This week brought about a very clear lesson in the expression of free speech. Maybe you saw the appearance of Hank Williams, Jr. on an early morning cable news show. Maybe, if like me, you missed the show and wondered what all the brouhaha was about after his appearance.
Mr. Williams appeared on Fox and Friends on Monday morning. For reasons unknown to me, the interviewer asked this country western singer a question about politics. What happened next resulted in the removal of his theme song for Monday Night Football on ESPN. You know the one – “Are You Ready For Some Football?”. It was not used on the Monday night broadcast.
Williams made a comment that he found it absurd that political leaders were engaging in golf games and photo ops while so many in our country are struggling to get by in this poor economic climate. In particular, he said the pairing up of President Obama and Speaker of the House Boehner – along with Vice-President Biden and Ohio Governor Kasich – was silly, as they are political opponents.
“Come on, come on. That’d be like Hitler playing golf with (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu. OK. Not hardly.”
It was a dumb comparison. No one should use the Hitler analogy in normal conversation. Many have been guilty of it in recent years and it is wrong. It cheapens the impact of all that the name invokes and it is insulting to Halocaust survivors. The left used it frequently in criticisms of former President Bush. The right has used it against the current President. It is all wrong.
Williams apologized for the poor comparison. ESPN said that no decision has been made about using the Williams theme song in future broadcasts.
That said, why are conservatives so silent about the punishment doled out by ESPN? Where’s the outrage with the overreach against one man’s exercise of free speech? I don’t support Williams in his statement but, frankly, he didn’t call the president “Hitler” or Speaker Boehner “Netanyahu”, did he? He made an exaggerated comparison to make his point of an odd pairing on the golf course. Who is ESPN to judge based on a comparison?
ESPN is a liberal network. Its parent company is the liberal Disney Company. Free speech, apparently, is reserved for liberals, not conservatives. Recently, boxer Mike Tyson spoke of Sarah Palin in truly vile terms and that was laughed off as a boys will be boys kind of remark. It was a “joke” about rape. Funny stuff, huh? Of course not. Remember, too, that Tyson is a convicted rapist. Can you imagine the hysterics that would have come forward if Tyson had targeted a liberal woman with such uncivil language?
The point is this – both sides of the political aisle are justified when blasting someone for poor judgement in political speech. What is not justified is the continued double standard coming from the media when it comes to turning a blind eye to the left’s bad behavior. Conservatives are too polite and too willing to accept it. The time to act is now.
Until conservatives demand better treatment, it will not be given. Calls and letters to sponsors of programming on ESPN have to be told that conservatives are in the audience, too. The network has to be hit in the pocketbook to hear the message – it is unacceptable to favor liberals over conservatives if the network wishes to keep its subscribers.
Speak up, conservatives. Demand equal treatment. Consumers are in control. Make your voice heard. Here are some ways:
ESPN Corporate Office | Headquarters
500 South Buena Vista Street Burbank, CA 91521
Twitter: @ ESPN_FanCentral
I used the email option and it is an easy process.