Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Educating Tomi: Conservative Ranter Gets a Lesson in Free Speech

by Nomad

Last week, the Dallas Morning News reported that Ms. Tomi Lahren, right wing political ranter, has taken her former boss Glenn Beck (along with his media corporation) to court. 
She alleges that she was wrongfully terminated after comments she made about abortion during an appearance on The View.
The lawsuit claims that Lahren was “understandably disappointed, saddened and in shock for being suspended for freely expressing her opinions, which certainly reconcile with what is the law of the land in the United States i.e., a woman’s constitutional right to choose and in no way inconsistent with any of [Lahren’s] obligations under the Employment Contract.”
On March 26, 2017, news broke that Lahren had been fired and it seemed to be verified when it was announced that Tomi would no longer be appearing on TheBlaze. (Mr. Beck thinks removing a space between words makes him look more serious, I suppose, rather than a typographical carelessness.)  

When it comes to the Tomi tempest in a teapot, it is unclear what's the situation is. Lahren claims she has been fired but on April 7, 2017,  lawyers for Glenn Beck claim she is still drawing a salary, still under contract. They claim to be genuinely mystified why, under those circumstances, she is claiming unlawful termination.
Lahren's lawyers fired their own salvos. 
Lahren's suit alleges that the hubbub surrounding her comments was "a public smear campaign" orchestrated to "inflate Beck's profile, from what has become a mediocre following, all at [Lahren's] expense."
Brutal, as it sounds, that particular allegation works both ways. 

Lehren's Tiny Weeny Career

Hit the pause button to learn a bit more about Lahren.
Lucky for you, when it comes to her career, it is, thankfully, of a short duration.
In fact, we can skim through this part with a montage effect.

Born in Rapid City, South Dakota. Military brat. Got her degree at the prestigious University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Interned with Republican congresswoman (former farm-girl) Kristi Noem of South Dakota's at-large congressional district.
When that petered out, she moved to San Diego, California and began working for a strongly conservative  One America News Network (OAN).

That brings us to August 2015, Lahren closed shop at OAN and trekked to Dallas to begin working with Beck's outfit, TheBlaze. She hosted a show of her own, which consisted of sitting prettily in a chair and ranting about whatever topic she chose.

It didn't seem to hurt her credibility that she was about a zillion times better to look at than say, Greta Van Susteren. Moreover, she didn't seem to object to flashing some skin for the less politically-minded members of the audience. Lahren is the "before" shot to Kellyanne Conway's "after."

In the world of conservative media, it was paradise for everybody. For Ms. Lahren, life doesn't get much better for that. Just months ago, the BBC called her "a 24-year-old Republican provocateur, a photogenic rising media star, a high-energy mass of contradictions."
And then she went and blew all that fame by expressing an opinion that Beck and his audience didn't want to know about.

Virtual Fisticuffs

Predictably, the lawsuit kicked off a Sunday night Twitter fisticuffs between Lahren and Beck, in which her former boss accused her of intellectual dishonesty.
He suggested that her claim of being a libertarian clashed with her support of President Donald Trump's executive orders and health care proposal. 
Where was Trump's libertarianism?

Here's a snippet from that exchange.

In her own mind, she- the non-apologist- is playing the role of truth crusader in a world that wants to shut her up.  

I would venture to guess that Ms. Lahren is unaware that her ideas about freedom of expression are supported by the United Nations, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, no less.
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
And yet, her concepts are a bit on the sketchy side. As she later tweeted:
"I speak my truth. If you don't like it, tough. I will always be honest and stand in my truth."
A mean-girl with righteousness on her side, right?
Well, that's her spin but, in reality, nobody gets the right to claim the truth as their own.  The phrase "my truth" is a dead giveaway that Lahren doesn't seem to know the difference between her truth and her opinion.

Cry-Baby and Whiner

Rest assured, Tomi has a lot of opinions. Heaps and heaps of them. And she has a lot of opinions about people who express their opinions.
Take her rants about attacking San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. 

In her opinion/truth, Kaepernick had no right to exercise his constitutional right of free speech when he refused to stand for the national anthem.

Lahren is apparently unaware that the Supreme Court has ruled against that idea patriotism can be compelled in two landmark cases, West Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnette and Bijoe Emmanuel vs. the State of Kerala. The right to free speech and expression guaranteed under the First Amendment superseded displays of loyalty to one's nation.

Not according to Lahren. Some speech was okay but not the kind that insulted the nation. It was, she implied, un-American and ungrateful. Mr. Kaepernick ought to be celebrating the fact that in this country African-American men are more likely to be shot at a routine traffic stop than a white man. How dare he!

Ms. Lahren claimed to support free speech but it was extremely hard to take that at face value. Here's a painful excerpt from one of her rants.
"Colin, I support the first amendment, I support your right of freedom of speech and expression. Go for it bud! If this country disgusts you so much, leave."
So tough toenails to Colin. She went on to call him a “whiner” and a "cry-baby."  

Similarly, not so long ago, she attacked lesbian professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe.who refused to kneel on the field during the national anthem.

She has also come out against gays and lesbians in general. Not the silent submissive ones, only the ones who are proud.
"Truth is, most of us, even conservatives, don't care if you're gay. Seriously, we don't. We just get tired of having this stuff paraded in our faces constantly. And when it makes us uncomfortable, you call us bigots."
There's that truth thing again.

Hypocritical Crap

In her diminutive career, she has also railed against the free speech of feminists.
Tomi declares modern day feminists to be, “the dumbest load of hypocritical crap ever masqueraded as an equality movement.” It’s an interesting movement “that picks and chooses which women are empowering and which are deplorable.”
Apparently, Lahren believes marginalized minorities in the United States should just shut up and get with the team program. Where's your team spirit?

According to Tomi, the majority just doesn't want to hear the opinions of minorities. So shut the hell up. Blacks? Quit your belly aching. Gays? Stop flaunting your lifestyles. Stop making people feel uncomfortable by parading "this stuff" in people's faces.
Being American, according to Lahren, means falling into line and quit being so contrary.  That's what free speech means according to the book of Tomi. 

Come to think of it. Tomi should be paying - not suing- Glenn Beck. He gave her a free education. After all, she learned a very valuable lesson about constitutionally protected free speech. It protects everybody, even those who have opinions we don't want to hear.

Professor Noam Chomsky has said:
“If we do not believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we do not believe in it at all.”
Despite the lesson in civics, Ms. Lahren seems to be only a part-time believer in free speech.  Meaning, her free speech and her "truth."
That's the only thing she seems to think is important.