we were seeing. And ultimately American’s rejection of that war didn’t come from journalists telling us what we should believe and who we should support but from our own thoughts and consciences. It has been argued by some in the press that Chalian was nothing more than a scapegoat. If that is true, it is only because his firing serves to put a band aid on the festering wound that too many journalists actually believe what he said.