Thursday, May 17, 2007

Free Speech: Uh oh, here we go...

John Mayer (right) with John Edwards at the Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People Gala
Update: June 8, 2007 @ 7:55pm

Speaking up free speech and consequences. Since I mentioned John's blog on Isaiah Washington and the Grey's Anatomy madness, the latest news is Mr. Washington will not be coming back to the show. Here is to PerezHilton because love him or hate him (and I love him) he's great for celebrity news: Fired!
Unfortunately, Mr. Washington decided to release a statement that is far from gracious:
I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.
Clearly, getting kicked from the cast of a major network's prime time hit hasn't taught him that there really is a time to just shut the hell up.


When I saw the headline that Opie and Andy, XM DJs, had been suspended, I was pretty sure John Mayer would chime in.

Why? Well, it's because I know he likes them. He interviewed with them a few months ago. Also, he's chimed in before when certain personalities have violated some pop culture norm.

However, to John, and everyone else chiming in, this isn't about free speech. I don't have time to get into it in detail right now. I've got a thesis that I should be writing. But, oh, what a good reason to procrastinate and spend my writing energy on pop culture instead! I might discuss it more once my international studies manifesto is complete, but I don't even know what poor Opie and Andy said much less have time to comment at length. If anyone has a transcript, feel free to comment, and share it (with a link, please.)

The furor over the Dixie Chicks was not about free speech. The furor of Isaiah Washington was not about free speech. The furor over Imus was not about free speech. This is not about free speech.

These have all been about the conflict between offensive speech and capitalism. They can say whatever they want. However, the public and sponsors can and will react. The plug, for now, has been pulled on O&A. This all about money. Special interests surely are driving it to some degree, but they scared of losing money due to this either through subscribers or sponsors (not sure how XM radio works, do they even have commericals on XM?)

So here is what John had to say. I do think it's interesting he's come to their defense but when Isaiah Washington had offensive words about gays he wanted to make his character gay and put him on the soundstage with a wild animal. BTW, Washington has already played a gay character (it didn't work...sorry, John.) For what it's worth, however, John didn't argue for Washington being fired or call for him to apologize. Maybe that's what should happen to O&A? A romp in the cage with a polar bear? Be consistent Johnny.

Here is what John had to say:

Freedom of Speech vs. Blackjack Myth or in Defense of O&A
From the book "Blackjack Bluebook II" by Fred Renzey:

"Most serious blackjack players object to the order of the cards being changed only when things are going well. And if they're losing, then they in fact want to change the cards around so as to break the dealer's "hot streak". This suggests that if you're winning, then the following cards in the shoe are stacked in your favor, and shouldn't be tampered with. But in reality, all it means is that the previous cards in the shoe were stacked in your favor.

An enlightening study on just this kind of "streakiness" was reported on in Stanford Wong's highly recommended book, Professional Blackjack. In that experiment, 20 million computer hands were run, recording the win/lose results for the player immediately following two consecutive wins, two consecutive losses and every possible two hand combination of wins, losses and ties. The results?


The player was no more likely to win his next hand just after having won two in a row, than immediately after losing two in a row. So then, what is there to be preserved in the order of the cards? In that regard, every next hand is a brand new ball game."

John here.

In the case of Opie and Anthony, and yes, even Don Imus, they were hired and respected for their ability to stare the dealer in the eye and hit on their 16 against an ace. When they drew a five, they were revered for their gambling acumen. But when they busted, as anyone in the ongoing gamble of speaking freely (now semantically different than "free speech") does from time to time, they were asked to hand in their player's cards and escorted to their vehicles.

I believe that free speech protects not what has already been spoken, but what has yet to be said. Sure, once a sentence is constructed, the words can be determined to be either winning or losing, as are the cards in the discard pile. Except instead of obeying a static, rule, society is left to sift through the played cards and argue what should beat the dealer, when we should have hit and stood, and just what the hell we were doing that night in Vegas in the first place.

It seems to me that in this gamble, we should change either the odds or the payout.

Please feel free to leave your comments in the link not offered below.
The one thing I'll say is this. With the shift in demographics in the US those in the majority (read: whites) are going to have to be more cognizant of those in the minority. The white male is getting hit hardest on this offensive speech issue. I believe that's because they're viewed as the ones benefiting the most from white privilege (or whatever you want to call it.) Even white women don't have as much power or influence as the white male.

I'm not saying ban offensive speech.

I'm saying that like in the past when a black person was scared to say "fuck you" to a white person out of fear of violating the social norms in place at the time (breaking that norm meant a high risk of being beat down or even being lynched - see Robert Axelrod's The Complexity of Cooperation, Chapter four, for a disscussion of lynching and norms). Now those in the majority are going to have to be much more cognizant that there are consequences to mouthing off.

Fair? Hell, yes. Right? Hell, no.

I'm not one to support censorship. Because of my nation's tolerance of speech I'll go as far as to support the right to say whatever you want, offensive or not. However, say it, and realize it just might affect your bottom line if you're in the spotlight.

Oh, and to this guy's quote: XM Radio Hates Free Speech

Al Sharpton and all the rest of the nappy-headed whiners don’t listen to O&A (or Imus for that matter) and wouldn’t know that a homeless guy wants a go at Condolezza or that a sixty-something old man knows the latest lingo. It’s time for corporate america to tell these special interest whiners where to stuff it.

I have nappy hair. However, I'm not a special interest whiner and I really don't care what O&A said.

I'm no fan of Condolezza, but joking about rape? That makes me very uncomfortable. However, you'd be surprised who is listening to O&A. I noticed they make a few Asian jokes too. That irks me, but I know they're paid to be shocking and XM brags about how uncensored they are...,well, were.

Now my 참치초밥 세트 (tuna sushi dinner set) has arrived. It's time to eat and get back to work on my thesis.

"I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it." - Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire, The Friends of Voltaire (1907), French philosopher and writer (1694-1778) (Did he really say this? It's explained: here.)

More Links:
What did I say? For better or for worse, depending on your perspective, that's capitalism at work, baby!

Mayer's O and A interview on Youtube.

*I think John mentions Ms. Simpson in this interview...rarely are things coincidences...rarely. However, I'm not the guy's publicist, so it might have been another interview. I just remember putting it together when the rumor broke and having some Mayer fans way upset. However, the new buzz is das ist kaputt: Jessica: Unlucky In Love. So maybe some fans will snap out of their "hatin' on John Mayer" funk now. I, however, believe that they were never fans.

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