AN OPEN LETTER TO BERNIE MIKLAS
Intolerance, Bernie, is every American's right and duty when it comes to immoral, stupid, or otherwise wrong beliefs/arguments. The politically correct notion that 'intolerance' is some uber-evil...never justified (or correct) in any context is a further dumbing down of debate (whether in politics or in sports). Should we not be 'intolerant' of the fellow who starts spouting about how his problems are attributable to 'those damn ni****s'? Of course we should. I'm not going to give my money, my patronage, nor my silent aquiencence to anyone who expresses those kinds of thoughts. Are we to pretend that words are meaningless? That it doesn't matter what you say? If so, what is the point of debate in the first place? I have a negative reaction to the rabid (not to mention idiotic) anti-Americanism of the Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon's of the world, not because they are excercising a right that I want to see curtailed, but for what they said while exercising that right I fully support. This nonsenical contention that the rights of S&R are being infringed comes from the simple conflation of what one has the legal right to do and the social consequences one incurs from exercising those rights in a particular way. You have the right, within cetain bounds (no shouting 'fire' in the crowded theatre and all), to say what you want. You do not have the 'right' to demand that everyone react with a 'right on, man!' when you say it. I will continue to be intolerant of dumb, evil, and wrong things...and I'm glad to see the HOF doing the same. Failure to be 'intolerant' of it is akin to aquiesence to the validity, veracity, and significance of their message....and that is something I will not countenance.
I can think of few more noble endeavors than being intolerant of anti-Americanism, idiocy, and self-important buffonery...all of which you can find in abundance in Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon. Both of these celebs are viciously anti-American and have done much to encourage a false vision of America's place in the world...not to mention propogating lies and slanders of our leaders in paritcular and our government and country in general. As an American, I respect their right to say what they say. But also as an American, I have a duty not to respect *what* they say (read: be intolerant). Free speech doesn't mean freedom from any consequences that result when you exercise that right to say nasty, disgusting things that most decent Americans reject. If the government was pursuing legal action against Sarandon or Robbins, I would be the first to decry such as unconstitutional and to defend their rights. But these two nitwits don't have a 'right' to be honored at the Baseball Hall of Fame. The lesson that should be taken from this is not that the HOF was intolerant of Sarandon & Robbins (and, by the way, I think the snide implication that this was some political manuever by mentioning Dan's previous job...something we never see when politics are being promoted by this or that organization...is disgusting)...but that Sarandon/Robbins' have said some stupid and nasty things that have turned off alot of the folks who have otherwise admired their work in film. Remeber, this great intolerant mass of unwashed who are disgusted are the very same folks who made these actors famous in the first place. And by the way, let's assume that this was some 'political statement' by Dan. So, aren't you being 'intolerant' of his expression? Yes, that's a somewhat glib observation, but I think it llustrates how one man's 'intolerance' is another man's 'free expression.' For me, free expression is just as much about expressing intolerance of what someone says or does as it is voicing approval for something they say or do.
More importantly, to attempt to exempt people from the social (as opposed to legal) consequences of their express beliefs is to completely displace the concept of a 'marketplace of ideas' and instead impose an autocratic structure where no competition is allowed. A debate without a winner and a looser in the eyes of the audience is a pointless debate indeed. There are loosers in the market of the spoken word...just as there in the market of firms. The answer isn't to try and protect the Enrons of speech (Sarandon et al) from the consequences of their irresponsible and dishonest comments...for that deprives 'free speech' and 'unfettered debate' of anything of substance. Debate then becomes an excercise in narccism rather than a competition for the hearts and minds of the American people. These two, as every person who utters a comment (strange, I don't recall too many people suggesting Fuzzy Zeller should be exempted from the consequences of his joke), are responsible for what they say. And they deserve, nay have a *right*, to all the approbation and shame or acclaim and applause that folks see fit to bestow. And that, Bernie, includes the Baseball Hall of Fame. I say: way to go, Dan! It's nice to see the marketplace of ideas at work! D.GOOCH