When It’s Really Hard to Defend Free Speech

When he ran for Texas governor a few years back, comic/musician/mystery novelist  and former Texas Jewboy Kinky Friedman gave this response to reporters who asked where he stood on gay marriage:

“I believe love is bigger than government,” Friedman usually said.  “And besides, they have a right to be as miserable as the rest of us.”

It was a great, diplomatic and funny  line, and Kinky ought to step out and reprise it now in the acrid debate over gay marriage, made even more foul by the absurd attacks on Miss California, Carrie Prejean, for answering a question about gay marriage with her honest opinion–an opinion shared, recall, with President Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and millions of others.

Let me trot out that tired old cliche one more time: I might not agree with Carrie Prejean’s opinion about gay marriage, but I really will defend her right to hold it.  Alas, few others of the enlightened middle or left will do so. Scouting today, I could only find this defense from CNN host Roland Martin, so good for him.

 But speaking of opinions that many hate,  Ms.  C  has legions of defenders compared to the banned-from-England radio shocker Mike Savage, proving, as with Ms. C, that most people are not actually in favor of free speech–they’re in favor of free speech with which  they agree.

 I’ve never listened to Savage’s rants  and won’t be starting now. If I spent ten minutes listening to him, I’m sure I’d find plenty to dislike.  But is everybody okay with banning people from  countries because they make surly noises about autistic people and sealing the borders?

So who’s standing up for the obnoxious Savage?  I  had to go all the way to the mayor of London–as in England, which doesn’t even have a First Amendment protecting speech–to find this spirited defense of a guy whose opinions repel the writer, who is a noted liberal.

 BTW, his piece also contains some great observations on the idiocy of so many shock jocks, which is not in question here. The only question is would we prefer the current situation, in which even irresponsible people are allowed to grab a microphone and build a following,  or would we prefer  a Council of Allowable Speech to pass judgment on what should be aired? Given those choices, I’m holding my nose and choosing the status quo.

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