Media

Why the Helen Thomas Case Makes Me Nervous

Should a journalist lose her job over an offensive comment?

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A few months ago, a picture appeared in The Denver Post. On a local college campus—an alleged stronghold of free inquiry and debate—a leftist student, protesting some perceived injustice, was holding a sign that argued:

"Hate speech is not free speech!"

Perhaps this earnest 20-something had not fully thought through her illiberal position on "tolerable" political speech. Perhaps she was part of that broader movement that sees "hate" everywhere among its ideological opponents. Either way, it's tragic that so many young people misunderstand the idea of open debate—or simply devalue liberty.

Some people accept that certain things cannot—rather than should not—be said. Beyond the worrisome assaults on free speech (fairness doctrines, higher education, etc.) there is a slipperier concern. Which brings me to Helen Thomas' now infamous and career-ending comment, in which she helpfully suggested that the Jews get "the hell out of Palestine."

True, I find some comfort in knowing that this unprofessional crackpot never will haunt a president, common sense, or the public again. But I wince at the rapidity of her demise. And I feel a nagging anxiety about a journalist's losing her job over nothing more than a controversial statement.

"She should lose her job over this," former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said before Thomas gave in to a forced retirement. "As someone who is Jewish and as someone who worked with her and used to like her, I find this appalling."

Cliff May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and former roving reporter for Hearst (which syndicated Thomas' column), in a letter urged the company "strenuously" to "cut all ties" with Thomas "as quickly as possible."

It seems an odd reaction, especially for conservatives, who are accused regularly of thought crimes and hate speech by outfits like Media Matters, which are in the business of smearing and discrediting those who disagree with them.

But an opinion—in Thomas' case, an ugly opinion that in all probability is more common than some people might believe—is no more than the strength of the logic behind it. As a regular defender of the moral right of Israel to fight the theocrats and fascists whom Thomas embraces, I never thought she was very credible or articulate on the topic, and she is unworthy of the over-the-top reactions of critics.

Nevertheless, at this point in her career, the 89-year-old was still a columnist for Hearst newspapers. A columnist offers provocative views. You don't have to like Thomas, and you don't have to read her columns, but having a disdain for Jews in general or Israel in particular is hardly the most offensive thought that's kicking around.

Though I don't hold an earthly stake in debates over God, Bill Maher's ludicrous anti-Catholic rants or a tome from a polemist like Christopher Hitchens (who condemns all religion as a dangerous farce) might be "appalling" to rather large swaths of the public. Are certain topics off the table?

Of course, I am not suggesting that Thomas has a birthright to sit in the front row at a White House news conference (a situation that hasn't made sense for at least three decades) or that anyone has an inalienable right to pontificate about the world for a newspaper chain or anyone else.

And no, I can't mourn the loss of Helen Thomas' detestable opinions. But at the same time, I can't help but feel some trepidation about the ease in which some voices—in this case, one voice that is probably more honest than others of similar ideological disposition—can be expelled from the conversation simply for offending.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his website at www.DavidHarsanyi.com.

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  1. She was 89.

    Any flub she made was going to lead to a retirement party.

    Those are the breaks.

    1. I’m not dead yet, fellow Hamas supporter! So much for, “Everything old people do and say is funny!”, though. I guess that only works for queefs and forgetting my dentures.

      1. Helen, was Jesus from Poland or Germany?

        1. Ha Ha Ha!!! good one.
          I always thought he was from Egypt (moses, line of David, etc.)

          1. parabens por mais esse post.

            1. ok.mulberry bags, mulberry handbags

          2. so interesting, we are get same opinion.

    2. And the only reason she wasn’t run out years ago is because she’s a raging leftist, just like ninety percent of her media brethren. Patrick Buchanan has been vilified for years by the exact same people who adore Helen for the same Nazi-like sympathies.

      I usually agree with Harsanyi, but not in this case. I take comfort in the fact that there are certain lines that even hateful leftists can’t cross.

      Free speech does not mean the right to a job. Helen Thomas is still perfectly free to be a crazy old Nazi; she can do it on the street with a megaphone and a sandwich board.

      1. What Mike M. said. It’s not really a free speech issue – it’s shunning a hateful dingbat (something that should have been done ages ago).

        If she held her seat on the merit of her work that’d be one thing, but she held her position through political leverage and she lost it through a political mistake. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

      2. Agreed. Free speech does not mean consequence-free speech.

      3. Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one.

  2. Free speach fetishist need to get realistic. We need to balance the benefits of free speach to individuals with the benefits that are to be incurred by those who wish to wield the monopoly power of violence over a wider domain.

    1. No need to bring free speech into this. There’s no state action.

      1. It’s just Crazy Gabe’s way of poking fun at those nasty old Orange Liners. It’s a joke that stopped being funny about 15 picoseconds after he did it the first time.

      2. should get some action

  3. OK, who is spoofing David Harsanyi? It’s obvious he didn’t write this. There is no Page 2 with only one sentence.

    1. I kept clicking the blank area where the “Next Page” link should have been out of habit. Curse you Harsanyi.

  4. We’re shocked! We had no idea! And she was such a trailblazer!

    1. She will be back soon as the Washington correspondant for al-Quds.

      1. And I better get my seat back too! I’m old and entitled, I paid my dues! Just like Medicare recipients! In fact, I wonder if the ACLU and AARP can help me out now?

        Who can argue with the ageist and racist angle?

        1. Helen, you forgot sexist too.

        2. Just be careful out there. I hear Mommy Fortuna wants you back in your cage.

  5. Just because the government can’t have standards for speech, doesn’t mean the public at large can’t. She is free to do and say what she wants. But the public is free to call her the nasty bitch she is for her doing so. And AP is free to bend to that pressure.

    Further, I don’t recall Reason being too upset about Rush Limbaugh being told he couldn’t buy and NFL team. Limbaugh has never said anything as vile as what Thomas said. Why does Reason now care about the private affairs of individuals when it didn’t then?

    1. Reason agrees with me about Israel and the Jews (self-hate much Harsanyi?)

      Lardball is a vicious, racist, bigoted homophobe and a Jew lover.

      Why wouldn’t Reason support me and my Free Speech rights, but ignore the rights of that adulterous Christ-fag?

    2. John,

      A. You shouldn’t conflate “Reason” with “David Harsanyi.”

      B. Harsanyi acknowledges Thomas has no right to keep her job.

      C. The NFL is generally quite controversy averse, whereas courting controversy is hardly typically a barrier to editorial journalism.

      1. Furthermore, it’s especially noxious that a White House press secretary got involved with this. Regardless of whether that affected the outcome, he oughtta keep such opinions to himself as long as he’s got a job speaking for the Executive Branch.

        1. the WH only has so many press passes to give out. They don’t owe that old crone one. There are plenty of journalists who would love to have that pass. The WH should have taken her pass before she was ever fired.

        2. If you’re talking about Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary, he no longer has such a job speaking for the Executive Branch.

      2. “The NFL is generally quite controversy averse, whereas courting controversy is hardly typically a barrier to editorial journalism.”

        It is now. And in the same way the NFL gets to make the rules on who owns on of its franchises, AP gets to decide who gets to write for it.

        1. Yeah, yeah, I understand that.

          Have you NEVER criticized someone for doing something they had a perfectly legal right to do?

  6. I agree with everything she said. If more people spoke their minds like she did, the world would be a better place.

    Lou
    http://www.Anonymous-VPN.de.tc

    1. O Anon-bot, one day you will learn to love.

    2. Jamie, here statement contained factual errors. She said the Jews of Israel came from Germany, Poland, and America. Half the Jews of Israel are descended from Jews that were kicked out from Arab countries. Only a tiny percentage of Jewish-Israeli ancestry is from the USA.

      1. lol argue with bots moar nub!!!11

        1. Jtuf is arguing with a bot. Really?
          And on top of that employing dubious facts to say the least.

          1. Source, Kwais?

            1. Well, somewhat anecdotal really, most the Sephardic Jews (Arabic Jews) that I met in Israel, were either Moroccan, Egyptian, Iranian, Turkish.
              They were not kicked out of their countries, there are still Jews living peacefully in those countries. I have met some in those countries.
              Some of the other countries where Jews are not so welcome they are arguably not welcome there because of what the Polish and German Jews did and continue to do to the Moslem Arabs in the land that is now Israel.
              I know that is an oversimplification. I know this is one side of the argument, and I know the other side, but if you are going to argue with a bot.

              1. You should check out this website for information about how Jews were kicked out of Arab lands.

              2. Yeah, I thought you didn’t have any statistics to back you up. Check out this:

                At the end of 1997 , 40% of Jews in Israel belonged to the Europe-America origin group, 15% were of Asian origin, 18% were of African origin, and 27% were born in Israel to Israel-born fathers.

                The Asian and African Jews are from Muslim majority countries except for some from South Africa.

                The source is the Israeli Census Department.

                1. So, the headline of the documentary is “exodus of up to 1 million jews from the middle east and North Africa”
                  I think the population of Israel is around 7 million?
                  So, I am not sure that really backs up your point.
                  And that Jews are still living welcome and in peace in Iran, Morocco, and Turkey.
                  Probably not so much welcome in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

                  Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-Israel, because I oppose the racialist apartheid government, any more than I would be anti-American because I oppose our income tax.

                  I really like so much of what Israel is, but there is that one ugly thing.

                  Helen Thomas was wrong in what she said, even Palestinian friends I have that hate with a passion the Israeli government, understand that the state of Israel is going nowhere, and Jews are not returning to anywhere. They just wish they had the same rights as the Israeli citizens with the blue ID’s.

                  1. You have to follow all three links. Together, they support my argument. The descendants of those 1 million Jews who were kicked out of Arab countries make up half of the 5 to 6 million Israeli Jews. That was my point. Half of the Jews of Israel are descendants of Jews that were kicked out of Arab countries. Helen Thomas’s comment was not only offensive, it was factually inaccurate. But of course, when the facts don’t agree with you, you shout “racist” and “apartheid”.

                2. I went to Israel a few years ago in conjunction with my gubermint job, and I have to say I was surprized at the number of Israelis I met who were from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Jordan, etcetera.

                  On a rather simple note, how do the Palestinians and Israelis tell each other apart? If we outlawed clothing in the middle east, we could reduce violence by 99% (O yeah…circumsion).

              3. Also check out this documentary: The Forgotten Refugees.

            2. Well, somewhat anecdotal really, most the Sephardic Jews (Arabic Jews) that I met in Israel, were either Moroccan, Egyptian, Iranian, Turkish.
              They were not kicked out of their countries, there are still Jews living peacefully in those countries. I have met some in those countries.
              Some of the other countries where Jews are not so welcome they are arguably not welcome there because of what the Polish and German Jews did and continue to do to the Moslem Arabs in the land that is now Israel.
              I know that is an oversimplification. I know this is one side of the argument, and I know the other side, but if you are going to argue with a bot.

            3. Did you just reply to a post that asks for your sources by asking for their source? Seriously?

              1. Kawis didn’t ask me for a source. He jumped straight to calling me a liar without having any statistics to back himself up.

                1. Two things:
                  I didn’t call you a liar, I just said that your facts were dubious. I am not sure that most of the Arab Jews were ‘kicked out’ of their countries. They had lived there peacefully for hundreds of years.

                  Israel is a racist country and does run an apartheid system. Have you ever lived there? I am not sure how anyone can deny this.
                  Not that many or most Islamic countries aren’t also. I am not saying that Islamic countries are better.

                  1. Kwais, did you read through the websites I linked to. There were pogroms against Jews in Arab countries in the 1920’s. Even during relatively peaceful times, Arabs treated Jews as second class citizens.

                    1. But aren’t Jews currently treating Arabs like second class citizens in Israel? I have a hard time sympathizing with either side. I know the Jews have went through terrible things but that doesn’t excuse what they are currently doing to the Palestinians.

                    2. Israel’s current policies towards West Bank residents and Gazans are a response to terrorist attacks from those areas. The West Bank policies are a response to the infitada, and the Gazan policies are a response to the rockets the Gazans are still launching at Israel.

      2. You’re wrong jtuf. She’s a nice lady.

        Lou
        http://www.Anonymous-VPN.de.tc

      3. All i know is America should have no business meddling in the affairs between the arabs and the isrealis. We’ve tried to “solve their differences”…tried to negotiate peace…but neither side wants it and each “side” is as guilty as the other. We need to denounce any alliance we have with any of those countries, stop selling arms to both sides, and pull totally out of the region and let them duke it out.

        1. …and if Russia or China want to replace us, maybe to protect oil production, THEN THAT’S THEIR BUSINESS {M.L.K.}.

          1. great monikers think alike
            😉

        2. I’m right there with you fresnofanatic.

  7. Is free speech not allowed to have (non-governmental) ramifications?

    There seems to me to be an undercurrent of the self-importance of journalism permeating the whole article. People who say stupid things get fired from non-journalism jobs every day and I don’t see why journalists should be any different.

    Speak all you want but be prepared to handle the reactions.

  8. This is not a danger to free speech at all. Everyone has a right to say what he wants, but no right to force others to pay him for his opinions. Helen Thomas is still free to write her opinions. There are even many websites where she can post them at no cost to her for all the World to see. If she can convince someone else to pay her for those writings, fine. If not, tough luck. After all, no one is paying me for this comment I am writing.

    1. Exactly. Just like Don Imus moved to XM, I’m sure she’ll just get a job at Alternet, the Huffington Post, Mother Jones, or some other “alternative newspaper”.

  9. Her crime wasn’t what she said. It was that she pulled back the curtain.

  10. A private company fired an employee for public comments they did not like or could have harmed their bottom line.

    I see absolutely zero problem here. Just because the company was a news outlet doesn’t mean they can’t fire her for comments that may harm their business.

  11. Jeez, Harsanyi.
    Who said she was excluded from the conversation? She can’t start a blog?

    Or are we just now realizing here that libertarian principles might also apply to journalists?

    Heaven forfend!

  12. “You don’t have to like Thomas, and you don’t have to read her columns,”

    And if you’re Hearst, you don’t have to pay her. Welcome to the free world.

  13. “And I feel a nagging anxiety about a journalist’s losing her job over nothing more than a controversial statement.”

    How about losing it for being a partisan hack for about 50 years?

    She is past retirement age anyway.

    Besides, all sorts of people in other professions are routinely fired for making some kind of remark that isn’t politically correct.

    There is nothing “special” about being a journalist that should innoculate them from the same treatment.

    1. Harsanyi is just projecting because he wants to establish the idea now that journalists shouldn’t be fired for controversial statements before he is fired for controversial statements.

  14. Reason is really showing its journalist bias on this one. Does Reason think MLB was wrong when it forced Marge Schott to sell the Reds? Are they now worried about Rush Limbaugh not getting an NFL team? Or Michael Richards not getting any more TV roles?

    Reason finds religion about this stuff the day a journalist is held responsible for saying something vile. Reason is all for personal responsibility and such. But not when it applies to other journalists.

    1. Cool story, bro.

    2. John, to echo fyodor’s statement, Harsanyi != Reason.

      1. If they don’t want to be associated with his views, don’t publish him.

        1. Like with Chapman, I think they buy his column en bloc.

          You’re right, they don’t have to publish any columns they don’t agree with. But personally, I think it’s better to occassionally have columns that are “wrong” – if only for the reason that it helps us define and articulate what’s right and why it’s right.

  15. a polemist like Christopher Hitchens

    DEATH OF DECENCY?

    or,

    Hitchens is Jew enough for Freud to bust in with the fog-over-Dachau jokes? Really?

  16. Please remember, there is an important difference between the actions of a private business and a government action. The First Amendment applies to the second entity, not the first. Hearst disposing of a troublesome employee who brings the entire organization into disrepute is an acceptable exercise of freedom. If the government or any organization receiving government funds were to take such action, then your argument would hold water. The widening practice of requiring private organizations and individuals to act as if the First Amend. applied to them is obscene. The First is, after all, intended only as a restriction on govenment intruding on our freedoms. Telling me I may not commercially punish those offend, either through malice or through ignorance actually is as intrusive on my freedom of speech as if the gov. determined my action were hate speech. Thomas is free to speak her mind at any time. I am free to refuse to pay Hearst for her opinions. Hearst is free to try to offer news and opinions for which I or any other person is willing to pay.

    1. You’d think this would be an easy concept to grasp…

      1. I wonder about the forelock-tugging for the same reason; this has nothing to do with the right of free speech.
        She opened her yap while ‘representing’ her employer, and her employer said “you’re fired”.

  17. Free speech does not mean speech free from any and all consequences. It means speech free from control by the state.

    The outrage over Helen Thomas’s execrable remarks, and her long-overdue retirement, have exactly zero implications for free speech.

    In fact, they are probably a plus for free speech. If there were no consequences at all, then there would likely be a void in our civil society, and voids in civil society are filled by the State.

  18. Cliff May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and former roving reporter for Hearst (which syndicated Thomas’ column), in a letter urged the company “strenuously” to “cut all ties” with Thomas “as quickly as possible.”

    Hey, with all the work the MSM has been doing trying to link these kinds of hateful, racist comments to the TEA Parties and other “protest vote” kind of groups lately, they really didn’t have much of a choice.

    Could you imagine all the overtime the news room over at Hearst would have to log trying to tie that old crone to the TEA Party?

  19. Yes, David Harsanyi, an employee getting fired for making an insulting remark toward a certain ethnic group is a terrible thing. Back in my HR days I fired a guy who was ripping on deaf people in our business’ customer waiting room one day (in front of customers who wound up complaining). I ARE OPPRESSION, it seems.

  20. I work in an at-will state. I can be fired by my employer for any reason, or no reason whatsoever. It would suck, but I’d get another job. Why is Helen Thomas special? I guarantee if I tell my managing director he needs to go back to Argentina with the rest of the spics, I’ll get fired.

    1. Except (1) Thomas wasn’t saying it about her boss (unless you’re claiming that her boss is Teh Jooz, in which case it sounds like you’ve bought into the whole “Jews control the media” shtick), (2) you wouldn’t be saying that your boss should go to, among other places, America, and (3) Argentines didn’t come to America and set up a state here against the will of the natives. (On the other hand, Europeans came here and set up a number of states against the will of the natives–you know, those people we call “native Americans”–and I don’t believe anyone would think it beyond the pale if American Indians or their sympathizers were to say that Caucasian Americans should “go back to Europe.”)

      1. in which case it sounds like you’ve bought into the whole “Jews control the media” shtick

        You mean we don’t? Oy! Ya couldda fooled me!

      2. You don’t, huh? Well, how about that.

  21. I hear she was the heavy favourite for the Maxim top 100. Wonder how she will fair now? If she doesn’t make it on the list, I’m crying foul!

    1. I hear Derick Jeter plans to dump her now that she is out of the limelight. So, she may not make the list this year.

  22. Whats the big deal? It appears the free market worked. She put out a bad product. In her industry thats tough to overcome. I’m sure some other lefty journo will learn from this and not say racist things.

  23. having a disdain for Jews in general or Israel in particular is hardly the most offensive thought that’s kicking around

    What thought is more offensive than disdain for individuals on account of their ethnicity?

    1. drowning a kitten in diaherria?

      1. That’s white of you.

        1. Why thank you!

          1. Actually, if I said what color it really was, I’d be in trouble.

            1. Why are you an illegal color?

    2. I dunno, killing individuals on account of their ethnicity?

      1. What thought is more offensive.

        1. Mohammed’s picture hanging on the wall?

        2. “Obama / Biden: 4 more years!”?

          1. I’m gonna be sick…

        3. OK, thinking about killing individuals on account of their ethnicity.

          1. Thinking about murdering someone doesn’t seem to me so much offensive as simply immoral; I’d reserve the term “offensive” for thoughts that are more esthetically laden.

            And I’d volunteer that immoral is worse than offensive.

            I doubt there’s more, for me, anyway, to say on it.

  24. Well, when employees say stupid shit it can lead to their firing. Not surprising, or really even troubling.

  25. well, you guys pretty much said everything that I had to say and better to boot.

  26. david advocates for people not being so thin skinned and do gooder. buy his book. it’s worth it.

  27. I don’t see this as a danger to free speech per se. I do find it a little funny that the particular subject she brought up is absolutely forbidden for public discussion (considering some of the other nasty things that famous people say on a daily basis).

  28. some religious groups, like the Jews in this instance, are still in their infancy after all these years. It’s still the same game they play…’you hurt my feelings’, ‘6 million of us were killed back in the 40’s’, or ‘you’re an anti-semite/self hating Jew!’.
    The one major trait that JudeoChristianity and Islam have in common is that they are victim cults. They glorify pain and being hurt…you hurt me…my ancestors where victims….
    Judaism is still playing victim after all these years…and they’ll always be victims until that day comes when they actually decide to stop it with that ‘poor me’ victim game they play.
    I just wish it would stop sooner…it’s not only costing a journalist her job, it’s costing me money in terms of money and aid sent to Israel! This all should stop, but I know that the religionist, whatever strip he may be, will continue to say ‘poor me’.

    1. You forgot the 1 billion to Egypt, the 1 billion to the PA, the 1 billion to Pakistan, the 1.5 billion to Russia, and the 1 billion to Sudan what the feds send each year. I’m all for ending government to government aid if we do it across the board.

      USA Census Statistics on Foriegn Aid.

  29. Harsanyi — You come across as another goofball Christian. Why the fuck does Reason attach itself to these mental midgets?

    1. I thought goofball Christians were fans of Israel due to the immanent rapture. Has that changed?

    2. harsanyi is jewish and usually very pro-israel

      1. Thanks for the correction.

        Harsanyi — You come across as another goofball Abrahamist.

    3. Mongo calling someone a mental midget is pretty funny…. er, pathetic.

  30. But I wince at the rapidity of her demise.

    “rapidity”?! LOL. This was a long time in coming, or perhaps you think she’s entitled to her job and had a right to unending paychecks simply for existing.

  31. Hey, Christopher Hitchens can fuck people up in debates *while* drinking them under the table. Whether you agree with him or not, you have to admit that’s kind of cool.

  32. I live by two rules: Tip your bartender well and ignore The Panic That Is Clifford May.

  33. other columnists, commentators, etc… have been fired or suspended or reprimanded for similar items. i have no problem with a private communications company firing an employee for that employee’s public communications. heck, usually the liberals get the free pass on their anti-whatever diatribe. she finally got tired at 89 of hiding her real feelings and she showed them. she absolutely has the right to say what she wants

  34. 1) This has nothing to do with the First Amendment. There is no state action here. She worked for a private employer and she said something stupid and got fired. There is no injustice in that. Had she worked in the public sector it would be a different story, but that’s not the case.

    2) Her getting fired is actually a good thing, because it shows you that “hate speech” or discriminatory intent or basically any kind of prejudice can be dealt with in the private sector without the need of a lot of government regulation or oversight. Helen Thomas didn’t need to be prosecuted for her words. She was fired, because her employer didn’t want to be associated with someone who was anti-Israel. It was a consideration in line with free market thinking. Don’t alienate readers. Readers don’t like prejudice. Racists, sexists, and those with other prejudices will be fired due to the unpopularity of their opinions.

    1. Readers don’t like prejudice.

      If that were strictly true, one wouldn’t have to be concerned with “alienating” them.

      1. I disagree. If it were “strictly true,” then you’d be alienating everyone. But I didn’t say strictly. Surely you can accept the notion that most people don’t like prejudice and are likely to turn away from publications with authors known for having prejudiced opinions, be it racist, sexist etc?

  35. she was just ousted from her position because the Jews are choosing to play victim and they need a sacrifice to make them feel better. Blood and burnt offerings aren’t acceptable anymore, so why not get someone to loose their job.

    1. JOOS!

      1. LOOOSE!! LOOSE JOOZ!!

    2. Actually, daily prayer replaced animal sacrifices when the Romans destroyed the Temple around 70 CE. You need to brush up on your theology.

  36. Helen was lynched by the same standards that brought down Dan Rather. If you fly just under the sanity radar lefty media will put up with you, for you are useful with your appeal to the idiots. However, loud farting in the crowded theater after binging bean burritos will bring the usher with the flashlight.

    1. You’re right, but their cases make an interesting contrast. Rather had to work really, really hard to fuck up his career. I mean, the media were in his corner 100% for a long time – but he eventually took it too far and ended up an embarrassing everyone in the business. Thomas made one crude, offhand remark and got the boot within a few days. Are the media becoming more risk-averse? Did Rather survive so long because he was after Bush’s head and the media wanted him to succeed? Did Helen get canned so quickly because the Jews are still perceived, by many Americans, as a “minority group” who need special protection? Or simply because the situation in the Middle East is complex and dangerous and comments like hers only make things worse? Gotta wonder…

  37. true, there was no state action, but still, my point stands that people, Jews in this instance, love to play victim. Oh Poor Ole Jewish Me, she hurt our Jewish feelings!
    These people, like christians and muslims who do the same, are pathetic wimps! They need to take off their yamakas, stop eating their klotchomoloppi and stand up and fight for real, not try to get people to loose their jobs. These people are fucking stupid!

    1. oh, and stop using our tax dollars for their little jewish dramas too!

      1. JOOS!

        1. LOOSE JOOZ!!

      2. I don’t think the National Endowment of the Arts funds religious plays. I think they only spend our tax dollars on plays with secular themes.

    2. WTF is a “klotchomoloppi”?

    3. They’re eating her! Then they’re going to eat me….

      OHHHH MYYYYY GOOOOOODD!!!!!

      1. All I know is that the Jews gave us the word “shnook.” Shit, I use it all the time. As in “loud mouth’d shnook.”

        Thomas is a shnook.

  38. All employees of large corporations must conform! Helen Thomas is a minor example that had to be made.

    Comments like hers make people feel bad, in much the same way that literature makes people feel bad, and publications like Reason Magazine make people feel bad.

    The purpose of Journalism is to persuade consumers to feel good and to think good thoughts, not to inflame their unconscious desires and cause them to behave irrationally. They might start thinking for themselves.

    1. So if you disagree with Helen Thomas, you’re incapable of independent thought?

      1. No, I’m simply pointing out that the public can’t be trusted to think and behave rationally, they need guidance from an enlightened elite.

        The Federal Government, the Media, Academia, the corporation they work for and publications like “The Weekly Standard” can guide them in their thinking and if necessary punish them when they say or do the wrong thing.

        Although in most cases it’s nothing more than a layoff with a severance package, kind of like suspending a kid for skipping school.

    2. Next we’ll see if Van can explain the point of his confusing sarcasm with yet more confusing sarcasm…

      1. Fiscal Meth, you have found me out! I was spoofin’! I prefer the term satire rather than sarcasm, though the two are twin brothers. So confusing satire please!

        I don’t actually know what Helen Thomas said because I don’t watch TV except for movies and sports and Stossel.

        I’m just old enough to remember when what people said or what they felt weren’t grounds for dismissal.

        I’m also old enough to remember Helen Thomas in Press Conferences with Propaganda Ministers going as far back as the Nixon Administration. To tell you the truth, I had always assumed she was Jewish. I’ll miss Helen, like I already miss Henry Kissinger, real politic, and Detente. These Neoconservatives they’ve got now are a pain in the rear just as much as the Liberals. They want to “Bring Democracy” to the whole world but they don’t even want me to play poker online!

        1. Fair enough. In the end I think she was just fired from a job for being an ass-hole.

        2. “I’m just old enough to remember when what people said or what they felt weren’t grounds for dismissal.”

          You obviously don’t remember Douglas MacArthur…

          1. General MacArthur didn’t just hurt Truman’s feelings, he invaded China.

            But I’m too young to remember that.

            Helen Thomas on the other hand could have dated both of them.

  39. I don’t think people really understand this “freedom of speech” amendment. It guarrantees a person right to speak his/her’s mind. But it also guarrantees the freedom not to speak that others pressure you into saying what you don’t want to say. Hearst has exercised this right. Nobody has taken away Helen Thomas’ right to continue saying what she believes. Only now she will not have Hearst paying salary and expenses. She will have to another patron.

  40. There is no reason for trepidation here. Just as anyone else can get fired for expressing objectionable opinions in any other work place, so can Helen Thomas. Why people in the press believe they have superior protections than the other guy is beyond me.

  41. Helen Thomas wasn’t expelled “simply for offending” She was expelled for, in your words, being an “unprofessional crackpot”. It’s not that it’s offensive to suggest the Jews should get the hell out of Palestine, it’s because it’s a serious proposition whose defenders can only be regarded as crackpots by those too blind to see reality.

  42. RE: conservatives and thought crimes

    Holding the line when your position has been overrun only makes sense if the line will become relevant again. I don’t know about this particular situation, but some ships sail over the horizon never to be seen again.

  43. Alright, I clicked this article. When do I get my free peach?

    1. Get your own shtick, buddy!

  44. I’ll pile on here with a question for Mr. Harsanyi. If Ms. Thomas’ commments should not be considered grounds for termination because they express views that may be of some value in generating debate, does Reason have a moral obligation to add Pat Buchanan to the staff? I can’t imagine his ramblings wouldn’t draw more than a little controversy.

  45. Harsanyi suggests it was the conservatives who ran her out of town. But, really, wouldn’t the liberals want to disassociate with her, because, you’re just not supposed to actually SAY that. Many clearly think it, though.

    1. To the contrary. The libs are falling all over themesleves admitting Thomas’ diatribes “made them uncomfortable” for years. The glaring fact not one of them didn’t publicly call her on it for 4 decades is the real issue.

      1. +1

        This is ultimately a more real danger than what Helen Thomas came out and said.

  46. I agree with the thrust of the article but I also don’t find anything particulalry “appalling” about what she said. The formation of Israel is the single biggest mistake of the 20th Century.

    1. We agree!

      1. Rightly so.

    2. Drop the keys to your house at the closest Native American reservation and get out of this continent! I’m talking to you, OCCUPANT!

      1. +1 Grrizzly. For that matter, Helen Thomas’s plan is as ridiculous as suggesting that all the Arabs should move back to the Arabian Peninsula.

      2. Native Americans are full American citizens. Arab Israelis are 2nd-class citizens, and Gazans are official pariahs. I would have zero issues with the dreamed Greater Israel in the whole Levant from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Euphrates – if they were not a racialist state. Of course the USA once was one, but no matter what Affirmative Action people say, it no longer is.

        1. Arab Israelis sit in the Israeli parliament and on the Israeli Supreme court. They are full citizens in Israel. Check your facts before you type. Also, what “race” do you think the Jews are?

        2. However, you still have more rights as an Arab living in Israel than as an Arab in virtually any other middle eastern country. Tell me where I’m wrong? I’ll give you the last word. Spin stops here and all that garbage.

          1. Do have the right to sell your land to anyone but a Jewish Israeli?

            1. Under Israeli law, you may sell your land to anyone you want. Israeli law goes even further. The Jewish National Fund is a private charity that raised money a century ago to buy land in Israel for Jews to live on. A recent Israeli Supreme Court ruling forced the JNF to rent its land to all Israeli’s without regard to religion. Compare that to PA law, which forbids residents from selling land to Jews.

    3. The formation of Israel is the single biggest mistake of the 20th Century.

      Thanks for the commentary, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. May I point you to our section on world wars, communism, and genocide – you obviously have missed quite a bit during your miserable life.

      1. “May I point you to our section on world wars, communism, and genocide – you obviously have missed quite a bit during your miserable life”

        Indeed.

        What was the cumulative body count that Stalin & Mao inflicted on their own people?

        Somewhere north of 100 million.

  47. what Helen was recommending was that the occupiers return to their country of origin. Helen Thomas is making a statement against a nations foreign policy, not against individuals because of their ethnic group or race.

    1. And you believe….this?

    2. Don’t you know it is impossible to criticize Israel with out automatically hating Jewish people world wide?

      1. Perhaps, perhaps not. But the comments from those without any, seemingly, understanding of the historical context of the issue is amusing to watch. Nearly as amusing as the attempts to equate the behavior of the participants.

        It does, however, explain how muslims have repeatedly declared war on western cultures for over 30 years yet none seem to have believed their sincerity.

      2. Don’t you know that there’s nothing automatic about this?

    3. BS. She didn’t say “Israelis out of Palestine.” She said “Jews back to Poland, etc.”

  48. How exactly is saying Jews should go back to Poland a critique of Israeli foreign policy, again?

    1. Ooh! Ooh!

      I know! I know!

      Call on me! Call on me!

      1. Easily the best and most understatedly true post of the thread.

        1. And my guess is more that a few thought I was complimenting Dean instead of Eichmann.

    2. +1 R C Dean.

  49. What exactly makes her an “unprofessional crackpot”? That she was willing to ask some somewhat controversial questions, unlike the rest of the drones in the White House stenography pool?

    Also, I don’t see what was so offensive about the remark–unless, like Ari Fleischer, you equate anti-Israel sentiment with anti-Jewish sentiment. I mean, it’s not the most realistic possible solution to the problems over there, but then neither is pushing the Palestinians out of Palestine, which is pretty much the unspoken policy of the Israeli government at the moment.

    1. Joe|6.9.10 @ 2:17PM|#
      “What exactly makes her an “unprofessional crackpot”?”

      Making comments as un-connected with history and reality as, oh: “…pushing the Palestinians out of Palestine, which is pretty much the unspoken policy of the Israeli government at the moment.”

      1. Right. Because the ongoing building of settlements in the supposedly Palestinian areas and the herding of Palestinians into de facto concentration camps is a good neighbor policy. I see.

        1. De facto concentration camps? Hyperbole does not make your case convincing, Joe.

          1. You don’t think Gaza is a concentration camp of sorts?

            1. Not if you have a lick of knowledge about that a concentration camp was.

              1. Ron L,
                I don’t really know, so perhaps I should research it, but I don’t imagine our internment camps of WW2 were much worse than Gaza.

                I imagine the German ones were.

                Under concentration camp in Wiki, the term ‘internment camp’ seems to apply more to Gaza.

                1. Wiki may choose to ‘combine’ internment camps and concentration camps, but that sort of trivializes the latter. Internment camps don’t have gas chambers.
                  And see if Wiki allows for, oh, night clubs in either one.

                  1. Also, I think it should be noted that those living in Gaza could leave and go somewhere else, like say any other country in the middle east. In America, the Japanese couldn’t leave the camps. So if anything it’s…not even an internment camp.

            2. “Concentration camp of sorts”? That’s like being “kind of murderous”?

          2. How would you describe Gaza then? Surrounded on all sides, with the Israelis in control of who and what goes in and out. Open-air prison?

            1. You should really check with the Egyptians, since *they* control the ‘gates’.
              And the ‘surrounded on all sides’ sorta leaves a coast line, and that border with Egypt; more than half is *not* ‘surrounded by Israel’.
              Sniff****, sniff***; beginning to smell of a sub-text here….

              1. No, that’s three-quarters surrounded by Israel–unless you think the Gazan navy is patrolling that coast line.

                Gee, what subtext? Anti-semitism, perhaps? I think I smell a subtext.

            2. I would describe Gaza as a nation-state. It is a nation state that started a war with Israel by launching thousands of rockets at Israel after Israel withdrew completely from Gaza.

              1. A nation state created by Israel, controlled by Israel, where Israelis maintain the right to build neighborhoods, set up checkpoints, control travel, and punish the inhabitants for who they elect.

                1. Israel’s policy towards Gaza is a respons to the rockets that Gazans continue to launch into Israel. A country has a right to respond to rockets launched at its citizens.

        2. Joe|6.9.10 @ 3:06PM|#
          “…herding of Palestinians into de facto concentration camps…”
          I repeat; un-connected with history or reality.

          1. So there are no settlements in what’s supposed to be the “Palestinian” areas? Must be some kind of paranoid, Israel-hating leftist conspiracy theory.

            1. I’m not enough of a lawyer to know if those lands are ‘Palestinian’ and somehow, I’ll bet you aren’t either.
              Suffice to say, ‘the jury’s out’ on that question.
              But what does that have to do with supposed ‘concentration camps’? Outside of some artful dodging?

              1. No, it was accidental. Wasn’t trying to dodge anything.

                Your going to bring lawyers into this? Are you kidding? Whose lawyers–the Israeli government’s? The settlers’? Are you trying to deny that Palestinians have been displaced from their land by Jewish settlers with the implicit (at least) support of the state of Israel? If so, I’d say you’re the one who’s disconnected from reality.

            2. Just out of curiosity, do you consider the New York Time Headquarters a settlement? Are you upset because you believe that private property was taken, or are you upset because a new class of people moved into an area?

              1. Question 1: I assume you’re using “settlement” to mean illegitimately owned property. In that case, my answer would depend on how it was acquired. If it was stolen–through eminent domain, say–then I’d have a problem with it.

                Question 2: Yes to the first part, and no to the second (though I’m not sure what “new class of people” you’re talking about, since Jews have been there for millenia).

                1. 1) The land for the New York Times headquarters was taken by eminent domain. Reason reported on it a while ago.

                  2) Then you should be as upset about Helen Thomas’s proposal as I am. The relocation of millions of people based on nation of origin would be a great injustice. Land claims should be settled in courts on an individual basis.

    2. What exactly makes her an “unprofessional crackpot”?

      How about going to a White House Jewish Heritage Celebration and saying into a camera, “Jews out of Israel”? Is that exact enough for you?

      1. Well, whatever. I’ll admit that my cultural sensitivity apparatus might not be as finely attuned as some others, but the whole episode reeks of political opportunism to me. Helen Thomas makes an anti-*Israel* remark and the Israel-firsters feign outrage by equating those remarks with anti-semitism. It’s a tired schtick already. If it was Al Sharpton crying racism, something tells me there wouldn’t be as much sympathy around here.

        1. Joe|6.9.10 @ 4:04PM|#
          “…Helen Thomas makes an anti-*Israel* remark…”

          Telling Jews to ‘go back to Germany and Poland’ and anti-Israeli remark exactly how?

          1. The interviewer asked her what should we do about *Israel*, and Thomas said, “Get out of Palestine.” The interviewer is the only one who used the word “Jews.”

            1. Oh, I see. She was telling the resident *mice* to go back to wherever.
              Thanks for clearing that up.

        2. The words “Israel” or “Israeli” never left her mouth. The said the Jews should be kicked out of a country.

          1. In the video I saw, neither word ever left her mouth. The interviewer said both. All of this quibbling over the exact words Helen Thomas used is sort of beside the point, though. In the context of the interview, she was clearly expressing a criticism of what she described as Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, and it’s debatable (I think it’s doubtful, actually) whether she meant all of Jews inside of the (more or less) agreed-upon area called Israel when she suggested sending them back to Europe. And now this off-the-cuff, hamfisted comment is being twisted to suggest that she said the Jews should go back to the concentration camps at Auschwitz, or go live in Nazi Germany. And anyone who disagrees with this interpretation is, of course, an anti-semite. Yet somehow this isn’t hyperbole.

    3. She didn’t give a political critique Joe. She didn’t bravely question the very creation of Israel. She didn’t reccomend the dissolution of Israel(leaving open the possibility for assimilation). These would just be slightly edgy political commentary.

      She told the JEWS to get the hell out of Palestine! This is an assertion there are certain geographically acceptible homelands for certain races.
      The palestinian middle east is inherantly non-jew. That the jews just lost at a big game of permenant genetic/geographical musical chairs and should just flost around in the ocean for as long as they can tread water.

      1. Exactly. It would be as if she said all the Blacks in America to go back “home” to Africa, since that’s where they are meant to be, even if they were born here. Based on her words, certain people are inherently from certain countries, no matter where they go and no matter how long they live there. An Arab born in Australia who moved to Israel would have a better claim to living in Palestine than a Jew who was born there and had family who immigrated there around WWI simply because he is Jewish.

        1. “Based on her words, certain people are inherently from certain countries, no matter where they go and no matter how long they live there.”

          And regardless of whether they’ve turned the land from barren desert into one of the most productive and technologically advanced societies in the world or not.

  50. While Bill Maher does not possess enough small government, anti-collectivist and personal freedom pursuing principles, to even be considered a self-loathing libertarian, why do you find it necessary to pigeonhole his comments about Catholicism as “ludicrous”? Would your libertarian, journalistic standards lead you to the same view about sanctimonious theists who claim moral and enlightened superiority over agnostics, atheists and every other religion except their own? Even if there is not enough substantial proof to confirm the existence or non-existence of a supreme celestial deity, is there more than a miniscule amount of evidence to demonstrate institutionalized religion’s unreasonable, amusing or ridiculous notions and traditions? Now that you have concluded accurately that there is simply no need and no place for political correctness, it is time to start tearing down the controlled thought processes and antiquated mindsets affiliated with theocratic correctness.

  51. While Bill Maher does not possess enough small government, anti-collectivist and personal freedom pursuing principles, to even be considered a self-loathing libertarian, why do you find it necessary to pigeonhole his comments about Catholicism as “ludicrous”? Would your libertarian, journalistic standards lead you to the same view about sanctimonious theists who claim moral and enlightened superiority over agnostics, atheists and every other religion except their own? Even if there is not enough substantial proof to confirm the existence or non-existence of a supreme celestial deity, is there more than a miniscule amount of evidence to demonstrate institutionalized religion’s unreasonable, amusing or ridiculous notions and traditions? Now that you have concluded accurately that there is simply no need and no place for political correctness, it is time to start tearing down the controlled thought processes and antiquated mindsets affiliated with theocratic correctness.

  52. Also, I don’t see what was so offensive about the remark

    Perhaps if you were Jewish, or had read much about WW2, you * might * understand how American Jews would be offended by the notion of people sharing their faith or ethnicity being forcibly shipped back to the places where the Nazi death camps took place.

    It wasn’t so much the get the Jews out of Palestine thing, it was the bit about Germany or Poland.

    Though even the Palestine thing might have sufficed to end her career.

    1. prolefeed|6.9.10 @ 2:33PM|#
      “….being forcibly shipped back to the places where the Nazi death camps took place….”

      Amazingly, quite a few tried to do that at the end of WWII; they were run off by anti-semitic mobs who had already stolen their property.

    2. Last I knew, there no longer are concentration camps in Germany and Poland. I must certainly be impaired by my lack of travel there.

      1. Nor are the Jewish homes or property there any longer; they were stolen by the non-Jewish populations at the time.
        Some ‘homeland’.

      2. Violent attacks against Jews in Europe are up several fold since 2000. It’s not a good place to go back to.

        1. This week, there were more riots in Europe. This time they were in Sweden.

      3. Last I knew, there no longer are concentration camps in Germany and Poland.

        I had thought all the Nazi concentration camps or death camps were located outside of Germany. Someone correct me, if I’m wrong.

  53. Exactly, if she had said Spain and Russia it wouldn’t have been nearly as awful.

    1. And if instead she had said to ship them back to the neighboring Arab countries (the ones that hate Jews and would probably kill them), she might have been fired for senility rather than racism.

  54. Helen Thomas’s statement also contained factual errors. She said the Jews of Israel came from Germany, Poland, and America. Half the Jews of Israel are descended from Jews that were kicked out from Arab countries. Only a tiny percentage of Jewish-Israeli ancestry is from the USA. It is one thing for a reporter to stay silent on a topic he does not know much about. It is malpractice for a writer to present untrue facts as reality.

  55. There are no Palestinians, just Egyptians and Jordanians whose own countries won’t allow them to move freely within them.

    They could have been assimilated into those cultures years ago and lead fairly normal lives at this point. But then they couldn’t have been used as a bloody shirt to wave at Israel and the Western world for half-century.

    1. There are no Israelis. Just Germans and Poles whose own countries wouldn’t allow them to move freely within them. They could have been assimilated into those cultures years ago and lead fairly normal lives at this point. But then they couldn’t have been used as a lobby to finance a friendly military base in an otherwise enemy continent.

      1. Fail.

    2. Agreed, there are no ‘Palestinians’, just Israelis that consider themselves Palestinians, and thus are second class citizens.
      They live in walled off communities, that may or may not be concentration camps. They have no right to vote for anything that matters to them. They are not given the same freedom of travel that regular Israeli citizens are.
      Visitors from other countries may be barred from visiting if they are suspected of sympathizing with them.
      They have no freedom of travel within their own country.
      Their distant relatives are allowed or denied entrance to the countries based on their religion/cultural background.

      1. kwais|6.9.10 @ 4:25PM|#
        “Agreed, there are no ‘Palestinians’, just Israelis that consider themselves Palestinians, and thus are second class citizens.
        They live in walled off communities, that may or may not be concentration camps….”

        1/10 of the Knesset are Arab citizens of Israel.
        Strange “concentration camp”.

        1. Would be closer to 40% if they all had rights.
          I just read about one of the token ones in the knesset talking about the injustices done to the people of Gaza.
          Of course the government of Israel by design makes sure that one group of people of a certain cultural background will always be at about 1/10 instead of any real voting block.

          It is apartheid. change “jew” to Aryan, and ‘palestinian’ or ‘arab’ to any other race and see if the government policies don’t sound disgusting.

          1. kwais|6.9.10 @ 8:35PM|#
            “Would be closer to 40% if they all had rights.”
            I see; you have the handle on how Israelis vote, right? No, you don’t; most anyone (except those with a sub-text) can recognize propaganda; that’s propaganda.

            “I just read about one of the token ones in the knesset talking about the injustices done to the people of Gaza.”
            Oh, well *that* settles it, doesn’t it? Hint, bozo; countries other than the US elect brain-deads.

            “Of course the government of Israel by design makes sure that one group of people of a certain cultural background will always be at about 1/10 instead of any real voting block.”
            Hard to argue, so are libertarians consigned to ‘concentration camps’ in the US?

            “It is apartheid.”
            So here we have it. A lie from a source who seems to have serious problems with honesty when discussing Israel.
            Sorry; an anti-semite with scant camouflage. Fail.

          2. Let me make this clear:
            Any asshole who claims “apartheid” with respect to Israel is a ignoramus concerning the English language.
            So, kwais is an lying ignoramus. Got that kwais?

            1. Let me make this clear, I have lived in Israel, by any objective measure it is an apartheid state.

              If you can go there and not see that I don’t know what to tell you.

              1. Kwais, you may have lived in Israel, but that doesn’t automatically qualify you. Plenty of people living in America have misconceptions about America. Just look at all the folks who think AIDS was a CIA plot to kill Blacks.

                Maybe we can clear this up rationally. Define “apartheid”, Kwais.

  56. In a way this could be considered a free speech issue despite no official state action. The mass-media complex can destroy someone the same way the State can destroy someone. The consolidated MSM controls public opinion by controlling the debate. This is power. When they use their collective clout to destroy someones lively hood, public standing, etc. that is force! It is initiating force against someone for political reasons to silence them. In many ways considering that most media is ultra leftist and the sort who compose it are cohorts of the state, it IS a freedom of speech issue.

    1. I can’t stand the ultra left media any more than most, but private retribution for comments made, no matter how overwhelming, is not a violation of freedom. Suing for for libel and/or slander, if it can be proven, is already a remedy she has if private parties harass her excessively.

    2. 1) Where exactly does MSM keep it’s prisons?

      2) How many journalists do you employ, Andy? My guess is that MSM does more to support free speech than you do.

      1. The line between a media conglomerate like NBC and the US govt is a lot blurrier than you’d probably like to admit.

        1. Joe|6.9.10 @ 4:39PM|#
          “The line between a media conglomerate like NBC and the US govt is a lot blurrier than you’d probably like to admit.”

          Could be, but this old hag has occupied a front row seat for long past her ‘sell by’ date, so it looks like she’s a winner in the process.
          Now, what *other* pro-Jewish conspiracies can you postulate to support your bias? Would you like a patented ‘straw grasper’ for Christmas this year?

          1. uh, that’s “anti-Jewish” conspiracies.

          2. Ron L, methinks thou (and the rest of the pro-Israeli contingent in this country) doth protest too much!

            1. In other words, “How dare Ron disagree. Anyone who disagrees must be wrong.”

              1. More like “How dare anyone disagree with Ron. Anyone who disagrees with Ron is clearly a neo-nazi.”

          3. So being in bed with the govt is okay as long as you’re a “winner”? What if your winningness is derived at leaset in part from govt-granted privileges?

            If you think the US govt and its PR arm, aka the MSM, doesn’t have a pro-Israel bias, then I’d say you’ve ingested way too much right-wing propaganda.

            1. I’m saying that MSM doesn’t have prisons or arrest people for their speech like the government does. Free speech means freedom from the government punishing your for your speech. If you have evidence about MSM prisons, please present it. Regarding your accusation that MSM is in bed with the government, that is news to me. I don’t have cable, so I don’t keep track of MSM.

    3. Most media is business-centric.

    4. That’s not enough for state action. A private entity can be considered to have state action only if it’s operating in a role that a government would. Media in this country has always been free, so that would’t hold up in any court. If She worked for a media company that owned a town, then maybe you’re a bit closer.

    5. Andy Dufrane|6.9.10 @ 3:04PM|#
      “…When they use their collective clout to destroy someones lively hood, public standing, etc. that is force!…”

      You left out Elvi’s alien love child and the 5th person on the grassy knoll.
      Once you integrate those in your ‘theory’, why, get back to us.

  57. David: You have to draw a line somewhere, unless you would be fine with a journalist at the same press event asking Mr. Gibbs: “When is our n*ggar President going to ship himself and all his black brethren back to Africa?”. Is that an acceptable question to ask? Is that a question about which you would feel unease if the asker were fired? If you truly want no line, then you have to be willing to accept questions like the above. If you don’t, then there is a line and it is merely an issue over where it is to be drawn.

  58. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom of consequences for the speech we make. No one is preventing Thomas from speaking her small mind to anyone that will listen. She just doesn’t get a paycheck from Hearst anymore. If I tell the public that this group or that group doesn’t belong in this country, I won’t have a job. And it will be solely my own doing.

  59. If the comment a person makes is going to hurt the company they work for financially, they should go. That is up to the company. She has a right to say what she wants to, but the company she works for has a right to let her go.

  60. She lost her job because it’s bad business to employ a racist hack as a journalist.

  61. I would agree with Harsanyi that we must guard against Fahrenheit 451. In that story, it was self-censorship and third-party offense that gave rise to an acceptance of government censorship.

    In the case of Helen Thomas, I think the comment was sufficiently ludicrous that some action was justified.

  62. free speech is fine, but so is responsibility for that speech. Her employer found it worthy of dismissing her. so what – how is that new? the fuck difference does it make that she’s a journalist? Why is this an issue?

  63. Hate speech is protected by the First Amendment which acknowledges the common emotional failings of the electorate and the inability of government to require responsible and objective reasoning. Belief, and the values derived from belief, may offer some sense of certainty to those who are otherwise ignorant of the truth or falsity of their condition.
    People have the inalienable right to believe whatever they choose. They have the right to say, print, publish and organize themselves into any group to promote the most stupid or intelligent opinions they accept as truth.
    The government protects them from themselves by being limited to provide for their justice, tranquility, common defense, and general welfare despite the beliefs which would deny the inalienable rights of others.

    1. Morton Kurzweil|6.9.10 @ 6:39PM|#
      “Hate speech is protected by the First Amendment which acknowledges the common emotional failings of the electorate and the inability of government to require responsible and objective reasoning.”

      Yes, it’s protected from government prosecution.
      Ms. Thomas was fired by her employer for making stupid statements; she was not prosecuted by the government.

  64. I think the disturbing part was when she said to send them back to Poland and Germany, where the concentration camps were. Although she then mentioned the US, to get out of her blunder, no one has much tolerance for even thinking about the concentration camps and the holocaust.

    1. I think you’re too kind.
      Suggesting that Jews shouldn’t live in the mid-east, regardless of where some idiot would like to ship them, shows an abysmal lack of knowledge of mid-east history.
      As a culture, Jews have lived there since before man developed writing; pre-historical settlement.
      As offensive as her references to mid-Europe were, her ignorance shows what many have figured for quite a while; she’s an ignoramus whose ‘opinions’ on various matters are worthless.

  65. A company should be able to terminate an employee for any reason, including their comments embarrassed the company. Free speech should be such that no political retaliation can happen. If Disney wants a family friendly place and a worker uses profanity or talks disparaging about any person or group that embarrasses them or cause them to lose clients, they should be allowed to terminate.
    The underlying problem is the unsaid fact that she embodied political left ideology. Because the press has so intertwined the business of journalism with the business of promoting a political agenda, an over reach that reveals too much of the agenda confuses people as to what is the business prerogative and what is political speech.

  66. Should a private enterprise decide for itself whether to dismiss an employee for what it deems offensive behavior?

    I’m going to go with “Yes,” David, to your question and to mine.

  67. More that likely they were just waiting for any good excuse to get rid of her.

    And she probably knew it and took one last opportunity to go out in a blaze of glory.

  68. Helen Thomas, get the hell out of America!

    penny@dorne.info

  69. Gotta love that libertarian consistency!

    https://reason.com/blog/2007/04/10/imus-in-the-mourning

    1. Yep, bozo blows it again:
      From bozo’s link:
      “Perhaps there’s nothing worth taking away from this controversy other than two glorious weeks being free from Imus in the Morning.”
      By comparison, notice how the article here was sympathetic to Thomas.
      But as a brain-dead, we can’t expect HP#9 to understand that “up” /= “down”; HP#9 just hopes others are as stupid as HP#9, right?

  70. Look, Darfur is totally fucked, so let’s bomb it flat and give it to the so-called Palestinians. Let them run it however they want. Make sure they have enough RPG’s and AK-47’s to ensure they can keep someone from taking it away from them. Problem solved!

  71. As Charles de Gaulle said : “Old age is a shipwreck”…

  72. Yes, it *is* possible to criticize the Israeli government’s policies without being anti-Semitic. However, “the Israeli government” and “the Jews” are not interchangeable terms.

  73. Is this what she got fired for? “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.”
    She continued to say that the Palestinians are “occupied” and that the Jews should “Go home” ? to Germany, Poland, America and “everywhere else.”

    If that gets someone fired, then we are truly fkd.

  74. Can we all just agree never to use the word “Jew” again. Or to criticize anything they ever do. Because it’s all apparently out of bounds.
    There. Happy? Finally?
    Because I’m sick of hearing your tale of woe.
    Other people suffer.
    They just don’t have a movie-making infrastructure behind their story.

  75. She offended you and you expelled her. You “feel some trepidation”? It’s called conscience.

  76. You are mistaking free speech for PAID speech.

    Thomas has every right to think and say anything she likes, but her employer has the right to choose who they will hire. If someone makes them look bad in public, they have the right to separate themselves from her.

    Nothing is preventing Thomas from going to work for, say, the newsletter of the Aryan Nations, or to start her own publication.

  77. She lost her job not over an attack on free speech but because she had lost her objectivity a long time ago. That is ok for some professions but not journalism.

  78. She lost her job not because of a failure in free speech but because she lost any pretense of objectivity a long time ago. Ok for some professions but not for journalism.

  79. TO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT…..TO ALL THE COMMUNIST IN THE IG,FBI,CIA,AND U.S. Senators and the left wing media outlets.///// VERY QUIETLY Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, CITIZENSHIP CASE REACHES THE SUPREME COURT ;;;GOD OPEN YOUR EYES.///For us there are only two possiblities: either we remain american or we come under the thumb of the communist Mmslim Barack Hussein OBAMA. This latter must not occur.
    Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama
    AP – WASHINGTON D.C. –
    In a move certain to fuel the debate over Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama qualifications for the presidency, the group “Americans for Freedom of Information” has Released copies of President Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, college transcripts from Occidental College . Released today, the transcript school indicates that , underMmslim Barack Hussein Obama, the name Barry Soetoro, received financial aid as a foreign student from Indonesia as an undergraduate. The transcript was released by Occidental College in compliance with a court order in a suit brought by the group in the Superior Court of California. The transcript shows that Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, (Soetoro) applied for financial aid and was awarded a fellowship for foreign students from the Fulbright Foundation Scholarship program. To qualify, for the scholarship, a student must claim foreign citizenship.
    This document would seem to provide the smoking gun that many of Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, detractors have been seeking. Along with the evidence that he was first born in Kenya and there is no record of him ever applying for US citizenship, this is looking pretty grim. The news has created a firestorm at the White House as the release casts increasing doubt about legitimacy and qualification to serve as President article titled, Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama Eligibility Questioned,”Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama leading some to speculate that the story may overshadow economic issues on Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, first official visit to the U.K. In a related matter, under growing pressure from several groups, Justice Antonin Scalia announced that the Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear arguments concerning Obama’s legal eligibility to serve as President in a case brought by Leo Donofrio of New Jersey . This lawsuit claims Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, dual citizenship disqualified him from serving as president. Donofrio’s case is just one of 18 suits brought by citizens demanding proof of citizenshMmslim Barack Hussein Obama,citizenship or qualification to serve as president.

    Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation has released the results of their investigation of Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama campaign spending. This study estimates that Obama has spent upwards of $950,000 in campaign funds in the past year with eleven law firms in 12 states for legal resources to block disclosure of any of his personal records. Mr. Kreep indicated that the investigation is still ongoing but that the final report will be provided to the U..S. Attorney general, Eric Holder. Mr. Holder has refused to comment on the matter…

    LET OTHER FOLKS KNOW THIS NEWS, THE MEDIA WON’T !

    Subject: RE: Issue of Passport?

    While I’ve little interest in getting in the middle of the Obama birth issue, Paul Hollrah over at FSM did so yesterday and believes the issue can be resolved by Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama answering one simple question: What passport did he use when he was shuttling between New York , Jakarta , and Karachi ?

    So how did a young man who arrived in New York in early June 1981, without the price of a hotel room in his pocket, suddenly come up with the price of a round-the-world trip just a month later?

    And once he was on a plane, shuttling between New York , Jakarta , and Karachi , what passport was he offering when he passed through Customs and Immigration?

    The American people not only deserve to have answers to these questions, they must have answers. It makes the debate over citizensh Mmslim Barack Hussein Obamaip a rather short and simple one.

    Q: Did he travel to Pakistan in 1981, at age 20?
    A : Yes, by his own admission.

    Q: What passport did he travel under?
    A: There are only three possibilities.
    1) He traveled with a U.S. .. Passport,
    2) He traveled with a British passport, or
    3) He traveled with an Indonesia passport.

    Q: Is it possible that Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama traveled with a U.S. Passport in 1981?
    A: No. It is not possible. Pakistan was on the U.S. .. State Department’s “no travel” list in 1981.

    Conclusion: When Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama went to Pakistan in 1981 he was traveling either with a British passport or an Indonesian passport.

    If he were traveling with a British passport that would provide proof that he was born in Kenya on August 4, 1961, not in Hawaii as he claims. And if he were traveling with an Indonesian passport that would tend to prove that he relinquished whatever previous citizenship he held, British or American, prior to being adopted by his Indonesian step-father in 1967.

    Whatever the truth of the matter, the American people need to know how he managed to become a “natural born” American citizen between 1981 and 2008..

    Given the destructive nature of his plans for America, as illustrated by his speech before Congress and the disastrous spending plan he has presented to Congress, the sooner we learn the truth of all this, the better.

    If you Don’t care that Your President Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama is not a natural born Citizen and in Violation of the Constitution, then Delete this, and then lower your American Flag to half-staff, because the U.S. Constitution is already on life-support, and won’t survive much longer.

    If you do care then Forward this to as many patriotic Americans as you can, because our country is being looted and ransacked! the commander

  80. TO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT…..TO ALL THE COMMUNIST IN THE IG,FBI,CIA,AND U.S. Senators and the left wing media outlets.///// VERY QUIETLY Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, CITIZENSHIP CASE REACHES THE SUPREME COURT ;;;GOD OPEN YOUR EYES.///For us there are only two possiblities: either we remain american or we come under the thumb of the communist Mmslim Barack Hussein OBAMA. This latter must not occur.
    Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama
    AP – WASHINGTON D.C. –
    In a move certain to fuel the debate over Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama qualifications for the presidency, the group “Americans for Freedom of Information” has Released copies of President Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, college transcripts from Occidental College . Released today, the transcript school indicates that , underMmslim Barack Hussein Obama, the name Barry Soetoro, received financial aid as a foreign student from Indonesia as an undergraduate. The transcript was released by Occidental College in compliance with a court order in a suit brought by the group in the Superior Court of California. The transcript shows that Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, (Soetoro) applied for financial aid and was awarded a fellowship for foreign students from the Fulbright Foundation Scholarship program. To qualify, for the scholarship, a student must claim foreign citizenship.
    This document would seem to provide the smoking gun that many of Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, detractors have been seeking. Along with the evidence that he was first born in Kenya and there is no record of him ever applying for US citizenship, this is looking pretty grim. The news has created a firestorm at the White House as the release casts increasing doubt about legitimacy and qualification to serve as President article titled, Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama Eligibility Questioned,”Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama leading some to speculate that the story may overshadow economic issues on Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, first official visit to the U.K. In a related matter, under growing pressure from several groups, Justice Antonin Scalia announced that the Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear arguments concerning Obama’s legal eligibility to serve as President in a case brought by Leo Donofrio of New Jersey . This lawsuit claims Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, dual citizenship disqualified him from serving as president. Donofrio’s case is just one of 18 suits brought by citizens demanding proof of citizenshMmslim Barack Hussein Obama,citizenship or qualification to serve as president.

    Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation has released the results of their investigation of Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama campaign spending. This study estimates that Obama has spent upwards of $950,000 in campaign funds in the past year with eleven law firms in 12 states for legal resources to block disclosure of any of his personal records. Mr. Kreep indicated that the investigation is still ongoing but that the final report will be provided to the U..S. Attorney general, Eric Holder. Mr. Holder has refused to comment on the matter…

    LET OTHER FOLKS KNOW THIS NEWS, THE MEDIA WON’T !

    Subject: RE: Issue of Passport?

    While I’ve little interest in getting in the middle of the Obama birth issue, Paul Hollrah over at FSM did so yesterday and believes the issue can be resolved by Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama answering one simple question: What passport did he use when he was shuttling between New York , Jakarta , and Karachi ?

    So how did a young man who arrived in New York in early June 1981, without the price of a hotel room in his pocket, suddenly come up with the price of a round-the-world trip just a month later?

    And once he was on a plane, shuttling between New York , Jakarta , and Karachi , what passport was he offering when he passed through Customs and Immigration?

    The American people not only deserve to have answers to these questions, they must have answers. It makes the debate over citizensh Mmslim Barack Hussein Obamaip a rather short and simple one.

    Q: Did he travel to Pakistan in 1981, at age 20?
    A : Yes, by his own admission.

    Q: What passport did he travel under?
    A: There are only three possibilities.
    1) He traveled with a U.S. .. Passport,
    2) He traveled with a British passport, or
    3) He traveled with an Indonesia passport.

    Q: Is it possible that Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama traveled with a U.S. Passport in 1981?
    A: No. It is not possible. Pakistan was on the U.S. .. State Department’s “no travel” list in 1981.

    Conclusion: When Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama went to Pakistan in 1981 he was traveling either with a British passport or an Indonesian passport.

    If he were traveling with a British passport that would provide proof that he was born in Kenya on August 4, 1961, not in Hawaii as he claims. And if he were traveling with an Indonesian passport that would tend to prove that he relinquished whatever previous citizenship he held, British or American, prior to being adopted by his Indonesian step-father in 1967.

    Whatever the truth of the matter, the American people need to know how he managed to become a “natural born” American citizen between 1981 and 2008..

    Given the destructive nature of his plans for America, as illustrated by his speech before Congress and the disastrous spending plan he has presented to Congress, the sooner we learn the truth of all this, the better.

    If you Don’t care that Your President Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama is not a natural born Citizen and in Violation of the Constitution, then Delete this, and then lower your American Flag to half-staff, because the U.S. Constitution is already on life-support, and won’t survive much longer.

    If you do care then Forward this to as many patriotic Americans as you can, because our country is being looted and ransacked! the commander

  81. Totally makes me nervous too! And it’s just a shame that there’s no such thing as journalism subjectivity anymore. The only thing left to do is to find a reliable, balanced source (Steven Colbert?)…

    I liked this guy’s commentary, funny as hell but also smart and witty:

    http://www.entertainmedaily.co…..the-balls/

    What do you guys think?

  82. Oh great…another drive-by chain email wackadoodle comes along with the latest pile of cack about the President…

  83. Dear Mr. Harsanyi:

    I’m with you. It does not seem to occur to the speech police that nasty, offensive speech is really the only kind that NEEDS to be protected. Nobody’s going to try to shut you up if you’re not bugging them.

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  86. I know the Jews have went through terrible things but that doesn’t excuse what they are currently doing to the Palestinians.

  87. She offended you and you expelled her.

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  89. I was reading something else about this on another blog. Interesting. Your position on it is diametrically contradicted to what I read earlier. I am still contemplating over the opposite points of view, but I’m tipped heavily toward yours. And no matter, that’s what is so great about modernized democracy and the marketplace of thoughts on-line.

  90. It’s obvious he didn’t write this. There is no Page 2 with only one sentence.

  91. It does not seem to occur to speech police that nasty for me.

  92. The NFL is generally quite controversy averse, whereas courting controversy is hardly typically a barrier to editorial journalism.

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  126. Totally makes me nervous too! And it’s just a shame that there’s no such thing as journalism subjectivity anymore.

  127. The American people not only deserve to have answers to these questions, they must have answers. It makes the debate over citizensh Mmslim Barack Hussein Obamaip a rather short and simple one. ?????

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  132. Totally makes me nervous too! And it’s just a shame that there’s no such thing as journalism subjectivity anymore.

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  141. I see absolutely zero problem here. Just because the company was a news outlet doesn’t mean they can’t fire her for comments that may harm their business.

  142. I don’t hold an earthly stake in debates over God, Bill Maher’s ludicrous anti-Catholic rants or a tome from a polemist like Christopher Hitchens.

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