Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences.
This is what my mind heard when I first drafted this post about blogger Jeremy Hooper’s appearance on Fox News’s The Kelly File to discussing the Phil Robertson comments. It was going to be a quote of the day. However, after going back to the transcript I realize that the actual quote is different:
KELLY: All right. Let me start with this. And I’m going to ask Tony Perkins the same question. Why can’t those who believe — I will ask him the other way. Why can’t those who believe homosexuality is a sin voice their objections, argue against it and ask others to reject it?
HOOPER: No one has claimed they cannot, what they cannot do is do so in a vacuum. This is not a free speech issue. Defenders of Phil Robertson are seeking is freedom from consequence. None of us are entitled to that. If right now, I were to say something to you completely outlandish, GLAAD would never allow me back on your air again. If you were to give a press interview with GQ, and were to say something outlandish, Fox News may put you on indefinite hiatus. We all have to answer to our employers.
That my brain heard it as the above paraphrase demonstrates the truth in Hooper’s point. We all have the right to voice whatever our opinions and thoughts are in whatever manner we wish to express them; kind or vulgar. That does not mean that we are free from consequences of that expression. We all have to answer to somebody for our speech that may shock, hurt or offend someone. Those consequences can range from a rebuttal to something more serious. We should not be surprised at all at these reactions to our speech, ideas and opinions.