Marc Randazza: "It's Un-American To Silence Limbaugh"
I love the hell out of Marc J. Randazza. He was my First Amendment knight in shining armor when I got a letter of demand from the lawyer for TSA worker Thedala Magee, demanding that I pay her $500,000 for "libel" and "defamation." (Or as Marc and I and anybody who has read the Constitution calls it, "Asserting one's First Amendment rights.")
He is a fierce defender of civil liberties and especially free speech rights, and understands that nobody has a right to not be offended. The First Amendment is the asshole protection amendment. We don't need to protect the rights of people who say things everyone agrees with, but those with views that offend others. And those views are extremely important to protect -- and the foundation of a free society. Most gloriously -- and I use that word intentionally -- here's Randazza defending Rush Limbaugh's free speech CNN:
I despise Rush Limbaugh. I despise almost everything I have ever heard him say. I wish that he were no longer on the air. That is why I write today to defend him against those who call for him to be silenced.
Far too frequently, Americans find offense in another's art, music or other expression, and then they call for censorship. This is intolerable.
The First Amendment stands for principles like that espoused by the Supreme Court in West Virginia v. Barnette: "Of there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein."
Or that wisdom given to us by New York Times v. Sullivan, "Debate on public issues ... [should be] ... uninhibited, robust, and wide-open."
The First Amendment requires neither tact nor politeness. It requires that we permit all views to set up stalls in the marketplace of ideas, and we let that marketplace decide which ideas prevail.
Rush Limbaugh has a right to his views. Just as important, his fans have a right to hear him. Those of us who disagree with him have a right to fight him, but we must do so on our own. Using the government to support our view is constitutionally intolerable. Trying to bully him off the air is wrong.
Some call for the Federal Communications Commission to pull Clear Channel's broadcast licenses if they keep Limbaugh on the air, because they believe that Rush Limbaugh does not "serve the public interest." This is inaccurate and not permissible under the Constitution.
It is a terrifying prospect that the government might review the political and social positions of a broadcaster when deciding who gets access to the airwaves. Should the government censor books that it finds to be unpopular or offensive?
...I despise Limbaugh not because he uttered one or two nasty words, but because his views are truly evil. I debate those who agree with him. I place my ideas into the marketplace, and I believe that ideas like mine will win out.
I realize that my work is difficult, and I may not even live to see Limbaugh's ideas repudiated. But my commitment to free expression requires me to engage his ideas, to parry them and to let my beliefs stand on their own -- without using the government or other improper means to tip the scales.
Free speech means tolerating views that you despise. Otherwise, one day, it will be your views that someone doesn't like.
If you don't stand up for Limbaugh's liberty today, someone may come for yours tomorrow. Discredit him, but don't silence him.
On a related note, here's an excerpt from an email an editor sent me from a woman trying to get me fired by a newspaper group that runs me:
I'm writing to ask you to please, please, PLEASE stop printing the "Advice Goddess" column in the Sunday paper. This column is occasionally funny but usually offensive and anti-feminist...
Please, for the sake of my blood pressure (which rises every Sunday morning as I come across this nonsense while trying to eat a peaceful breakfast with my family), stop printing it.
An excerpt from my reply -- complete with free-speech-lovin' ending:
I think it's essential that we tell young women the truth, which is one of the goals of my column -- cutting through political correctness. This sometimes disturbs people who favor the party line...
I put an enormous amount of research, thought, time, and energy into turning out a column that I feel is not only funny but based in good science and integrity, and it's disturbing when a reader wants to see the column axed simply because they don't share my beliefs.
In addition to writing my column, I support free speech in this country through my support of organizations like theFIRE.org, which defends free speech on college campuses -- all free speech, even that which they personally disagree with.
To me, having all views expressed is makes for the healthiest society, and I hope, M., you will consider that when you read my column in the future.
Randazza on the radio on Limbaugh/free speech.
Oh, and on the bright side, "occasionally funny" from someone who hates you and is trying to get you fired probably means "HILARIOUS!"