by Wayne Simmes:
The first amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right to speak our minds freely. It will be pointed out by many that right is not absolute. You may be able to speak freely but you may have to face consequences when you do. I am sure that has not always been the case.
The following quote in some form or another has been attributed to many different people, from Voltaire to Patrick Henry to Evelyn Beatrice Hall. “I may disagree with what you say but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.” They did not say that they would fight to the death for your right to say something but that if you do I hope you get fired.
So at the beginning of this Country, the controversy that has developed over free speech would have been met with derision. This morning on Fox News they had a female Liberal and a male Conservative arguing about whether there is a double standard between how Roseanne and her supposedly racist comment was treated differently than Samantha Bee’s vile and despicable comment about Ivanka Trump.
Not surprisingly the liberal blamed everything on The President of the United States. When challenged, she said that this one comment by Bee may not have been the fault of the President but it is obvious that since he has been elected that people have become far more hateful to one another than they were when we were growing up. And of course, she is half right. It is not just since Donald Trump was elected President that our tolerance for other people has deteriorated. Our standards of speech have been changing ever since the First Amendment was ratified.
When I was in school I had a teacher that said that profanity was a feeble mind attempting to express itself. And I happen to agree with that statement. Even in comedy, I find the use of vile language to detract from the performer’s act. I found people like Bill Cosby and Gallagher (who never used profanity in their acts) far funnier than people like George Carlin who threw out the “f-word” almost constantly.
And at that time you never heard profanity on Television or Radio. It just did not happen. And sexual situations were not considered to be entertainment. Even Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, who were married in real life as well as on television were not allowed to sleep in the same bed on the show. There were no television shows like we have today.
If a young man wanted to see a bare breast, he had to find a copy of his Father’s Playboy or Penthouse, magazine and hope that he didn’t get caught looking at it before he could put it back where he found it.
But over time all that has changed. I remember in the early 80’s when channel 15 in Phoenix, Arizona began broadcasting soft pornography after 10 o’clock at night. To make money and to make sure that only those that wanted the service, a subscription, and special equipment was required to view it. Looking back, those shows that were so well protected were not nearly as bad as much of what we see on prime time television today.
And political satire has changed drastically as well. Some of my favorite books were written by Will Rogers and Art Buchwald, but who poked fun at the political arena. But they rarely poked fun at individuals. And they never uttered the vile vitriol that so-called comediennes do today. Here is an example of one of Roger’s sayings that I remember. Someone told him that a Congressman had asked to introduce one of Roger’s articles into the Congressional Record. Another Congressman stood up and said that he strongly objected to having a professional comic read into the Congressional Record. Rogers took exception to that and gave this reply. “A professional comic? Why the things I say aren’t half as funny as what those birds do. The only difference is that when I crack a joke, that is all it is, a joke and it doesn’t hurt anyone. When those birds crack a joke, it becomes law and is bound to hurt somebody, usually everybody.”
Today the comic would have to utter a half dozen profane words and maybe call for the assassination of the offending party.
I wish that we could go back to the way things were back then, but we can’t. No amount of legislation will ever make our politicians and “entertainers” return to the civility of what I think was a much better time in our Country. So all that I can hope for is that perhaps we can find a way to treat both sides of the political spectrum in an equal manner.
If a conservative is to be fired for something that she utters, then a liberal uttering similar offensive comments should be fired as well. Or better yet, neither one should be fired for saying what they have on their minds. After all, if we find someone’s tweets offensive do we not have the ability to stop following those people. If we find something that a celebrity says on the air objectionable, do we not have the ability to change the channel? Why today we don’t even have to get up off the couch to turn the channel unless of course, the kids have misplaced the remote.
So let’s talk for a few moments about two separate events that have happened this week. The first was Roseanne Barr’s tweet where she used the words Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes when referring to Valerie Jarret. The second was when Samantha Bee called the President’s daughter the “C word”, and then suggested that Ivanka was having an incestual relationship with her father. Roseanne issued an apology and was summarily fired. Samantha Bee issued an apology and was given an award. So what is the difference between the two incidences? Well, Roseanne’s object of derision was a liberal and Samantha Bee’s was a conservative. Well, perhaps I shouldn’t say that Ivanka Trump is a conservative. I doubt that even her father would fit that description. But they are viewed in that light by the main-stream media.
Now if we are going to apply Voltaire’s words to either situation, neither one of them should have been fired. And really there is no comparison between the two. Roseanne’s words should have been taken as a joke. And give me a break what she said was not even borderline offensive compared with a lot of what is said daily without any repercussions. What Samantha Bee called Ivanka Trump was so vile that even though I write Erotica, I would not use the word in one of my stories.
But you see the previous paragraph is my personal opinion. And I should be free to express that and if those reading it find it offensive they can call me out for it or they can just not read anything else that I right.
Now if ABC or TBS would lose viewers because of what these two said, they have the right to take action against the offending parties. But, give me a break, ABC would have picked up viewers to the Roseanne show and I doubt that TBS would have lost viewers as well.
I think the sad part is that we are arguing over which personality should be fired. Neither should be fired. Disagree openly with what they said, but understand that if you side with censorship against either of these people you are giving up your own right to free speech.