Monday, December 23, 2013

Some not so random thoughts on this Duck Dynasty thing

Events have unfolded so quickly and there have been so many twists and turns
in the whole Duck Dynasty/Phil Robertson kerkuffle we haven't had sufficient
time to digest all the goings on in order to comment upon them.

A few observations, however, are in order:

1) A&E looks spineless and duplicitous in this whole affair. A&E wins
our Capt. Louis Renault award for being shocked... shocked that the star of
their reality... R-E-A-L-I-T-Y... show might just have views on
homosexuality and express them in a manner as would many other southern,
rural Christians. To our knowledge, Duck Dynasty was the highest rated
cable series ever, making A&E tons of money and they fold like a lawn chair
when push comes to shove.

2) Golly, did Cracker Barrel backpedal faster than a corner covering a go-route
when after removing from their restaurants anything Phil
Robertson-related, they put it all back up after hearing from their
constituents? How bizarre is it that Cracker Barrel, of all places, might
think their customer base of red-staters might give a hoot about what GLAAD

3) Disappointed in our fellow travelers on the right, Louisiana Governor
Bobby Jindal being chief among those, who thought this was a free-speech
issue. In our way of thinking, for it to be a free speech issue, the
government would need to be involved. That's how it works. The
government wasn't involved via censoring or otherwise butting into A&E's
affairs, advocacy groups were so it wasn't a free speech issue rather a
issue. Huge difference.

And speaking of speech... the following is an old post and a favorite of
ours as free speech has become a more and more valued right to us over the
years and which we believe has parallels to L'affaire Duck Dynasty.

Exceptional Speech

All free speech isn't created equally or interpreted equally everywhere as
the show trials of Canadian human rights commissions of Mark Steyn and Ezra
Levant have proven. But is our free speech better than Canadian and European
free speech? Some here think we need to revisit the concept that was deemed
important enough to be drafted No. 1 overall when it came time for our
nation's founders to make their selections of really, really important

But why does it seem that on the whole a more restrictive interpretation of
free speech, and thus a more liberal interpretation of hate speech, occurs
in countries that appear to have the most difficulties with restive
immigrant minority groups. Is there a causal relationship? We think there
may be.

The fact that the Canadian Human Rights Commission has a near 100%
conviction rate is proof-positive of giving an air of legitimacy to quite
anything that an aggrieved plaintiff may bring before it as "hate speech".
If you as the aggrieved are almost always guaranteed satisfaction from this
particular court system every time you cry foul, then the hate speech bar is
lowered to the point where being offended or feeling your group has been
incited against with respect to nearly anything written or said is indeed,
culturally and legally, justifiable.

The whole system both legally and culturally in Canada and much of Europe
thus invites grievances, promotes isolation and discourages assimilation.

Let's contrast that with the United States where Muslims don't riot or burn
American flags, where there are no fatwas declared against writers and
filmmakers are not murdered while walking down the street and the hate
speech bar is set much, much higher.

Precisely because the bar is set higher, the legitimization of hate speech
is much more infrequent. Rather than officially recognize alleged hate
speech in courts of law, the rantings of say, a Jeremiah Wright or the
suggestions by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson that the acceptance of
homosexuality in this country was, in part, responsible for 9-11, it is
instead held up for public scorn, ridicule and mocking.. as it should. The
question of legitimacy is taken off the table and in fact, it is viewed not
as court-defined "hate speech" but rather, "illegitimate speech." In other
words, speech that is outside the legitimate circle of polite and civil

We will not take you to court, we will, however, make fun of you and then
simply ignore you.

A perfect case-in-point for this is the Iranian mad-bomber, Mahmoud
Ahmedinejad, who came to New York last year to make a number of speeches and
appearances. We understood the calls for banning and/or boycotting his
speeches but we generally came down on the side of letting the man speak
knowing that the true Mahmoud would reveal himself and sho'nuff, the raving
lunatic, homophobe and anti-semite we knew him to be did not disappoint.

Despite the serious nature of what he said, we, collectively, mocked and ridiculed the guy,
essentially turning Ahmedinejad into a late-night punch line effectively
neutering and delegitimizing his message.

A Canadian, himself recognizes this exceptionalism. Jason Gratl a lawyer for
the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association:

"Canadians do not have a cast-iron stomach for offensive speech," Mr. Gratl
said in a telephone interview. "We don't subscribe to a marketplace of
ideas. Americans as a whole are more tough-minded and more prepared for
verbal combat."

And Mr. Steyn: "Western governments are becoming increasingly comfortable
with the regulation of opinion. The First Amendment really does distinguish
the U.S., not just from Canada but from the rest of the Western world."

This exceptionalism is worth preserving. We've seen how free speech
interpretation works elsewhere and the results are less than American.

Embrace the hatred of hate speech laws.

(end of old post)

Over the weekend it was reported that GLAAD now wants Robertson to spend
some time with gays there in Louisiana as if his current chastening wasn't
enough. This re-education camp mentality is troubling and would suggest we are losing the tough-mindedness of which Mr. Gratl speaks.

No comments: