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NPR Chooses Not to Employ Me (or Juan Williams)

Posted by Karl Withakay on October 22, 2010

In case you’re not aware, NPR fired Juan Williams after he made some anti-Muslim remarks on the Bill O’Reilly show on Fox News.  Probably the most significant statement he made was the following:

“But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they’re identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

I’m not going to discuss what I think of what Williams said, and I’m not going to discuss whether or not I agree with NPR’s decision to terminate his employment with them.

I am going to discuss some of the reactions to NPR’s decision.  In this post on the Fox News web site, numerous people are crying censorship and are demanding an end to federal funding of NPR.

Here are a couple of quotes from the article:

Newt Gingrich:

“… the idea that that’s the excuse for National Public Radio to censor Juan Williams is an outrage and every listener of NPR should be enraged that there’s this kind of bias against an American,”

Mike Huckabee:

“NPR has discredited itself as a forum for free speech and a protection of the First Amendment rights of all and has solidified itself as the purveyor of politically correct pabulum and protector of views that lean left,”

Let’s be clear here.  NPR has a right to determine who they want to employ and who they want to represent them.  NPR is not obliged to provide Juan Williams a venue on which to appear anymore than they are obliged to provide one to me.  NPR is not preventing Juan Williams from appearing on Fox News or anywhere else; he is perfectly free to speak his mind anywhere someone will give him a microphone.  NPR has not violated Juan Williams’ First Amendment rights in any way.  NPR is not a public access soap box that every American has a right to utilize.  Is NPR violating my First Amendment rights by preventing me from using NPR to broadcast my insights?  No, clearly not, and neither are they violating any First Amendment rights of Juan Williams.  I am not constitutionally entitled to a job as an on air personality at NPR, and neither is Juan Williams.

Let’s all be clear and honest here.  If you object to NPR’s decision, fine.  If you object to the continued federal funding of NPR, fine.  Go ahead and campaign to end their funding, but don’t do so on the invalid argument that NPR is engaging in censorship or the suppression of free speech.  That demonstrates either an ignorance of the First Amendment and censorship or intentional dishonesty:  you either don’t understand the concepts, or you are lying to better sell your position to the ill-informed.

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2 Responses to “NPR Chooses Not to Employ Me (or Juan Williams)”

  1. Well said, Karl.

    -Justin

  2. Bob said

    If he had complied with not using his NPR moniker on FOX News, would this even be an issue? I guess that was the border of separation of his radio personality versus just a personal comment from a FOX Contributor. I guess being a “celebrity” really does change the rules on what you can and cannot say.

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