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December 19, 2013

A&E Suspends Phil Robertson for Saying He Doesn't Like Homosexuality

MKH recaps the saga.

A few points.

First:

There should be a equity between the type of infraction alleged and the punishment sought. By which I mean: Something alleged to be a social transgression should have social consequences (if any consequences at all).

The game should not be rigged that such that a social consequence has economic consequences, that is, ad hoc privately enforced fines and penalties.

The punishment should fit the "crime" (if there is some crime at all). If Phil Robertson said something "mean," then mean things should be said back to him. If he made people uncomfortable, then people can use their Adult Words to make him feel uncomfortable in return.

We have evolved a repellent system in which thought and belief are punished by tangible economic penalties. And this is not something that happens occasionally; this now happens every week or month.

A firing or a suspension or a forced term in a Thought Rehab institution is now expected when someone Says a Dirty Word.

Second:

I'm weary of the statement "This isn't about the First Amendment because it's a private corporate decision."

For one thing, no one is arguing otherwise. It's tiresome to hear this chestnut trotted out every five minutes. Yes, we get it.

It's also untrue. Yes, the First Amendment, strictly speaking, applies only to the government. But there is a spirit of the First Amendment too, not just a restriction on government action.

And that spirit is this:

That we should have, to the extent compatible with ordered liberty, the maximum possible right to think and say and believe what we choose, and anyone who attempts to use force to coerce someone to think and say and believe something that is alien to them is acting contrary to the spirt of the First Amendment.

I've said this a dozen times:

The real, tangible threat to our right to think and speak as we will, as conscience, faith, or reason (or all three together) might impel us, is not from the government, but from our employers, and from the massively corporate media institutions that impose real penalties on people -- fines, really, imposed by firings, suspensions, mandatory Thought Rehab and so forth -- for daring to utter words other than the Officially Approved Institutional Corporate Slogans.

Yes, A&E has the right to suspend Phil Robinson. A&E also has the right to stand up for a broad and generous principle of Freedom of Thought and Expression.

Why does no one speak of that right? Sure, they have the right to act hostilely towards the spirit of the First Amendment and use coercive power to hammer people into only speaking the Officially Approved Institutional Corporate Slogans.

They also have the right to stick up for people's right to dissent, to be "weird," to have unpopular thoughts and heterodox beliefs. And as a media company, they really ought to have an interest in doing so.

Why does no one ever mention this? Why does no one ever push companies to recognize that right, rather than the other one?

It is well-conceded that an employer has the right to fire you for some heterodox belief or some oddball sexual habit, but an employer similarly has the right to foster an environment of self-expression and freedom, and yet no one seems to talk about a company's capacity to be a Good Actor in the realm of free expression.

There should be pushback against this idea that of course the people with direct authority over us -- our employers -- can and should fire us or otherwise inflict serious economic consequences of it for daring to live as Free Americans.

This is obvious, but apparently it's not obvious enough: We do not need a freedom to express popular or polite thought. Thoughts which are popular and polite (and approved by the state and its supporting institutions) have never been in jeopardy.

Not even in Nazi Germany. The popular, state-approved thought -- that Hitler would bring "Greater Germany" (i.e., Nazi-dominated Europe) back to greatness -- was never forbidden by the Nazis.

Unpopular thoughts were threatened-- such as anti-Naziism.

On both right and left, people interested in sharing their beliefs and arguing for principles should, out of simple self-interest, agree that there should be a broad and generous latitude given to impolite, impolitic, and unpopular thought, granted by not only the formal apparatus of the government but also by other institutions of direct authority and control, such as large media corporations (which tend to reinforce and perpetuate the State Party line, especially when the State has been captured by the Left) and employers generally.

Yes, we can indulge the Left's favorite past-time ourselves and go scalp-hunting with relish.

And what happens when the next scalp sought is our own?

I agree that the Right must not unilaterally disarm in this disgusting sport. Tit for Tat, as Steven den Beste has pointed out, is a logical and effective strategy for dealing with an opponent, even when you disagree with the rules your opponent is operating by. If the Left is never forced to suffer under their own Speech Code regime, they'll never be forced to reconsider.

That said, those on the right, and Friends of Freedom generally, should take pains to point out the sport of scalp-hunting is in fact vile, practiced with vigor by broken people with voids in their souls that can only be filled by inflicting pain on other people.

And we should always point out: We are willing to abandon this head-fucked system of Mutually Assured Terror for Daring to Speak One's Mind the moment the Left is willing to do so.

Which, frankly, will be never.

They secondary boycott, therefore they exist. They have achieved nothing in their own lives, but if they can bring down a Mighty Foe, then they're important.

But we must always offer that Treaty. At every opportunity. Because this War on Individuality hurts everyone who considers himself an individual.

It is time to tell these people, with no politeness whatsoever, to Shut the Fuck Up and stop making life awful for everyone else.

They are enemies of freedom -- of freedom of conscience, of freedom of thought, of freedom of expression; of freedom, generally -- and should be hectored, harassed, and humiliated as such.

They are retrograde simpleton bullies, and bullies requiring the bracing lesson of a punch to the face.



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posted by Ace at 02:01 PM

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