Listening to WJR’s Fred Beckmann morning show while taking walks over the past week has been both informative and maddening. There were a couple of discussions that really got me to thinking – What is a right?
There are “rights” that are claimed that range from the laughable to the serious. So let’s take a look at some of these assumptions.
Last Thursday, the day before Game 7 of the NHL championship, was the last day that broadcast television was going to be in an analog format, and the next day would require a converter box to receive and view broadcasts on older, analog TV sets. We have been notified of this change for over a year, and yet this is still an issue.
A representative of the NAACP was on the show stating that his organization was still helping people apply for coupons for $40 to be applied toward the converter boxes. During the conversation, he stated that to watch TV is a right because of the information that TV can provide the population. You have got to be kidding…
David Letterman issued another apology (his 3rd) for tasteless jokes about Alaska’s Governor Sarah Palin and her daughter a couple of days ago. Much has been made of this incident, and somewhere along the line a statement about Mr. Letterman’s right to free speech was made.
On a related note, Miss California Carrie Prejean answered a question concerning gay marriage that, in my opinion, was very tactful in stating her beliefs in what a marriage should be. The firestorm arising from her answer was intense and sometimes very derogatory toward her.
And now I’m starting to hear that AT&T’s exclusive offering of the iPhone is being challenged by consumer’s rights groups stating that the iPhone should be offered by other phone companies.
Are you starting to get the idea?
A right, in short, is a legally, morally, or traditionally just claim. We often cite the Constitution of the United States as the definition of the rights that we enjoy. And yet very few of the “rights” that these groups have any standing with our country’s founding document. Yes, technology has evolved and changed the face of the country, but it is the principles of this important document that need to be applied and not abused. And abused they are. Let’s take the above examples…
The “right” to watch TV is about as bogus as they come. A TV is a consumer item, an appliance, something that someone buys for their use. Since buying a TV is a choice, it is not a right. This is true for buying newspapers and radios (which, by the way, would serve the same purpose as a TV), and yet no one is stating a newspaper and radio for every man, woman, and child is a “right”.
Free speech is a little bit more tricky to apply in today’s world of political correctness and potential allegations of hate speech. Expressing an opinion is bound to offend someone somewhere, and yet the standards are often fuzzy, blurred, and often ignored. For instance…
Concerning the Letterman/Palin jokes: While Mr. Letterman does have the right to entertain in his own way, he does not have the right to slander or degrade another person.
Concerning the Miss California incident: When asked a question concerning gay marriage in a public forum, Ms. Prejean answered truthfully with her opinions and belief. It wasn’t the answer that the “judge” wanted, and she was unmercifully attacked. So who is defending Ms. Prejean’s right to free speech? Certainly not any national organization that I’m aware of.
We all have the right to express our opinions. The listener has the right to reject the opinion without discussion, change the channel, or express their point of view. It can be done without personal attacks. Our current problem is that people are taking the different points of view from their own as personal attacks, and attack in kind. People claiming to be tolerant of others and their beliefs & opinions really aren’t all that tolerant of different belief systems. Case in point: The Miss California incident.
And we wonder why the courts and laws are so screwed up. We have people suing each other over crap that a little common sense and thought would solve. This is our society going to Hell in a hand-basket on the express train.
Oh yeah, the iPhone “controversy”: It’s a consumer product that is offered only by AT&T – they signed the contract with Apple. Get over it.