December 12, 2016

Susan Olsen and freedom of opinion

The lesson here: everyone is entitled to their opinion, they are just not entitled to voice it if it isn't politically correct. Or perhaps the true lesson - you should not live your life on Facebook.

Susan Olsen a.k.a. Cindy Brady of The Brady Bunch put a rant on her Facebook page, and it looks like it cost her the radio talk show job she was in.
The 55-year-old Donald Trump supporter, who served as a co-host on LA Talk Radio's show Two Chicks Talkin' Politics, reportedly wrote a now-deleted homophobic Facebook rant directed towards openly gay actor Leon Acord-Whiting.
The rant contained vulgarities directed at gay actor Leon Acord-Whiting. To be clear, it was not professional. But to also be clear it was:

(1) her opinion (the first amendment still exists, doesn't it?)
(2) outside of work in a Facebook setting (although arguably, related to her work)
(3) not directed at an entire community but rather an individual, using slurs based on his personal community identification.

But to be clear also, the actor acted not in kind but with slurs that cut across an entire half of the country, who supported Donald Trump - in other words his actions were bigoted across a group, hers were directed at an individual, using bigoted language.
The fued [sic] seems to have stemmed from Leon's own Facebook status, where he slams Susan for heated language about Hillary Clinton and the Koran, calling her a "Trump fanatic" and equating her statements to "idiotic lies."

Leon goes on to say that he will no longer appear on L.A. Radio until Susan is off the air, adding her opinions are "dangerous" and "unprofessional."
Because her opinions differed from his her opinions are dangerous and unprofessional. He ranted about it on Facebook instead of discussing it. She responded on Facebook. This is not conducive to a civil society. That's where Facebook fails utterly in helping society. It has become a platform for people to hurl insults from a distance. In addition it invites consequences for people unable to police themselves: your opinion is your own, if you share it in your personal space, you invite consequences in your professional life. That's not a failing of Facebook, it's a failing of people to understand the consequences of their actions.

I'm not suggesting Olsen be allowed to keep her job - the radio station (or network?) is of course allowed to exercise their judgement in determining whether an individual is beneficial or detrimental to their brand. And Olsen should have chosen her words more carefully. But that doesn't allow political correctness off the hook. If her opinion is discounted simply because it does not conform to societal norms then there is no freedom in society.

Furthermore, Leon Acord-Whiting has faced no such consequences concerning his vitriol about Trump supporters and opinions. Such a double standard will only serve to further alienate half the country who felt that their opinions were disregarded and elected Trump in the first place.

That fact seems to escape liberals who remain smugly steadfast in their belief that they are right about everything. As people find themselves on the 'wrong' side of any issue they will be forced to conform or be relegated to being racist/homophobic/anti-fill-in-the-blank/bitter clingers. More and more people will end up on the other side of the divide as their opinions become outcast. What is correct and allowable will grow ever smaller and more insular, and the trend towards Republican victories across America, will continue. Alternately, but far less likely given the American spirit, the country will conform to each new norm and there will be no real freedom of opinion, let alone expression.

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