Ace riffs on l’affaire Phil Robertson, and points out where we’re going wrong:
Yes, A&E has the right to suspend Phil Robertson. 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.
Of course not. The people who do support free expression would never dream of screaming at the top of their lungs about boycotts and such. But maybe it’s time they should:
[T]his 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.
In the meantime, I’ll wait for someone to show me the specific clause in the Constitution that says he has the right to go through life without ever hearing anything that conflicts with his views.