“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.”
As many of you may have heard by now, Phil Robertson from the A&E reality show ‘Duck Dynasty’ was recently suspended for remarks he made during a GQ interview regarding homosexuals. If you would like to read that article you may do so here as I will not be getting into any of his comments because really, I could care less as to the opinions the man holds.
I have never seen the show, but from my Facebook and Twitter feed, I must be in the minority. I have however seen the beards and it is hard not to automatically respect a man with a beard like that. But honestly, I’m just not a reality show type of person nor do I pay attention to the opinions of celebrities.
My concerns lay in the assertion of many that somehow A&E, Phil Robertson’s employer, violated his First Amendment rights by suspending him. The United States Constitution protects the peoples of this land from GOVERNMENT establishing, prohibiting, or abridging free speech, not private individuals or entities.
One of the great things about this country is that we are able to speak our opinions freely, but no one is obligated to believe as you or to agree with you. As individuals we have the right to say what ever we please, but that right to free speech is not a freedom from consequences.
A&E has every right to terminate whomever they please. It is their right and I am sure, within their contractual obligations. Just as it is Starbucks’ right to advocate for gun control. Just as it is Masterpiece Cakeshop’s right to not serve gay couples.
People and organizations should not be forced by government to adhere to political or religious correctness. When government intervenes in the market, even for what some may think are noble reasons, there is always blowback or unforeseen negative consequences. However, a free market will always correct itself and align with the will of the people as it is the people deciding what they do or do not want to support.
For example, ever since I heard about the active anti-second amendment stance Starbucks was taking, I have not used any of their goods or services. That is how a free market should work. Consumers should educate themselves on products and companies and support those who will fulfill their needs. (So, no more Starbucks guys.)
What we should all be weary of is trying to use government to oppose and silence those who we may disagree with. Case in point: Masterpiece Cakeshop. If you read the article linked above you will see that those who advocate for gay rights used the state to impose their will on a private business. It looks as though the state of Colorado has a “public accommodation law” which forces business to serve those they do not want to serve citing segregation. Besides the fact that these laws are well beyond the proper role of government, if someone is a bigot racist, wouldn’t you just want to know so you would not give your hard earned dollars to them?
Laws forcing all business to serve whom the government wants them to serve steals accountability away from the consumer in the same way that bailouts and subsidies do. The bigger the government, the smaller the influence of the individual.
I say all of this to say, A&E did not violate anyone’s First Amendment rights and we should never advocate for government to intervene in these matters, but I do think they will be feeling the impact of consumer advocacy and that is well within the rights of every individual that disagrees with their decision.