prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Freedom of Expression Has Limits

Posted by prof e on April 21, 2016

FreedomOfExpressionESPN’s decision to fire baseball commentator Curt Schilling is not an infringement of Schilling’s rights under the First Amendment. Companies have parted ways with high profile employees for all sorts of public statements or deeds that were at odds with the company’s image. A few that come to mind are: Justine Sacco, Sergeant Gary Stein, Paula Deen, Adria Richards (this one is complicated), and don’t forget shock jocks Anthony Cumia and Don Imus. Even when your job is to be outrageous and over-the-line, apparently there is still a line that must not be crossed.

Schilling’s offense (reposting an anti-transgender meme on Facebook) comes at a difficult time in America as social norms are changing at a dramatic pace. Remember that just a few short years ago President Barack Obama and candidate Hillary Clinton were both opposed to same-sex marriage. And now that same-sex marriage is the law of the land, transgender rights have become the next big issue. While people evolve on where they stand on the issue, companies, political figures, celebrities and other entities are making statements about where they stand. In this case ESPN decided to take a stand that put Schilling on the wrong side of the issue.

In countries that do not have an equivalent of the First Amendment, public statements can quickly lead to government action. Just this week German Chancellor Angela Merkel allowed a court to proceed with prosecution of  a German comedian for defaming Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to a report in the Washington Post, similar laws exist in Sweden, Monaco, and Spain…countries not typically thought of as repressive regimes. In some Muslim countries, blasphemy laws allow for punishment up to and including death.

These events raise questions and concerns about just how much freedom of expression exists within certain corporate or political cultures.

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3 Responses to “Freedom of Expression Has Limits”

  1. Trey Graham said

    The issue of freedom of speech and censorship is becoming increasingly prominent in todays society. There is an extremely fine line between censorship and restricting what people can and cannot talk about. Its hard to say what should and should not be discussed in the media and where the line should be drawn especially when it comes to controversial topics such as gay marriage or transgender rights. However, this issue has only been amplified with the advancement of technology. All of these issues are now seen by practically everyone and so now more than ever, its important that media is monitored. Kids are easily influenced by the things that they see or accept as normal, and for that reason alone, companies should have the right to separate themselves from people or issues that they believe will hurt their image.

  2. Hunter Fillmore said

    This article really shows how a person needs to watch what they post on the internet. This man lost his job because of one picture that didn’t even need to be reposted. Every person has the right to express themselves how ever they want but that does not mean that there wont be consequences of the way you do this. People have views on certain topics too and companies don’t like controversy surrounding them when they are trying to make money and have people support them. When working for a company they see you as an employee and a reflection of the company so if you make the company look bad for having you as an employee they are going to have to do something about it to keep up their image.

  3. Lacy said

    This article I feel really touches what we’ve been going over in class.. It talks about censorship, and censorship is a huge thing in the land of television, film, and media. It really touches on how things are changing in our world and how media and technology is ever changing. The media is also a huge key factor, without media always promoting the ever changes in television and film, we wouldn’t have them. That is why I feel this article deals with what we have been learning in class.

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