Today Sarah Palin decided to use her Twitter account to express support for Dr. Laura Schlessinger and her “first amendment rights.” For those unfamiliar with the backdrop of the story, Dr. Schlessinger is a conservative talk show host who found herself in trouble after she responded to one caller who complained about racial insensitivity. In response, Schlessinger claimed the caller was “overly sensitive” and proceeded to use the N-word 11 times on the air to make her point. After a bit of an uproar, Dr. Schlessinger admitted she was wrong to respond the way she did, and eventually she resigned from her job.
In response to news of the story, Sarah Palin tweeted:
“Dr.Laura:don’t retreat…reload! (Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence ‘isn’t American,not fair’)”
Unfortunately, Palin found herself constrained by 140 characters in one tweet, so she continued by tweeting again:
“Dr.Laura=even more powerful & effective w/out the shackles, so watch out Constitutional obstructionists. And b thankful 4 her voice,America!”
In her two tweets, Palin never even mentions the cause behind Dr. Schlessinger’s exit. Instead, Palin offers nearly blind approval of Dr. Schlessinger’s conservative message.
Contrary to Palin’s “analysis” in her tweet, Dr. Schlessinger’s rights did not “cease to exist” after the controversy. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects speech from encroachment from the public government, not from private individuals. If the government invaded Dr. Schlessinger’s radio show and pulled the plug on her program then that certainly would be a violation of her First Amendment rights. If private individuals criticize Dr. Schlessinger for her insensitive remarks and she decides to quit because of such criticism, then that is just capitalism at its finest.
The same kind of confusion arose when various groups decided to start a boycott against Glenn Beck. Beck called President Obama a “racist” with a “deep-seated hatred for white people.” In response, various groups urged companies to not advertise with Beck, and over 100 companies have complied. Beck and others have called this a violation of their free speech rights, but the First Amendment does not guarantee anyone protection from private boycotts. The only reason Schlessinger and Beck have such an influential platform to spread their message is because private companies sponsor them. If their message becomes unappealing and private companies determine that it is not worth the trouble to invest in them, that is part of the free market. It is as capitalistic as a consumer’s to not buy an apple because it has brown spots on it.