So Sorry

From Rush Limbaugh to Kirk Cameron to NOM, anti-gay proselytizers have trouble understanding that free speech goes both ways

There are few things in life as insulting as an insincere apology for an insult. We know this because it is one of life’s guarantees that we will receive more than one — and give a few of our own as well.

Point is, they’re easy to spot. Say, when someone calls you a rampant sex addict on a national radio show and then apologizes only for using the words ”slut” and ”prostitute.”

I’m not going too deep into the Rush Limbaugh outrage well here, because it’s already been dug deep, although I will say that I’m sure Elton John must be so proud right now. When a political radio talker spouts bigoted, hypocritical and hateful language for 20 years or so, it’s hard to keep the outrage feeling fresh.

What’s more annoying, to me at least, is the ever-growing sense of put-upon victimhood that every anti-gay politician, celebrity, National Organization for Marriage staffer, tea party pundit, etc. petulantly whines when called out on their homophobic language. The thinnest of the thin-skinned, they simply cannot believe that free speech may actually travel in both directions.

Another case in point this week was Kirk Cameron’s small diatribe against homosexuality (”It’s unnatural. … I think that it’s detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.”) and same-sex marriage (”Marriage is almost as old as dirt, and it was defined in the garden between Adam and Eve – one man, one woman, for life, till death do you part.”). Cameron wasn’t saying anything particularly original when it comes to anti-gay rhetoric; he just happens to be an actor that most people remember as a cuddly child-star rather than a fire-breathing evangelical.

Naturally, the hue and cry was greater than Cameron’s actual level of fame as condemnations of his remarks came from all corners. And predictably, Cameron came out to defend his comments by claiming to be the victim. As with Limbaugh, he’s cloaking himself with the mantle of free speech. Their supporters clog up online comments and Facebook postings with cries of violations of the First Amendment.

For what it’s worth, the constitutional right to free speech doesn’t mean you have the right not to be contradicted. This is similar to how we don’t enjoy a right not to be offended, which is why people like Cameron and Limbaugh can say whatever passes through their noggins without fear of government reprisal.

We just don’t have to sit there and take it.

It’s the same as with NOM’s campaign to keep Americans from seeing what happened in a California courtroom and illegally shield their donors from campaign disclosure laws. They’re dumbfounded that not only are we not going to take it, we’re going to talk back. They’re surprised that taking strident and bigoted positions on LGBT people may cause customers to think again about where they spend their money. So in their disbelief at this state of affairs, the bigots convince themselves that their fundamental constitutional rights are being violated.

Which shows that for a lot of people, the Constitution is like the Bible, a document they claim to live by even if they haven’t bothered to read it.

Sean Bugg can be reached at sbugg@MetroWeekly.com and followed on Twitter at @seanbugg.

Sean Bugg is Editor Emeritus for Metro Weekly.

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