Many are no doubt familiar with the saga of Miss California, an employee of serial net-worth exaggerator Donald Trump. In case you're not, during a recent Miss America or Miss USA competition, she took a stand against gay marriage. Here's what she said:
CARRIE: I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage and, you know what, in my country and my family I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anyone out there but that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be between a man and a woman.
One interpretation suggests the first line there is disingenuous: she does not think it's great you can choose and doesn't think you ought to be able to choose. Another interpretation suggests she personally favors opposite marriage for herself, but thinks it's great that others can choose. Either way, she answered the question.
Not surprisingly, she seems to have drawn some fire by her remarks, especially from those who don't favor the sole choice of opposite marriage. That's free speech, some of you liberals will say. That's why we have it.
Enter professional contrarian Michael Kinsley. He says:
SEATTLE — I want the next Supreme Court justice to share my views on the Constitution. I don't care how she looks in a bathing suit, or halfway out of one. Miss California is a different story. Her qualifications, as a general rule, should be up to the people of California. Here in the state of Washington, we expect our beauty-contest winners to be able to split a log and appreciate good coffee. But Miss California's views on gay marriage have nothing to do with her qualifications for the job and shouldn't disqualify her for it.
This is really Liberalism 101, and it's amazing that so many liberals don't get it. Yes, yes, the Bill of Rights protects individuals against oppression by the government, not by other private individuals or organizations. But the values and logic behind our constitutional rights don't disappear when the oppressor is in the private sector. They may not have the force of law in that situation, but they ought to have the force of understanding and of habit. The logic behind freedom of speech is that "bad" speech does not need to be suppressed as long as "good" speech is free to counter it. Or at least that letting the good and bad do battle is more likely to allow the good speech to triumph than giving anyone the power to choose between them. Congratulations to Donald Trump for making the right decision in this case. But we can't count on every employer to be as sensitive and understanding as The Donald.
The "disqualification" issue regards unrelated violations of the rules of the pageant. As for the "liberals who do not get it," notice that Kinsley does not mention anyone by name. Nor could he. No one is arguing that Miss California's freedom of speech ought to be restricted. The most extreme scenario suggests Miss California ought to have given a more coherent answer to a question. But the Q&A, after all, is part of the contest, so the answer does in some sense matter (in what sense I don't know). That the answer in some sense matters, or that Miss California has drawn criticism, doesn't amount to restricting her freedom of speech.
I think that's really just Critical Thinking 101.