Archive for the ‘Free Speech’ Category

Service of Bad Precedent

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

Photo: reason.com

Many of my friends stopped watching the news weeks before the election. They couldn’t take any more stress. Grownups are capable of this choice and of switching channels.

That’s why I found the following news an eye-opener in the land of freedom of speech:

“The three big broadcast networks — ABC, CBS and NBC —cut away from President Trump’s news conference at the White House on Thursday as the president lobbed false claims about the integrity of the election,” Michael M. Grynbaum and Tiffany Hsu wrote in The New York Times. Fox and CNN stayed with it, they reported.

A few days later Fox News did this to press secretary Kayleigh McEnany for the same reason.

So why are the networks suddenly doing this now? Why didn’t they do it during the 2016 presidential campaign?

Photo: whitehouse.gov

In July, 2020 The Guardian reported that “Donald Trump has made 20,000 false or misleading claims while in office, according to the Washington Post, which identified a “’tsunami of untruths.’”

The 45th president has been covered on TV many times since.

I think cutting off a political figure–especially a president–or her/his spokesperson because you don’t like what you’re hearing is inappropriate. Instead a news organization should have on hand credible pundits who parry the bogus allegations or they shouldn’t cover the conference in the first place.

Should a news organization, or its news division, use its ability to cut off a prominent speaker because its producers or owners feel she/he is making things up? Remember all the tobacco industry chiefs who stared into the camera telling the public that smoking is not harmful? Is this a bad precedent?

Photo: inc.com

Service of Freedom of Speech

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Free Speech

I woke up on Sunday to a rip ‘roarin conversation on WABC Radio’s Religion on the Line between co-hosts Rabbi Joseph Potasnik and Deacon Kevin McCormack and their guest, Michael Meyers, president of the New York Civil Rights Coalition. The topic: The University of Oklahoma students who chanted a racist song on a bus. Two, the leaders, were already expelled from the school. Their fraternity chapter that was evicted from its house on campus was closed by the national organization.

I felt that the co-hosts  [pictured at right] were surprised by Meyers’ arguments. Rabbi Joseph Potasnik Deacon Kevin McCormack 2

Meyers said that the University president, a government employee, had no right to expel anyone because of this country’s commitment to freedom of speech. He noted that the incident happened off campus and was brought to the world by a video that nobody has to look at–they have to take action to see and hear it.

He felt that it was up to the University to do a better job of educating its students, not expel them for their words; to teach them to express their opposing ideas so that the words are challenged by words, not by punishment. He said that it’s not up to the government to teach good manners. He mocked the university president for being overly dramatic when he claimed he had a sleepless night over the incident.

He granted that as a private institution the fraternity was within its rights to punish and close the chapter.

Michael Meyers NY Civil Rights CoalitionMeyers [photo left] agreed that racism and anti-Semitism are wrong, but, he recalled, even Martin Luther King Jr. said you must let people speak.

The message of the Rabbi and the Deacon was that in religious communities, people have a moral responsibility to address [and punish] hateful or demeaning comments. They parried Meyers’ comments and said that words can be as dangerous as actions. The Deacon, who is also the principal of Xaverian High School in Brooklyn, pointed out that he is able to expel students for such actions because he works for a private institution.

While co-hosts and guest clearly didn’t agree, the segment ended with laughs by all when the Deacon said he’d like to continue the conversation with Meyers over dinner and the Rabbi, known for his quick wit and love of teasing, suggested that Meyers remember to bring his checkbook.

Where do you stand?

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