The Dangers of Limiting Free Speech

Rachel Marsden

Comedian and upcoming Academy Awards show host, Chris Rock, has been under fire this week as a result of an item on the Drudge Report quoting him as saying that straight black men don’t watch the Oscars, and that “awards for art are f****** idiotic”. The report goes on to state that other unpublicized statements made by Rock in his comedy act “threaten to throw the broadcast into complete chaos.”

Let’s get real. Hollywood is the modern-day equivalent of London’s Bedlam Hospital from the 1700s--the insane asylum where the upper-class folks would fork over a penny for admission to watch all the certified lunatics bounce like pinballs off the walls of their rubber rooms. The only difference is that Hollywood, unlike Bedlam, has its own publication -- the National Enquirer -- which now allows for the idiocy of drunken starlets with their skirts falling up over their heads to be enjoyed by audiences worldwide.

To say that Chris Rock would desecrate the good name of Hollywood and the Academy Awards is like saying that catching Michael Jackson loitering around the Wal-Mart “half-off boys’ pants” sale during the breaks in his trial would ruin his rep.

Regardless of what you think of Chris Rock’s views, he’s an effective comic. Given how successful he is, most people apparently agree. I saw Rock’s last HBO special, and found him to be outrageously funny.

He has a right to his opinions, regardless of whether or not you happen to agree with them. Rock’s comments are bold and provocative. They spark debate, and force people to reflect upon and defend their own positions and views. None of this is a bad thing in a democratic society that purports to value free speech.

If we marginalize and censor the Chris Rocks of the entertainment world, you know what we’re left with? The sad display of the last living Beatle of any significance, Paul McCartney, and his gerontological gyrations as he tries to get jiggy with it during the Superbowl Half-Time Program. I’d rather take the Janet Jackson show with that nip slip moment sponsored by National Geographic, thanks.

Entertainers like shock-jock, Howard Stern, and Chris Rock won’t cause your kid to descend into a life of crime and surfing pornographic Internet sites. Your lack of parenting skills will.

Despite all the Oscar hoopla, a black comic like Chris Rock is still far less likely to be discriminated against nowadays than a conservative. Conservativism is the new Black--in entertainment, academia, and the media. The Fox News Channel is the new ghetto, being really the only major media outlet where conservatives are permitted to exist. It’s hip to deny free speech to conservatives, much like it was in vogue, up until last century, to deny opportunities to blacks. What do you think the odds are that pro-Bush comedian Dennis Miller would have been offered the Academy Awards gig? Oh lawdy! What, oh what, would the town folk say if one of them people was allowed to host a Hollywood show!

Academia openly welcomes the rantings and ravings of Professor “Psycho Ward” Churchill, of the University of Colorado--but doesn’t give the same voice to conservative thinkers. Fraudulently posing as a Native Indian (or “Chief Raging Bull****”, as Chris Rock might say) according to the American Indian Grand Governing Council, Churchill hasn't let that minor detail stop him from making a name for himself as an Indian activist and headliner at university campuses across America. He also included the following passage in an essay about the World Trade Center victims of September 11, 2001:

“…[T]hey were too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated, conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants. If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it.”

In a truly democratic environment where unfettered free speech is practiced, Ward Churchill ought to indeed be given full-license to enter any university he pleases, and rant on about how the 9/11 victims were all miniature versions of Adolf Eichmann--the monster who implemented Hitler’s “Final Solution”.

Similarly, MIT’s liberal darling, Noam Chomsky, who praised the work of Professor Churchill in the Denver Post as being “excellent, penetrating and of high scholarly quality,” and penned the introduction to a book by Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson, ought to be able to continue to hop from campus to campus with his own coma-inducing road show. Hard-partying college students need their sleep, and Chomsky will make sure that they get at least an hour of it.

And in any sane, real-world environment, these two clowns would be laughed off the stage and strapped into a giggle-jacket as a parting gift. But the problem is that universities bear no resemblance to the real world. They are certainly not venues for the free and open exchange of ideas. They are vacuum-sealed, ideological factories fueled by liberal group think.

With the likes of Churchill and Chomsky being the norm in academia, there is no one challenging this lunacy. Conservatives have long been
effectively blacklisted in academic circles. Free speech is a great thing, but it doesn’t truly exist if one side is perpetually and systemically excluded from the debate.

One of the world’s top pollsters -- Frank Luntz, who has been praised by the Right and the Left (and even Air America radio host, Al Franken) for his work -- conducted a study of Ivy League professors. He found that 79% deemed George W. Bush to be “too conservative”, compared with only 38% in the national sample; only 3% called themselves “Republican”; and 84% voted for Al Gore over George W. Bush in the 2000 Presidential Election.

Colleges seem to define “diversity” as having one leftist of each possible skin colour on faculty. It’s this kind of shallow thinking that
ultimately results in college grads who--when later faced with logical conservative counter-arguments in the real world--can only respond with bumper-sticker slogans, protest marches, or parroted rhetoric.

Shock-jocks and loudmouth entertainers aren’t a real threat to anyone. They’re merely products that exist out there in the free market--capable of being hired and fired by the public. If they say crazy things with which you disagree, use it as an opportunity to fight it out with your friends, or to educate your children and teach them how to think critically. When they get to college and encounter professors like Churchill and Chomsky, it will be in their best interest to be able to do so.