Home > Republican Stupidity, Right-Wing Hypocrisy > You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

December 20th, 2013

Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty voiced his personal opinion about homosexuality:

Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.

Robertson was “indefinitely suspended” by A&E over his remarks. Sarah Palin, who I usually ignore because of the Ann Coulter Rule, made a public statement on Facebook which is noteworthy because it is a conservative meme far overused:

“Free speech is an endangered species,” Sarah Palin wrote on Facebook on Wednesday night. “Those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.”

That’s the conceit: when a person speaks out and is criticized or punished in some way, their “free speech” rights are being violated.

And that’s the problem: free speech is about saying whatever you want (so long as it does not harm or endanger others) without fear of punishment by the government. The actual text in the First Amendment is “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” First Amendment freedom of speech says nothing about how others in society are suppose to lay off you no matter what you say.

Nor is this view by Palin and other conservatives based upon a principle. Imagine, for example, if someone on a popular TV show said hateful things about Christianity, maybe that it is a genocidal cult subscribed to by idiots and liars, which promotes the abuse of children and the killing of women. Do you think that this person would not be similarly treated? Would Palin be as ardent about protecting their right to say that and upset if they lost their job? Hell, no—she and other conservatives would be the ones calling for them to get the exact treatment that Robertson got.

For example, Palin called on MSNBC to fire Martin Bashir for calling her a “world class idiot” for her comparison of the national debt and slavery, and because he suggested, after noting a particularly cruel punishment meted out to a slave, that Palin was an “outstanding candidate” for such punishment for making the remarks she did.

Palin also called for Obama to fire Rahm Emanuel for using the word “retarded” as an epithet.

The term to describe this is “hypocrisy.”

But let’s just see if we can get one thing straight: getting criticism and losing a high-profile job in the media as a result of hateful remarks is not in any way a violation of anyone’s free speech.

  1. Troy
    December 20th, 2013 at 09:55 | #1

    ” ‘free speech’ for me but not for thee”

    Social ownership of the means of production for me but not for thee”

    “old testament morality for thee but not for me”

    It’s all bullshit here now.

    And as digby likes to argue, this divide has been around for a very long time.

    It’s what Upton Sinclair ran into in the 1930s, and the Progressive Movement some years earlier, and what JS Mill described in the 19th century . . . not all ‘conservatives’ are stupid, but stupid people are generally conservative.

  2. Troy
    December 20th, 2013 at 09:56 | #2

    Same in Japan, too!

  3. Troy
    December 22nd, 2013 at 05:37 | #3

    hey if you want to relive Dec ’83, I made a playlist of what was on the radio/MTV:


    yt ads ruin it, but if you install the YouTube5 safari extension there won’t be any ads (but you lose auto play apparently.).


    (The day Google finally kills this extension’s ability will be a very sad day for me indeed!)

  4. kensensei
    December 22nd, 2013 at 10:49 | #4

    Nice post, Luis.

    You make an important distinction between what many believe free speech means and its actual definition. I think we all can agree that freedom of speech is one of the pillars of a true democracy. However, it is important to note that Mr. Robertson was not thrown into prison for expressing his opinion (as could have easily happened under more authoritarian regimes). He is still a “free” man, even though he may be temporarily unemployed.

    Robertson lost his job, which is a completely predictable outcome of expressing his offensive opinion. As a teacher myself, I would most likely be fired if I expressed an opinion that all college students were pot-smoking imbeciles. Numerous male supervisors are fired for making comments about their female colleagues’ bodies, etc. So why shouldn’t Robertson be fired for saying something completely offensive to certain A&E viewers? These are opinions, but there may be consequences for saying them when others are listening.

    I personally think the media has spent way too much time on this man’s comments. He has his views. I have mine. End of story. The only difference is that most of us think through the consequences first before expressing theirs publicly.

  5. Troy
    January 1st, 2014 at 11:38 | #5

    “So why shouldn’t Robertson be fired for saying something completely offensive to certain A&E viewers? ”

    because if we all can’t offend people we turn into a less free society.

    Dixie Chicks apparently offended warmongering “patriots” by saying they were embarrassed that Bush was from Texas.

    Just canning people for saying stuff you don’t is the wrong way to go.

    The religious right has already lost their war on gays. This is just a bitter ender looking for free publicity by venting his butthurt over it.

    No harm done. The proper response should have been an eye roll.

    HIs comment about black people in their rural south is more problematic perhaps.

  6. Troy
    January 2nd, 2014 at 03:54 | #6

    Ars Technica is great today!

    “His work, which is focused on the United States, shows how a network of 91 think tanks and industry groups are primarily responsible for conservative opposition to climate policy. Almost 80 percent of these groups are registered as charitable organizations for tax purposes and collectively received more than seven billion dollars between 2003 and 2010.”



    “As in previous polls, this one found a partisan divide on the issue, with Republicans far less likely to accept the idea than independents or Democrats. And, based on differences with a similar poll performed in 2009, it appears the partisan divide is growing larger. Evolution is accepted by about two-thirds of Democrats and independents, and those numbers have been roughly steady over the past four years, with all results falling within the poll’s three percent margin of error. Among Republicans, however, acceptance has dropped from 54 percent to 43 percent in that short period of time.”


    That half our country has their heads so thoroughly up their asses is really something.

    I’m thinking this might be the year I head back to Japan again. Didn’t sit for the JLPT test, alas, probably need to at least spend a few weeks practicing my phone skills, since I suck on the phone.

  7. Luis
    January 2nd, 2014 at 09:26 | #7

    a network of 91 think tanks and industry groups are primarily responsible for conservative opposition to climate policy.
    Har. Exactly two years ago I suggested political and selfish motives behind the climate change denial. Jon scoffed at me.

  8. Luis
    January 2nd, 2014 at 09:32 | #8

    That half our country has their heads so thoroughly up their asses is really something.
    Alas, this is one of the reasons that, despite the rich universe of idiocy to comment on, I have almost stopped blogging. There are endless ways you can express the idea that you do, with fantastic examples. However, one gets tired of repeating one’s self and effectively shouting into a hurricane.

  9. Troy
    January 3rd, 2014 at 05:21 | #9

    ^ yeah, I know!

    Even the Japan beat gets old, too.

    Just discovered this guy’s videos:


    of how the wilds above Shizuoka are slowly emptying out.

    Need to find some depopulating mountain valley in Japan and homestead. Grow rice, raise chickens, eat teriyaki-don every night.

    Let the world float merrily on by without me.

    Costs under $200 to airmail a 50lb package to Japan now, $4 a pound; maybe I could keep my sanity in Japan with one box of stuff a month. (Costco Japan doesn’t seem to have all that great a selection, and even Costco USA’s stuff doesn’t float my boat all that much any more — I’m more a Trader Joes / Whole Foods type now).

    Yen might be going back to 120 this year or next . . . be good to somehow earn USD and live in Japan, I’m thinking . . .


    Wonder how Japan will fare the remainder of this decade. Better than the 1990s?


    shows the 2000s weren’t that hot, either, both US recessions also hit Japan pretty hard.

  10. Troy
    January 4th, 2014 at 04:02 | #10

    Read your 2006 “Thief” entry in the sidebar : )

    One of the great things working at that place was getting to leave my work at the door when I clocked out.

    (The other was how the company targeted Tokyo’s best and brightest as students — didn’t realize at the time what a privilege it was to interact with Todai, AGU, etc students every day)

    But after 2 years there I was definitely getting tired of the grind. Mainly because the materials were just so awful. I didn’t believe in our product, yet I sold the school with the model lessons — probably going to hell for that.


    Tokyo imports young people, but had I known Japan’s demographics looked like that I probably wouldn’t have tried to start my own school in 1993-94. . .

  11. Luis
    January 4th, 2014 at 12:00 | #11

    Yes, that episode was quite something. You remember “John,” right? The head teacher who worked in Osaka? What a jerk. He knew full well what he was doing, and regardless of the fact that upper management probably hatched the whole scheme, he actively and rather skillfully sold it.

    Another reason I should have seen the whole thing was a crock was one of the people that they hired aside from William and I to be the supervisor for one of the branches. You remember him? A real slime bucket of a person, possibly a drug addict, told horrible raunchy jokes, and was a real dimwit? Once I observed a lesson he taught, and he introduced the word “surname” as “sir name.” Another time I mentioned photochemical smog, and he scoffed, saying “photochemical” wasn’t a word, because it would mean that light had an effect on chemical reactions. Yes, he was that stupid. He was also rather vile; I recall one time on one of the resort trips for students I was not on, I was told that he had been found passed out in his own vomit.

    This was one of the people who became a supervisor, which should have been a clue as to how carefully they handled the selection process. I think that another reason they hired him was that he was so vehemently anti-union, as if that counted for anything. He was a screwup in the supervisor job, and did not last long.

  12. Troy
    January 4th, 2014 at 17:10 | #12

    Yes, that place was a strange collection of peeps.

    It was my first exposure to UK, Canadian, and antipodean types (who as you noted seemed to be more pro-unionization). There was also a Finnish guy teaching my first year.

    William was a great guy, wonder what he’s doing now. I can picture the Osaka guy, first name “T~” I think, I remember him saying in a meeting that “there were no ‘problems’ just ‘challenges'”.

    The yen had gone from the 240 of the 1980s regime to 120 by the time I arrived, so they kinda felt within their rights to lower wages on us (a bit, ~10%) I guess. I certainly felt I was making big bucks (for only ~20 hrs of class time it worked out to ~$24/hr) there, even though life in early 90s Japan was 2X as expensive as LA still.

    Pulling subs was great, as was not paying the city income tax the first year, or pension or health insurance any year . . . I netted ¥400,000 one month thanks 60hrs of subs!

    One weird thing is that there has apparently been zero inflation since 1992 . . .


    blue is US inflation, red is Japan, 1980 = 100

    shows prices have tripled since 1980 in the US, but up ~20% in the 1980s and another 20% in the 1990s . . .

    I guess the strengthening yen has moderated inflation in Japan, in the 1980s and again in the 2000s.

    So if/when I go back maybe prices won’t shock me. One thing that is totally out of control in CA is rents. The apartment I rented in West LA for $700 in 1991 is now renting for $1800!

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