Now this is going too far

Local politicians get in on the Bill Maher/American fiasco...

The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution denouncing [Maher's] use of the slur ... Eight supervisors co-sponsored the measure, which was taken up on an emergency basis without objection. County Executive Scott Walker signed the resolution immediately upon receiving it, said Steve Mokrohisky, Walker's deputy chief of staff.

Six Milwaukee-area state senators and representatives, all Democrats, sent a letter to [American] on Monday critical of [Maher] and urging the station to "remove his bigotry from the airwaves." It was signed by State Reps. Pedro Colon, Leon Young and Polly Williams, and state Sens. G. Spencer Coggs, Julie Lassa and Sen.-elect Lena Taylor.

It's one thing when private citizens voice their opinions to a private business over who it chooses to sponsor. It's something else entirely when government gets in on the act.

Oh...wait...I apologize. I suppose my highly-intentional editing of the piece above might be a bit misleading. After all, it's actually from a 2004 Journal-Sentinel article on pulled sponsorship and government response resulting from Mark Belling using an offensive term.

My bad.

UPDATE: Commentors (all two of 'em so far) are questioning whether the difference between the types of bigotry expressed in these two scenarios could justify one response over the other. Their point is that being a "wetback" is the result of someone's birth and not a choice while being a Roman Catholic is a choice.

Does this mean one type of bigotry is acceptable while another is not?

Ultimately, the distinction in the case I'm presenting is irrelevant. People have a right to express their opinions and others have a right to challenge them. When a person expressing his or her opinion is sponsored by a corporate entity, private citizens have a right to voice their distaste and request that the corporate entity no longer sponsor the individual or his or her opinion. In turn, the corporation chooses to agree with one side or the other.

For them, it's merely a matter of public relations.

Like it or not, having racist opinions is not illegal. Nor is being a critic of Catholicism. Now if someone applied their opinion to, for instance, hiring an employee, that would be a problem. But that didn't happen in either of these cases. As the saying goes, opinions are like assholes: everyone has one and they all stink. And in this great country of ours, everyone has a right to stink up the room with their opinions as much as they so desire, which is exactly why I take issue with the government sticking its nose into the Belling issue. Private citizens have a right to complain about the stench. The government needs to hold its nose and accept it.

The fact is that people complained to Belling's sponsors and they took action accordingly. And Belling's critics were happy. Now, people are complaining to Maher's sponsor and American is doing as it sees fit.

The system works. Unless you want it permanently broken (meaning the next time you want it to work for you, well, it won't), stop complaining.

And for the record, no, I don't believe one type of bigotry is more acceptable than the other. Were I to believe that, I could justify a whole slew of things people simply wouldn't like.


3rd Way said...

Is it fair to make a distinction between people whose bigotry is based on what others believe and those that base their bigotry based on who they are (color of skin, etc.)?

David Casper said...


Bigotry is defined as "stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own."

That being the case, the distinction cannot be made.

Now, if you want to say that it was okay in one case because it's a judgement of religious beliefs versus racism, that would be different.

Either way, I think the responses to both instances (Belling/Maher) are still comporable. I see it as the same thing happening in each case and either you need to accept or hate both.

David Casper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

Although your deifnition is correct - the term "bigotry" does encompass intolerance of beliefs too - I think 3rd way it totally correct in noting that the distinction between these two kinds of bigotry is important. It's okay to question, and mock, crazy beliefs, whether they by Christian beliefs or Liberal beliefs or beliefs in astrology.

capper said...

The freedom of religion is protected by the constitution. That includes those that don't want religion.

While the freedom of speech is also protected, it doesn't include racist statements.

JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

Capper, yes it does. Of course racist statements are protected.

JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

My comment wasn't really directed at saying why one type of "bigotry" should be allowed and another shouldn't or anything like that. They both should be allowed. My point is that people who talk trash about people because of inherent characteristics (i.e. race, gender, sexual orientation etc.) they have -- especially when said characteristics have no causal relationship with the thing being trash-talked -- are dicks. People that criticize ideas (i.e. ethenol should be mandated, sunspots affect the stock market, there's an invible man in the sky that cares about whether or not we eat oysters, etc.) are usually pretty cool.