Michelle Malkin Still Doesn’t Get How Free Speech Works
April 29, 2011 2:55 pm ET by Carlos Maza
Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin apparently still doesn’t understand that free speech works both ways. In an April 29 blog post, she criticized the Left’s attempt to “use campaign finance disclosure as a weapon to intimidate and silence political opponents.” The majority of her post was dedicated to attacking activists who planned to protest companies that have sent donations to Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker. Still, she made sure to include the LGBT community in her list of left-wing offenders:
Now, a few hundred or thousand ruined grocery store items may not seem to matter much to the average reader, but this little property destruction campaign spotlights a nasty tactic increasingly employed by the left: campaign finance disclosure as a speech-squelching weapon.
We saw it during the Proposition 8 traditional marriage battle in California, where gay rights avengers compiled black lists, harassment lists and Google target maps of citizens who contributed to the ballot measure.
We saw it when “progressive” zealots smeared Target Corporation and Chick-fil-A for daring to associate with social conservatives.
If companies have a right to endorse certain candidates, causes, or political ideologies, consumers have the same right to endorse (or oppose) particular companies because of their political affiliations. If a company is willing to take a controversial political position (backing policies denying millions of gay and lesbian Americans equal treatment under the law, for example), then it must also be prepared to deal with the significant backlash it could potentially face from its customers.
Free speech does not require that companies or people be shielded from criticism for their political activities. On the contrary, it requires that Americans not be restricted in their ability to mobilize, organize, and protest against activities that they disagree with.
And for the record, it’s not exactly accurate to say companies like Target and Chick-fil-A were attacked for “daring to associate with social conservatives.” Target donated $150,000 to a group working to elect a notoriously anti-gay Minnesota GOP gubernatorial candidate. Chick-fil-A donated over $1 million to some of the country’s most notorious anti-gay groups, including several known hate groups.
These companies were doing more than simply “associat[ing]” with social conservatives – they were actively involved in using money they had made off of their customers to prevent LGBT Americans from receiving equal treatment under the law.
Significant doubt has already been cast on Malkin’s assertion that “gay rights avengers” harassed and targeted supporters of Proposition 8. Still, even in that instance, LGBT activists weren’t taking issue with anyone’s speech – they were taking issue with an orchestrated political campaign that ultimately succeeded in denying marriage rights to thousands gay and lesbian couples. Even if one believes that speech should be immune to criticism, political donations and campaigns should clearly not be.
Democracy flourishes when people and organizations are held accountable for their actions and beliefs. For Malkin, however, democracy is apparently better served when major corporations can pull the wool over their customers’ eyes and engage in multi-million dollar political operations in secret.