By Bill O’Reilly
Freedom of speech is a delicate thing because it protects irresponsible people. We use words to hurt other people. Of course, the greater good is that all Americans can express themselves hopefully in a mature way.
But there is no question that the huge partisan divide in this a country is leading to hate speech, slander, defamation. There is no question about that. And now some Americans are calling for firings, boycotts and in one absurd case, criminal prosecution. All for speech they don't like.
The latest is a conservative Media Research Center calling for the Comcast Corporation to fire some people at MSNBC. Now, we sympathize. For years gutter snipes on that network have been abusing freedom of speech intentionally trying to harm folks with whom they disagree.
In fact we spotlighted the General Electric Corporation, which at the time owned NBC and aggressively reported GE's irresponsible position involving hate speech. But we never threatened anyone. In fact the only time I mentioned the boycott was when France was actively aiding Saddam Hussein. In the Ludacris/Pepsi situation, you may remember, I simply said I would not buy Pepsi.
The marketplace should dictate these controversies. And it usually does. MSNBC has few viewers; last month it ranked 26th among all cable networks in prime time. Far more successful is Rush Limbaugh but his program has lost scores of sponsors who objected to his comments about Sandra Fluke. However, that posture cuts both ways. I'm sure many of Mr. Limbaugh's listeners are angry with those sponsors for bailing out.
The entire boycott movement is garbage. The far-left threatening sponsors who advertise on programs they don't like is flat out un-American.
So, I believe that the Media Research Center is making a mistake sinking to that level. We sometimes use some of MRC's facts and they've always been reliable. MRC is a good source of information. It should stay that way and stay out of the boycott business.
I have no beef with anyone who is angry about the Limbaugh situation on either side. You are smart enough to form your own opinion. And I believe in the free marketplace. That's why we stood up for Ellen DeGeneres when some conservatives were pressuring JC Penny to fire her as a spokesperson.
We want a vibrant America. We want free speech all over the place. But when that speech turns irresponsible the marketplace should dictate, not pressure groups armed with threats.
And that's "The Memo."
Pinheads & Patriots
Yesterday, we reported that Al Gore believes democracy is being hacked, and we let Dennis Miller make fun of him. As part of that display... and we apologize, of course, for Miller... this man with the green hanky caught our attention. He is Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, an environmental scientist who teaches at Yale and who accepted the Noble Peace Prize, which he shared with Mr. Gore.
This day, the doctor has written a controversial book, but it's not about global warming. It's about Shirley McClain. Apparently, the actress is a character in the book who enjoys, well, "R-rated" pursuits.
Anyway, we don't know Dr. Pachauri well enough to call him a "Pinhead" or a "Patriot", but we do like his outfit.