This comic perfectly explains why Laura Ingraham's 'free speech' fight is nonsense.
The best vacations leave you feeling renewed and invigorated, ready to take on the world.
You spend a week on the shore somewhere or at Disneyland or at home binging Netflix and return to work feeling newly energized and inspired.
You know what I'm talking about? Laura Ingraham sure does.
After taking a "pre-planned" Easter vacation (which just so happened to coincide with advertisers dropping her show after she mocked Parkland survivor David Hogg), Ingraham returned to Fox News on April 9 to deliver a searing rant about how conservatives are being persecuted and shut down in America.
Ingraham's return to the air included a vow to "protect" the First Amendment.
Upon her return, Ingraham revealed that her show would feature a new segment. It's called "Defending the First," and according to ABC News, Ingraham has promised that she'll "expose the enemies of the First Amendment, of free expression, and every thought while showcasing those brave voices making a difference."
Ingraham followed this up with an impassioned plea for anyone who's been the subject of First Amendment violations to call on her for aid: "If you have been subjected to threats or intimidation because of your speech, I want to know about it," she said. "Tweet me, because without free speech and a free conscience, we are not truly a free people."
Is a boycott really a violation of the First Amendment though?
In her speech, Ingraham referred to herself as a "victim" of a boycott. The reality, though, is a little different. Ingraham's speech was not curtailed by the government, which is what the First Amendment is about.
Whenever this subject is brought up, I think of this XKCD comic, which is a nice reminder of which rights the First Amendment protects. (Hint: It's not the right to a TV show.)
Comic by XKCD, used with permission.
Let's break it down further:
Had Ingraham been arrested, thrown in jail, or otherwise detained by agents of the government, then yes, she would absolutely have a point.
As the comic perfectly explains, however, as much as Ingraham may like to think of herself as a victim, freedom of speech doesn't protect you from the consequences of the things you say. Nor can it force anyone to listen to you if what you've said isn't to their liking.
So if you malign the survivor of a mass shooting for not getting into a college and advertisers decide that's not where they want to put their money, their refusal isn't curtailing any civil liberties.
Boycotting is a legal and time-honored tradition of voting with one's money.
While Ingraham paints boycotting as something only "liberals" do, we must remember that conservatives are not new to cutting off businesses they do not agree with.
In 2017, conservatives boycotted Keurig (in the strangest way) when it stopped advertising on Sean Hannity's show. They also boycotted Nordstrom after it dropped Ivanka Trump's line. When Target announced a move to be more inclusive of the trans community in 2016, a boycott reportedly led the chain to lose millions of dollars.
President Donald Trump is no stranger to calling for boycotts either. While campaigning in 2015, he suggested Starbucks should be boycotted for not putting "Merry Christmas" on their cups. And in 2017, he called for NFL fans to walk out of games if players kneeled during the national anthem and said that protesting players should be fired.
Will Ingraham be championing those that have been hurt by these boycotts as well?
Let's not forget that Ingraham was making these points on her nationally broadcast talk show.
The idea that she's a victim feels a little hollow when you realize Ingraham's speaking from a national pulpit and earning millions of dollars while demanding compassion and righteous indignation from her legions of supporters — supporters she is allowed to speak at on a regular basis without fear of repercussions even as she refers to those who oppose her as "Stalinist." (FYI: Stalin would have never stood for this kind of free-wheeling invective on public media.)
You may remember the time Ingraham was accused of doing the Nazi salute, accused Hillary Clinton of doing the same thing in retaliation, and then still ended up with her own show instead of being prosecuted? Sounds a lot like free speech to me.
The First Amendment affords us all the right to speak out.
Defending the First Amendment makes perfect sense, but as XKCD so brilliantly points out, we owe it to ourselves and one another to understand what we're defending first.
Ingraham's talking points will surely rile up her fanbase. But her rhetoric — that any criticism of conservatives is tantamount to First Amendment violation — is disingenuous and divisive.
The First Amendment protects Ingraham's right to say what she wants. It doesn't mean anyone has to listen.