Helen Thomas: Revoking Honorary Degrees a Violation of 'Freedom of Speech'

December 8th, 2010 4:53 PM

Someone should inform Helen Thomas that the First Amendment does not protect one's right to honorary degrees.

The disgraced former White House correspondent lashed out at her critics Tuesday, and stood by her vicious anti-Semitic remarks - both her most recent claims that "Congress, the White House, and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists" and the remarks that led to her resignation.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Thomas issued a bizarre threat - unmoored from any coherent legal understanding of "freedom of speech" - to Anti-Defamation League president Abe Foxman, who had called for Thomas to be stripped of all honorary awards:

"I'm going to tell the Anti-Defamation League to back off," Thomas said on the radio show. "They think they have the right of intimidation."

"They already got my job. They want to get my honorary degrees. I mean, who are these people? What's the matter, they can't take freedom of speech?"

She added: "I'm getting tired of this intimidation. I'm going to report him (ADL director Abe Foxman) to President Obama and all the proper authorities. He better stop intimidating me. He has to shut up everyone in the country who is against Israeli tyranny. That's his job. That's what he is paid for."

Of course Americans' right to free speech protects them from being censored by the state. It does not police relations between private citizens. So Thomas clearly needs to brush up on her constitutional law (one would think a journalist of all people would be familiar with the nuances of the First Amendment, but alas).

Foxman responded thusly:

"It's very sad that a woman of her stature, at this point in her life and career, just can't stop lashing out in anger and in bigotry and hatred. It's very sad. She's exercising her freedom of speech. We're exercising our freedom of speech. That's not intimidation."

Foxman added that "we have a right to say you're a bigot and if you're a bigot that you don't deserve to be celebrated."…

Thomas "is full of vitriol and prejudice and stereotyping and conspiracy," Foxman said. "We're saying, this is not the American way. This is not the standard of behavior and respect that" institutions should be honoring with awards.

He went on to easily debunk Thomas's "censorship" nonsense:

Foxman stressed that Thomas has the right to say what she wants, but "there are consequences" if you're a bigot.

"That's the beauty of this country. The constitution guarantees your right to be a bigot, but there are consequences."

Thomas is learning that fact the hard way.