Neal Boortz is an old friend of mine. (By that I mean to say the friendship is old, not that Neal is old). When I was involved in my first serious free speech controversy in 2001, Boortz defended me daily on his radio show. I prevailed in that controversy and I owe him a huge debt of gratitude. That is why I am distressed by some recent criticism of Neal at the hands of members of the pro-life movement.
I began receiving some nasty emails about Neal during the summer of 2007. Early that summer, I had written a particularly scathing article about feminism and abortion. In the weeks following the article some pro-lifers wrote saying that Neal had stopped linking to my columns in the “reading assignments” section of his website (see www.Boortz.com).
Some readers also took exception with Neal’s refusal to discuss the topic of abortion on his radio show. According to the pro-lifers, this was further evidence that Neal Boortz really isn’t a supporter of free speech – that, instead, he only supports speech with which he agrees.
I do not know whether Neal Boortz has or has not stopped linking to my articles because I do not monitor the websites of other commentators. I rarely visit the websites or read the columns of other pundits, whether they be conservative, liberal, or libertarian. But I am compelled to respond to the accusation that Neal Boortz is somehow narrow-minded or anti-free speech.
This wrong conclusion stems from a fundamental misunderstanding regarding the First Amendment - one that is entirely too pervasive to ignore. This misunderstanding was a source of annoyance for me couple of weeks ago during a Facebook discussion over the Mike Huckabee furlough controversy.
After four police officers were shot and killed by a convict who was granted clemency several years ago - by then-Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas - I posted the following simple remark as my “status update” on FaceBook.com:
“Mike Huckabee has a lot of explaining to do.”
That simple remark set off a nasty debate between the Romney supporters and Huckabee supporters who regularly visit my Face Book page. The debate was healthy for a few minutes until someone used the argument “kiss my ass.” I’m pretty sure the person who said that wasn’t Mormon. Regardless, I deleted the profane posts as well as the ad hominem responses they provoked.Then, something very bizarre happened. A few people put posts on my wall, which questioned my authority to delete profanity from my own wall. I deleted those, too – not because they were offensive but because they provided evidence that some of these people suffer from severe intellectual hernia. I guess I prefer that intelligent remarks remain on my wall rather than dumb ones. Not all Christians reject the notion of “survival of the fittest.”
But, the highlight of the morning was one person who posted - on my wall, mind you – a remark saying she “had a lot of respect for me” but that my actions had “radically changed that.” This person was the recipient of a rare “un-friend” maneuver because her comment evidenced an IQ substantially below room temperature. (And I simply don’t try to communicate with people who have IQs below their life expectancy). But, for those with IQs above the 70s, I believe that a bold-letter explanation is in order:
The First Amendment protects private citizens from the government. It is designed to prevent government control of the public forum. It is not designed to prevent citizens from controlling speech on their private property.
People who are too dense to understand this crucial distinction may be able to benefit from this simple analogy: If a dog takes a dump on my front lawn, I have a right to scoop it up. Therefore, if someone writes what I consider to be verbal fecal matter on my wall I have a right to erase it.
I hope by now the reader understands my point regarding Neal Boortz. He has engaged in nothing like a violation of the First Amendment if, in fact, he has ceased to link to my columns in his “reading assignments” section. If he thinks I write about abortion too much or that some of my opinions constitute verbal fecal matter that is fine. It is his website. He is not obligated to post anyone’s columns there. Nor is he under any obligation to discuss the topic of abortion on his show.
Despite our differences on a few issues Neal Boortz remains - along with Cam Edwards of NRANews.com – one of my two favorite radio talk show hosts in America. And he will remain my lifelong ally in the battle against political correctness – not to mention the Internal Revenue Service.
The problem, it seems, is not that Neal Boortz lacks respect for free speech. It is that some pro-lifers lack respect for private property. Such lack of respect comes at a singularly inopportune time in our nation’s history.