Lee Rowland, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU, overlooked something in her piece about defending speech that we hate.
While bemoaning the outcry that resulted in Ann Coulter’s Berkeley appearance being canceled, she ignores the fact that students and the rest of us have as much a right to free speech as does Ms. Coulter.
To paraphrase Rowland, when the students who wanted no part of Coulter’s hate speech soon graduate, they’ll step into the horrific “maelstrom of civic life,” where homophobic street preachers, avowed racists and others are free to spew what they will.
Those students and others who do not respect Coulter, however, have their own right to express themselves, as loudly as they feel is necessary.
If Congress tries to pass a law that infringes on Coulter’s right to free speech, I’ll be right there with the ACLU to fight against it, but that’s not what is happening on college campuses. You would think an ACLU attorney would have a little better understanding of the difference.
Denver Post, I just gotta say it: You’ve disappointed me.
We share a love of the 1st Amendment, you and I. Sometimes it seems free speech and free press are all that stand between us and the wolves that howl outside.
One thing that we don’t seem to share is your concern about speaking out strongly against abhorrent speech, which you expressed in this morning’s editorial:
You make some important points about differences in how public and private employers can approach such situations. Important for people to understand. Good.
Two things, though:
One, just as people are free to write and say bigoted, disgusting things in public forums, others are free to call them out in what you call “public shaming.” Show me some evidence that calling out bigots chills protected free speech or has the same effect as libel and defamation suits.
Second, you contend that “nothing Herren said about the first lady suggests she would exercise poor judgment in her role as an anesthesiologist.” She already did exercise poor judgment. I would not entrust the life of a loved one to a doctor who shows such disrespect and apparent loathing for a woman of color, or for anyone else.
OK, a third thing: Is your parenthetical phrase here revealing or just thoughtless?
One can see how the doctor’s disgusting and ridiculous remarks (after all, the first lady is obviously beautiful and eloquent) could translate into an untenable position for the medical school.
Let us suppose that Michelle Obama somehow did not meet your standards for beauty and eloquence. Would Dr. Herren’s vicious, racist remarks be any less disgusting or ridiculous? Would the medical school’s position be different?
If you would have us remain silent in our “moments of disgust and anger,” you are already well down the slippery slope of accepting bigoted speech as just OK. We are obliged to call it out as wrong.
Shaming you, in public no less.
“You cannot insult people’s faith,” says Pope Francis in response to the horror in Paris. (NPR article)
You are mistaken, Your Holiness. We can.
And while you clearly disapprove of what you call an “aberration” — i.e., the killing of those who do insult people’s faith — what happened is in reality a crime called “murder.”
Mass murder in Paris.
But you know this. Back in the day, murder was a mortal sin.
Call it what it is.