MTYT: Freedom of speech

By Gary McNair - bio|email

There's a funny thing about free speech.  When you don't have it -- you want it.  And when you don't agree with someone else's speech - you don't want them to have it.

Here's the thing -- Juan Williams is right.  He may not be justified in his reasoning, but he's allowed to feel nervous when he's on an airplane with a Muslim.  That's his opinion.

All the former NPR commentator did was speak his mind on an opinion program - and I stress opinion.  And he lost his job because of it.

So you think since he's a journalist he should stay down the line?  Then why was he allowed to go onto Fox News for years as a commentator?  By firing Williams for crossing the line this time, does NPR endorse every one of his statements throughout the years, except this one?  I doubt it.

Even in the effort to promote free speech, people can stifle it.  There's a little bit of irony in that Congressional Candidate Ilario Pantano decided to "not talk" to the local NPR anymore because the corporate NPR wouldn't let Juan Williams talk for them anymore.

I may disagree with NPR and I may disagree with Pantano on this one.  But you know what?  That's my right.  And it's your right too.

That's my turn.  Now it's your turn, to say what you want to say.  Speak freely!  Email me at

Emailed comments from viewers:

We like NPR for its Jazz and Classical music and we often listen as we are traveling however, we have stopped supporting the local station and also PBS because of their biased news reporting.  With the tax-payer support that they receive they have the opportunity and duty to be an unbiased bastion of factual based news and opinion.  They could be in the same realm as The Christian Science Monitor of the print media.  Unless they change, public funding should cease.  NPR vs Juan shows their true colors.


Thank you for having the courage to speak your opinion. Just feeling compelled to thank someone for exercising a right of a United States citizen speaks volumes about the need for every American to do so more often and without fear of being "politically correct",which in my opinion is a term created by thin skinned cowards.

I will continue to listen to your opinion and while I may not always share the same, I will always respect your right to express it.  The key word here is respect.


In my opinion Mr. Williams just doesn't get it. I listened to him on the Diane Rehms show today and he asserted that his role as a news analyst and news commentator were identical, it was just a difference in context.

I listen to NPR because it is non-partisan. Their style, as I perceive it, is to present the facts as best as they can without making any value statements. They do try to have partisan proponents on specific issues to help ensure that all facts come out, or really, that no significant facts are kept hidden. NPR and related TV shows PBS Newshour and Frontline are really the only serious reporting remaining on our airwaves.

Many people in the media seem to be operating on the basis that their personal opinions matter and may or may not need to be justified. As a news consumer I do not care very much what their opinions or feelings or beliefs are. What I am interested in is how good are they are collecting significant facts and connecting the dots into a credible argument. I accept that their personal positions will influence what subjects they investigate and what people they might select to interview but what I'm looking for is a result that is not biased. If I suspect biases then that individual goes into the pundit/propaganda bucket and I ignore them.

There is not much available today for information sources. I do watch MSNBC but the propaganda quotient is growing and is reducing the shows that I will tolerate. I will not watch Joe Scarborough, Ed Schulz, and lately Rachel Maddow is beginning to loose me. Keith Olbermann has too much showbiz as well but he usually does have sufficient content that I bear up with his noise.

I've listened to Mr. Williams for many years and have generally viewed his reporting as favorable. I was always surprised why he worked at Fox News as well but I don't watch that show so I didn't hear what he had to say. But his comments about how he felt about Muslim in costume were personal feelings and would not be tolerated in a news reporting role so I fully understand why NPR finally severed their relationship with him.

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