Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Gordon Robinson | Me free! You free?

Published:Tuesday | June 19, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Self-professed liberals' support of freedom of speech has been exposed as no different from conservatives' (i.e., contingent on agreement with what's said).

In that alleged bastion of free speech, USA, its current president, aka 'Fastest Thumbs in the West', consistently exercises that right even to his own detriment. But President Thumbfast applauds the NFL for an obviously unconstitutional rule restricting players' protest during the national anthem to a locker room.

Thumbledore's sole concern was that protest was allowed at all, tweeting, "NFL, no escaping to locker rooms." Conservative America argued this ugly attempt to ban America's first amendment-protected national symbols but, outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, liberal America was outraged at the unwarranted attack on free speech.

You think that I don't even mean a single word I say.

It's only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away.

Wherever we see peaceful protest or unpopular opinion, we may pay attention or not, but should unrelentingly defend protesters' right to protest and publishers' right to opine. Equally, it's our God-given right to disagree and to publish our disagreement far and wide. Any encroachment on those rights is the thin edge of a wedge that opens a door to totalitarianism. Robot (from Lost in Space) would say, "Danger, danger!"

So, I was amused when infamous hick star Roseanne Barr published a racist Twitter rant that prompted ABC to cancel her hit sitcom. Why, when ratings were astronomical? My bet is Goodman's Law. Goodman's Law? Don't ask if it's about the money. It's ALWAYS about the money. Now that political correctness is divine mantra, I guess advertisers signalled their intent to abandon ship, triggering ABC's fiscal reflex to pull the plug on Roseanne.

 

Thunderous tweets

 

Irony abounded when President Thumbdummy located his human-rights gene to produce thunderous tweets supporting Roseanne. Accusing ABC's Bob Iger of double standard, he fumed at his prominent supporter's dismissal while condemning ABC's failure to apologise for "horrible statements" made about him, and TBS for not firing comedienne Samantha Bee, who called Ivanka a "feckless" (er, um) body-part-often-grabbed-by-her-father.

Words can build you up.

Words can break you down; start a fire in your heart or put it out

Jamaica experienced its own firestorm when visiting Pastor G'nome Jennings equated women wearing fashionable clothes/make-up to whores:

"You so-called Christian-looking [whores], jumping in church, flapping ankle chains around; on the choir, breasts hanging out; lips all red, nails painted red, purple, blue, green, long like bird claws; all this fake hair; breast implants; toenails painted with little fake diamonds in it; ... You're nothing but a prostitute."

He was unrestrained in exercising his right to free speech but, when challenged by Mr Vegas, Jennings censored Vegas and ordered security to "usher him out". Then we called for Jennings to be banned.

In 1967, Barry Gibb, while arguing strenuously with someone, realised the argument was about nothing, just words. The result: The Bee Gees' Words. In 2012, new Hawk Nelson vocalist, Jonathan Steingard, wrote Words (released 2013) with Matt Hammitt (from Christian rock band Sanctus Real) and producer Seth Mosley. Inspiration came from their conversations. Steingard: "We were talking about how easy it is to forget how impacting we can be in the lives of people around us just with our words."

Words are important. Unless they do harm, they shouldn't be restricted. Beauty may be in the beholder's eye, but free speech shouldn't depend on the listener's ear. If I'm to be free, you must also be free. Hopefully, Jennings won't be banned for unpopular opinion and, next time, Vegas will defend Jennings' whores more effectively. I recommend he study the deeply philosophical message in a favourite limerick from my misspent youth.

There was a young fellow named Dave who kept a dead whore in his cave. He said, "I'll admit I'm a bit of a twit. But think of the money I've saved!"

Peace and love.

- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.