Dr. Laura Schlessinger's First Amendment rights

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Regardless of what anyone believes about radio talk show host Laura Schlessinger and the remarks that led to her resignation, can we at least agree that it is not a constitutional issue?

In the news story "Palin tells embattled Dr. Laura: 'Don't retreat . . . reload,' " former Alaska governor Sarah Palin was quoted as tweeting something to the effect that activists were taking away Ms. Schlessinger's First Amendment rights. Two days later, Kathleen Parker wrote an op-ed, "Cut Dr. Laura some slack," defending Ms. Schlessinger and noting that the radio host was leaving her program to "reclaim her First Amendment rights."

While the text of the Bill of Rights says, "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech," it does not say you can say whatever you want in a public forum with no consequences. There is nothing in the amendment that prohibits individuals or groups from protesting, boycotting or putting economic pressure on those who say things they find offensive.

If what you say makes you poison to sponsors, then market forces have earned you the right to speak freely to a much smaller audience.

Beau Obetts, Annandale

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The Post reported that on Aug. 13, President Obama decided to wade into the controversy about a planned mosque near New York's Ground Zero by saying that "Muslims have the right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country." The very next day he backed away from his remarks, saying, "I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there."

On Aug. 10, Laura Schlessinger used a racial slur on her radio program to make a point about something and the outcry was similar to the mosque controversy. I am waiting for the president to wade into this issue as well, perhaps by saying that "Dr. Laura has the right to practice free speech as everyone else in this country." Then, the very next day, he could say, "I was not commenting, and I will not comment on the wisdom of what she said."

Donald Rotunda, Washington


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