Agoracom Blog

Imus vs. Free Speech vs. Discussion Forums

Posted by AGORACOM at 9:24 PM on Friday, April 13th, 2007

I have to chime in on the Don Imus controversy because it is a topic that we have to deal with at AGORACOM every so often.  Specifically, the issue of free speech.

My position on this matter is clear as day. People can say what they want, when they want but not necessarily where they want.  In the case of Imus, he can launch and go to town on the topic all day long. You may not read it, you may not agree with it, the world may hate it and the government might prefer people like him evaporated off the face of the earth.  However, the right to free speech means he can’t be shut down by anybody.

On the other hand, when you work for a network that strives to earn a profit, that network has the unfettered right to fire you for any such comments. Why? Networks don’t guarantee free speech.  Only the government does.  Networks only obligation is to shareholders and when advertisers started pulling their dollars, they correctly showed Imus the door. 

Make no mistake about it, if advertisers weren’t pulling their ads, Imus would be on the air the day after his two-week suspension was done.  Corporations need to pay their bills and create shareholder value.  Social agendas are a diiiiisssstaaaaant second.

Hence, why AGORACOM retains the right to terminate any member at any time for breaking any of our 6 rules of use.  We’re here to provide a great service for the majority of investors and small-cap public companies that want to engage in constructive two-way dialogue – including constructive criticism.  But if you’re going to come online and cause problems, you’re expendable.

CBS, MSNBC and other corporations through time have proven this on several occasions. 

Paul Kedrosky has an interesting slant but I don’t agree that the lesson here is the digital trail of all your views and comments. Had Imus made the comments weeks or months back and they came back to haunt him today, it would hold true but this was done with lightning speed.

Mark Cuban looks at it from a strict dollars and sense point of view.



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