Friday, October 22, 2010

Wan Williams

Longtime readers of this blog (I love you, man!) know how much I love to kick Fox News's "liberal" sidekick. Williams is was a hack purveyor of conventional wisdom on NPR and an obvious beard for Fox News. That said, I didn't really plan on writing about his "firing" by NPR. And, of course, Ta-Nehisi Coates says it best, anyway.

Moreover, I think we often overstate the difficulty of not uttering foolish thoughts. Every one of us has, at one time or another, thought something truly abominable. But we've generally learned not to speak those thoughts, not simply out of politeness, but because we know that most of those thoughts are demonstrably wrong. We are, in other words, not just concerned with hurting people feelings, we're concerned with sounding like idiots. Among people who talk for a living, one would hope that the sense would be better developed--not less. I'm a writer. The bar for me clearly and intelligently expressing myself should be higher, not lower, than someone penning a letter to their Congressman.

I recognize that, in point of fact, media often doesn't actually work that way, and often operates on another set of values, including, but not limited to, volume and outrage. I'm not clear on why NPR has to associate itself with those values. Frankly, I feel the same way about CNN and Sanchez. This is not about free speech. Sanchez and Williams are free to say whatever they want--just as their employers are free to dissociate themselves from their remarks in any legal manner they choose.

I'm all for free speech. But I would not expect my current employer to allow me to use this space to vent, as fact, all the prejudiced thoughts that fly through my head. I guess I understand how you come to believe that someone in Muslim dress is less American, or that Michelle Obama is actually "Stokely Carmichael in a dress." But I'm not clear on why, in this era of blogs and social media, NPR then owes you their association.
Juan Williams likes hanging around with Fox News's coolest kids and like any nerd hanging with the jocks, he has to constantly prove that he can be just as tough and obnoxious as any of them.

NPR should have fired him a long time ago.

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