First and Foremost

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The first thing you read on this page is the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  It’s pretty straightforward if you ask me, but others seem to have allowed confusion to set in.

The confusion I am referencing surrounds the suspension by A&E of “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson for comments he made during an interview with GQ.  Mr. Robertson is certainly entitled to his opinion, there’s no doubt about that.  Conservatives from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to former half-Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin are being very critical of the suspension, claiming that A&E is curtailing Mr. Robertson’s First Amendment rights.

They are wrong.

Just as Mr. Robertson has the right to his opinion and to voice said opinion, A&E has the right to suspend or fire him for voicing his opinion.  Last I checked, A&E is not Congress, and as such is not bound to allow anybody who represents their network to speak freely on any topic.  In this case, A&E is the employer, and Mr. Robertson is their employee.  A&E has a brand to protect, and if they think that a representative of their brand (Mr. Robertson) is not casting them in the light they feel is appropriate, they can respond in any manner they see fit.  Free enterprise, if you will.

I find it oddly ironic that people like Jindal and Palin constantly rail against “government intrusion” into our lives and into private enterprise, yet want to criticize A&E for acting as an entity in the free market.  You cannot have it both ways.