The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Charlie Sykes: Paragon Of Free Speech

Charlie Sykes is a conservative radio talker in Milwaukee. He got in a huff over a bunch of lefties complaining about these bumper stickers. I find the Tom McMahon "parody" sticker to be unoriginal and dull, but a bunch of people are in a uproar about it for various reasons.

Some group of religious people complained and asked him to take down the McMahon sticker. Sykes gave this somewhat snotty response. It includes lines like:

As for your being offended: I am also frequently offended by things I read and hear. (I’m offended, for instance, by the offensive ignorance of your letter. I am also offended by the fact that with the all of this community’s problems you could not find anything more important to write about.) But I know that is the price I pay to live in a country where we have a vigorous exchange of ideas. My being offended does not give me license to demand that voices I find “offensive” be silenced, or images be removed.

I find this response odd, for a few reasons. The first is that Mr. Sykes moderates comments on his blog, which is not really in the spirit of encouraging robust discourse.

The second reason is that, for all of Charlie's talk about understanding parody and sticking up for free speech, it is worth noting that he recently criticized, and contributed to, a boycott of Miller Brewing Company for their participation in the Folsom Street Festival in San Francisco, and for having their logo on a poster that mocked Da Vinci's Last Supper. Here are a few more examples. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Sykes was obsessed with the story for several weeks.

Charlie, don't you understand parody? I thought you didn't want to silence anyone.




  • I don't know anything about Charlie Sykes, but it's not really fair to call a boycott "silencing" someone. He's not promoting censorship, is he? Avoiding a company's products (and asking others to do the same) because that company doesn't share your values (I presume this is a "values" thing) seems completely legitimate to me.

    I'm not saying I'm on board with this particular boycott or anything (in fact, I'm drinking a Miller Lite right now, and know nothing about the Folsom Street Festival) but what is objectionable about Sykes objecting to their endorsement or participation? Isn't that just voting with your wallet, so to speak?

    By Blogger Nye!, at 1:12 PM  

  • No, it's not fair to call it that, however I will go with the childish defense of "he started it." Charlie, in the letter, accused the interfaith council of hurting free speech and trying to silence him. That's actually another good rip on Sykes, that he does not seem to understand the difference between free speech and censorship.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 8:43 AM  

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