The term “free speech” was thrown around a lot in the whole Chick-fil-A uproar.
For those of you who missed it: Company CEO Dan Cathy, in an interview, expressed opposition to same-sex marriage. That annoyed those who favor same-sex marriage and they began talking about a boycott. That, in turn, annoyed those who supported Cathy and they declared Wednesday Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, which resulted in large crowds showing their support at the company’s stores.
In the midst of all this, there was some throat clearing and harrumphing about free speech and people — basically whoever the speaker didn’t agree with — trying to trample the other side’s right to free speech.
What nonsense. Free speech means both sides have the right to say what they think.
Look at the whole Chick-fil-A flap. In the end, from a free speech standpoint, it all worked out as it should: Cathy said what he wanted to say, his opponents said what they wanted to say, and their opponents said what they wanted to say.
Seems to me, nobody trampled on anybody’s free speech rights.
What’s often lost in the loose talk about free speech is the fact there can be, and often are, consequences to free speech. Implied in the rhetoric about “the other guys” trampling on “my” free speech rights because they don’t agree and express that opposition is that there is some kind of protective bubble around controversial speech, so it shouldn’t be questioned or objected to.
That’s not the way it works. You’re free to say what you want, but so are those who don’t agree with you.
THE ROMNEY FILE: Like him or not, Mitt Romney has closer ties to Utah than the only other guy who has a realistic chance to be president.
Thanks to Romney’s Mormon religion, the fact he’s a Republican and his role in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games, heavily Republican Utah feels more of a kinship with him than with President Barack Obama.
That leads to strong opinions, and I heard from several readers this week about Romney and his presence in the paper.
One caller objected to a reference to “Mitt the Twit” in a headline last Saturday. The story was about the verbal sparring between Romney and British officials over the Olympics. The caller believed that we were calling Romney a twit.
While the copy editor certainly chose that particular phrase to be part of the headline, the fact is that a London newspaper used it to describe Romney, as detailed in the story.
Another Romney supporter blasted us for paying too much attention to his gaffes in Europe and not enough to faux pas that Obama committed when he traveled to England.
About the only thing I can say to that is, when talking about political opponents, “not enough” and “too much” coverage pretty much depends on who you are supporting.
Yet another caller complained about a photo of Romney in Poland that ran on Page 1A. She said she wasn’t a supporter of Obama, but was tired of reading about Romney and didn’t see the relevance of the photo.
The photo ended up on the front page because our original plans to use local photos that day fell through. As to whether it was the best choice or not, that’s in the eye of the beholder. I suspect a photo of Obama would have drawn the same type of reaction.
There are three months left before the election. As the campaign unfolds, both Romney and Obama will get their fair share of coverage in the media, including the Standard-Examiner.
Dave Greiling is managing editor of the Standard-Examiner. He may be reached at 801-625-4224 or via email at email@example.com.