The Corner

Re: You Should Find the Anti-Komen Backlash Disgusting, Even If You’re Pro-Choice

Reading some of the reaction to Dan’s post – especially this absurd little offering – one would get the false impression that he’d criticized the First Amendment. Aside from this being patently untrue, such an accusation betrays a bizarre way of looking at the world, and one I am more accustomed to in England where people being lambasted for having said something stupid inexplicably respond, “but it’s my freedom of speech.” Yes, it is. And it’s mine to tell you you’re wrong, too. The right to speak freely does not include the right to be inured from reaction.

In America, we enjoy a freedom of speech that is pretty much unlimited. But what does that mean? It means that, unlike in most other parts of the world, we can’t be arrested and prosecuted for expressing ourselves. It also means that we are free, in the most part, to contribute (or not to contribute) to organizations that share our aims. It does not mean that everything said — or spent — is virtuous. Nor that we are to be respected for what we say. When the collected foot soldiers of the Planned Parenthood Appreciation Society become angry with Komen for exercising their free right to cease funding another group, we can criticize them for their reaction without going anywhere near their rights. That is precisely what Dan did in his post. He criticized the bullying, gangsterish tactics, not the speech itself. With these things, there is no cutoff point: Speech can go around and around and around, until we are criticizing them for criticizing us for criticizing them for criticizing us and so forth. That’s America. That’s liberty. Boisterous, noisy, often harsh. But still free.

The second charge against Dan is that he’s only upset by the backlash, 

because “the Left” insists on “besmirching Komen’s good name” instead of exercising its freedom of speech in Foster’s preferred medium: a check.

This is just flat out wrong. I’m sure that Dan, as should anyone who respects the First Amendment, would defend the right of anyone to donate money to whomever they choose. But given that, in this case, he was actually criticizing the writing of “a check” — i.e., Komen giving money to Planned Parenthood — the accusation becomes all the more weird.


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