Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Right of Free Speech, Selectively Applied

James Taranto captures the left-liberal idea of free speech in this post today:
Sgt. Jason Hess, who is stationed in Iraq with the U.S. Army's First Cavalry Division, wanted to buy some floor mats for his men to sleep on. He wrote to a West Allis, Wis., company called

Do you ship to APO [Army Post Office] addresses? I'm in the 1st Cavalry Division stationed in Iraq and we are trying to order some mats but we are looking for who ships to APO first.

As notes, because of paperwork and other regulations, some companies do not ship to APO addresses. Discount-Mats turned out to be such a company, but the response to Sgt. Hess, from an anonymous employee, included a bit of editorializing:

We do not ship to APO addresses, and even if we did, we would NEVER ship to Iraq. If you were sensible, you and your troops would pull out of Iraq.

The story spread, and Discount-Mats heard from "furious people," who "e-mailed and called the Web site owner's house and left obscene messages," Milwaukee's WTMJ-TV reports. The company fired the employee responsible.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that "anti-war and free speech advocates were equally offended, by the widespread criticism of the company and the individual who responded to the soldier":

"This is a matter of free speech," said Julie Enslow, an organizer with Peace Action Wisconsin in Milwaukee. "It is totally irresponsible for radio stations and bloggers to attack a person for his personal political views."

You've got to love Julie Enslow's concept of free speech. If you agree with her, it's fine to shoot off your mouth on company time. If you disagree with her, it's "totally irresponsible" to express your views in a public forum.

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