Thursday, April 12, 2007

Don Imus' unemployment is not a free speech issue

I had a chance to listen to some Sirius talk radio last night, a little today, and I've seen some talk shows on TV at night, and I must say I'm getting irritated by hearing people defend Don Imus on the basis of free speech. Don Imus still has free speech. Nobody sentenced him to hard labor for his comments. Nobody sent him to a concentration camp. He wasn't executed in the dark of night. What he lost was his far reaching platform for his speech, and it wasn't the government that took it from him. It was his employers, and his employers took it from him because they no longer wanted to be represented by the things Imus says. The lesson to take away from this isn't that free speech is being restricted, because it isn't. Imus could hop on Blogger tomorrow and start insulting anyone he wants. Freedom of speech does not mean that you are entitled to reach millions of people with your words. The true lesson to be taken away from this is that words have consequences, and if you say something stupid and awful, there is the possibility that people and organizations may choose not to associate with you any longer. And when you say something stupid and awful in the course of your employment, it may be your employer that chooses to cease its association with you.

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