Thursday, March 4, 2010

Jonathan Krause, the Devil and the Moral Equivalence of Free Speech

Local talk radio dipshit Jonathan Krause, a self-proclaimed "huge proponent of free speech and the first amendment," has a post up this morning essentially lambasting a call by UW-O Chancellor Richard Wells asking people to denounce the content of certain fliers that were distributed around campus this week. Krause is annoyed that he is being asked to condemn those fliers ... and, man, does he have some stupid things to say about free speech:

(emphasis in the original)
First of all, I think Krause is a bit quick to make any distinctions between "ignorant morons" and himself, especially given the very next sentence he writes:
Our Founding Fathers signed a pact with the Devil when they crafted the language of the First Amendment.
Excuse me?

This is quite possibly the stupidest thing ever said about the First Amendment.

I have no idea what was in the fliers, but this is beside the point. Krause like to portray himself as a free speech absolutist, but, in fact, he is really engaging in nothing more than moral equivalence here. Just because something said is spoken freely, it is therefore awesome in Krause's book.

This is morally wrong. There are also thousands of pages of case law that demonstrate that this is legally wrong, as well. Krause might remember an exercise regarding someone shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater, if he wasn't too hungover that day in Intro to Ethics. "Ignorant morons" may have the right to say whatever the hell they want want to say, but they also have to deal with the consequences of those words.

Chancellor Wells understands this, as do most people in this country, and he asked the UW-O community to fight hate speech with free speech. I can't think of anything more appropriate. Let's also be perfectly clear about this: doing nothing about these fliers -- as Krause appears to suggest is the correct course of action -- is to tacitly endorse the fliers' message. There is simply no other way around this.

Krause also likes to play himself off as a proponent of "personal responsibility." As someone who talks for a living, surely he must be aware that words are important and have both meaning and consequences. The school absolutely has a responsibility to any students who may find the campus environment tainted by the distribution of the material. Those students have every right to feel demeaned -- and possibly scared -- depending on what was on those fliers. By saying that they should just "suck it up" is essentially the same as saying that words don't have meaning and aren't consequential ... something that inherently eliminates the importance of free speech.

We're sorry if Krause doesn't understand this concept. In his eyes King's "I have a dream" speech is just as important as the bile that was written on those fliers just because both are examples of free speech -- this is the "deal with the Devil" he talked about above. They are not morally equivalent, and the sad thing is that only deal with the Devil that we can see in this debacle is the one Krause made to get his position in talk radio.

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