Free Speech Comes With Consequences
Norah Vincent seems to feel that it is perfectly OK for Michael Savage, MSNBC talk show host, to refer to gay men and lesbians as “perverts” and describe them as a “mafia” that “wants our children” (“ ‘Rights Just for Us’: The Gay Left’s Self-Serving Agenda,” Commentary, March 27). She seems to feel that his free-speech rights have been infringed by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s “public education campaign” against him.
Savage’s diatribe is equivalent to yelling fire in an auditorium when there is no fire, creating panic and chaos. It has been ruled by the courts that this is not protected speech. When someone has a public forum and puts out such false information, which could incite some people to commit crimes of hatred, perhaps causing injury and death to a class of people, this is not protected speech.
I am sorry, Ms. Vincent, you are wrong.
I fail to see the connection between a boycott of Savage’s television show and having armed police officers burst into your bedroom and arrest you for having consensual sex. Savage doesn’t have a constitutional right to a television show, and no one is asking the government to monitor the network’s content. If Savage is angry over a possible cancellation of his “twisted and mediocre” television show then he has only corporate America to blame.
Corporations bend to such methods because of their concern for profits. Gays and lesbians are big consumers because they often have no children to support and they can spend more. Corporations are not an elected body that can be voted out of office; the only way the public can affect them is with the products they buy -- or don’t buy -- that will affect the company profit. If the government tried to prosecute Savage for the content of his show, however, then his constitutional rights would have been violated.
The right wing has used boycotts as a method of dissent many times; just ask the Dixie Chicks, Bill Maher, Michael Moore, French companies that have been hurt economically by Bill O’Reilly’s call for a boycott against anything French and the Hollywood set that has been unofficially blackballed. When people protested those boycotts, the right wing said, “Hey, you can speak your mind, just be ready to accept the consequences.” So, as the old saying goes, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”
Cherry L. DeLorenzo