Free Speech For Me But Not For Thee

“I think that what Tucker says much of the time is completely reprehensible and divorced from reality,” Lemon said, “but he has a right to be in a space and not be accosted and not be ambushed by anyone.”

—Don Lemon, CNN anchor, quoted by Sarah Polus, “Don Lemon defends Tucker Carlson amid confrontation, July 27, 2021.

Not the only news anchor with this opinion, apparently. I’ll point out the obvious. If there is no forum where you are held to account, where you have to respond, seriously, to questions and criticism, then you’ve left with only the court of public opinion and the ambush interview or comment. Don’t like it? Select a different outlet to respond in good faith to criticism or pursue another line of work.

It reminds me of a quote I once read by David Lee Roth. His interviewer asked him how he handles fame since so many celebrities have trouble with it. He said, roughly, “Oh, honey, that’s the job.”

2 thoughts on “Free Speech For Me But Not For Thee

  1. The issue of free speech has gotten to be overcomplicated, which is ironic considering that many of us who rise to its defense are rather absolutist about it. As I understand the brief Don Lemon quote, he’s not in favor of free speech per se but in Tucker Carlson’s right to say any damn thing he pleases without having to answer his critics: no accosting or ambushing (speech in isolation). Up until the point his critics slap him upside his fatuous head, it’s really just more free speech, which must also be protected (though not necessarily platformed). Once exchanges turn to assault and/or battery, then it become a criminal matter and no longer about free speech.

    1. That’s the problem with free speech absolutism, which often amounts to a desire to be free from the consequences of speech. The bottom line is that there are limits to what people will tolerate, and there are some people, at some times, that think making a moral stand is more important than keeping within the confines of criminal law or even social propriety. Caveat orator.

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