Gary Oldman made something of an ass of himself. In an obscenity-laced interview with Playboy he whined about Alec Baldwin and Mel Gibson being victims of "political correctness."
Oldman started by misrepresenting the facts in both cases:
Alec calling someone an F-A-G in the street while he's pissed off coming out of his building because they won't leave him alone. I don't blame him. So they persecute. Mel Gibson is in a town that's run by Jews and he said the wrong thing because he's actually bitten the hand that I guess has fed him--and doesn't need to feed him anymore because he's got enough dough. He's like an outcast, a leper, you know? But some Jewish guy in his office somewhere hasn't turned and said, "That fucking kraut" or "Fuck those Germans," whatever it is? We all hide and try to be so politically correct.
The Mel Gibson incident was actually a reiteration of the claim that Jews have started all the wars in the world. He didn't just say "fucking Jews," he took a page right out of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Given that Gibson's father, Hutton, is closely associated with anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi views, such rants by Mel may indicate far more sympathy than he feels comfortable admitting. In vino veritas.
In emphasis, Oldman said,
Bill Maher could call someone a fag and get away with it. He said to Seth MacFarlane this year, "I thought you were going to do the Oscars again. Instead they got a lesbian." He can say something like that. Is that more or less offensive than Alec Baldwin saying to someone in the street, "You fag"? I don't get it.
Of course, saying "they got a lesbian" is not meant with the same vitriol as "you fag." The intentionality of the remark is quite different and will be taken differently, with good reason. Baldwin's problem was that he had made similar remarks numerous times, and always as insults. It was a case of once too often.
Oldman hilariously tries to claim he's a libertarian, but says that Bill Maher, who has used a similar label, "would fail the test." This in the same interview where he says that not even pot should be legal. Talk about failing the test!
Oldman sounded far more conservative than libertarian, but ever since the Bush administration a number of conservatives have taken to claiming they are libertarians -- if only out of sheer embarrassment.
Oldman doesn't just misunderstand libertarianism; he is clueless about free speech. Ayn Rand, whose libertarian credentials are a tad bit stronger than Oldman's, noted that freedom of speech does not mean one is entitled to escape consequences.
In her column for the Los Angeles Times, Dec. 2, 1962, she wrote: "Every man is free to advocate his views, but he must bear the responsibility for them and the consequences, including disagreement with others, opposition and unpopularity." Others, she wrote, have the right to "refuse to listen or refuse to aid, abet, finance or support it in any way--which is their inalienable right."
Every choice has consequences, only the most irrational believe life is cost free -- that there are no trade offs. Mr. Oldman thinks bigoted remarks should come without consequences. But, he does not understand what is, and what is not "free speech."
It is not a violation of free speech if I refuse to shake your hand because you are a bigot. You have no right to my friendship.
It is not a violation of free speech if I refuse to buy products from you, even if it is greasy chicken. You have no right to my patronage.
It is not a violation of free speech if I refuse to hire you as my organization's spokesman, or I end an existing contract with you because of your bigotry. You have no right to work for me without my consent.
It is not a violation of free speech if I refuse to buy your book, publish it, or distribute it. You have no right to my resources or efforts.
It is not even a violation of free speech if I condemn you, ridicule you, make jokes about you, or refuse to take you seriously. You have no right to either my accolades or my respect.
It is a violation of free speech if someone uses force, privately or governmentally, to take from you your right to speak or publish with your own resources and property, or those made freely available to you by others.
If we ban a bookstore from stocking a book it is a violation of free speech. If the bookstore refuses to stock it, it is not. It violates free speech to burn the books others own, it is not a violation to refuse to publish or purchase them.
Just because there are negative consequences to saying offensive, stupid or bigoted things, it doesn't mean First Amendment rights are under threat. It just means you can't have your cake and eat it too.
I, for one, am sick unto death with this endless chant of "political correctness," a term almost utterly devoid of meaning, which is meant, not to defend free speech, but to shut up critics of bigotry and intolerance. It is inherently guilty of the very thing it says it pretends to oppose.