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McCarthyism Revisited(31 posts)

McCarthyism RevisitedAlpedhuez55
Mar 5, 2003 10:33 AM
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- The entertainment industry must not blacklist people who speak out against war with Iraq, the Screen Actors Guild said.

Some have recently suggested that well-known individuals who express 'unacceptable' views should be punished by losing their right to work," the union said in a statement posted Monday on its Web site.

"Even a hint of the blacklist must never again be tolerated in this nation," the statement added.

Here is the full article:
A lot of this stems from Martin Sheen. He is being very loud with his anti war / anti Bush statements. NBC as seen a recent drop in ratings. I guess NBC has let it be known to him that they are not happy with his visibility.

I agree with the SAG statement but this is not about McCarthyism. The industry or government is not the one blacklisting them. It is it the the viewers and ticket buyers.

Sure Martin Sheen can express his views. But it may turn off some viewers. That appears to be happenning. Sinhead O'Connor had every right to tear up that picture of the Pope and her career never recovered. I doubt Sheen will have the same fait. But to call a viewer response to his action blacklisting is wrong.

Mike Y.
Mar 5, 2003 11:05 AM
You are right, this is private, not the government.

Free speech is 100% guaranteed. That does not mean that the content of your speech will not have some consequences, and if that means decreasing your marketability as an actor, that's what you get. Sheen has a right to speak. I have the right not to see his movies, then.

Like being arrestedPdxMark
Mar 5, 2003 11:35 AM

Yes, the 61-yr old man was arrested for tresspassing at a mall after police were called because his T-shirt said "No War With Iraq" or "Give Peace A Chance." He wasn't actually arrested for what his shirt said, just that he wouldn't leave or take it off. Appraently, his sitting and eating his lunch with such an inciteful message warranted a call to the police.

Republicans can be proud of the Amerika they are creating.
Mar 5, 2003 11:44 AM
I appears that all this occurred on private property, and the owners have the right to tell anyone to leave (for the most part).

However, they may have a First Amendment right to display their messages in a "limited public forum," such as a mall. Could go either way. Personally, I think they should not have been asked to leave or arrested.

I see no connection between this and "Republicans," though. That's a stretch.

I think it would help, Doug, if you explained. . .czardonic
Mar 5, 2003 12:17 PM
. . .that being a Libertarian has nothing to do with valuing liberty, per se. Rather, such people want the liberty to do as they please, including telling people what to do on pain of suffering consequences (note their assumption that deviation from the status quo should result in consequences in the fist place).

Thus, a Libertarian shouldn't be expected to object to harrasment, ostracization and litmus testing that is being directed at those who are anti-War. After all, they are always "free" to fall into line behind the Bush administration. Alternately, they are free to lose their jobs and be run out of town should they decide not to. No harm, no foul.
battle of freedomsDougSloan
Mar 5, 2003 1:50 PM
We are talking about private property here. A potential libertarian view is that the property owner can do as he pleases with his property, including the removal of someone he does not want there (rights of ownership vs. rights of speech). I'm not saying that is a good thing, but a right. There are lots of things people can do that are within their rights, but not necessarily good.

This has absolutely zero to do with the Bush administration.

Is there a "right" to property?czardonic
Mar 5, 2003 2:20 PM
Such that it can be compared to the right to free expression and peaceable assembly?

As far as the Bush administration goes, I was just using it as an example. An apt example, I think, given their past insinuations that skepticism towards their policies was dangerous.
yes; 5th and 14th amendmentsDougSloan
Mar 5, 2003 2:30 PM
Government may not "take" property rights without due process and paying just compensation. Property rights include the use of property.

These situations involving balancing competing rights, as you can see in the Supreme Court opinion I posted below.

Question for DougSpoiler
Mar 5, 2003 4:55 PM
If the mall allowed the shop to sell the shirts, have they displayed a reasonable expectation that the shirts would be worn?
Is there any consent presumed when the mall allows venders to display this shirt, in a store and on a rack in full view? In this case, the shirt was simply switched from being displayed on a rack to displayed on a person. A reasonable person would expect the shirt to be worn in view, unlike say, a Victoria's Secret bra, which would be expected to be worn out of full view in a mall.
not sureDougSloan
Mar 5, 2003 9:10 PM
These things turn on Constitutional issues, and none of the things you mention, while very practical issues, rise to that level. Common sense has nothing to do with it, oddly. Essentially, the crux of the issue is that when you create a place that is essentially a public place, even sort of like a small town, you must then forego some private property rights in favor of First Amendment rights. This line of reasoning was created to avoid temptation to create real private towns, in an effort to get around the Constitution, particularly discrimination laws. It sort of flowed over to free speech. The Court basically says, "if you act like a government, then you play by the rules of a government."

Mar 6, 2003 12:35 AM
The AP story included info that the Reuters story left out. Specifically, the shirt was custom printed for the man, not on display. I just got an email from my journalism law professor saying:
"The general rule is that a shopping mall is private property unless it has taken on the attributes of a town, which presumably means that it provides housing, sewer systems, a business district, and other infrastructure. The mall, although it may provide roadways and parking and some other conveniences, is unlikely to rise to the level of a town.
It does seem to me that the mall undercuts its own asserted interest by allowing the supposedly disruptive item to be sold on its property. Added to that: New York State has many aspects of free expression law that are more permissive than the U.S. Constitution requires. This is perfectly OK; California's legislated rights of free expression on shopping center property were upheld in the so-called Pruneyard cases."
I really should get a law degree, because this type of stuffeyebob
Mar 5, 2003 1:41 PM
fascinates me. So tell me Doug, is this legal to bounce someone for this type of thing or not? Depends on precedent and the particular jurisdiction I suppose. What language supports this? If a guy is for all intents and purposes lawfully patronizing the establishment, what problem is he causing? To take Czar's point on this, what if I'm a minority which makes someone uncomfortable? Is this the same issue? Seems to me that this should be equally appried accross the board right? If a mall is private property then make all the rules that you want cause you can do as you please. But is it?

race is differentDougSloan
Mar 5, 2003 1:54 PM
The courts have decided that enterprises engaged in "interstate commerce" are subject to congressional law making, including bans of racial discrimination. So, no, you can't kick someone out of a mall because of their race. In any event, the 14th amendment would prohibit the police from helping someone eject a customer because of his race.

Some places are considered "public forums" or "limited public forums," and therefore one cannot ban speech there based upon content. You can restrict it on neutral bases, like volume, timing, getting permits, those sorts of things, but not the actual content. I have a feeling that this case runs afoul, but it's sort of on the borderline. If I get time, I'll check the cases to see if there is an analogous one.

Like being arrestedMe Dot Org
Mar 5, 2003 12:27 PM
I wonder if the man had a shirt saying "Let's roll on Iraq" if he would have been arrested.

Still, I do not see this as the same thing as people not watching Martin Sheen. People are free to turn him off if they do not like his opinions. Free speech entails freedom of expression, and not watching Martin Sheen certainly falls under that category.

Personally, I find the whole Martin Sheen thing a little amusing. If I don't like what Fred Thompson says, should I stop watching "Law and Order"? What's the message? Shut up if you don't agree with me?

I don't think this is like Howard Stern or Michael Savage, where you might find something they say morally offensive. I believe that both Martin Sheen and Fred Thompson are genuinely convinced that their stance on Iraq is for the best. People have an honest difference of opinion about what is best for our country. That's democracy.
people are calling for boycotts of Limbaugh's sponsorsDougSloan
Mar 5, 2003 1:59 PM
People are all the time calling for boycotts of sponsors of Rush Limbaugh. Isn't that the same thing as the Sheen issue, essentially? I wouldn't doubt if Sheen had done it himself.

When Rush Limbaugh has a dramatic TV show...Me Dot Org
Mar 5, 2003 2:36 PM
...or when Martin Sheen has a talk radio show, we might be talking apples and apples.

Boycotting West Wing (or its sponsors) is attacking a non-related source of income, which people are certainly free to do. People are free to not watch Martin, boycott Rush Limbaugh, or believe that purple Teletubbies are a homosexual plot.
When Rush Limbaugh has a dramatic TV show...Alpedhuez55
Mar 5, 2003 4:02 PM
I do not think it is apples to oranges but closer to McIntosh to Golden Delicious. They are both TV shows. Both rely on viewers and advertising to keep running. The West Wing promotes a leftist view and tackles issues of the day. Granted it is fiction but it is "Grabbed from the Headlines" fiction, much like a lot of TV shows. They even went after France recently. It is hardly a fluff comedy show. It is a show that makes an effort to express views.

Michael Savage was hired by MSNBC for a TV show and there are all kinds of groups trying to get him off the air, and his show is not even on yet.

They are using boycotts and email campaigns to sponsors. All this is doing is giving him more publicity. Personally, I am not a fan of his radio show. I disagree with a lot of what he says. I probably will ignore his TV show.

These boycotts almost aways backfire. Michael Savage will get more viewers short term because groups are going after him giving him publicity. Same will probably hold true for West Wing.

Mike Y.
When Rush Limbaugh has a dramatic TV show...Me Dot Org
Mar 5, 2003 7:09 PM
I'm still not sure they are the same tree. If people want to boycott "West Wing" because of that show's depiction of the White House, that's fine, but what I'm hearing is that people object to Sheen's very public anti-war stance.

Michael Savage (Born Michael Weiner, I guess he didn't like the sound of "The Weiner Nation") is a little different matter, at least to me, and I'll explain.

I may disagree with Rush Limbaugh or George Will, but I don't find them to be a vitriolic hate-mongers. Let me give you some examples of Mr. Weiner:

On plans for Marin County's Branson School to send teenagers to come to San Francisco and feed homeless people:

"You can get the kids from Marin to go in there with them at night...The girls from Branson can go in and maybe get raped ... because they seem to like the excitement of it. There's always the thrill and possibility they'll be raped in a Dumpster while giving out a turkey sandwich."

Michael Savage has refused to apoligize for this comment. He also refers to Third World Peoples as "Turd World Peoples".

A few more:

On women:

"I'm beginning to think that women should be denied the vote. Their hormones rage; they are too emotional."

On whites no longer being the majority in California:

"Now the liberals are celebrating, of course. They will soon find out they will be shoved aside so that the power can be taken by the Asians and the Hispanics."

On how this happened:

"With the population that has emerged, since they [Hispanics] breed like rabbits, in many cases the whites will become a minority in their own nation.... the white people don't breed as often for whatever reason. I guess many homosexuals are involved. That is also part of the grand plan, to push homosexuality to cut down on the white race."

Left or Right doesn't really matter to me. What matters is that someone spews more hate than reason. What bothers me is that MSNBC wants to give this man a platform in the name of revenue.

KSFO, his flagship radio station, is owned by the Walt Disney Company.
When Rush Limbaugh has a dramatic TV show...Alpedhuez55
Mar 6, 2003 8:06 AM
Well, things are often taken out of context. Some of the comments you quoted Savage on were obviously said tounge in cheek like "Turd World" & the Women voting comment. I agree with you on many of his other statements though.

And if you are going to crticise Savage for taking a stage name, remenber that Sheen's name is a stage name as well. He decicided to distance himself from his hispanic roots early on and use his Mother's Irish name.

Savage is like Morton Downey Jr. He is a loudmouth who failed at a lot of careers in the past. Now he has hit it lucky on talk radio. I do not agree with a lot of what he says and will not tune into his show. Ignoring him will make him go away a lot faster than giving him all the pre show publicity.

I think people have the right to protest both of them. It is bacisally the same thing. You are attacking a person's personal views by contacting his employers & sponsors.

I doubt Martin Sheen would have taken the role of it were a conservative republican he were playing. The role is an extension of his views. WHen Bush was elected, he and the producers puclicly promoted the show saying they would challenge & contrast some of Bush's stances on the show. And dont forget the Issues attack adds against Handguns Sheen did against Bush during the eliction. Sheen is the focal point of the show and is the obvious target to the protests. Maybe people are tired of hearing actors take such a strong anti war stance. Maybe they are just telling him they want to see him on Wednesday Nights for an hour.

While you may agree with what he says, a lot of us do not and think he has gone too far with some of his activism. He uses his celebrity to promote his causes. He cannot expect to put his face on ads and protests against the president and be exempt from any backlash because he is an actor.

Mike Y.
Like being arrestedAlpedhuez55
Mar 5, 2003 1:00 PM
THe last paragraph of the article stated:

"Signs posted at entrances to the mall say that "wearing of apparel... likely to provoke disturbances... is prohibited" at the mall."
THe mall has the right to kick people out if they choose. It is private property. I guess there were groups protesting by doing walks at other malls and they wanted to avoid that. I would also think the people would make a bit of a scene when security asked them to take the shirts off and it probably escalated. It would turn off the other shoppers. THey were arrested for trespassing and not for the protest.

I know if I wore a shirt like that to work, I would be sent home to change. It is inappropriate to wear such atire at some places. If a mall does not want to allow people to wear those anti war slogans they have that right. You have the right to shop elsewhere or to dress accordingly.

Mike Y.
Should they be able to kick out racial minorities too. . .czardonic
Mar 5, 2003 1:06 PM
. . .if their presesence offends other shoppers?
I believe there's some question whether a mallOldEdScott
Mar 5, 2003 1:18 PM
is considered private property or quasi-public space. I'm not sure it's possible to 'trespass' in a public space, and I'm not sure the right to peacable First Amendment expression can be switched off there. I think the phrase 'wearing of apparel likely to provoke disturbances' is so fraught with arbitrary subjectivity as to be meaningless as justification for suppressing First Amendment rights. Are we talking Klan robes or tube tops? Surely not something so innocuous as 'Give Peace a Chance." Jeez.

The whole thing is just nutty jingoism gone awry. War Fever in the Heartland. It's always been thus, and the Republic has survived. We need to jump up and down and condemn it, though, just to let folks know we're paying attention.
Supreme Court re: malls and free speechDougSloan
Mar 5, 2003 2:19 PM
Here is the closest opinion I've found so far, but it's partially based upon a California law requiring mall owners to allow public speech. Other states may not. Interestingly, it was the mall owner in this case claiming that his speech rights were being trampled. The Court said he must allow the speech.

I've posted the opinion here:

The mall displayed the shirt before the guy did.Spoiler
Mar 5, 2003 5:03 PM
As I said in my question to Doug, the mall allowed the shirt to be displayed in the first place. They're perfectly willing to allow the vender to display it in full view in order to get you to spend your money on it.
After they have your money in their pocket, they decide that it's likely to provoke a disturbance.
Are they saying that "Give Peace a Chance" only provokes a disturbance when it's associated with a person wearing it rather than on a rack with a sales tag attached to it?
No, they had the shirts madeAlpedhuez55
Mar 5, 2003 5:47 PM
If you read the original story, they had the shirts made. They are just white shirts with letters ironed on. These were not on display or bought off the rack. Here is a picture from the story. Though I am sure there are many more offensive shirts in the mall than these ones. I am curious if they kick out teenagers wearing objectional shirts.

I think the both the mall & the protester probably overreacted. If there were 10 or 15 people walking around the mall, I would say kick them out. One or two is not a demonstration. The son took his shirt off but the father did not. According the the mall's statement, he was being disruptive.

I think the charges should be dropped. The mall made their point and have the right to kick people out. If people want to go in there to protest after that, let them kick them out.

Mike Y.
check my post above "not sure" ... nmDougSloan
Mar 5, 2003 9:11 PM
Not McCarthyism, but equally pathetic.czardonic
Mar 5, 2003 12:43 PM
I guess it is just as well that we have the Constitution to protect freedom of expression, because it obviously isn't safe in the hands of the average American. It's not illegal to refuse to watch a TV show or movie because you don't like an actor's politics and hope that boycotting him will silence him or ruin his career. It's just sad.
Mar 5, 2003 1:32 PM
NBC is probably worried about the effect that his out-spoken views have. I say "probably" because I'm not privvy to their meetings on the subject. According to Sheen (and the article, but you didn't post this bit)........

Martin Sheen recently said top executives at NBC had "let it be known they're very uncomfortable" with his outspoken opposition to war with Iraq.

Would this constitute a perceived threat (depending on language of course) and might this not be closer to "blacklisting" than you previously described?

Mar 5, 2003 3:18 PM
I read read that on the link too BT. I had heard that quote on the radio and just posted the one story. You make a good point. Assuming Sheen's statement to be true, if NBC told Sheen to shut up to save ratings I do not consider that black listing but could come close if they took it further.

They have a lot of money invested in him and if his of screen behavior is having a negative impact on the show, then they have the right to say something too him. I am sure they talked to Sorkin, the writer/creator of the show after he got arrested with the Magic Mushrooms a couple of years ago.

If they fire him and then go discrediting him for what he did, that is closer to black listing. I do not think the whole entertainment industry is going to tell him he is not welcome to work any more. That is what was done in the 50s. Plus that was an innocent before proven guilty or guilt by association situation. Nothing like that is happenning here.

I think people are speaking out against some of the actors who are making some pretty "Out there" statements. I mean that guy from "The Agency" was saying Bush was worse than Hitler. I think some people are just tired of litening to actors telling them how they should think. People also have the right to tell advertisors to withdraw from the show. They did it for Rush, Dr. Laura, Soap, Married with Children and the Masters Golf Tourney to name a few. It usually backfires though and gets the show more ratings.

Mike Y.
It's all about imageFunston
Mar 5, 2003 7:16 PM
Sheen (and Fonda and Penn) is in the business of image portrayal. He's an actor. Acting careers are very fragile. Studios judge them on their bankability. Their bankability is dependant on both their onscreen image and on some measure their offscreen image. If NBC dumps Sheen, it'll be because the show's ratings have sunk, and so it will be determined that he has become a financial liability. In the end, it's all about money.
how about the guy arrested for wearing a "Peace" t-shirtColnagoFE
Mar 5, 2003 2:13 PM
checkitout...mccarthism lives...