Politics & Policy

Roseanne’s Firing Is Not a Free-Speech Issue

Roseanne Barr (left) and Laurie Metcalf in Roseanne (Adam Rose/ABC)
ABC had every right to dump her, and political correctness was not involved.

In case you haven’t heard, Roseanne Barr did something really awful and stupid on Tuesday morning.

In a now-deleted tweet, Barr made a racist comment about former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, saying that she was like the “Muslim brotherhood and Planet of the Apes had a baby.” A matter of hours later, her hit ABC sitcom was canceled.

There’s no denying that what Barr said was racist, or that she was dumb for having said it. She has since apologized, and has probably also reached the conclusion that it wasn’t worth it. In all honesty, I’ve never understood why people aren’t more careful on social media. I’ve always sarcastically said that the best thing about Twitter is that not only do you not get paid for your tweets, but you can also get fired for them. It really is one of the more idiotic ways to ruin a career, and I can never make sense of it whenever it happens.

But what’s done is done, and there’s no turning back. She was fired, and she deserved to be fired. Her comment was racist and unacceptable, and I would not want someone who had made that kind of comment representing my company, either. It really seems that simple to me, but oddly enough, I’ve actually seen some conservatives defending her — saying that her firing is an example of the rampant political correctness that flies in the face of free speech — and honestly, this is something that I just can’t understand.

The First Amendment protects us from facing consequences from the government over our speech, not consequences from our peers or our employers.

First of all, this is in no way a free-speech or First Amendment issue. The First Amendment protects us from facing consequences from the government over our speech, not consequences from our peers or our employers. Yes, what Barr said, although abhorrent, absolutely was constitutionally protected speech, and, of course, it should be. After all, giving the government the power to decide what is and is not “acceptable” speech would be giving the government the power to silence whatever kind of speech it felt like silencing, which would be very dangerous indeed. Anyway, the point is, a free-speech-rights violation would be someone trying to, say, arrest Barr for her comments, not firing her for them. Her rights were in no way violated in this case. ABC simply exercised its own rights as a private company to decide whom it does and does not want to associate with, and it’s my view that no one should blame its executives for making the decision that they made. As for the “political correctness” argument, this wasn’t some kind of innocent joke that has been misinterpreted and blown out of proportion. It was a clear-cut, textbook example of racism, and 65-year-old Barr is absolutely adult enough to have known this when she tweeted it.

Although she happens to support Donald Trump, conservatives absolutely should not feel compelled to defend Roseanne — and I say this as someone who really enjoyed the show. Her tweet was racist, and she’s also made plenty of crazy statements in the past. For example: She’s a 9/11 truther. She accused the Obama administration of contriving “false-flag terror attacks,” such as the Boston Marathon bombing, in an attempt to interfere with our Second Amendment rights. She’s tweeted YouTube videos that defended the Pizzagate conspiracy theory. Truly, she’s not even really “conservative” so much as she is nuts. Is someone like that really someone that conservatives should want as a representative of their side, anyway? I suppose I can understand how the dearth of conservatives in Hollywood might make conservatives feel compelled to just support whomever they can get, but anyone with a shred of respect or intelligence should think twice before defending a racist tweet from an unhinged conspiracy theorist. Principles should always come before party — and an opposition to racism should always be among your principles.

NOW WATCH: “ABC Cancels ‘Roseanne’ After Racist Tweet”

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