Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Say What?

The Man Without Qualities doesn't know whether a law suit filed against Clear Channel Communications by a "radio personality" who says she was fired for failure to support the Iraq War has any merit. I haven't seen her contract, for example. Perhaps it grants her unusual content control.

But this "radio personality's" construction of First Amendment rights and a related state law - as suggested by media coverage of her suit - is nothing short of terrifying:

The suit cites a state law that declares a person cannot be fired because of political opinions. [The plaintiff "radio personality"], who was named the 2002 Radio Personality of the Year by the South Carolina Broadcasters Association, said she believes it's an employer's right to broadcast what it wants, but that it shouldn't stifle opposing views. "Either don't talk about it at all or make it fair," she said.

That sounds nice. Most people like free speech. So lets see how this particular view plays out.

Suppose an individual "radio personality" in South Carolina - where this all took place - wants to support the Ku Klux Klan on the air. Then, in the plaintiff's opinion, she would have that right regardless of what her employer wants, even though the employer happens to hold the FCC license and operate the station and pay her to talk on the air. The most the employer can do - she says - is hire someone else to debate the "radio personality" or somehow "make it fair" - or just not talk about the issue at all. And it appears some court is to determine what is "fair."

But in the plaintiff's view, an employer/FCC-licensee certainly can't fire a sacred "radio personality" for chattering on the air about how good it feels to wear one of those white hoods and burn a cross. See, she cites to a state law that declares a person cannot be fired because of political opinions.

And a fortiori the employer/FCC-licensee can't fire the "radio personality" for refusing to read an editorial written by the employer that people should not wear those white hoods and burn crosses. That would stifle opposing views - in the apparent view of this plaintiff "radio personality."

And what if this "radio personality" (or anyone else) wants to express her heart-felt support for the KKK privately to another employee of whatever race on employer premises? And, by the way, what exactly is a "political view"? For example, is a belief that radio stations should not be privately owned, but should be owned only by the state, a "political view" that any red blooded "radio personality" can promote on her employer's station - subject only to some kind of "equal time/fairness" rebuttal right on the employer's part?

Might there be some difference here - apparently undetected by the plaintiff - between merely holding a political view and expressing it on the employers dime and premises?

Link via Drudge.

UPDATE: Will Michael Savage be filing a similar suit against his former employer?

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