Rabbi Avi Weinstein

On Emma Sullivan: Free Speech, Ethical Speech, and the Guilty Pleasures of Gossip

In Uncategorized on December 5, 2011 at 2:25 pm

You’d think that somebody somewhere would have known better, but NOOOOO!. Here you have the false bravado of an inarticulate teenager countered by the ham handed tactics of Governor Brownback’s team of totalitarians. Great move team, thank you for validating an airhead whose contribution to free speech is to lie about a confrontation and then smear the Gov. with an ad hominem remark so popular with the unlettered youth of America. Sucking and blowing are two integral parts of breathing, but maybe I’m missing something here–might there be a disparaging innuendo afoot? I am being a little facetious here in case someone accuses me of being clueless.

It’s great to be an American where you can spread the word to your friends that the Governor blows and you are hailed as being independent minded,then catapulted into thousands of tweetie birds waiting to hear what profound pithy pearly aphorism should come before the herds. I really hate Twitter’s contribution to public discourse. I hate that Brownback’s office chose to apply China’s tactics toward a girl with limited influence, and intellect. I hate the fact that academics and first amendment advocates did not see that although she may have had been within her rights, some taken the high road.  Might someone have mentioned to her that if you wanted to be taken seriously in life, maybe you should try to add more than sucks and blows to your political commentary?  Might someone have said that even though one abhors the individual that the office still deserves some respect? There is nothing heroic in name calling, that its basically a cheap shot that reflects as much on you as it does the target?

For all of us who take freedom of speech issues seriously, are we happy with Emma Sullivan as being the standard bearer?  

On the coattails of this non-event comes a new book by Joseph Epstein on Gossip which is validated for its naughtiness, but chastened for its lack of seriousness. Jewish tradition sees nothing trivial about gossip, about gleaning pleasure from another’s woes, or circumstances.  Epstein admits that the missteps of so called celebrities hold little interest for him, but the tzuris of colleagues is irresistible.  Free speech as precious as it is without ethical moorings is profoundly corrosive. Emma Sullivan’s heroic status is a testimony to the narcissistic confidence of one who has nothing to say, but does so vehemently, confidently, loudly and publicly.


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