03 August 2012

John Rocker Doesn't Understand Freedom of Speech

John Rocker has a new article out on WorldNetDaily, and it's as vapid as one might expect. I shouldn’t be surprised the man responsible for these infamous comments would be largely unable to make a proper argument, but this article is almost epic in its level of incoherence.
Over recent years, it seems the term “free speech” has become more of an oxymoron than an absolute in our society. Technically, as our Founding Fathers intended, we are all given the undeniable right to voice our thoughts and opinions freely without fear of scorn and/or ridicule derived from non-agreement. I supposedly have the same right to express myself as you do. In a perfect world, my rights should be no different from yours. I’m quite certain that given the current stage of the world’s social climate, however, anyone ascribing to the ridiculous notion that our world is perfect is kidding himself. Our “perfect” world was replaced many moons ago by the defective reality in which we are all forced to reside – and one of the most blatant areas to view the erosion of perfection is seen in the lack of ability many in this great country have to speak freely without fear of chastisement.

Okay Mr. Rocker, let's go ahead and examine this for a moment.  This whole paragraph is wrong on several levels:

1)  The Constitution and the Framers had absolutely no intention of allowing somebody to escape criticism for expressing an opinion or face scorn for it?  Can you be serious for one second and posit that, considering we're talking about a group of individuals who used to shoot each other over disagreements.  Is that not considered scorn?  Or how about opponents of John Adams, who used to refer to him as His Rotundity, a term coined by no less than Benjamin Franklin?  How is calling somebody the then-equivalent of a "fat-ass" not scornful?   

2)  Let's take the full text of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Please point to me where this prevents scornful language of any kind?  Where, within this document, is one's right to have their precious, dainty feelings protected?  It isn't there, and nor should it.  If the Framers were that concerned with the idea that people's feelings should be protected, don't you think they would have noted it in there somewhere?

3)  Even IF the Framers wanted to protect people from scorn, why should we care?  ALL ideas that enter the public sphere deserve to be debated, and if they're especially stupid they deserve ridicule, contempt, and scorn, and that's a right I claim.

Of course, perhaps I'm being too hard on Mr. Rocker's article.  Perhaps he's just a sensitive flower who thinks that freedom of speech should mean freedom from criticism because he's just unable to bring himself to criticise people he doesn't agree with.  

From "Roger Clemens and the Big-Government Circus," published on 25 June 2012:

I’ve lived the scenario I just described more times than I care to recall. There is nothing quite like the elation one experiences when a seemingly never-ending, largely ineffectual situation finally has closure. Many years after being absent from a sensation such as that, it finally happened again. After multiple “rain delays,” blatant errors and despicable blunders, the obnoxious multi-inning affair between our generally incompetent federal government and Major League Baseball has finally ended. On June 18 the acquittal of Roger Clemens on all federal counts figuratively pushed across the final run in what, at times, seemed like an endless and outright ridiculous saga. 
The “game” that lasted more than nine years, wasted countless man hours, cost American taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, while irreparably ruining once-impeccable reputations, yielded but one obstruction of justice conviction carrying with it nothing more than two years’ probation and community service. If this “game” that had the first pitch thrown by our federal government doesn’t blatantly reveal the laughable incompetence of individual legislators such as George Mitchell, Elijah Cummings and John Tierney, to name a small few, much of our governmental process specifically and big government overall, then I’m quite sure nothing ever will. From my observation, all that emerged from the government-contrived three-ring circus over the past decade was an indictment of big government at large.

So, wait, its okay to accuse some legislators in Congress as being incompetent because they disagreed with you that the potential use of performance-enhancing drugs in a lucrative sport might be worth noting?  How can anything you published in that article be referred to as anything other than somebody expressing their opinion "freely without fear of scorn and/or ridicule derived from non-agreement"?

Or how about "Things Aren't Really that Bad" from 23 July 2012.

“The bubble-headed bleach blonde comes on at 5; she’ll tell you about the plane crash with a gleam in her eyes.” If you’re like many Americans, you spend a portion of your time keeping yourself informed on current events – and if you’re like me, after you have been “informed” you oftentimes wish you hadn’t been. Every day it seems the normal course of news is solely devoted to the latest massacre, drought, massive layoff, environmental threat, nuclear threat, rebel uprising or political fisticuffs. Being “informed” regarding the world around you is enough to make the average person peek outside in anticipation of a falling sky prior to heading to work each day. At times it can be downright demoralizing. 
So intimating that people who are concerned with the direction the United States and the world are "bubble-headed bleach blonde[s]."  Ignoring the rampant misogyny implicit within that song lyric, people concerned with the issues that John Rocker doesn't like are apparently vapid. 

Or how about some of the other things Mr. Rocker is associated with.  Like his defense of Ozzie Guillen, who referred to a Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist as a "fag."  How is THAT not scornful?

Good for me, not for thee, I suppose.

Hat-tip to the always great Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

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