Live in Austin: Should private politics matter in your public life?

See our Flickr stream from Austin City Limits. Comment on today’s debate below.

The story: A membership list belonging to the British National party has been leaked

… with the names, addresses, telephone numbers and jobs of 12,000 people – and there have been reprecussions.

The BNP is at the fringes of British politics and to many is completely unacceptable.

Some of the list say, there are being harassed in their jobs despite their careers having nothing to do with politics.

Here in Texas, an American football player with the fanatically supported UT Longhorns team, has been kicked out for writing on his Facebook page on election night that ‘hunters should get their guns’. He wasn’t happy with the result, and reportedly also included a racial slur, but I can’t find the exact quote.

Racial slurs are one thing (and there’s probably little debate that that is acceptable), but if he just made a hunting joke about being disappointed at the result – would it have deserved the same treatment?

You may think it inappropriate, even offensive, but would that have been reason for him to go from a football team?

Do you care about the politics of businesspeople, restaurant owners, news-readers or any other public figures?

157 Responses to “Live in Austin: Should private politics matter in your public life?”

  1. 1 Jennifer
    November 20, 2008 at 04:36

    Re: Do you care about the politics of businesspeople, restaurant owners, news-readers or any other public figures?

    Yes, I do care. Even though people can not be defined soley by their political affiliations; it’s a part of who they are ie their character and values. Political views color other views and vice versa.

    When speaking about public figures and their influence on our recent election; I think they had a great impact. So many placed such stock in these public figures who do not in any way struggle with the issues that “ordinary people” do. It seems to me like some public figures simply sought to use their influence and money to buy their candidate’s win. It’s obvious in that type of situation people, especially those in the public eye, are capable of impressing their beliefs onto others.

  2. 2 J in Portland
    November 20, 2008 at 06:44

    I don’t think a person’s political stance should influence their position unless it directly impacts the employer …..i.e. working for the GOP and seen canvasing for the Democrats..

    I think the situation stated had more to do with the threatened violence and not necessarily the political position.

  3. 3 Bruce Sickles, Falls City, Oregon
    November 20, 2008 at 06:53

    In a politically diverse population it is necessary to tolerate obverse views. We all have our views and we all see our own views as being right and just and that is only natural but…

    I would have to walk a long way in someone else’s shoes before I would want to nullify their views or their social standing.

    It is our ability to co-operate within society in spite of our differences that make America the great place it is.

  4. 4 Robert
    November 20, 2008 at 08:32

    It depends on what they do for a job and what the politics they follow is.

    For the vast majority of people who follow a party, I care little for the exact details of the party they follow. I don’t even care if they try to convert me to their party either because if I don’t like it I can always go somewhere else, tune into another station etc. It all party of sensible political debate.

    However the BNP is not a mainstream party. It is an extremist party who’s views are racist. This behaviour can’t be allowed to be propergated through society otherwise it will destroy us. It must be held up in the contempt it deserves.

  5. 5 Jack Hughes
    November 20, 2008 at 08:33

    This is crunch time for those who claim to value free speech and personal freedom.

    These must include freedom to say unpleasant things and hold repulsive views.

    And don’t forget that most of the people on the BNP list are not “public figures”. They are the “little people” who pay taxes, drive buses, walk dogs, teach children, weld trailers, mow lawns, put out fires. Some of these people may now lose their jobs for belonging to a legal political party.

  6. 6 rick
    November 20, 2008 at 10:27

    It matters in the way in which I feel about them. For example if I find out my favorite tennis player is a racist or an actor is a Scientoligist, it certainly influences whether I respect them enough to watch them or not. But I don’t think they should loose their job because of it.

  7. November 20, 2008 at 11:02

    @ Jack Hughes

    I actually agree with you on the issue of personal freedom but such freedom is a two-way street. It is entirely legal for a person to support the views of the BNP…

    …but it’s just a legal for me to choose not to associate with or patronise the business of somebody who espouses the racist views of the BNP. What happens if a large number of people think and act the same as me? It’s bound to affect the employment prospects of the person involved.

    As so often happens, one individual’s “personal freedom” can affect somebody else.

  8. 8 Robert
    November 20, 2008 at 12:21


    These must include freedom to say unpleasant things and hold repulsive views.

    Everybody has the right under freedom of speech to reveal unpleasent truths, granted. However the freedom of speech can’t be and shouldn’t be ever used as an excuse to voice hateful propoganda against others in society. If the BNP can shake itself of this racism and then it would be welcomed into proper debate, but until then it will always be on the extreme and its members appearing almost shameful of being associated with it.

  9. 9 Wesley Ngwenya
    November 20, 2008 at 12:30

    I certainly do agree that personal politics do matter in the way I look at public figures. I noticed that North American politicians are many times defined by what they believe in, etc. And it is these values that they often sell to their electrote. African is different. Having lived in both sides of the world am often reminded by what I see here in Africa that personal politics do not really matter–at least to the politician themselves. They oftentimes have mixed values or none, no principles, and will only be interested in getting a political appoinment. This means compromising whatever they believed in.

  10. November 20, 2008 at 14:13

    Here is the website for the BNP. Decide for yourself what they are about.


  11. 11 John in Salem
    November 20, 2008 at 15:01

    We have laws here to protect people from being discriminated against because of their political affiliations but they don’t cover making threats or inciting violence. You also have the right to believe whatever you like but you don’t have a right to demand that others respect you for those beliefs.
    When it comes to the political views of people like Oprah and Tom Cruise, etc. – everyone’s entitled to their own worthless opinion.

  12. 12 Steve
    November 20, 2008 at 15:32

    I would hope that player would sue to the University of Texas. it’s a state university, and the first amendment applies to all aspects of it, including the sports department. People have freedom of speech here, you may not like what they say, but they are also entitled to due process as well.

  13. 13 Ogola Ben
    November 20, 2008 at 15:35

    I bet the civil servants should include all forces i respective of whether they hold “what office” but are under the pay roll scheme! A voter, a person whose votes are sought and an individual with a mandate to respond to publich demands as per service?

  14. 14 Suzanne
    November 20, 2008 at 16:08

    When I read UT’s Buck Burnette’s Facebook comment, I thought it was more in response to American hunters who are afraid their gun rights are going to be revoked rather than reading an actual threat of violence against President-elect Obama. There have been many reports about gun sales increasing since the election and it is in response to anticipated changes in gun laws. However, if Burnette did also include a racial slur on his Facebook page, then maybe my read of his status update is naive.

  15. 15 Roy, Washington DC
    November 20, 2008 at 16:11

    @ Steve

    The First Amendment doesn’t protect words “which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace” (Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire). Racial slurs would seem to fall under this. Plus, university athletes know that they are held to certain standards of conduct, and may well have had to explicitly agree to this at some point. Having that word on your Myspace/Facebook page is unlikely to get you prosecuted, but if you’re a public figure of any kind, it could easily cost you your job.

  16. 16 gary
    November 20, 2008 at 16:16

    Individual politcal views matter to individuals. Commonly held views may matter to large groups of individuals. Folks who without thought adopt political views of a celebrated individual, have given up the defining characteristic of their humanity; free will. This is true for any such renunciation of free will, for any celebrity, for any political philosophy. So, before crticizing another, test thoroughly your own adoptions. You will have to practice this diligently to get it right, because our most common lies are told to ourselves.

  17. November 20, 2008 at 16:18

    Hi Guys, James from Kenya here.
    The leak of names of prominent private people backing it can be besetting. The fact is, if I support a party here in Kenya that’s controversial as a business man. Chances are I wont disclose my affliations to public for fear of reprisal like my businesses being targeted or boycotted.So personal political views if disclosed do matter.Its like the cross dressing that i do privately for fun of course, i wouldnt like people knowing about it.

  18. 18 VictorK
    November 20, 2008 at 16:47

    Let’s be clear: the BNP is a quasi-socialist party with neo-Nazi roots and a past of crude and explicit racism (though nowadays, like Obama, it claims to transcend race, while hoping people won’t notice all the skeletons in the closet).

    It’s a fringe party, comparable in extremism to the Communist party here in Britain. Klan-lite. Because everyone knows about what the BNP looked like before it had a political facelift and took a course in public relations, most good judges identify it not as a right-wing nationalist party a la the late Jorg Haider or the Northern League, but as an anti-semitic and racist crypto-Nazi movement. A lot of its supporters don’t give the impression that they’ve transcended race, and just to underline their unreconstructed nature a few have criminal records for violence against racial minorities. They are media-savvy fascists.

    The party is legal. So long as it doesn’t advocate violence it should remain legal. Its members have a right to privacy and in the great majority of cases not to lose their jobs because of their opinions (why are communists not viewed with the same distaste as neo-Nazis?). In certain cases, though, membership of the BNP is relevant and may justifiably lead to being sacked. No police officer can acceptably be a member of such an organisation (I believe the police ban membership). The army permits membership, but I think that’s wrong (I don’t think soldiers should be affiliated to any political party). There are other positions, of a public character, which seem to me to be wholly incompatible with being a member of a political party, let alone a fascist or socialist one (but I repeat myself), e.g. judges, and I’m inclined to include teachers, too. Government and communities should have the confidence to recognise that and to proscribe accordingly when it comes to public service.

  19. 19 Roy, Washington DC
    November 20, 2008 at 16:48

    Public figures are going to have their own opinions, just like anybody else. As long as their behavior remains within appropriate bounds for a public figure, they’re entitled to have those opinions.

  20. 20 Vijay
    November 20, 2008 at 17:04

    Re University of Texas Football player,playing college sport is a privilege not a right and that has now been withdrawn.
    I think there are laws regarding threatening the President or encouraging an attack on the President in the USA.

    What about the BBC radio journalist who was sacked because she asked for a white only taxi driver for her teenage daughter,who could not tolerate anybody with a turban,did she realise she was “on air”ie the cab company record all requests for cabs.

    As far as the BNP list is concerned,I am grateful it has been published,but it is not surprising that there are racists in every profession.

    Do the personal politics of public figures matter?

    Yes,because businessmen are employers and have to hire people fairly ,civil servants in the UK are not supposed to engage in political activity, doctors and nurses who work in the public sector have to treat patients equally.

    Newsreaders or weather presenters views don’t really impact on their work because they are just following a script ,however if they engage in banter or interview people then their politics would become an issue, they would not be perceived as impartial.

  21. 21 Vijay
    November 20, 2008 at 17:14

    @ Jack Hughes
    You mentioned Teachers,would they bother about their black and asian students, would they infact belittle or discriminate against them?
    Would your BNP fireman really bother about making an effort to put out a fire if he knew that the proerty belonged to a non white,would he risk his own life to rescue someone from a group he despised?
    There are plenty of racists that don’t belong to the BNP,who make their presence felt everyday either overtly or subtly discriminating against the “auslanders”.

  22. 22 Tracy
    November 20, 2008 at 17:35

    RE: Comment about “hunters getting there guns”

    I am an avid hunter and lover of fine tools (guns of all sorts). I am also an Obama supporter. Electing a president is not a one issue decision.

    The comment wasn’t a joke in my book. It seemed like a threat to me. If it was me it was directed at I would take it as such, and act accordingly.

    Portland OR

  23. 23 Shaun in Halifax
    November 20, 2008 at 17:39

    @ Roy

    Well put!

  24. November 20, 2008 at 17:41

    Hi WHYSers!

    Personal politics when made public is fair game for political attacks and counter attacks, especially where the pronouncement provokes deep public responses, at certain levels. The personal politics of businesses should not matter, however, in the real world, in part because their primary aim is to transact business. As long as that can be done without harm or injury to all then all is well. The problem sets in where the two issues are conflated as one and the same. And business politicise themselves by declaring positions which generally conflict with common sense/ good taste, among others.

  25. 25 Shaun in Halifax
    November 20, 2008 at 17:42

    @ Tracy

    I don’t believe that guns kill people but rather that people using guns kill people. I do however believe that some form of gun control is needed. And I think I’ve figured out a workaround for the constitutional conflict.

    I’m presuming that you are a member of the NRA, so what would you think about a bullet surcharge? Every shell has a 5 or 10 cent tax that would get rolled into health care or education programs.

  26. November 20, 2008 at 17:43

    Hi VictorK & Robert
    Socialism is not so bad if concentration of capital can be the centre piece of trade and commerce.
    If you respect the right of blacks, Mexicans, Porto Ricans, Indians, Chinese and the rest, there is nothing wrong with having your own creed.
    Carrying minorities and majorities is an act of clemency and charity, but others must respect you.
    The English speaking union must be the center piece of international supremacy because it is a universal language.
    The Germans had a superb creed which they entrusted to an idiot. Nazism is no different to Zionism, based on the precepts of the German school of philosophers including Kant and Hegel. They remain the cornerstone of world domination. Somewhere along the line the world must redefine its priorities and live happily ever after.

  27. 27 Roberto
    November 20, 2008 at 17:53

    RE “” Some of the list say, there are being harassed in their jobs despite their careers having nothing to do with politics. “”

    ——— Jobs are just a part of the culture. In any culture, anyone can potentially be open to harrassment based on perception.

    Having a political reason to harrass someone is just gravy for the biscuit. The US just had a presidential election featuring candidates harrassing each other. Not a lot of reasoned discourse because politics has seldom been about ability to reason any more than most jobs have been.

  28. November 20, 2008 at 17:55

    @ Vijay,

    you make an excellent point in relation to the President and the “get your gun” remarks. I am not altogether sure though how I feel in relation to the revoking of the privilege simply (?) simply on the premise of what was said. However, I do understand the need for caution. The truth is that we like to tip toe around racism by being politically correct without also recognising that that too is part of the problem, the lack of acknowledgement of the issue and the many ways in which it can impact us, destructively.

    We don’t need to love or even like each other, we just need to learn to get along. Everything else is a bonus.

  29. 29 Steve
    November 20, 2008 at 18:03

    @ Akbar

    You don’t think there’s a difference between zionism and nazism? Zionism is about world domination? Wow, if “world domination” is 1% of the middle east, then you’re exactly right.

  30. November 20, 2008 at 18:15

    There is no disconnecting one part of your life from another.

    Everything is scrutinised by everyone. And that’s that. So deal with it.

    Private is public is tabloid trash heaven…keep to yourself and stay out of politics…there’s enough dirty dogs in that muckpit already.

  31. November 20, 2008 at 18:16

    Maybe someone can clarify this for me. Are we looking for communists again, like in the 1950’s? I see no good coming from anything like this.
    But on the other hand if you have to hide what you believe in, how much do you really believe in it anyway?

  32. 32 Ogola Ben
    November 20, 2008 at 18:21

    politics has got a domain, public and personal. Its a welfare of individual school of thought which has go to be respected! in light of this, its ignorant to tell a well educated section that politics is only for politicians seeking office and not for those who contribute to their office. That its for the lay man to be convinced and that a civil servant should not caste his mouth at the time but give some support in terms of funds and later allow the political head to make staments which he is only to follow – once over , only follow the policies whether bad or not!

  33. 33 Anthony
    November 20, 2008 at 18:33

    Wow, I didn’t even know that the BNP existed. They seem like a smarter version of the KKK. I guess to each his own, but I don’t think that anyone on the police force or any other government agency like that should be part of the BNP, that seems like a conflict of interest.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  34. 34 VictorK
    November 20, 2008 at 18:36

    @ Akbar: ‘The Germans had a superb creed…’

    You can’t really be referring to Nazism, can you?

    And if you are, isn’t it a bit unfair to Hitler to say they entrusted their ‘superb creed’ to ‘an idiot’? Hitler was Nazism. He didn’t undermine or pervert Nazism, he embodied it. Judge Hitler and you’ve judged national socialism.

    If Zionism really was no different from Nazism we’d not have a Palestinian problem today because we’d not have any Palestinians. Instead there are more Palestinians alive today than there have ever been.

  35. November 20, 2008 at 18:40

    Hi Steve
    Zionism and the refrain of Ephraim on the distant hills, and the home coming of women and children is the other side of Zionism. It sounds weird, but here it it is.
    Churchill, the son of an American mother and English father had something up his sleeve but hesitated to say it. Perhaps Britain wasn’t ready or up to the task, he thought; or America would have resented his aspirations.
    Look at it now, even the Russians would go along with a universal idea, with Germany close on its tail.

  36. November 20, 2008 at 18:40

    It should not but to many people on the hearsay level it does. And this somehow leaks to have a reflection in one’s daily and more remote life, unfortunately. It is not really politics, it is rather sneaking and gossiping and seeking some gain.

  37. 37 Jens
    November 20, 2008 at 18:48

    Mandie in Cape Coral, FL
    November 20, 2008 at 6:16 pm
    Maybe someone can clarify this for me. Are we looking for communists again, like in the 1950’s? I see no good coming from anything like this.
    But on the other hand if you have to hide what you believe in, how much do you really believe in it anyway?

    i think this is very different. the communist hunt was orchestarted by McCarthy, who was delusional and sufferend from paranoia. furthermore, he would fitted very well into the idiology of the BNP……

    in case of the BNP, we are dealing with people who are mongers of hate and fear. furthermore, some of these elements have incited violence against minorities. i do want to know which bussiness is supporting these repulsive idiologies, so that i can vote with my feet and NOT spend my money there.

  38. November 20, 2008 at 19:04

    @ Anthony,

    If the BNP, as it is defined above, is fundamentally about trafficking in and repackaging hate, in any form, then the matter is more than a (mere) question of conflict of interests; that is, in terms of whether police officers and other public officials become members of said bodies.

    It would seem the question of the state legitimising hatred of ‘minorities’ is also very much at issue. If, as we have claimed in the context of the modern, open, progressive state that all are free and equal under the law, then, groups which threaten the health of those ideals should, ideally, be dismantled as counter to those objectives.

    Still, the matter of the right to public/ free expression is also very much a concern. So, not only should members of the civil service and other public bodies not be allowed to be part of such organisations they should be terminated as a matter of course for agreeing to participate in such groups, which run counter to the goals of the state, as noted above.

  39. November 20, 2008 at 19:10

    People have the right to say whatever they want. However, be prepared for the consequences. Free speech doesn’t come without a price.

  40. November 20, 2008 at 19:10

    If people kept their objectionable opinions “private”, you wouldn’t know about them. So, as soon as these “private” opinions leak out, they become public, and can be criticized and/or prosecuted. Facebook is by no means a “private space.

  41. 41 Monica in DC
    November 20, 2008 at 19:11

    For me personally… No. It depends really on what your position is. My boss and I are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, and were both very involved in the election. We made a deal not to speak about politics at all and I think in most cases thats the way to go. I will admit though, going into work on Nov. 5 I was a bit worried he’d be in a bad mood. Fortunately though, he was ok!

    Racial statements are different though. I think its perfectly acceptable for that football player to be booted for saying such a horrible thing. It would go either way to me though. If a black person made a racial slur against whites, I’d expect the same reaction and punishment.

  42. 42 Steve
    November 20, 2008 at 19:11

    Not everyone is going to like you. Adults have to realize this, you’re not kids anymore. To think you’re going to live a life where everyone likes you or you won’t get “offender” is NOT living in reality.

  43. 43 Dictatore Generale Max Maximilian Maximus I
    November 20, 2008 at 19:12

    “Should private politics matter in your public life?”
    They should and they shouldn’t!

    They should if they disturb or create violent upheavals in Society.

    They shouldn’t if they head towards McCarthyism and the Communist witch hunts of Hoover, for example.

    In any case, except if George Orwell’s 1984 literally came to town with the technology to back it up, there is nothing much you can do about what a person thinks! Even though it may stink!

  44. 44 David C.
    November 20, 2008 at 19:14

    To the gentleman who said how can it be a crime to think a thought, I believe its a very heavy crime to think many things, especially thoughts that encourage the hatred of the gay community, other races, religions, etc…those thoughts are often turned into actions, because people cannot keep them private. Changing the way people think in a positive way to bring more peace and more acceptance into the world is one of the most beautiful things we can do.

  45. 45 rotoye richard
    November 20, 2008 at 19:16

    your thoughts have everything to do with your actions. if you are a politician or a public servant and are paid with public funds then you should be ready to be sensored and kicked out if found wanting.

  46. November 20, 2008 at 19:16

    Hello, I am listening via the BBC website w/ headphones as I work in my office in Ft. Collins, Colorado. I enjoy your discussion immensely. I will refrain from offering my personal opinion because I am at work. 🙂 Thank you for the excellent program.

  47. 47 Steve
    November 20, 2008 at 19:19

    Though it’s very different than a BNP headmaster, he’s an example of what having certain biases can do in a school setting.


    You can find the video rather easy if use google. People should be allowed to have their opinions, but keep it out of the schools. You’re not supposed to be brainwashing students.

  48. 48 kathy
    November 20, 2008 at 19:19

    Yes. As a so called civilized society we have a right to our personal thoughts, ideals, morals, ethnics, bias and prejudices. Once our personal views are aired publicly we have to own them and accept any fallout thereafter.

  49. 49 Venessa
    November 20, 2008 at 19:20

    It is human nature to judge other people. It is an individual’s prerogative to decide if the private politics of another person matter to them. Only if it interferes with one’s employment and conduct on the job then it is an issue. Otherwise everyone is free to his or her own opinions and likewise it is the freedom of others to question that opinion.

  50. 50 brinda
    November 20, 2008 at 19:20

    Yes, our political views and beliefs does effect our day to day life,,,in terms of friends u make etc,,,,,,,,,,.
    Having a political view is good but ppl should not feel self righteous about it.If you are expression your opinion in the public then don’t make it offensive. We are social human being and have to live with each other and respect each others boundaries.
    Only because you having an opinion does not mean u are supreme or superior.
    The core of the problem is inferiority complex .People should deal with such complexes by themselves rather than making a mocker of themselves in public.

  51. 51 Fredric Alan Maxwell
    November 20, 2008 at 19:20

    Check out Garrision Kellior’s 1994 Harper’s piece , The Scandal of American Scandals, piece about the Clinton Whitewater scandal and a British family values MP who died in an S&M situation, along with the British general who had to resign over a love affair. He says that the British private actions of political folks and the ensuing scandals are far more efficient that those in the US.

  52. 52 Nathan
    November 20, 2008 at 19:21

    I was listening to this broadcast on KUT, but had to stop because the announcer was infuriating. He should try not interrupting the people in the studio when they are speaking.

  53. 53 Bogdan Varlamov
    November 20, 2008 at 19:21

    Football players are not just “workers” in the same way as engineers or factory workers are.

    They have a celebrity status and serve as role models for many; they are spokespeople for their teams and their “brand”.

    It makes perfect sense to get rid of a member who publicly goes against the ideals that the team/organization as a whole would like to be known for.

    If the team is not racist, they cannot afford to have a public figure making racist remarks and undermining their public image.

  54. 54 Michael Clark
    November 20, 2008 at 19:22

    When you are on a team or part of an organization. You are a reflectio of that organization or team. Therefore, your actions or beliefs, once they become public also represent that organization. Thus, if ur actions negatively impact that organization or team, then there is justification for a the actions taken to remove that negative representation from your organization.

  55. 55 Steve
    November 20, 2008 at 19:23

    David C.

    That’s rather facist, punishing people for their thoughts, and we know the fascists weren’t very big fans of homosexuals.

  56. November 20, 2008 at 19:23

    My country, the USA, and many others, are founded on the principle that all human beings are important contributors to the ongoing debate that is our society. I’m sure many listeners are familiar with the Voltaire quote “I Do Not Agree With A Word You Say, But I’ll Fight To The Death For Your Right To Say It.”

    If we stifle any opinions, whether they be ultra right or ultra left, tolerant or racist, our society will not be what we all hope for it to be. That is a place where everyone’s opinion is heard and respected, even when not agreed with.

    As for the young man in Texas. His statement was inappropriately phrased. He suggested violence toward the president elect. If, however, he had said something like “I am concerned about having a black person in charge of our country.” I would have disagreed with his statement but I would have supported his right to say it.

  57. November 20, 2008 at 19:24

    There’s nothing private about hatred. If you think that you can “privately” be a member of an organization that things entire races are inferior, than you are truly deluded. We are a country and a community and beliefs like this affect every single one of us who share this country.

  58. 58 Anny Mouse
    November 20, 2008 at 19:25

    It seems to me that when we allow public figures such as football players a special place in the public forum and then claim that whatever they say is protected free speech, what we are really doing is suppressing free speech. Non-famous people, like myself, don’t typically get a forum where hundreds of thousands of people stand up and take note of what we say–but shouldn’t our views on race issues (or any issue) be just as relevant as theirs? So when a celebrity gets in trouble for their views I have very little sympathy–they certainly could have posted their views anonymously.

  59. 59 Bruce Sickles, Falls City, Oregon
    November 20, 2008 at 19:26

    I have a brother who’s political views are radically different from my own and we have argued throughout our lives about those differences. He is now suffering cancer and his days are numbered (as are all of ours) and I would not be able to tolerate myself if I had allowed this to cause us even one minute of these differences to cause us to stop being together as brothers.

  60. 60 Alexandrea in Alberta, Canada
    November 20, 2008 at 19:26

    Privately held beliefs only become a problem when they are translated into action.
    We cannot tell people how or what to think.
    Laws exist to control action not thought.
    Certain professions seen as role models(teachers / police officers / elected officials, etc.)are already expected to maintain a higher level of public behavior, than ‘average’folks. If they transgress these expectations they will lose their jobs!
    My question is WHY are certain individuals held to this higher standard and others are not? Is this not an externally imposed form of thought control?

  61. 61 PKR From Portland Oregon
    November 20, 2008 at 19:26

    Our society is made up of infinite feelings and opinion, some you’ll agree with others you will not. It is the responsibility of every one to convey thier opinions respectfuly when they feel the need to do so. It seems the major problem would be with this situation is the fact that this Gentlemen on face-book is a well known athelete, and as with anyone in a Rolemodel or leadership position it is important we hold them to higher standards and guildlines, if not force them to set a better example for ourselves and our children; then atleast because they are payed millions of dollars some times…there for I feel they should be required to set a better, polite example. Personal Opinions are called so because they are personal, its how you convey them that can cause a problem. How you conduct yourself should be the issue, not what you choose to feel.

  62. 62 Jason
    November 20, 2008 at 19:26

    I believe that privately held beliefs inform public actions. In our personal relationships, individuals must decide for themselves whether the privately held beliefs would be of the type to end a relationship. In public positions, like high profile sports or public safety, we need to determine whether those privately held beliefs have an impact on the persons ability to objectively perform their job.

  63. November 20, 2008 at 19:27

    The BNP members list was a private log that was unecessarily made public news by media mischief makers intent on causing the BNP and its supporters maximum damage in the run up to the euro elections next june. The media made sure that as many anti-BNP thugs as possible were made aware of a event that would otherwise had a national audience of a few thousand and not as now, an international audience of millions. The media has set a dangerous example and is shamefully responsible for and acts of violence aimed at BNP members.

  64. November 20, 2008 at 19:28

    Many Malawians are busybodies.They want to know what politicians,footbal stars,etc are doing in private.Their religion,relations,etc.

  65. 65 Bill H in Surrey
    November 20, 2008 at 19:28

    I am a US expat living in Britain. I can give a specific example of drawing a line that might serve as a point of discussion.

    I lived for many years on the Washington-Idaho border in the U.S. In the town of Clarkston, WA, there are a hardware store and drug store on the Main St. run by members of the John Birch Society. The political views of the owners were well known to the community, and literature from various fringe political organizations could be purchased in the stores.

    I had no problem buying nails or aspirin from these stores until the day bumper stickers “Kill a Fag for Christ” were put on sale. That declaration of a sentiment I find unacceptable in any context was enough to keep me out of the stores forever.

    Bill Heins, Bookham, Surrey

  66. 66 fabtrin
    November 20, 2008 at 19:28

    the other day a theater director was criticized and inevitably stepped down because he used the money he earned from the gay community to give to the yes campaign on prop8.he used gays hard work,money to attack the gay community!what do u think?

  67. November 20, 2008 at 19:29

    Hello, I am back. Just one more trivial comment —-
    I have lived in Colorado, San Diego, and Kuwait. No matter where I am, the world goes round and round with all these different opinions. Regardless of the opinions, I am happy the debate/discussion is peaceful!!!!! Thank you.

  68. 68 Michael
    November 20, 2008 at 19:29

    How can you suggest thought crimes?

    We all LOVE thought crimes!

    Easily half the popular fiction comes from the minds of people who have vividly and publicly expressed some of the most horrible crimes ever conceived.

    If thoughts were criminal then popular fiction would die overnight.

    (Portland, Oregon)

  69. 69 Franklin Yartey
    November 20, 2008 at 19:30

    Our private selves cannot be separated from our public selves because it is a reflection of what we do in public, consciously or unconsciously. In the same vain it is also impossible to separate religion from politics and President Bush is a perfect example, when it comes to his faith base policies and speeches with religious overtones. Our private politics informs our public politics.

  70. 70 Ilan
    November 20, 2008 at 19:30

    Certain thoughts can be illegal or wrong? doesn’t this sound like George Orwell’s 1984? Didn’t it show us the horrors of going down such a path?

  71. 71 Jonelle in Los Angeles
    November 20, 2008 at 19:31

    Do we need thought police? This takes us back to the days of the Spanish Inquisition and McCarthy-ism. We need to work towards a society where there is the freedom to exchange ideas and beliefs and work to better understand each other.

  72. 72 Shaun in Halifax
    November 20, 2008 at 19:31

    @ David C
    I believe its a very heavy crime to think many things, especially thoughts that encourage the hatred of the gay community, other races, religions, etc…

    How do you prove I’m thinking a bad thought? And what makes you think I’ll act on that thought? I have several gay friends, and while I’m happy for them, the thought of two guys going at it is still icky to me. Does that make me a homophobe? I doubt it. I don’t go gay bashing on the weekends.

    When I see an attractive woman in my day-to-day life, I may think, “dang, she’s pretty. If I were single….” but I don’t cheat. Is that a thought crime?

    IMO I’m allowed to have whatever thoughts I want. You, sir, seem to have a problem with when people act on those thoughts. Which is a completely different ballgame altogether, and probably for another debate.

  73. 73 Nathan
    November 20, 2008 at 19:32

    I don’t care what anybody else thinks, says or does as long as it doesn’t personally harm me in any way.

  74. 74 Peter
    November 20, 2008 at 19:32

    Speech can and should be a hate crime. Let the opponents of a candidate express their dislikes on the issues in a thoughtful manner. The football player may just as well have been dismissed because he’s an idiot.

    It’s time to raise the bar on thought and expression in the United States. If you are a grownup, express yourself in grown up terms.

  75. 75 Rave (Maine)
    November 20, 2008 at 19:33

    There’s been a lot of talk on air saying that if someone you knew turned out to be a member of so and so, would you stop interacting with them.
    It’s like saying, if you were a zebra and were friends with a lion, would you still be friends with him if he went around eating your species but was good to you?

    Regarding the football player. If he meant what he wrote on facebook, then he got what he deserved and if it was just a brave joke, well then, there’s a thin line between bravery and stupidity. It might have been a harsh decision but he’ll gain some intellect.

  76. 76 John in Scotland
    November 20, 2008 at 19:34

    What such people think privately should matter to us …as they emerge as an irrational response to a changing world . If they gain strength and credibility ,then we are doomed to repeat what surely has been a lesson in history …that of fascism and everything that goes with it.

    If you listen to these people , they are often politically and intellectually niave , and therefore easily manipulated and directed by those with a hidden agenda . If you have any doubt as to what Griffin really thinks then go to : http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=6X8QQwU00Jk.

    It is the failure of social democracy to stabilise world economy…that is giving impetus to these people.

    Rather than the world consolidate in to antagonistic states around conflicting currencies…it needs to unite around a fluid and interchangeable currency ,not manipulated by the bankers and vested interest.

    To do otherwise will cause the inevitable slide into conflict and war …

  77. 77 April in Austin
    November 20, 2008 at 19:34

    If you represent the university or a company and are seen as the public figure for that group (wear the uniform)- you should understand that your opinions and beliefs will reflect upon that organization.
    If you post something in the public sector (Facebook, My Space)you have to understand the ramifications of that action. Private thoughts can remain private, but once you post them, it speaks not only for yourself but for your business be it university sports or public/private company. It will reflect on the public image of the organization.

    I boycott many companies based on how they do business and who they support – and I am sure there are many more places I should boycott and am just not aware.

    Look at Cooper Firearms. The founder of that company supported Obama and stated so publicly. Afterward, the company put up a notice stating his view did not reflect the views of that company and forced him to step down from the company based on this action.

    Regardless if it is right or wrong, many people who have supported Obama have lost their jobs … Christopher Buckley resigned from the National Review due to the fact that his support of Obama created such an uproar and so many people were canceling their subscription – it was the only way to ensure the publication did not pay the price for his views. Keep in mind, he did not state this in the National Review and put a disclaimer on his blog post that this had nothing to do with the National Review, but it still had implications for that side of his life.

    Everyone judges people based on their opinions… good, bad or ugly.

  78. 78 Gabby in Portland
    November 20, 2008 at 19:35

    The criminal standard for hate speech is that the speech has to be likely to incite imminent lawless action. This is a very high standard as the US holds freedom of speech in high regard. Although I personally may disagree with racist remarks in general, these remarks cannot be criminalized unless they meet the standard for hate speech.
    It is worthy to note, however, that governments will draft restrictive speech during times of war or government turmoil, which is something to be wary of as an American citizen at this point in our nation’s history.

  79. 79 nahtass
    November 20, 2008 at 19:36

    Belief, be them good or bad, they are personal and should stay that way.

    If you choose the make them public then you will have to personally deal with the consequences.

    If they are leaked, then you are also responsible for your organizations actions.

    That is the risk.

    As for the football player, his removal form the team was wrong. That is censorship. If he wants to make his feeling public he has that right.

    Do not forget that he will be playing against a lot of black players in sports. As we say in America, ‘Payback is a bitch’.

    Racism and religious views are similar in the grand historic sense. At times they are acceptable or not. It is all a matter of context. Slavery was a horrible part of our history, and so was the episodes of the crusades. All a matter of context based on the ruling powers, morals of the place and time, and other factors.

    We have no thought police. If you say it, you can deal with it.

    Think what ever you want. Extend your thinking to your actions as well.

  80. 80 Shaun in Halifax
    November 20, 2008 at 19:36

    DING!!! First Hitler reference!!!

  81. 81 Kevin
    November 20, 2008 at 19:36

    No. Private politics should not have any impact or bearing on public life. There are all sorts of rules of conduct and laws in most 1st world countries that already cover this.

    The simplest description:
    A) You cannot use your public position as a platform for pushing your personal political position
    B) Your private politics cannot be held against you in your public life, unless you violate A

    Regardless of how inflammatory your words are in your private life, as long as there is NO, zero, zip cross-over between your private and public life, you not only should be allowed your thoughts, your thoughts need to be protected.

    The biggest issue here is the blending of private and public lives through social networking, blogging, etc. Publishing your thoughts and opinions openly on the web means, by definition, that these are now “public” comments.

  82. November 20, 2008 at 19:36

    @ Monica in DC,

    Racism is racism. I find your qualification interesting, though, in terms of the implication that black racism, such as it is, seems to get a different treatment. Is that really so? Or, am I misreading what you meant? Often, we over react, politically, towards some of the outward signs of racism, even while we harbour immense hatred towards each other in private. Might we not be better served seeking to build bridges of understanding across groups, rather than ostracising people for what they believe? Racial slur aside, the question of “getting a gun” smacks more as a public threat (against the President), than a question of racism. Or, am I wrong?

  83. 83 Savior from Geneva Switzerland
    November 20, 2008 at 19:36

    of course it does matter what political opinions some one holds. after all our actions starts with thoughts and are guided by our values that we hold. after all we are what we think.
    Savior. Geneva

  84. November 20, 2008 at 19:37

    I am Pagan. My private spiritual beliefs have cost me jobs, cost my family the security of utilities, and cost us friends that could not see past their bigotry to the human on the other side. Each person on this tiny little planet has their own private thoughts, their own beliefs, and act according to their own internal guidance.

    Where this entire personal sovereignty gets dicey is where it becomes the front doormat to the rest of us. Your rights end where my nose begins. Not exactly a politic position, but a reality for the rest of us. In short, personal responsibility is a huge onus on any human being with all our foibles. Likewise, knowing our shortcomings, we should find the space, the grace and a place for all thoughts, expressed in public or private.

  85. 85 Anthony
    November 20, 2008 at 19:37

    Hehe, have you guys heard of 1984? Big Brother says “THINK WHAT WE TELL YOU TO THINK!!!” Hehe.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  86. 86 Kellie
    November 20, 2008 at 19:37

    First of all, let’s make a distinction between racist views and political opinions. I would hope they’re not related. And in a more positive vein, when there is a censure on speaking our opinions, there is a tendency for them to become more reinforced. Identity becomes confused with opinions. In making our opinions public, there is the opportunity for them to be challenged. May we all reserve the right to change our minds!

  87. 87 Kenny In Florida
    November 20, 2008 at 19:37

    I supported Obama, but I am a stronger supporter of free speech. Remember the old saying sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me? Jeeze people, grow up. This is just another example how in the states we like to think we have a freedom of speech, yet in reality, this was stripped from us a long time ago.
    It’s disheartening.

  88. November 20, 2008 at 19:37

    My sister and I are polar opposites when it comes to politics and world views for that matter. That said, her beliefs are her own as are mine and our relationship thrives on a mutual respect that oftentimes results in an education on both our parts. While a familial relationship is a bond that can’t be broken, I don’t see why a reciprocation of acceptance cannot be applied to businesses owned or operated by individuals whose beliefs and precepts don’t necessarily mirror my own. Diversity is what makes not only America, but the world, great. Wouldn’t it be quite boring if we were all the same?

  89. 89 Shaun in Halifax
    November 20, 2008 at 19:38

    I have a dumb question. By checking in on what its students are thinking, doesn’t a university violate it’s mandate to promote freedom of thought and expression?

  90. 90 Mike
    November 20, 2008 at 19:39

    The comment made by the UT player was not only racist, but it advocated taking up arms against the President Elect. Private beliefs are one thing, but threatening the President Elect’s life is a federal offense. I don’t think his comments even belong as a part of this discussion.

  91. November 20, 2008 at 19:39

    just as people have a right to believe what they want, other people have a right to dislike them because of it. if someone tells me they dislike someone simply because of the colour of their skin, that will affect my views of them. if people want to keep their ideas private, the only safe way to do it is to keep them completely to themselves.

  92. 92 Steve
    November 20, 2008 at 19:39

    A guest stated that people who have committed crimes wouldn’t be on the team:


    I don’t know how this ended up, if he was convicted, if the charges were dismissed, but I think driving drunk is worse than making a racist comment on facebook. Nobody can get killed from a nasty comment. People die from drinking and driving.

  93. 93 archibald in oregon
    November 20, 2008 at 19:40

    People are entitled to their opinions and beliefs, though they are absolutely “not” entitled to impose those beliefs or opinions on others………….That goes for institutions and individuals alike. As far as a private institution, they are exactly that private, and if they choose not to accept someone based on their opinions, that is their right as a private institution. If it is public that is a totally different and open to any scrutiny.

  94. 94 Brett
    November 20, 2008 at 19:40

    Yet another reason for you not to use your real, or full name on facebook or myspace… Or better yet, not use them at all.

  95. 95 Gretchen in Bend Oregon
    November 20, 2008 at 19:40

    People are free to think what they want. If a business expresses their political views via signs or other political messages in a public way, I definately will not patronize them if their views are different than mine. Why support ideas you don’t believe in? Also if the football player in question was on a scholarship or sponsored in some way those supporting him have the right to deny that support if he represented them in a negative way

  96. 96 Jean-Jules Fogang
    November 20, 2008 at 19:40

    I am more than happy that the player was brushed off the team. At a time where interracial relations are meant to be improved, considering how far this country has come (slavery, racism, and discrimination), we ought to make sure that any deviation from common sense should be condemned.
    Definitely our private politics matter when it comes to our public life. The society as a whole looks for role models not for antiheroes. Let’s leave to our children a country where they will be given the same respect and chance. Only then they will have the feeling of belonging to the same nation.

  97. 97 Nathan J Smith from Denver
    November 20, 2008 at 19:41

    Universities checking up on peoples myspace and facebook profiles is outrageous. Just because you have an opinion about certain issues doesn’t mean you should be scrutinize about it. How would people feel if employers started hiring based on an image or a blog post you made.

  98. 98 Joe
    November 20, 2008 at 19:41

    It seems the setup of this debate is a bit misleading. Once you stipulate “politics” you have eliminated the “private” nature of the opinions. Political interaction is inherently public. Perhaps private morality (for example) exists, but once those opinions enter the realm of politics there is the implied attempt to enforce those codes of conduct for all. This is particularly true of membership in political parties, which presumably exist primarily in order to promulgate their collective political beliefs.

  99. 99 mark neal
    November 20, 2008 at 19:42

    Currently there is a boycot against Cinimark movie theatres because the owner contributed to the anti gay marriage campaign. I think it’s just fine to boycot the chain even though it will probably only hurt the workers and not the owner. But why should we contibute to the owners wealth if he’s going to fund discrimanation?

  100. 100 Jonathan
    November 20, 2008 at 19:42

    Freedom of thought or association is worthless if it only means freedom to think what’s popular or considered acceptable. Private politics do not matter to public life, and free people must be free.

    It’s also funny to see the “politically correct” people in Britain acting as bullies and oppressors against the big bad fascists.

    I love that good healthy Texas libertarian instinct–it’s my mind, it’s my business!

    San Francisco

  101. 101 Bruce Sickles, Falls City, Oregon
    November 20, 2008 at 19:43

    I would much rather know what someone is thinking than to live in a society where we force someone’s true nature to be hidden

  102. 102 Brett
    November 20, 2008 at 19:43

    On a side note, whats up with all the applause?

  103. November 20, 2008 at 19:44

    while I think it’s plainly wrong to have anything to do with a thought police policy, what about a scenario where someone with strong anti-abortion beliefs is put in charge of a government health ministry. This actually happened in Britain when a health minister was found to be a member of opus dei, the secretive right wing Catholic organisation. She was in a position to influence decisions. Was that OK?

  104. 104 Mariana Somma
    November 20, 2008 at 19:44

    I feel people have the right to express their beliefs, but you have to take responsibility for what you say and do. There is a time and place for opinions and beliefs to be expressed, and you should be sensitive to others and think about your audience. Personally, I choose not to have Facebook and Myspace to maintain my privacy and so I can be fully in control of my personal information and who sees it. If you choose to participate in those sites and dispaly your information it is at your own risk.

  105. 105 Jack in Austin
    November 20, 2008 at 19:44

    “all the hunters gather up, we have a #$%&er in the whitehouse” has nothing to do with hunter’s rights or gun control. it’s a threatening and racist remark.

    i don’t know if the coach made an ethical or pragmatic decision. he may have thought the comment was horribly offensive. or perhaps, since the UT football team has a large african-american contingency, the coach realized he would divide his team if he was allowed to stay.

    racist comments do nothing but show the ignorance of the speaker.

  106. November 20, 2008 at 19:45

    I think if we make private information about ourselves public, the university or employer has the right to research their investment. We represent the companies and universities we attend.

    I research every they companies and employers I do business. I look at what kind of manager runs the organization and how I’d fit in. Case in point, a few months ago, I was offered a nice job, but when I looked at public financially records I decided that in a declining economy it was not a secure move for me.

  107. 107 Robyn
    November 20, 2008 at 19:45

    Re: the universities reading Facebook and MySpace webpages – this is not a violation of free speech. Anyone who posts on the web should police themselves and be aware that what they post will be available forever. Ever heard of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine? The “sexy photo” you posted in college while drunk or that rant/screed you typed furiously at 3 am and posted might just kill your chances of that dream internship when you graduate.

    Free speech is also not the right to yell “fire!” in a crowded theater. Let the colleges police the kids. When those kids are older and wiser, they will thank them for it!

  108. 108 April in Austin
    November 20, 2008 at 19:45


    Isn’t it inherent that they are judging you for admission regardless – they ask you to take tests and write and essay and might even request you come for an interview… what about that is not judging you based on how you present yourself.

    If you decide to put your affiliations out on the web, then you need to understand the effects of that action.

    I had a friend who received a scholarship from a university, but when he would not register for the draft/military – they took their scholarship away. Everything has strings and every action you do, makes a statement and will be judged.

  109. 109 dan rochester
    November 20, 2008 at 19:45

    thoughts are thoughts. Have the strength to hold you values true.. Your values make your thoughts.. In the USA your thoughts are sacred.. Onlt governed by law under time place and manner… When detrimental to public.. Everyone is entilted to thoughts and opions.. If you don’t agree or like it.. You TOO are entitled to that too

    Government of the people, for the people, of the people.


  110. 110 Fernando
    November 20, 2008 at 19:45

    Not speaking out against someone’s view when they are exercising their freedom of speech is in fact deny yours.

  111. 111 Kenny In Florida
    November 20, 2008 at 19:46

    I response to the quest who just spoke:

    Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty. -Plato

    just food for thought

  112. 112 kate
    November 20, 2008 at 19:46

    I find it very disturbing that people would rather suppress unpleasant ideas than deal with them. It doesn’t change people’s minds. It just drives them underground where they fester.

  113. November 20, 2008 at 19:47

    As a parent of a black child in the US I know for a fact that my child will come across racist teachers even though I may be unable to prove it. If I could know for sure that my child’s teacher held racist beliefs I would withdeaw my child from that classroom. I do not believe that a racist can give you a proper education, legal representation or medical care. Some may disagree, but I would rather not take the risk.

  114. November 20, 2008 at 19:48

    We must allow thoughts that differ from our own. The most fundamental freedom is freedom of thought. If we decide to share our thoughts, we must also be ready to accept the consequences- and if you feel the consequences are unjust, you have the duty to try and change what happens. The essay “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience” comes to mind.

    Matt Bennett, Austin TX
    Listening on KUT

  115. 115 Deborah in Ohio
    November 20, 2008 at 19:48

    There is a huge difference between saying they are upset that a candidate won an election (for whatever the reason is, even if it is based on racism) and saying “It’s time to get out our guns”

    THAT is a step too far on the path to violence. It is akin to shouting fire in a crowded theater.

  116. November 20, 2008 at 19:48

    I am an advocate of free speech. I agree with comments that everyone is entitled to their opinion. The extreme opinions are often criticized harshly, because of the actions they advocate for, such as KKK are hate and violence, which endangers the welfare of the public.

  117. 117 Brian Woodard
    November 20, 2008 at 19:48

    Everyone should be allow to speak their views so long as they don’t force you to listen. (IE, No captive audiences) What good is freedom of speech if you lose your ability to feed your kids and pay your mortgage? If offensive views are not tolerated then we would have to ban portayals of gayness or views on faith in the public sphere since it’s offensive to many people. Intolerance is a two-edged sword.

  118. 118 selena in Canada
    November 20, 2008 at 19:49

    In my view the most important thing is to get the beliefs out there. Only then can we have a discussion about the merits of the opinions, just as we are doing to day.

  119. 119 Dan Bockmann
    November 20, 2008 at 19:51

    All freedom of speech means is that you’re allowed to express yourself, as long as your expression doesn’t cause harm to someone else.

    If you’re secure enough in your personal beliefs, you should be prepared to support them if challenged. Myspace is a PUBLIC FORUM, and is effectively like speaking in public. By posting on Myspace, you are accepting that ANYONE can view & possibly judge your opinions. If you are not prepared to be judged, make your profile private or simply don’t post.

  120. 120 Scott (M)
    November 20, 2008 at 19:51

    Knowing the information isn’t the problem—the problem is: What we do with it. How we treat it. And, who gets to decide the relevance.

  121. 121 ben portland OR
    November 20, 2008 at 19:52

    Two things, first a high school student in a suburb of Portland put a sticker on his car that read king George off with his head, with a picture of George Bush and was investigated by the F.B.I. . Second a former manager of mine was a former member of the A.B. and did not treat the black members of our work force any different. I strongly believe in freedom of speech and to what the student said everyone knows now his ignorance.

  122. 122 Zach in Jamaica
    November 20, 2008 at 19:52

    This is not a matter of suppression of free speech or democracy, but individuals should be free to aire their opinion but in a manner that is not offensive to others. Even as a black man I think the football player is free to make racial comments as long as it is not disrespectful and degrading.

  123. 123 Steve
    November 20, 2008 at 19:52

    @ Mike

    That’s how you’re reading that comment. Do you literally think he said that people should go Obama hunting?

    I’ve read comments on this very blog where posters on here said they wished that Sarah Palin would go duck hunting with Dick Cheney.

  124. 124 Nathan J Smith from Denver
    November 20, 2008 at 19:53

    i believe that apart of a persons character is expressed through the words they use and if someone is using racist words that tells me that they are a person of low character.

  125. 125 Muni
    November 20, 2008 at 19:54

    This was not just an opinion! -He seemed as if he was trying to influence the behaviour of others by suggesting violent actions. He was stirring up trouble

  126. November 20, 2008 at 19:55

    Excellent point to the coach who was just on air. Racist thoughts do effect the outcome of a game and need to be considered when a player may not do his “job”.

  127. 127 lisa
    November 20, 2008 at 19:55

    Having an opinion is not a crime not should it be. That being said threatening the life of a canedate or standing president is a crime. If you express a disire to murder a president you should be punished.

  128. 128 John in Scotland
    November 20, 2008 at 19:56

    If the implied consequences of your thoughts are to lead to division ,hatred and inevitable conflict …then World needs to know .
    To give the likes of the BNP democratic priviledges that they would deny others is just nonsense .

    freedom for those who defend freedom for all

    civil liberties for those who defend civil liberties.

    They will take these away, regardless of what they say now . Everything that comes from Griffin is a mere act of ‘ blending’ with and adaptation to a stressed growing minority of people who cannot accept that the world has changed …

    in reality he is just the mirror image of the muslim fundamentalism he so vehemently sees as the great evil in the world…….for they too cannot grasp that the World has changed .

  129. 129 Littlelbean
    November 20, 2008 at 19:56

    We still need to understand that this still comes under the 1rst amendment.

  130. 130 Jeff in Hood River, OR
    November 20, 2008 at 19:56

    Major employers are already looking at social networking sites as part of their background checks. Few of these sites commit to deleting data after X amount of time. Is it fair that what some stupid 16, 17 or 18 year old posts to their profile will potentially haunt them for the rest of their lives?

  131. 131 Sarah
    November 20, 2008 at 19:59

    One’s true beliefs inform one’s actions and decisions–in private and in public. I could not continue a relationship with a person I knew had beliefs in such contrast to my own.

  132. 132 Steve
    November 20, 2008 at 19:59

    [sorry BBC, link was wrong in prior post]

    If it’s racist to get guns because Obama was elected, then perhaps there are a lot of racists? Or pehaps they’re afraid the democrats will try to ban guns?


  133. 133 Jennifer
    November 20, 2008 at 19:59

    Obama would have reported the threat of violence and the young man would be investigated.

  134. 134 Anne in Eugene OR
    November 20, 2008 at 20:03

    The defining characteristic of a profession is a code of ethics. Professions — such as policing, teaching, accounting, medicine, and research — admit people to their ranks only after careful selection and then years of advanced study. But before an individual can practice in that profession, they must vow to adhere to their profession’s code of ethics.

    I do not care what a police officer or professor believes in his or her private life, so long as as that person abides by their profession’s ethical code. As soon as that person lets a personal belief – whether aborrent or mundane – cloud their professional activity, their profession should strip them of their affiliation, for the individual no longer deserves the cloak of protection and recognition of that profession.

  135. 135 Roberto
    November 20, 2008 at 20:04

    RE “” Hunters get your guns. “”

    ———– One of the issues in the election was the idea that Obama would take away guns from hunters.

    The player did not advocate “Americans” getting their guns, a clear distinction, and no actions were expressed beyond that. Still, you’d think folks would be a lot smarter than to make a comment like this. Wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the secret service gave him a call.

    It’s like making a bomb joke to the stewardess upon boarding an airplane. Stupid actions cannot always be laughed off with impugnity.

  136. 136 Steve
    November 20, 2008 at 20:04

    @ Jessica

    I disagree with you and the coach. The players want to win. And don’t forget that players who play on opposite sides of the field make all sorts of comments about the other player’s sisters, and wind up playing on the same team in the NFL.

  137. 137 Terry in Austin
    November 20, 2008 at 20:05

    It is when a person’s beliefs cross the line from private to public, that is when they should expect that their words/action, not their beliefs, be judged.

    For example, if the CEO of Exxon kept his beliefs to himself that global warming doesn’t exist, even though I disagree with those beliefs, that would be fine by me.

    It is when he crosses the line from private beliefs to public statements and actions, like funding groups in an attempt to dismiss global warming, that I would act on those statements by not buying gas from Exxon.

    If it as simple as posting something on a blog site, that is still cross that line from private to public; it puts substance behind a private thought, and should then be judged for what it is.

  138. 138 Miggie & Steffie
    November 20, 2008 at 20:08

    We MUSN’T as a society expect to be Gods over the souls of individuals and force people to think in any particular manner, i.e., hold to a certain belief or philosophy of life. We SHOULD, however, as a society expect our citizen’s to obey our laws if they are moral and bring their behaviors into subjection to those laws as necessary. The football player went beyond thinking and into action when he typed out his criminally threatening message, with or without the racist remark. We believe the football player’s ACTIONs must be judged by society in as balanced and fair a manner as our society can.

  139. 139 Jens
    November 20, 2008 at 20:08

    @ Jeff,

    well i guess you better thing before you post “stupid”.

  140. 140 Warren in Yamhill Co. Oregon
    November 20, 2008 at 20:11

    Everyone has (or *should* have) the right to the expression of their own beliefs. But, this cuts both ways. If you express an opinion which is in my view repulsive, I have the right to discontinue associating with you as much as possible.

    There are consequences for openly stating views that are far out on the firnge, the idea is that there are no government consequences for the expression of your personal opinions. Short, of course, of making threats of physical violence or other criminal activites.

    Looking through Facebook or myspace, is not an invasion of privacy as there is no expectation of privacy associated with those forums. If you are not comfortable with your employer, school, Grandparents, neighbor, or Joe on the street knowing what you think you should not put it on the internet.

    (this is a resubmission, I forgot to list my location)

  141. November 20, 2008 at 20:11

    We MUSN’T as a society expect to be Gods over the souls of individuals and force people to think in any particular manner, i.e., hold to a certain belief or philosophy of life. We SHOULD, however, as a society expect our citizen’s to obey our laws, if they are moral, and bring their behaviors into subjection to those laws as necessary. The football player went beyond thinking only and into action when he typed out his criminally threatening message, with or without the racist remark. We believe the football player’s ACTIONs must be judged by society in as balanced and fair a manner as our society can do so.

  142. 142 Lee-Anne
    November 20, 2008 at 20:11

    Of course it should, if the “political” issues involved are so pernicious as to cast doubt on a public figure’s ability to properly uphold his or her public responsibilities.

    In the case of the USA athlete, he was receiving benefits from his university which required him to comply with certain standards of public morality, just as beauty contest winners are, and quite deserved to be thrown out of his public “office” for a display of vicious racism and contempt for the President-elect of the USA.

  143. 143 Jonathan
    November 20, 2008 at 20:15

    Thoughts are different from actions. Actions affect others; thoughts do not. It’s irrelevant to say “well, if you think about something, someday you might do it.” If I do it someday, then that’s the day you can arrest me for it. The thinking must be free.

    I know exactly what Obama would do if he heard that racist comment: He would take the opportunity to say a few wise, insightful words, for about 20 minutes, after which very few people in the audience would still believe in racial superiority or inferiority.

    That’s what he did in Philadelphia to straighten out the nonsense about Rev. Wright.

  144. 144 Rev. Anthony Bear
    November 20, 2008 at 20:15

    I feel that the censorship of any thought, idea, or speech, be they public or private, is a major step toward facism. I had to agree whole-heartedly with the person who is a “first generation American” who left Europe to escape from Hitler and Stalin. Why should we be afraid to think or say whatever we wish? When did America become no longer the land of the free? I, as a minister have many friends of varying ethnic and religious backgrounds, and I feel like a richer person for this. We often have discussions in which there are often extreme opinions which I do not always agree with expressed, but I would not have those opinion be kept in the dark, unexpressed, or even worse have the person “punished” in any way for having and expressing them.

    Thank you for your time,

    Rev. Anthony Bear

  145. November 20, 2008 at 20:25

    Politics is such a foul game that whenever you venture into it be prepared for the worst including public ridicule…

  146. November 20, 2008 at 20:31

    @ Jeff in Hood River, OR,

    I keep thinking everytime the issue of ‘teen madness’ crops up that there is also a question that is never posed about the parents who raise such teens. Surely, there is room for forgiving stupid mistakes due to lack of information but lack of guidance on the part of the parents is unforgivable.

    Are parents/ caregivers alerting their children as to likely risks of the wholesale and carefree use of these technologies (facebook, etc.)? I always wonder about that. Can we charge parents for being stupid?

  147. 147 alby
    November 20, 2008 at 20:43

    I care very much about choices of speech made by role models and leaders in society. I also care about what they permit around them in their associates, partners, employees as symbols of their own true beliefs, but unspoken because of their own visibility.

    I also care about choices of speech in my family members, children, and also my friends, and also anyone on a listserve in which I participate.

    Increasingly, I am calling all of the above on it when I hear things that sound permissive. I have been working against anti-Islamic speech for two years in many guises. During the campaign I railed against bigoted logic and speech against even more groups.

    Unfortunately, the cat is out of the bag about legislating against minorities in the US. The propaganda campaign, similar to the one the NAZIs instituted starting in the 1920s in Germany to cement their power and gain seats in parliament, has already done its work here!

  148. 148 Lee-Anne
    November 20, 2008 at 21:09

    >> I feel that the censorship of any thought, idea, or speech, be they public or private, is a major step toward facism.

    There are some thoughts that oughtn’t be expressed by anyone with any expectation that there won’t be ramifications. Most of us know this and, if we do have the odd “impulse” toward uttering vulgar imprecations in, let’s say, a religious service or public debate, manage to stifle them.

    There is such as thing as “the public peace,” and the breaching of that peace — our reasonable expectation of privacy, and the freedom not to be impinged upon in any untoward manner — can, and should, have consequences.

    One may be a nudist in private, but not in public. Although nudism is a philosophy, it is also “indecent exposure,” and we have, as citizens, the right to ask some behaviours to be kept out of sight, even if they are the public expression of thoughts.

    One may be a member of NAMBLA, the North American Man/Boy Love Association, which advocates consensual sexual relationships between grown men and young boys, but one shouldn’t expect the public to stand for it if one is discovered *also* to be a schoolmaster or any other individual having children under one’s control and supervision.

    Let’s get real.

    There are philosophical arguments to be made that all things should be held in common, but if one attempts to express this idea by taking your neighbour’s wallet, one might expect to be nicked as a thief.


  149. 149 gideon
    November 20, 2008 at 21:22

    If an employer has political views that segregate people of course it will affect his/her employees whether they know about it or not. The subconscious is a very powerful things and this case extremely important. Racist people have a viewpoint that they believe in. That viewpoint they have effects everything they do and say throughout their lives.

    The BNP make many people in the UK uncomfortable. I think their miseducation is something that employers and employees should know about. I mean its not like being a Liberal democrat. Its more like being a facist.

  150. 150 kpellyhezekiah
    November 20, 2008 at 22:04

    Once you become a public figure your political ideology is of importance so that people would know your stand on political issues. So people have the right to know. Indeed one owes it as a civic responsibility to inform the public about ones ideological inclinations on assumption of public life. However, I don’t think it is prudent for employers to measure their employees by their political color. The important thing here is to look for the person who can get the job done and not necessarily their political beliefs unless such beliefs are central to the core business the person is engaged in.

  151. 151 Roberto
    November 20, 2008 at 23:31

    RE “” Freedom of Speech””

    ——– A young, dumb football player loses a scholarship for saying something stupid.

    Compare that to this current administration and all the voters who voted them in who have run the ship of state into an iceberg. They will shortly be abandoning the ship for cushy high paying jobs in the private sector.

    Apparently that is OK with most folks, but at any rate it’s an egregious double standard. This poor player has done nothing but impugn his own intelligence and insult a few folks who will forget he ever existed shortly thereafter as they move on to the next imagined outrage in their lives.

    The real rats get all the cheese.

  152. 152 Joe in Houston
    November 21, 2008 at 01:21

    The football player DID make a racist comment. His dismissal in all likelihood had nothing to do with the “guns” aspect. My previous comment containing the actual epithet never got posted, so I won’t repeat it. No, it wasn’t the n-word. It was a different offensive term for black people that’s used (rarely, in my experience, but still used) in the U.S. South.
    In fact, I would believe the reason he posted the thing was because it was a joke he’d gotten as a text message – an angry, racist pun, but a joke nonetheless. (The pun was that the epithet he used is derived from the name of an animal. Thus the “call in the hunters” setup; calling in hunted could conceivably be an appropriate response to a wild animal in the White House.)

    Take a look at Burnette’s apology http://www.espnaustin.com/node/510 and you’ll see that he’s very sorry for what he said, and alludes to race three times in the apology, including in his concluding paragraph: “What I wrote on Facebook was a horrible immature mistake. I have no racial feelings towards anyone especially the President Elect of the United States of America.”

    If Burnette had used the same racial epithet about, say, Cullen Jones (the black American swimmer on the gold-medal-winning relay team in Beijing), then coach Mack Brown would’ve made the same move.

  153. November 21, 2008 at 11:16

    could this action have been taken if the footballer used the post office to carry forward his enveloped message?and to all lawyers everywhere and their magistrates and judges,what would they advice the sentence or justice such a man could get?
    coz am sure each lawyer or judge could have his or her own judgement on this issue….though they learnt the same thing at the school of law.


  154. 154 DENNIS
    November 21, 2008 at 16:52

    Depending what type of job, you are holding!

  155. 155 Emile Barre
    November 23, 2008 at 15:14

    The question posed is a non-sequitor. If the politics are deemed private they cannot enter the public domain and be deemed legitimate. The only effective politics is the public variant so anyone who has private politics has the right to how do you say in English? Keep it to themselves?

  156. January 6, 2009 at 23:12

    Yes, he should have beem kicked out. It could have been worse, he could have been arrested. Nowadays, it isn’t a right to speak your mind in a public place if it is in anyway threatening to anyone else.

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