The controversy regarding Dr. Laura’s statements has taken yet another hopeless twist as Sarah Palin has joined in the crusade on the grounds of “freedom of speech.”
Dr. Laura herself has already risen to be quite a hypocrite. On one hand she made an official apology for what she said, claims remorse for her words, and says she was internally shaken by her outburst. Then in almost the same breath claims that she is the victim of a censorship and is looking for a new media outlet where she can speak without reprecussions. One cannot be apologetic and the victim, remorseful and proud.
Palin’s defense of Dr. Laura’s statements are absurd on several levels. On one hand she is suggesting that “n****r” should be normal parlance for any white person to use by dismissing public outrage over Dr. Laura’s use of the term; yet in the past Palin has publicly criticized others for lacking sensitivity in using the term “retard.” Of course, the latter strikes close to Palin’s heart because of her son, but that is no excuse for contradiction. She can’t have it both ways; or rather, a rational social policy cannot be based on Mrs. Palin’s own subjective feelings toward certain words.
Palin is also speaking foolishly because there is simply no ground for turning this into a First Amendment case. Dr. Laura was never censored or attacked by the government for her outburst. The public and the media raised the outcry. The public owes nothing in terms of support or affirmation for a negligent and racially-ignorant political demagogue. To suggest that a Constitutional right was violated also suggests that some measure could be taken to ensure justice, but what? Censor those who spoke against Dr. Laura? (Criticism is speech too.) Prohibit her employers or the advertisers who funded her from taking action?
I cannot know myself whether Palin realizes she’s a self-contradicting hypocrite or merely a polemic sophist playing politics. Given her track record for being rather ignorant in matters of law, governance and logic I would not be surprised by either. Yet this is significant. The right-wing excessively (and the political liberals to a lesser extent) toss their subjective beliefs through the television and rewrite law and truth to do so. There’s no First Amendment debate here. Unless in Palin’s “Dream America” the Constitution is used to stifle debate and criticism.
This is not democracy in action. This is a political party taking its subjective goals over the objective law. Palin wants whites to reclaim “n****r” to assert their freedom, to take offense is to hate freedom, but don’t say “retard” because it offends her. Muslims, while not officially stripped of citizenship and sent to camps, are expected to self-identify with Al Qaeda and terrorism out of shame. When the rules fall at the discretion of political leaders, that’s the first step to a new fascism.
Here would make an interesting challenge to Palin’s political team. If this is a free-speech issue you really want to put forward–the right to use racial epithets without reprecussions, subjectivity or the weight of history–hammer the point home in the next election. Why not a campaign slogan against Obama, “Don’t vote for the n****r!” Then tell America how the Constitution makes your words invulnerable and an affirmation of liberty.