Ponies, Ducks, and Right-Wing Hypocrisy

I recently read a story about a boy in North Carolina by the name of Grayson Bruce who was bullied by fellow students for bringing a My Little Pony backpack to school. Rather than simply punishing the bullies, school officials decided that the backpack was causing the bullying and forbade him from bringing it to school again. Thankfully, these officials were subjected to a public outcry for the fact that they blamed the victim, and Bruce is now once again allowed to bring his backpack to school. What I could not help but notice in all of this, however, was that with the exception of Glenn Beck, who in the last year or so has really become more of a libertarian than a conservative, there did not seem to be a significant conservative outcry against the school officials. And I find this very interesting, because I seem to recall that about three months ago, a certain duck hunting mogul named Phil Robertson got suspended by A&E after he said gays were going to Hell and implied blacks were better off under Jim Crow. And many, though not all, conservative public figures expressed outrage and claimed that the man’s right to freedom of expression was violated. Never mind the fact that A&E is a private company, not a government institution, and that based on the legal premise many conservatives seemed to advocate in this case, an employee who calls their boss a turd on Facebook cannot be fired. To hear many people talk, Robertson’s right to free expression was violated in the same way that gay Russians’ right to free expression is violated. So I hoped to see these conservatives come to the defense of Grayson and demand that the school respect his right to express himself by taking a My Little Pony backpack to school. But of course, most of the conservatives who howled when  a multimillionaire was suspended by a private company for making offensive remarks were silent when a nine-year old boy was prohibited from bringing his backpack to school because the colorful pony on the backpack was used an excuse by some of his peers to behave obnoxiously. And come to think of it, I seem to recall a lot of conservatives being very enthusiastic of the idea of the government banning flag desecration. So a message to take from recent events is that if you want Sarah Palin to defend your right to free expression (or in the case of Phil Robertson, defend it when it wasn’t under attack to begin with), first you have to make millions of dollars in the duck hunting business, then you have to use a Bible quote to claim that a minority group is going to Hell.

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