The Very First Amendment

My cell phone carrier is Verizon. I’ve been a customer since forever, long enough to shock a young employee there, which has happened more than once.

I don’t know much about Verizon. I’m sure at least a few of their corporate policies I would find objectionable in the abstract, by which I mean I don’t really care. Companies of this size aren’t likely to institutionalize blatantly controversial behaviors; their scope is too big, and they want it to be bigger. If anything, they seem more likely to have progressive, inclusive attitudes when it comes to social hot-button issues, if maybe for cynical reasons.

And if I do find something so objectionable that I don’t want to be associated with them, I’ll go to Sprint or somewhere similar, although I doubt there’s a flawless competitor. Sometimes you live to fight another day.

I have no problems with boycotts and protests. If you don’t like Verizon and want to march outside or organize a campaign, more power to you. We don’t truly have a free market, and we tolerate near-monopolies because it’s convenient or necessary, but hey, power to the people. I’ve got your back.

Kathy Griffin, whose humor doesn’t particularly appeal to me, was much easier to attack than a telecommunications company. And that’s the way the market works, too. Go too far and risk losing everything; risk, in some fields, is your business. Not losing any sleep here over Kathy Griffin.

Nor over Julius Caesar, which has prompted a backlash based, apparently, on less than a working knowledge of the play, or its history (it’s always been the most modern of Shakespeare’s plays to my eye, ripe for translation to current events without much stretching). A Trump-like character as Caesar (who, good grief, is the good guy) probably works as well as the ones with an Obama-like character or a Hillary-like one. Don’t care for the controversy? Pull your sponsorship, don’t buy tickets, protest…do it, fine. Seems awfully misguided to me, but fine.

And now Alex Jones and Megyn Kelly. I am a completely uninterested spectator, not being a TV watcher or a Kelly fan, but I suppose if you object to this then your recourse is pretty obvious. And if you can’t bring yourself to just not watch it, then boycott or whatever away.

What bothers me about all of these situations, but particularly the last, is the notion that some things should not be seen. Alex Jones is some sort of low-level monster, I have no doubt. And his listeners are active participants in his monstrosity.

And I completely understand the Sandy Hook families being outraged at any media attention given this jerk. I understand everything. Go for it.

But don’t tell me that some people are so reprehensible that journalists should just not ask them questions. Don’t tell me we shouldn’t lift up the rock to see what lives underneath. I want to know what’s under the rock. Megyn Kelly aside (I have no real sense of her integrity), interviewing awful people has been a mainstay of journalism, and I think a civic responsibility. Don’t watch, of course. Write letters, organize a boycott, sure. It’s a consumer world, and a particular network news department is in the business of profits, so.

But please don’t tell me that we should be spared mean words from an asshole. Shine that light, shine it brightly, see the cockroaches scatter, etc.

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