Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Doubting Thomas

Cal Thomas is one of those right-wing commentators that makes up the B-list that gets on TV when the top guest falls through. He shows up on Fox, apparently, and he generates a syndicated column that is mildly amusing for the fish/barrel quality of his views and his defense of traditional American values such as racism, gay bashing, and defending evangelical bullies from liberal meanies. In other words, he’s the poor man’s Pat Buchanan.

This time, he’s defending his mentor from the tyranny of MSNBC.

Pat Buchanan might have seen the end of the line coming at MSNBC when last month network president Phil Griffin commented on his latest book, “Suicide of a Superpower,” by saying, “I don’t think the ideas that (Buchanan) put forth are appropriate for the national dialogue, much less on MSNBC.”

When Buchanan was let go last week after 10 years as a commentator on the network, no one was surprised.

I don’t agree with some of Buchanan’s ideas, especially regarding Jews, his questioning of whether World War II had to happen or whether the United States should be involved militarily in the Middle East, but he has every right to his ideas, as we all have the right to our own. It’s called free speech.

He uses the rest of his column to defend his idea of freedom of speech, which seems to be made up of the right to wave the Confederate flag at a NASCAR Race, and he finally gets to the point of his rant by attacking Media Matters for America, a liberal watchdog of the right-wing media, as a tool of the evil librul media. He frets that “[t]hese and many other attempts to suppress speech and force people into a universal and ‘acceptable’ belief system harm freedom. Suppressing speech changes not a single mind.” (Did he come to that conclusion before or after he said that he wished Rachel Maddow’s parents had practiced birth control?) He’s twitterpated that the Supreme Court defends the right to burn the American flag while “the free exercise of religion is being curtailed at many levels,” by which he means that school bullies aren’t allowed to beat the crap out of gay kids in the name of Jesus H. Shitkicker Christ. Does the free exercise of religion include the right of Muslims to build their places of worship wherever they and the city zoning commission agree?

For someone who claims to defend the Constitution and all that is holy in it, Mr. Thomas doesn’t really get the First Amendment. It guarantees the protection of free speech from government regulation. It doesn’t say anything about private corporations. Phil Griffin is not suppressing Pat Buchanan’s speech or trying to force him into an “acceptable” belief system. Mr. Buchanan can say what he likes and publish whatever he wants, but no one has a constitutional right to a job as a right-wing nutjob commentator for a cable network. Pat Buchanan worked at the pleasure of MSNBC, and they could fire him for whatever reason they saw fit. That’s part of the “marketplace of ideas” and a cornerstone of capitalistic journalism.

I doubt that Mr. Thomas would be so generous if a columnist such as Dan Savage or Michael Moore got dumped by a cable network for their writings and opinions; I am pretty sure he’d defend the right of the company to keep their views away from his tender ears. (I’m not putting either Mr. Savage’s or Mr. Moore’s views on the same incendiary level as Mr. Buchanan, but the wingers seem to think they’re equally as provocative.) I also doubt that if a group decided to wave the Gay Pride rainbow flag at a NASCAR race he’d be in the forefront to defend them. Just a hunch.