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Rights versus responsibilities

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Editor, Index-Tribune:

Mr. Mollette’s views as expressed in his Dec. 31 Other Voices piece, “Keep free speech in America,” are on the wrong track.

The First Amendment is about limiting the power of government to control or censure speech, not the workplace.  Mr. Robertson’s “Duck Dynasty” employer was unhappy about his expressed views and suspended him.

This decision was not about free speech.  The First Amendment prohibits government, not the A&E television network, from such action.  Mr. Mollette states that while Mr. Robertson is employed by the network  “… that should not prohibit him from stating his opinion.”

“Should” is the operative word here – I “should” be rich does not make it a requirement. More importantly, it is a time long overdue that Americans take another look at responsibility and the effects of their behavior instead of focusing on their rights alone.

Just because a gun owner has the freedom to take his gun for show-and-tell to Starbucks, should he?  Does that reflect a sense of responsibility to the people in Starbucks and the people in that community? Just because Mr. Robertson has the freedom to spew hate speech, does that reflect responsibility and consideration in our communities where people are hurt by such talk?

The U.S. has become very selfish and obsessed with rights at the expense of responsibility.  This “should” not be.

Ernie Guomas

Agua Caliente

  • Robert Piazza

    This is not, as already noted, a 1st amendment issue.
    I am not saying i agree with Mr. Robertson’s commentary but outside the workplace, and if not a violation of any labor or contract agreement, he is free to say whatever he wants to without interference or retribution from his employer.
    This incident is the product of a radical minority point of view being blown way out of proportion by a media that is all too willing to sell advertising, using PC issues as a catalyst.
    Given the reaction of the viewers of Robertson’s program, as well as the sponsors of the program, I believe this one backfired on that radical minority!

    • Tom Sokolowski

      Robert, the duck hunter was free to say whatever he wanted to say and A&E was free to
      suspend him. They suspended him because his speech was so offensive they thought (wrongly) their viewers and sponsors would be appalled. Unfortunately, they learned their viewers were just as homophobic and racist as the duck hunter himself was. I agree with you, it was never about free speech, although if you heard the hullaballoo from his
      supporters, you would never know that.
      Further, the incident was not the product of a radical minority as you seem to think, but rather was brought on by the duck hunter’s own words. When you say something publically, you need to back it up. It’s called being responsible for your own actions, something the duck hunter’s supporters had little understanding about, preferring to blame others including those “radical groups.”

      • Robert Piazza

        Tom, A&E suspended him because they THOUGHT their viewers and sponsors would be disturbed as much as the radical progressive left expressed in the all too accommodating liberal media.

        Well surprise! The majority of sponsors and viewers were not offended and actually supported Mr. Robertson. I think A&E reviewed their contract with Robertson and discovered they had no legal basis to suspend him and risked a breach of contract law suit. But that’s just my opinion.

        I believe the majority of people in this country are getting weary of the PC agenda. It’s gone too far and is used as a trump card too often by liberals in general. But heck, it’s easy for me to say that since I’m a constitutional conservative.

        • Chris Scott

          Mr Piazza;
          au contraire! Pretty much all contracts contain what’s called a Morals Clause:

          “Wikipedia; A morals clause is a provision within instruments of the contract which curtail, or restrain, or proscribe certain behavior of individuals or party(s) to the contract. A moral clause within contracts used as a means of holding the individual or Party(s) to a certain behavioral standard so as not to bring disrepute, contempt or scandal to other individual or party to the contract and their interests. It attempts to preserve a public and private image of such a party to the contract. In essence one party to the contract is purchasing the other party’s good name or reputation. These clauses are most seen in contracts between actors and actresses and their studios, athletes and their organization or proprietors of a product that the athlete(s) may endorse or as a part of a marital settlement. Commonly proscribed activity include the use or abuse of alcohol, the use of illegal drugs or narcotics or illegal or illicit sexual activity.[1]”

          But you’re right, A&E gave Mr. Robertson a pass because of the level of support he and the show received from the Right. Notwithstanding the celebrities (radio, TV, movies, etc.), sports figures, coaches, sports casters, radio DJ’s, politicians (local, state & national), corporate spokespersons, executives, police, fire, etc., etc., who have had to issue a public apology, resign or were fired for saying the same, similar or worse slurs as Mr Anderson.

          To state the obvious, Reality TV is an oxymoron. The Duck Dynasty web site shows the cast members are laughing all the way to the bank exploiting and perpetuating a stereotype of a rural people and their subculture that has long been a subject of such exploitation. One of the first Duck Dynasties was the Beverly Hillbillies.

          Mr Sokolowski wrote correctly; A&E and the general media assumed the common standards of what is considered offensive and hate speech did not apply. The Morals Clause of their contract became effectively moot. No publicity being bad publicity A&E made the only decision they possibly could for their stockholders. There’s a heck of a lot of money to be made from the culture war.

          • Phineas Worthington

            Morals clause, meet Monica’s blue dress.

          • Chris Scott

            Nixon, Iran-Contra, WMD, Iraq War, Cheeney

          • Phineas Worthington

            thank goodness for the edit button, huh

  • Phineas Worthington

    I think you are an incredibly decent, good man Ernie though we may disagree on issues like this. Can you give an example of how someone like duck guy can disagree with homosexuality without being hurtful with their words?

    It seems that in modern America, it is not enough to just be tolerant of an opposing view deemed politically correct, one must now agree with it or risk being called hateful or some other accusatory name in response. And the decorum and language of both the left and right has plummeted as evidenced by crude, low on religious doctrine duck guy or our own president inappropriately calling political opponents to the ACA terrorists.

    I don’t understand boycotts by the left or the right. There is no need to resort to economic coercion to punish people for uttering ideas when we can just turn it off. Ernie, words are not deeds and deeds are not words. Hurtful words may be mean and bad, but they do not constitute a violation of rights. However, I am sure that I and the rest of us, left and right and everywhere in between, could all work harder to express our ideas without being intentionally hurtful toward those who disagree even though it may be well within our natural rights to be a complete jerk.