I am a massive proponent of freedom of speech. Always have been, and always will be. Although the First Amendment guarantees the right to say virtually anything, it does not shield a person, group, or organization from the consequences of what they say.
People seem to forget this, or perhaps never understood this to begin with. The essence of "freedom of speech" is that the government cannot deny you an opinion, or censure you for expression of an opinion.
In the age of the internet, there are almost limitless ways to express an opinion, and to find out the opinions of others. Blogs, Twitter, social media, viral videos; as well as traditional media such as television, magazines, and books provide a multitude of ways to read about any subject - and there is no shortage of people willing to offer an opinion.
So, recently a local Cincinnati news anchor for the Fox Affiliate decided to go on Facebook and comment about someone else in her line of work:
What you have here is someone expressing their right to freedom of speech. In doing so, Tricia Macke revealed that she is either an ignorant bigot, or a troll. Make no mistake about it: Macke stated that Maddow, who is an open and well-known lesbian, was a man. There is no other context to it, so it was either done in a mean spirit, or to rile up her Facebook followers.
Maddow is the very popular host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC. Maddow is openly liberal, openly gay, and Macke is an anchor on a local Fox affiliate. Perhaps Macke was trolling just to attract more attention to herself, and thus potentially increase her newscast's ratings, or her popularity. Maybe, the idea was that word of what Macke posted would get back to Maddow, and it could become some viral thing and Maddow would talk about it on her show? Who knows.
Here is what happened though: Macke was suspended from her job for two days.
What Macke said was bigoted. If you take what she posted in that Facebook thread, she knew what she was saying was bigoted, and she stood by it. Her apology after she was suspended and took down the post is irrelevant. Was she sorry about what she said, or sorry about getting caught?
Over the course of the recent election cycle, so many people said so many stupid things, and in many cases the chickens are starting to come home to roost. The owner of Papa John's Pizza came out against "Obamacare", and is now saying a bunch of really dumb stuff because he doesn't want to pay health care expenses for his employees. People are boycotting and petitioning Macy's because Donald Trump said really dumb stuff on election night (and a lot of other racist stuff before that).
There are consequences to things that you say, do, and post on the internet. Athletes and celebrities post dumb stuff all the time, and when they start to feel the repercussions, they often want to cite "freedom of speech" for why they should be given a free pass.
People need to learn that you can say anything that you want, but that you have to deal with the repercussions of what you say. Tricia Macke said bigoted things, and she pretty much deserves to pay the price for what she said, regardless of the reason. Just like all of the people, including kids, that posted racist stuff on election night.
There is a major difference between stating an opinion or view that is different than other people, and saying hateful, ignorant, and bigoted things. You certainly have the right to say it, but people also have the right to call you out for saying it.