Friday, October 29, 2010

Juan Williams, Free Speech, and Something To Think About

America witnessed a bona fide, honest-to-goodness miracle. Liberals and Conservatives alike found common ground in their free defense of quasi-Liberal commentator Juan Williams after he was fired from National Public Radio (NPR) after remarks on FOX News’ O’Reilly Factor, hosted by Bill O’Reilly. Given the depth of news coverage which this story received, we should all know those now-infamous words which Williams spoke on the conservative commentator’s news show:

"I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot,” Williams said on the "The O'Reilly Factor" Monday. “But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

Granted it’s easy to see how such ideas could further religious intolerance in post 9/11 America, Williams’ firing from NPR last week speaks a great deal about how much free speech has become a target by those who political sensitivities cannot stand to be challenged. Take Republican South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint’s response to the firing of Williams. The Conservative senator has vowed to introduce legislation calling for the elimination of federal funds used to supplement NPR’s mostly donation-funded operating budget. In defending his stance, DeMint stated that

"Once again we find the only free speech liberals support is the speech with which they agree. The incident with Mr. Williams shows that NPR is not concerned about providing the listening public with an honest debate of today’s issues, but rather with promoting a one-sided liberal agenda."

The ironic thing about such political posturing is that any legislation to cut NPR’s federal funding (only 10% of its total funding anyway) will go a long way toward doing the same thing which DeMint accuses NPR of doing...curtailing free speech. Go Figure.

Free speech—any free speech—should be protected at all cost"



  1. As usual, conservative spin triumphs over the truth.

    Williams was not fired for what he said, but for allowing Bill O'Reilly to identify him on the show as an NPR analyst, which he was forbidden to do by his NPR contract. Funny that Williams got a $2 million deal from Fox the next day.

    One more pseudo-liberal (I love your term) sells out to the right, for the money, and once again, this is portrayed by the media as the fault of liberals.

  2. You're absolutely right! When it comes to political spin, Conservatives are better than Liberals. But the often gutless nature of Liberals (i.e., their propensity to make the accusations of Conservatives self-fulling prophesies by trying avoid playing up to their opponents) helps their defeatist outlook.