Friday, October 31, 2008

Palin's Loose Grasp of Reality Continues: Freedom of Speech Infringement?

Anyone who heard about what Sarah Palin said to Chris Plante, host of a conservative radio show, must be confused (as I am). She thinks that because the media has called her attacks on Obama regarding Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, and Rashid Khalidi negative (was she trying to paint them in a positive light? If not, then it's negative) her right to freedom of speech that is guaranteed in the First Amendment is in danger of being infringed upon.

Full interview, Part I:

Part II:

(Skip to 0:50 in part 2 to hear Palin's comment on freedom of speech)

It is quite clear that Palin is in troubled waters with this comment. To begin with, a private entity (like the media) cannot illegally infringe upon one's freedom of speech (at least if that person is not an employee; you enter a grayer area when it comes to the EEOC) because that right is guaranteed under the Constitution and thus requires a state action to even to be considered as an infringement of that right. Secondly, in the type of open environment that we as United States citizens and residents are lucky enough to enjoy, there is what is called a "marketplace of ideas," to quote Oliver Wendell Holmes. One person says something, another person can respond, others can join in and rebuttals and such can be offered up. That is part of the beauty of America. Debate is necessary to bring out the truth.

So to say that because you are criticized your freedom of speech is being infringed upon is ridiculous. The same tenet that gives one the right to say whatever he/she wants gives someone else the right to criticize you (add freedom of the press guaranteed by the same amendment and the media's ability to call something negative is enhanced). To say that because someone rebuts what you say or paints it in a way that you do not find favorable it infringes on your freedom of speech (and thus the party who criticized you should not do so for the greater "good" of the people's first amendment right) is ridiculous and totalitarian.

Additionally, there are many people in the world who would love to be in Sarah Palin's shoes when it comes to free speech. To people in nations like China, Cuba, Venezuela, or North Korea (to name a few) if some criticism were all that accompanied speaking out against the government (which Palin is certainly doing when she talks about the Washington elite, etc.) they would be ecstatic. Instead they must deal with beatings, imprisonment, even death for exercising their human right to free speech, and they still manage to use that right whenever possible. For Palin to say that the media calling her attacks on Obama negative (again, there are no positive attacks) a potential infringement on her freedom of speech is insulting.

If Palin is feeling bullied by the media for calling her ridiculous assertions that Obama's policies will be shaped by some hippy like Bill Ayers negative, she needs to either begin talking about the issues or, if she wants to continue to try to smear Obama, deal with it. Freedom of speech goes two ways, and to say that the first amendment's dichotomous nature is preventing the utilization of the right in the first place is ludicrous. Is Palin under media scrutiny? You're damn right. When you're a heartbeat away from the presidency and your own running mate does not vet you and all you have to talk about is Obama's acquaintances instead of the issues, what can you expect? Obama, McCain, and Biden have gone through the same process, though it was months and months ago and people seem to forget it (Stephanopoulos anyone?). It also does not help that she has made many missteps so far in front of the nation (I can see Russia from my house!). Palin likes to say that she calls them like she sees them. It seems as if the media is doing the same thing with her. Peace.

Photos - Palin (Wall Street Journal), Oliver Wendell Holmes (Wikipedia)

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