Chances are if you're reading this, you don't live under a rock. Which means you already know that recently, conservative radio host Dr. Laura took a call from someone who wanted advice on handling a racist friend of her husband's. Dr. Laura went on to say the word "nigger" on air 11 times, was summarily bitch-slapped by her employers and the media, and resigned to go do something that allowed her the freedom to say whatever she wants to say. Because as an American, she should have freedom of speech.
Yes, she should. But as I like to tell people whose comments are deleted on news sites and on blogs who say, "What, you don't believe in freedom of speech?": The first amendment to the Constitution promises us a right to free speech. It does not guarantee us the right to publicity. Here, look. The language is
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.
People have freedom of speech. They don't have freedom from consequences for their speech. They also don't have a right to publicity. In fact, the very same amendment allows for a free press – that includes the freedom to summarily fire a personality because she pissed off the advertisers who keep the lights on.
It's very simple, really. And actually, this post was just an excuse to be able to throw the last two