By Scott Tibbs, December 20, 2010
Last week, Rush Limbaugh was complaining because a Louisiana State Senate employee who was "formally reprimanded and suspended" after sending a joke about President Obama from her work e-mail account to fellow employees. Limbaugh complained:
In other words, Ms. Crain-Waldrop's real crimes were opposing Obama's policy and, two, defending her opposition as nonracist. Now, of course such thinking can't be allowed. It's hate speech to deny that you can oppose Obama and not be a racist.
No, Rush, this is not a free speech issue and this is not about punishing dissent. Thanks to our wonderful First Amendment, you can say pretty much whatever you want and government cannot do anything about it. If you are a government employee, however, the government may place restrictions on what you say at work, especially if you are using a work computer. In this way, the government is just like any other employer, since most employers have policies governing personal use of company resources.
If we are going to advocate for free speech, we need to be discerning in what are actual free speech issues and which are not. Complaining about legitimate disciplinary issues does not advance our credibility.