More On Freedom of Speech


“If you cannot condemn the flagrant abuses of Palestinians by the Israeli government, then you are undoubtedly a bigot, the worst kind of racist pig who believes that Palestinians are some kind of subspecies of the human race. If you do condemn in your heart these terrible abuses, but are afraid to speak out about them, then you are a damned coward.” – Charley Reese

If you’re like me and spend way too much time surfing random websites, you’ve no doubt come across the occasional apartment ad offering decent accommodation for remarkably affordable prices… and a bit of obligatory sexual action. This article discusses this trend. Now, I can certainly see the logic in making illegal the selection of tenants based on ethnicity or religion, as this tends to create ghettos. Selection by gender is reasonable since many people prefer a roommate of a certain sex or orientation for obvious reasons. And selection by behaviour is not unreasonable, because if you’re an orthodox Jew or Muslim, for example, you don’t want to live with a pork eater!

So what’s the big deal about selection by alternative methods of payment? What if someone were to offer free room and board in exchange for maid services, or hourly foot massages? Sure, it’s unorthodox and weird, but so what? I really wish our governments would start treating us like adults. If two adult people want to enter into a commercial relationship that commodifies sexual service, with no coercion or duplicity involved, what’s the big deal? Of course, legally, what can you do if your roommate refuses to put out? Evict her/him?

So have you heard the story of Jay Bennish? He’s a 10th grade teacher who asked his students to deconstruct Bush’s last State of the Union speech. The conclusion of the lesson was that the speech bore resemblances to Hitler’s speeches. Of course, Bennish is being villified as a purveyor of “liberal indoctrination” in the classroom. I particularly like this typical over-the-top conservative response:

“[The Bennish affair] is not about free speech, but about the meltdown of Western civilization.”

Finished laughing yet? Look, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the Bennish thing. I’m all about getting students to think and to question their world. But, judging by the transcript of Bennish’s lesson (provided, unironically, by Michelle Malkin) he might have crossed the line from being the moderator of a classroom discussion to being a partisan defender of a set of political beliefs. I welcome your comments on this matter.

That great curmudgeon Charley Reese pipes in with this response:

“…to believe that a teacher criticizing the president and his policies does harm, you have to believe that the students are mindless morons, and they obviously are not.”

To Bush’s great credit, he responded to the story with this:

“Yes, I think people should be allowed to criticize me all they want, and they do… Look, there are some certain basic freedoms that we’ve got to protect. The freedom of people to express themselves must be protected.”

Though I wonder if he fully understands what he’s saying. After all, stories like this continue to mount, wherein a teenager has his computer confiscated by secret service agents after posting a song with lyrics about violence being done to the President. I know there’s a law about all threats to His Lordship’s body being taken seriously. But arent the lyrics to a song by definition protected artistic speech?

Of course these days, whatever you write on the Internet will come back to bite you on your ass sometime in the future. So since I’m already screwed, I have nothing to lose!