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Pay to play

So I was reading this entry from Mike and it made me think — which reminds me, cause I’ve been meaning to talk about Cold Fury for a while, so I’m going to digress. Back to the main point in a minute.

I read Mike because he’s honest and a man of integrity. He’s also pissed off, but so am I. Thing is, he does not have a secret agenda to take over the world, and he isn’t plotting to send hordes of jackbooted Young Republicans marching down the streets, and he doesn’t hate all Muslims, and he’s not living in some weird little world of his own. He’s a good guy who has different politics than I do. If I couldn’t read Mike’s stuff and think about it rationally, rather than just writing him off as a right-wing thug, I’d be pretty worried about myself. When I express an opinion, he listens to it; I owe him the same courtesy. Also, he plays a mean guitar.

OK, on with the thoughtfulness.

The above-referenced entry is a shot at Tim Robbins. I pretty much disagree with Mike on the whole Baseball Hall of Fame controversy, on a number of levels; mostly, I think it’s morally right to encourage expression of multiple points of view. I happen to agree with Robbins some of the time, but I’d be just as cheesed off if the Baseball Hall of Fame uninvited Randy Johnson to a festivity on the grounds that Johnson might say something praising Bush. Once you start telling people to shut up based on what they might say, you’re stifling free speech — it’s what they call a chilling effect in the legal world.

A bunch of people in the comments section said that they could boycott anything they wanted. Well, it’s not a boycott if someone else is making the decisions for you — in this case, it’s the Baseball Hall of Fame exerting control over what we hear, and man does that ever piss me off. I’m an adult; I can make my decisions for myself.

But — and this is where I got thoughtful — what about boycotts? What about the Dixie Chicks? What about… oh god… what about the Michael Savage boycott?

You know, I can’t honestly say I think anyone should be trying to shut Savage up by applying that kind of economic pressure. Truth is, if Savage is succeeding it only means there are a lot of people willing to listen to him. That problem isn’t going to go away by gagging the man. You don’t win the battle for hearts and minds by creating martyrs.

And that’s just the practical standpoint. From a moral standpoint, I can’t see any way to praise a Michael Savage boycott without also accepting the reasonableness of the Dixie Chicks boycott. Even if it’s ClearChannel pulling the strings in the latter case, aren’t we asking Savage’s advertisers to pull the strings in the former case?

Yeah, I think we are. Let’s stop trying to eliminate ideas that we find unpleasant, already.


  1. Another quick note on the matter of the practicalities of speech-oriented boycotts: It’s the Internet era. We’re moving inexorably closer…

  2. It took me a whole day, but I finally figured out what distinguishes Savage from forms of free speech which I unconditionally support. Savage is using a scarce public resource to make a profit.

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