Wednesday, February 15, 2012
H N & S (2/13, 12): Little Known
If one spends much time afloat on the seas of dreck and rhetoric on the Inter-Tubez as I do, one encounters regularly the shrieks of outrage, fury, and betrayal when someone posting something somewhere or another finds that the proprietor where the post was hung unceremoniously deletes it.(--why, no, I do NOT really have a "life." Why do you ask?--)
The HOWLS of fury, disappointment and civic-minded disgust can reach FEVER pitches: "What about the First Amendment?" the affronted bellow!@ "It's a free country. I got a RIGHT to say my piece. It's in the Constitution!"
Sadly, no...You don't.
The Constitution offers no bar, no restraint upon the PRIVATE censorship of ideas, words or images by private interests on proprietary media.
And when it happens, the First Amendment offers no relief.
Folks appear sometimes to forget this; or never to have learned it.
The First Amendment only stipulates that the State may not exercise prior restraint upon speech in public (though there is Holmes' "Fire" exception, even to that). And it does also NOT say that a person caannot be prosecuted for speech, either.
But in any case, it doesn't apply at ALL to PRIVATE restrictions on speech. That's why ABC could fire Howard Cosell, and ESPN could run off Hank Williams JR, too; and MSNBC could run off Olbermann, etc, etc....
You're speech in a private forum is only as "protected" as the owner of the forum wants it to be.
As the brilliant and legendary journalist AJ Liebling said in the 50s: "the press is free to those who own one."