One of the more interesting things to happen since the ‘Duck Dynasty’ drama moved in to fill the void in a very slow holiday news cycle is that the left suddenly became champions of employers’ rights. Employers may not have the right to refuse to provide employees with free contraception, according to the left, but they sure do have the right to fire and punish people who make GLAAD all mad and stuff.
But what if the scenario were different? What if A&E were a bakery that, as a matter of company policy, did not provide cakes for same sex weddings. And what if Phil Robertson were an employee of that company who spoke out against that policy and was fired. Would GLAAD and the left still champion an employer’s right to fire an employee simply for saying things the management disagreed with?
For people who are intellectually consistent, the rights of the employer would not change based on the content of the speech. However, one cannot help but think that the left would respond differently if a different ox were being gored.
The issue was never “does A&E have the legal right to terminate or punish Phil Robertson?” Of course they do, just as MSDNC had the right to fire Martin Bashir and Alec Baldwin. Also, had Mr. Robertson made his remarks in the context of a show instead of a magazine interview, A&E would have the right to censor those remarks from its broadcast content. Their rights to discipline employees and control their broadcast content was never in dispute.
The issue was the fascist bullies at GLAAD attempting to silence an opinion that offended them. When Baldwin and Bashir were fired, these were unilateral decisions by an employer for employees that had engaged in crude, vulgar, reprehensible insults that were perceived to have compromised the company brand. A&E was willing to give into bullying by GLAAD to punish an employee who had merely expressed an opinion that they didn’t like. Of course, A&E has the right to punish an employee for expressing his opinion. But in doing so, they empowered the bullies of the left whose goal is to squelch dissenting opinion and crush free speech. And it is for that reason that they earned the blowback that they got.