Free Speech — Can It Cost You?
Not too long ago former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice was invited to speak at our local Montana State University.
On of the more liberal college professors at MSU felt that Rice was a “war criminal” and that her views on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were not welcome. (For my thoughts on this topic from June of last year click here.)
Congressman on the Hotseat?
You may have heard some recent reports about incoming House of Representatives Majority Whip, Steve Scalise (R-LA) that he spoke at an event for a white nationalist group back in 2002.
Scalise had the following comments regarding the event:
"Twelve years ago, I spoke to many different Louisiana groups as a state representative, trying to build support for legislation that focused on cutting the wasteful state spending, eliminating government corruption, and stopping tax hikes," Scalise said. "One of the many groups that I spoke to regarding this critical legislation was a group whose views I wholeheartedly condemn."
"It was a mistake I regret, and I emphatically oppose the divisive racial and religious views groups like these hold," he continued. "I am very disappointed that anyone would infer otherwise for political gain."
Why The Apology?
I speak to all kinds of business groups from coast to coast. Have there ever been KKK, Arian Nation, Weather Underground, Black Panthers, or white nationalists in my audience. I would bet yes.
Has almost every religious group been represented? Again I would have to guess yes.
So should I apologize for speaking to groups that might have had bigoted racists in attendance? Of course not.
Let’s Go One Step Further
What if I was invited to speak to such a group about business issues? Should I turn that down simply because I don’t agree or think as they do? Why?
Will there be a racist message in my talk that they will confirm? No. Will I trash another race or religion in my message? No.
So what’s the problem? Unless I am confirming their message, they are there to hear my message. I am not there to hear theirs.
Some Final Thoughts
Who decides what speech really is. Citizen’s United confirmed that corporations are people and have the right to political speech. Many would like to see that position reversed.
Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are at the forefront of racial issues. Many would like to have them silenced too
The point is that if you are going to have a freedom then you can’t nit pick it based on your political or religious views. I’m sure the founding fathers knew there would be possible abuses in each amendment contained in the Bill of Rights.
Anything you’d like say that someone else would like silenced?