As a longtime listener of the Opie and Anthony show, I was quite annoyed when I learned Anthony had gotten fired. I didn’t really know how to react. I wanted to do..something! So I ranted. What I wrote has no substance really, but its how I felt at the time. I wrote a good chunk, and although I really don’t care as much anymore as I did when I initially wrote this, it would be a shame to throw it in the recycle bin just because I didn’t end up editing it in any capacity. So..here! Verbal puke on the internets!
Regardless of how you feel about racism and prejudice in this world, what happened to Anthony of the Opie and Anthony show was wrong. Bottom line. Free speech is not inclusive to things we as a society wholly agree with. If someone has an opinion and rants about it on a public forum, it still needs to be protected.
Because this is America damnit~!
What if we all disagreed with whatever was unpopular in the 20s? the 60s? Women wouldn’t be able to vote. Segregation would still be a thing.
I know its ridiculous to compare these life altering, society changing events to a 50 year old man ranting angrily on twitter, but back then these feelings felt as wrong and bad as his reaction to what happened felt today.
I am not going to sit here and say what he wrote was right, that we as a society are gaining any insight into a better living because he used what amount to crass racism and sexism over twitter, but its the principal of the thing. What a boring society to only have access to things we all agree with. How vanilla. I do not agree with how Anthony thinks, but I was able to build my opinion on these issues a little better because I was able to get a sampling of “the other side” through what he said.
It had gotten less about the funny and more about his bitterness to the white/black argument as the years went by, no denying that.
I remember in 2008/07 when racism was only brought up as a side joke. (and even further back to K-rock when ‘The inappropriate bell’ was used regularly. But that was FM of course.) It was merely side comments, things like that. But as Obama came to be the president, and especially after the Zimmerman thing, Anthony’s true opinion about race started to come more into the spotlight. The man could rant about how he felt for hours on end if Opie and Jimmy left him to do his own devices. This was especially prevalent when the issue of assault weapon bans following the Newtown shooting came into light. The rants about gun culture and “urban youths” was so in your face that it got to the point of Opie being just tired of it. Bored, actually is the better word. I was bored too.
While I agree with the idea of being able to own a gun legally and NOT banning weapons in America, the way this guy used the banning of assault weapons to include a racial argument kind of soured my opinion towards his views.
Regardless of my views on this, you still need to talk about these things. Even if its unpopular opinion. These types of issues are deemed controversial and they are something that needs dialogue on both sides of the fence. Anthony stood as a spokesperson for the more conservative, differing opinion on things than the norm. Its not a bad thing to think differently, is it? Can’t someone have an opinion these days without fearing a loss of job because of it?
The Morality clause, and the First Amendment:
A big argument that comes into play when discussing a corporate entity firing an outspoken person is the concept of the morality clause. Its true what they say: A corporation has a right to restrict what you can say on the internet/in public places if they think what you say can damage the brand theyre trying to sell. Its a privately owned place of business. If I owned a business, and my employee decided to walk around downtown talking about views I disagree or controversial statements, I have a right to fire this person, especially if what they say can have an impact on my business.
And as to the First amendment, I know that this piece of our constitution only applies to how the government responds to our speech.
However I still believe silencing someone when they are speaking on their own private social media platform is still wrong, and goes against everything this First Amendment is supposed to do; allow you to speak your mind. Too often now adays people are so quickly fired for saying something that goes against a company’s standard issue opinion. If something is even slightly deemed as offensive, the person loses their job regardless of context or how the person got to the point in the discussion.
The point I am trying to make is: What ticks me off most is that SiriusXM’s biggest sell up to this point was the idea of truly uncensored content. Up to this point SiriusXM stood by this claim, as well. For years the Opie and Anthony show have joked and discussed topics not seen as normal opinion. Everything was fair game, and every manner of subject matter was discussed, mocked, laughed at, whatever. Did Sirius ever unplug the show during these on-air discussions? Absolutely not.
I know I was to make a point after this part, but I don’t contain the passion I had beforehand to figure it out. Haha. Bottom line is: Unconventional speech should still be protected speech, regardless of whether a morality clause or contractual obligation is in place. I know businesses have a responsibility to protect their brand, but they should know what they’re getting themselves into when they willingly hire a radio duo well known for being controversial. If your selling point is that its truly uncensored radio, dont turn around and censor somebody because they spoke wrongly on social media. It feels hypocritical.