Sunday, April 8, 2018


Let's start with this:

[Bill] Maher said he didn’t agree with Ingraham’s stance on that or many other issues — and even called her a “deliberately terrible person” — but said it’s her First Amendment right to say what she wants.
Bill Maher doesn’t like Laura Ingraham. He hates the boycott of her show even more.
And then move to this:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.
Given these two things, I'm not sure how one relates to the other. Mainly because the teapot tempest that Ms. Ingraham stirred up is not with the government. It's with David Hogg, the public and her advertisers. None of whom are a party to the First Amendment. And none of whom, properly speaking, are interfering with her right to say what she wants. If her show is cancelled because of a boycott, or even a capital strike, there is no violation of the First Amendment there, unless it can be shown that Congress, or the broader government orchestrated it. I'm somewhat surprised that Mr. Maher doesn't seem to understand this, given his role as a media personality.

Even when he took it on the chin (or, was the "victim" of a boycott, if you prefer) for his comments that lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away was more cowardly than riding a hijacked plane into its target, his troubles weren't a violation of the First Amendment, even if White House spokesman Ari Fleischer could be fingered as the trigger point.

The First Amendment of the Constitution does not demand that the Marketplace of Ideas make room for all comers. It simply states that the government may not force any particular concept or speaker out of the marketplace by the force of law.

In other words, it's one thing for a government to detail Bill Maher, or force HBO to remove his show from the air, due to the content of his comments. (Although it must be said that there are limits on that. We understand that if Mr. Maher were to, say, solicit the commission of some or another criminal activity on the air, that forcing HBO to pull the plug would be a legitimate act on the part of the government.) It would be another thing entirely for HBO to decide to dump him (as ABC once did), for the businesses that fund the show through their advertising purchases to withdraw that support or for some segment of the public to decline HBO subscriptions because they don't appreciate his particular brand of commentary.

It's tempting to see a betrayal of American values and/or Constitutional principles in the sudden downfall of people who say things that unexpectedly place them at odds with the public - or the people who control their access to large segments of the public. But that conflates the State with the people who constitute the State; and even in a government of the people, by the people and for the people, they are not the same.

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