Borat Doesn’t Like Free Speech Much

Borat Doesn’t Like Free Speech Much

Borat Doesn’t Like Free Speech Much

British actor and director Sacha Baron Cohen, aka “Borat,” didn’t like Mark Zuckerberg supporting free political speech on Facebook. In fact, he pulled out all the stops by using a Nazi analogy.

Yep, he went there. Full Godwin and all.

You might recall that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke in favor of allowing free speech on his platform. Speaking at Georgetown University on Thursday, Zuck spoke up for the First Amendment:

“Some people argue internet platforms should allow all expression protected by the First Amendment, even though the First Amendment explicitly doesn’t apply to companies. I’m proud that our values at Facebook are inspired by the American tradition, which is more supportive of free expression than anywhere else.”

Yeah, Mark Zuckerberg is liberal, but I love what he said at Georgetown.

But that didn’t go over well with Borat. He took to Twitter and furiously made up a Nazi analogy, comparing Zuckerberg to a restaurant owner who allowed Nazis in his establishment:

“If he owned a fancy restaurant and 4 neo-Nazis came goose-stepping into the dining room and were talking loudly about wanting to kill ‘Jewish scum’, would he serve them an elegant eight course meal? Or would tell them to get the f**k out of his restaurant? He has every legal right, indeed a moral duty, to tell them to get the f**k out of his restaurant.”

No, Borat, he does not have the right to kick them out. Nor does he have a “moral duty” to throw them out, either. You see, it’s this little thing about our Constitution that we love called the First Amendment. Cohen obviously doesn’t get this.

But it’s truly amazing to go through the Twitter responses to see how many people supported Borat and wanted to kick Zuckerberg to the curb.

One was actor Tim Matheson:

Another Twitter user said that Facebook posts aren’t really “speech” at all. I’m sure the Founders would be rolling in their graves at that dreck.

While another user said it was all about the Benjamins for Zuckerberg:

Obviously none of these fools understands or appreciates the First Amendment. Because that is not how our freedom of speech works.

Borat

Credit: giphy.com.

We may not like what we see at Facebook. Reading the brain droppings of feminist Amanda Marcotte might make your blood pressure go up — our Lisa took on her screed recently. And don’t get me started on anti-vaxxers. Or people who recycle the meme that George Soros was an SS guard during World War II. (He wasn’t, so would you please stop doing that?)

But while such speech may irritate the hell out of us we also have the right to counter it with more speech. What a concept! Or we can just ignore it and go about our business.

As for Nazis: as loathsome as they are, the United States has a history of allowing them in the public square. For example, in 1978, neo-Nazis wanted to march in Skokie, IL, a Chicago suburb. However, many Holocaust survivors lived in Skokie, which made the planned march particularly repulsive. Despite opposition by the city, the Supreme Court ruled in the Nazis’s favor (the group called off their march, anyway).

And as for Nazis in restaurants — that challenge occurred in California in 1986, when four men wearing swastika pins were ejected from a restaurant in Torrance. They may not have been goose-stepping in, as Cohen envisioned, but the restaurant kicked them out anyway. Two years later a judge ruled in their favor, citing the First Amendment. He also cited the Unruh Civil Rights Act, a state law. As an ACLU attorney explained:

“The Unruh Act requires that every publicly operated business in California be open “on a full and equal basis to everybody.” 

“When a symbol is representative of a creed, albeit a despicable creed, it is necessarily protected. . .”

Now it’s not a surprise that “Borat” doesn’t understand the First Amendment: he is, after all, British. But what about all his American fans who laud his “brave” comments on Twitter? How sad that so few of them on his Twitter thread understands that — like it or not — the First Amendment is sacrosanct in this country. They don’t get to silence people with whom they disagree. Too bad for them, but the Constitution trumps their anger and hurt feelings.

 

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Featured image: Stuart@flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0.

Written by

Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!

15 Comments
  • windbag says:

    I expect that sort of reaction from most of the Hollywood/artsy fartsy crowd, but not from Cohen, given his outrageous, provocative, and vulgar shenanigans in the past.

  • Cameron says:

    I think we stopped caring about British peoples’ opinions on my country around the 1700s. Just sayin’…

  • NTSOG says:

    Brian Alkerton: ”What we post online is not speech.”

    So only ‘spoken’ communication is free. What about written communication, e.g. newspapers and books? Visual signs and gestures, facial expressions? Musical and artistic expression? Of course we know that under socialist regimes, e.g. Hitler’s NSDAP, Stalin’s International Socialism, Mao’s cultural revolution, etc. repression of any departure in any way from the party-line in terms of thought and ideas and expressed by/through any media was rigidly controlled and frequently stifled. What a bunch of moronic and poorly educated parasites are the socialist left

  • cthulhu says:

    Just for clarification, is this the same Borat that lead a singalong to “Throw the Jew Down the Well” — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vb3IMTJjzfo ?

  • rechill says:

    Does this mean that the baker must bake the cake?

  • Sam says:

    It’s disheartening that neither of you understands Freedom of Association, which as your Supreme Court ruling shows, we’ve not enjoyed for a while now.

    So bake that cake and serve those nazis you idiots, and remember: your speech is free but your property and labor belong to the state.

  • Bandit says:

    Zuck = slimy douchebag.

    Well – that’s not wrong

  • Ken says:

    “If he owned a fancy restaurant and 4 neo-Nazis came goose-stepping into the dining room and were talking loudly about wanting to kill ‘Jewish scum’, would he serve them an elegant eight course meal? Or would tell them to get the f**k out of his restaurant? He has every legal right, indeed a moral duty, to tell them to get the f**k out of his restaurant.”

    He’s right. Privately owned restaurants DO have that right, the same as a baker has the right to not bake a cake for a gay wedding. Your mistake is believing platforms are the same as restaurants and acting like Borat’s analogy is a good one. Exactly what I expect here, though.

  • Orwell46 says:

    There is a point about free speech that is missed–small but crucial.

    The ultimate point of free speech is NOT freedom of speech for every individual–but freedom of thought for everyone in the community.

    John Milton made this point in the classic discussion of the free press, “Areopagitica.” He argued in favor of free publication because it helped people know the truth. If you let everything be published, without prior approval, then both truth and errors will be published. Milton pointed out that there is a need for errors to be published.

    As he said it in Areopagitica, paraphrasing from memory, “We study errors in order to find what the truth is.”

    In other words, we need to have both truth and error published, so we can think about what’s true. So we can discover what’s true. We need to let the stupid speak; also the dim; also the obsessed; also the borderline nutcases.

    The publication of ideas that will later prove to be false is crucial, because without their publication we would not be able to decide about their falsity.

  • Chip says:

    I don’t get the analogy. Private companies can kick people out for inappropriate behavior.
    The 1st amendment applies to govt trying to limit a citizens speech.

  • Gene says:

    Free speech is about government suppression of speech. If I were the restaurant owner, I would certainly ask them to leave, and back that up with a phone call to police should they refuse to leave. A restaurant IS NOT a public place, as they would be invitees to a private business. Cross the line and you can become dis-invited, as they would likely be disturbing other guests. See Dixie Chicks working the other way.

  • Sam says:

    Neither of you understand Freedom of Association. Not surprising since we’ve not enjoyed it in generations.

    Your speech might be free but your property and labor belong to the state.

  • ogregeek says:

    I keep seeing the same error.
    ‘Free Speech’ is a concept fairly unique to cultures based on western civilization, even if more or less so depending on the particular culture.
    The first amendment is an attempt to prevent our government from violating the cultural concept.
    Once the culture abandons the general concept of free speech, or presumes that the 1A is all of it, the 1A will no longer stand.

    Now, about the example. A disruptive group, loudly proclaiming disturbing commentary, should always be ejected. They annoy the rest of the customers. Doesn’t matter if they’re nazis, vegans, religous, muslims, anything. Only the behaviour matters.

    But, so long as they refrain from disruption and annoyance, I don’t care what they talk about. YMMV

  • PPL says:

    Sorry but the Bill of Rights is a statement of the limits set on our government. It has zero to do with what I am able to do on my own property…it is sort of depressing in a sad stupid way that so many people don’t understand that basic fact.

    In my restaurant I am king…if I don’t like you because you are left handed, I can throw your ass out. Of course, just because I can doesn’t mean I should. But it isn’t the governments business…at all.

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