Subscribe to the Blunt Force Truth podcast

Roseanne: Free Speech Isn’t Just About Government Restrictions

Katherine Timpf at National Review offers a very reductive take on Roseanne’s firing.

She was fired, and she deserved to be fired. Her comment was racist and unacceptable, and I would not want someone who had made that kind of comment representing my company, either. It really seems that simple to me, but oddly enough, I’ve actually seen some conservatives defending her — saying that her firing is an example of the rampant political correctness that flies in the face of free speech — and honestly, this is something that I just can’t understand.

First of all, this is in no way a free-speech or First Amendment issue. The First Amendment protects us from facing consequences from the government over our speech, not consequences from our peers or our employers.

Constitutionally protected free speech does indeed restrict the government (or at least the Federal government) from restricting our speech. But free speech is a concept that transcends any particular forum or organization.

ABC has the right to fire Roseanne. Starbucks has the right to tell you not to bring guns into its coffee shop. (There’s a certain amount of inconsistency in which parts of the Bill of Rights modern jurisprudence decided that private companies are obligated to protect and those which they aren’t. But that’s a subject for another time.)

Free speech is a larger concept than its particular legal protection in the Bill of Rights. It’s a societal value.

I have the right not to associate with someone I disagree with. So does ABC. ABC disagreed with the specific content of Roseanne’s views. It fired her.


Individuals and their businesses making decisions whom they can associate with (a right that’s actually been denied to them for quite a while) is different than the imposition of certain speech standards which are enforced across organizations.

These standards are aggressively punitive. They have ideological standards, but not legal ones. (The right gets fired for offensive comments, the left doesn’t.) Their goal is no-platforming. It’s a purge of anyone who deviates from an ideological norm.

See the full story here.

Want more BFT? Leave us a voicemail on our page or follow us on Twitter @BFT_Podcast and Facebook @BluntForceTruthPodcast. We want to hear from you! There’s no better place to get the #BluntForceTruth.