Conservatives can get away with more offensive speech than liberals

By Allaa Tayeb, COLUMNIST
On June 28, 2017

Recent comments by actor Johnny Depp sparked yet another debate over what celebrities can say.
SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Tensions continue to boil over yet another celebrity threat toward President Donald Trump. Thursday afternoon, during an arts festival in England, Johnny Depp was added to the growing list of celebrities who have ‘threatened’ the president’s life.

It seems that the only individuals exempt from the backlash of threatening people in the name of free speech are right wing conservatives.

“When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?” Depp asked in reference to President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination by actor John Wilkes Booth.

“I want to clarify, I am not an actor. I lie for a living. However, it has been a while and maybe it is time,” Depp added.

His comments were met with intense scrutiny that forced Depp to apologize. Audiences had little sympathy for him.

Depp’s statements came shortly after comedian Kathy Griffin released a fake photo of her holding the detached head of Trump.

Griffin released an apology stating she “went too far this time” and has since been removed as a co-host for CNN’s New Year's program.

So, if a comedian like Griffin, defined by her risqué humor, and an actor like Depp, with dramatic tendencies, cannot uphold their First Amendment right to free speech, who can?

Where was the uproar when washed-up rocker and strong supporter of the Republican Party, Ted Nugent, threatened former President Barack Obama and the entire Democratic Party in 2012?

“We need to ride onto that battlefield and chop their heads off in November,” Nugent said of the Democratic Party.

“If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will be either dead or in jail by this time next year,” Nugent added.

His threatening comments toward Obama were investigated by the Secret Service, and Nugent never apologized or was publicly shamed for his words. In fact, one may say the president has praised him when he was invited to the White House in April.

“Ted Nugent was obviously using a figure of speech, unfortunate as it was. It just shows the anger people have towards @BarackObama,” Trump tweeted April 19, 2012, in defense of Nugent’s comments.

Our president believes Nugent’s words are only unfortunate, yet contends Griffin’s photo was “disgusting” and enough to end her career.

Nugent is not a conservative outlier though. Conservative talk show host and former Illinois representative Joe Walsh also made tasteless comments about Obama.

“3 Dallas Cops killed, 7 wounded. This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you,” Walsh tweeted July 7, 2016, after the police shootings in Dallas.

Once again, Walsh was not met with the same response Griffin and Depp received. He was not fired or publically shamed. He did, however, delete the tweet and take some accountability for his actions.

It seems there is a trend. Free speech, while a right granted to all Americans by the Constitution, is only upheld for those standing on the conservative side of the political spectrum.

How unfortunate is that?

 

Allaa Tayeb is a sophomore majoring in English

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