May 16th, 2006


A curious notion of freedom of expression...

Normally, I let the author of DUmmie Funnies plod through the slushpile of the Democratic Underground web site, winnowing the gems of truly hilarious idiocy from the vast sewer of boring idiocy therein. Sometimes, though, I go there myself. When I did so most recently, I saw a post with a link to some commentary that puts forth an interesting view of freedom of expression as a positive right.

The essay cites the examples of the Dixie Chicks and Sean Penn as a lead in to the Plame brouhaha; apparently, they are supposed to show that the administration is in the habit of putting down dissent:

"So, instead of encouraging a full-and-free debate, Bush made clear that he saw nothing wrong with his followers hurting Americans who disagree with him."

Eh? Here's the section of the interview that supposedly implies the author's claim:

"I mean, the Dixie Chicks are free to speak their mind. They can say what they want to say. And just because -- they shouldn't have their feelings hurt just because some people don't want to buy their records when they speak out. You know, freedom is a two-way street. But I have -- don't really care what the Dixie Chicks said. I want to do what I think is right for the American people, and if some singers or Hollywood stars feel like speaking out, that's fine."

At this point in the article, the author had not brought up the issue of death threats, which I'd like to think that all sane people would consider far beyond the bounds of permissible behavior—all that was in question was not buying records and expressing the intent not to listen to stations that played songs from those records. the author thus arguing that people are obliged to support people who express opinions with which they disagree, i.e. that freedom of expression is a so-called "positive right"?

If that's the case, I look forward to the author's displaying proof that he buys the recordings and attends the performances of Prussian Blue; otherwise, he is, by his own argument, interfering with their right to free expression.
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