Libertarians will tell you that there is no such thing as free speech, only property rights. In other words, you have no right to deliver a disquisition in my living room, unless I allow it. Your speech rights depend on whose property you’re on. Similarly, Imus’ speech rights depended on the good graces of those holding title to the news network that employed him: CBS.
A libertarian would not dispute that CBS was perfectly entitled to terminate Imus, and thus curtail his speech on their behalf. But this case is not strictly about the libertarian law—most cases rarely are. One cannot neglect the backdrop to, and implications of, a termination that was, on its face, perfectly legal in libertarian law.
It began with a tasteless comment, which, I believe, was not intended to be racially offensive. Imus, rather, was probably trying to be hip, not hurtful. Imus lapsed into Wigga mode in an attempt to get down with the hoodniks.
Cora Daniels, author of Ghettonation: A Journey Into the Land of Bling and Home of the Shameless, examines, in a Newsweek interview, how “the hip-hop lifestyle and behaviors attributed to inner-city neighborhoods—celebrating gangsters and violence, revering fancy cars and bling, flaunting women’s bodies—has permeated American culture and created a widespread ‘ghetto’ mentality.'”
From soda-filled baby bottles to black men calling each other the ‘n’ word to MTV’s ‘Pimp My Ride,’ Daniels chronicles the pervasiveness of ‘ghetto’ thinking and shows how people from all walks of life engage in and celebrate ideas, language and behavior they should find repulsive.
Neither was this about what the conservative representative on The View, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, called market forces. Imus’ show, I believe, was doing well. But because of the racial lobby, the advertisers, and subsequently the proprietor, froze in fear of being labeled racists. Fear and cowardice drove CBS to forsake a product for which there was demand.
Speaking of Elisabeth Hasselbeck: she’s a real lightweight in the contemporary tradition of the conservative, female teletwit. Her “conservative” credentials include support for breast cancer prevention and research, the Amber Alert Initiative, the war, Our Leader. And being blond and bubbly, of course.
Indeed, conservative thinking is constantly evolving in the age of the idiot. Many prominent conservatives, Michelle Malkin and Bill O’Reilly come to mind, celebrated this frightful coup of mob over free speech. The fuss these conservatives are making, moreover, over hip-hop lyrics is a red herring. A result of complete confusion, the premise of which is that these lyrics ought to also be censored. In that, conservatives resemble Democrat Tipper Gore and her comical attempt in the 1980s to censor rock lyrics.
The media tell us the Imus Affair has inaugurated the beginning of a debate about race. For a change. Prepare, then, for members of the besieged majority to be constantly bashed by the racial lobby—professors, journalists, assorted shakedown artists, and Paula Zahn. This, despite the fact that there is nothing remotely racist about Americans. In fact, they’ve been thoroughly brainwashed to believe mankind is one big brotherhood.
Also, watch how debate will become more timid and dishonest as it is in Canada, where there are anti-hate speech tribunals. To seek a remedy against speech they don’t like, the Canadian clones of Sharpton and Jackson need only to turn to the courts. In these kangaroo courts, none of the traditional legal defenses applies. Truth, the absence of intent to harm, etc.—forget about trying to mount a legal defense. You are guilty until proven innocent.
It is my guess that the Imus watershed will lead to a similar speech-limiting code in the US, the Bill of Rights be damned.