I received a lot of support for yesterday’s blog post defending A&E’s right to disassociate from and cease providing a platform for opinions it disfavors. I cannot help but wonder, however, whether readers were committed to that result on principle—or are simply on A&E’s “side” in this instance.
We all agree Phil Robertson has a First Amendment right to express his opinions and abide by his religious convictions.
But A&E also has rights.
Freedom of speech necessarily implies the right not to speak. West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943). Freedom of association necessarily implies the right not to associate. Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, 530 U.S. 640 (2000).
For the most part, readers agreed that A&E had the right to disassociate from, and refrain from providing a platform for, Robertson’s views and religious convictions, which A&E deems offensive.
Now, let us reverse the scenario with another timely, real-life example.
Elane Photography and Masterpiece Cakeshop also want to dissociate themselves from and refrain from publishing concepts they deem offensive. In their cases, they are artists (a photographer and a cake designer) who believe that same-sex relationships are unhealthy and immoral. They do not want be forced to use their talents in ways that reflect support for, or celebration of, those relationships.
They, like A&E, want to exercise their rights not to speak and not to associate.
So, upon consideration, is support for A&E driven by principle—or policy?