Even if I don’t agree with what you say, I’ll fight to the death for your right to say it.

May 7th, 2008

I have enormous respect for John McAdams at Marquette Warrior, generic cialis illness but I disagree with his attempt to convince the companies sponsoring Bill Maher’s appearance in Milwaukee to stop sponsoring him.

Yes, cialis buy ed he has the right to express his outrage.

Yes, drugstore what he’s been doing is NOT a technical violation of the First Amendment.

But I think it’s a violation of the spirit of it.

I’ve argued repeatedly with Liberals who think boycotts and intimidation against sponsors are a respectable way to suppress other people’s speech. And while I understand why John doesn’t like some of the things Maher says, I think the proper response is to speak out against them rather than attempt to punish Maher for saying them.

I know I’m going to get plenty of guff from people on both the Left and the Right, but my bottom line has always been (and always will be) that anyone who tries to suppress someone else’s speech damages free speech every where and for everybody.

Entry Filed under: Observations,Uncategorized

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nick  |  May 7th, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    You probably will get guff, but certainly not from me. I’m behind you 100% on this.

    I just haven’t been able to find the right words myself, mostly because the way this outrage is expressed by both sides is so hollow… since they will quickly come to the defense of others who say equally outrageous things about the other side of the argument.

  • 2. James Wigderson  |  May 7th, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Like Nick? :)

  • 3. James Wigderson  |  May 7th, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    In all seriousness, I think the Professor has shown admirable restraint in this matter. What he has asked is for prominent local companies not to lend their good name through their sponsorship to support a speaker that he considers beyond the pale of civil discourse. He has not asked for anyone to disrupt the speech. He has not asked for the program to be cancelled. He has not asked for a picket. He has not even asked for all of the sponsors to withdraw their names from supporting Maher’s appearance, only those of good civic character. McAdams does not even call on the venue where the program is to be held to cancel Maher’s appearance, nor does McAdams ask one public official to condemn Maher’s appearance.

    Surely, for one evening, one time, we can find it within ourselves to say, “This is beyond the pale, and good people should not lend their credibility to enhance his any further. Let him speak freely and openly, but without the approval, implied or explicit, of responsible members of the community.”

  • 4. Fuzz Martin  |  May 7th, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    I agree with James. What the Professor is doing is the sum and substance of free speech. He is not asking people to be disruptive, nor is he is not asking him not to speak. In my opinion, he is not going too far.

    I also fully agree with the Professor’s statement that a station surely wouldn’t sponsor a comedian that was a bigot towards blacks, Muslims, gays, etc.

  • 5. elliot  |  May 7th, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    I’m sorry, guys. You’re being disingenuous. The goal is to punish Maher for what he said and thus ultimately suppress his speech and discourage anyone else from saying anything like it.

    (If that is not the goal, why take any action?)

    And I am against the suppression of any speech regardless of the methods used.

  • 6. Fuzz Martin  |  May 7th, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    I think John’s goal is for each of the sponsors to say, “Our company’s thoughts are not congruent with Maher’s.” Imagine if the station were sponsoring a Klan rally. The Klan has the right to free speech, but no respectable business would be caught dead with their name on such an event.

    Blocking the stage, disrupting the speech, or calling in some sort of terroristic threat would be instances of speech suppression. In my opinion, suggesting that John shouldn’t speak his mind is more suppressive than asking sponsors not to put their name on the event. (though I understand where you’re going with your argument)

  • 7. Dean  |  May 7th, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    I’m with elliot and Nick, not that I don’t appreciate the arguments from the right. It probably comes from my libertarian leanings.

    The only time I hear about Mayer is when he says something outrageous, and like many bloggers, news media, etc., I think he’s learned that his outrageousness gets him attention and thus more ticket sales. I like it when people say outrageous things so that ordinary folks can see how outrageous they are.

    He would be preaching to the choir.

    But rather than the professor, American TV are the ones to scorn. They folded pretty quickly.

  • 8. elliot  |  May 7th, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    I’m definitely NOT scorning John McAdams. I just disagree with him on this point. And, in fact, I know most folks on the right AND the left disagree with me on this one. I’m just fanatical about free speech.

  • 9. Dean  |  May 7th, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    And, of course, I didn’t mean to imply you were, elliot. But there are some and many have turned their ire on American.

  • 10. John McAdams  |  May 9th, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    I’m with elliot and Nick, not that I don’t appreciate the arguments from the right. It probably comes from my libertarian leanings.

    Well a libertarian ought to uphold the right of people to *not* support speech they disagree with strongly.

    It’s one thing to disrupt speech you don’t like. It’s equally bad to try to get government to censor speech you don’t like.

    But free expression includes the right to say “I’m not going to buy at your store anymore.”

    You guys need do deal with the Klan issue.

    What would you think of a local retailer who sponsored a Klan rally?

    If you first urge is to say “Maher’s not the Klan,” that gives away something extremely important.

    It means you are happy to support boycotts against speech that is “really bad.”

    You just don’t happen to think that Maher is “really bad.”

    Which raises in my mind the question: does this issue actually pit bloggers who are Christians against bloggers who are secular?

    It shouldn’t. I’m white and I would cheerfully join a boycott against a racist speaker (provided he was a real racist).

    I would cheerfully join a boycott against a speaker who constantly villified gays (although not against a speaker who simply presented a Christian view of homosexuality).

    People have a right to shun people they think are bigots. That’s known as individual freedom.

  • 11. elliot  |  May 10th, 2008 at 8:23 am

    “Which raises in my mind the question: does this issue actually pit bloggers who are Christians against bloggers who are secular?”

    That’s a great question, John. And, in my case, the answer is “no.”

    Like you, my position is consistent. You’d join a boycott against a racist and I would defend his right to speak.

    Don’t get me wrong. Again, you completely have the right to express your distaste (including to his sponsors).

    You haven’t done anything I would consider wrong.

    But what I object to is the true goal of any boycott which is to punish speech we don’t like.

  • 12. Dean  |  May 10th, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    But free expression includes the right to say “I’m not going to buy at your store anymore.”

    I totally agree, Prof.. I don’t have HBO. I don’t watch Bill Maher. I don’t like Bill Maher. The only time I hear of Bill Maher is when he says something outrageous, which is why I suspect he says it. But he has the right to say it and I have the right to say he’s outrageous.

    American TV has the right to sponsor or not sponsor. I don’t shop there that much so it doesn’t matter to me. The Left has the right to boycott American TV if they want.

    I like outrageous people to say outrageous things and have the whole world hear them because I believe they’ll see the outrageousness for what it is.

    There are now racist bloggers in Wisconsin. The Left has referred to them. I haven’t visited the site because I don’t want to give them the traffic. But neither do I want them shut down because, again, I believe clear thinking people will see them for who they are.

    Maher will be preaching to the choir who are not going to listen to me anyway.

    But again, Prof., you have the right to take him on and a large part of me is glad to see it.

    Sorry, elliot, for taking up so much of your bandwidth.

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