By James Fite
Isn’t the First Amendment great? It protects the rights of journalists and the bloggers who think they’re journalists across the nation to write incendiary pieces – like this one – without fear of government persecution.
But every coin has two sides, and the flip-side of freedom is responsibility. In this case, that’s the responsibility to allow others to have their say, even if you don’t like it, and especially if it’s in response to your own inciteful writing. That’s a lesson many who call themselves journalists need to learn.
Few stories illustrate this point better than Erin Biba’s Memorial Day opinion piece on Daily Beast. In it, she whines about Elon Musk and his Twitter followers and basically says they should all be ashamed for how they’re treating the female journalists who dare defy them – never mind the fact that she started the fight by trolling Musk on Twitter. Well, here’s a message for those who believe in the imaginary right to not hear things they don’t like: Sorry trolls, the First Amendment doesn’t protect your feelings.
“Female journalists who cover Elon Musk have the same personal rule: Mention his name on Twitter at your peril,” Biba wrote. Indeed, mention anyone’s name publicly at your own peril. Doing so invites response, and insulting people publicly invites retaliation.
And on it goes… pic.twitter.com/IAYzhi1NuG
— Richard Lewis (@RLewisReports) May 29, 2018
With comments like “It was just the manifestation of Musk’s ego in the form of a space car” and “what I really wanna say is Elon just sent his giant d*** into space and swung it around,” is it any wonder Musk’s twitter fans – MuskBros, as she calls them – roasted her over the fire of her own words?
It bears mentioning, by the way, that Elon Musk himself didn’t respond with anything remotely close to that level of vulgarity. When she accused him of attacking the institutions of science and journalism, he responded that he hadn’t attacked science, just misleading journalism, like hers.
In her story, she presents herself as the victim. She saw Musk’s irresponsible actions and called him on it. Big bad Elon Musk doesn’t even care. Of course, she left out her own insults toward Musk, and apparently, even tried to erase them. But apparently, no one ever told her that the internet is forever. You can delete your tweets, but you can’t do anything about the droves of folks just waiting, fingers hovering over Print Scrn keys, for the chance to catch a public figure slipping on Twitter.
The First Amendment protects, among other things, the right to be rude. No one needs a legally protected right to say “I just love your opinion on that.” Like many other so-called adults, Erin Biba seems okay with that, as it applies to her own free speech. What she doesn’t seem to understand, however, is that the First Amendment only restricts the government. It doesn’t stop anyone else from retaliating. There’s an old saying that Ms. Biba should really take to heart. If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out.