Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Immigration > Free speech is hard to defend when it’s being abused

Free speech is hard to defend when it’s being abused

LatinaLista — If the CNN special “Latino in America” accomplished anything at all, it’s hoped that it showed people that Latinos are not all alike.

The differences among us certainly come out in politics — some are Republican, while others are Democrat and in our viewpoints as to how sensitive we are when it comes to what people say about Hispanic immigrants.


That point was made very clear to me when a longtime friend posted on my Facebook page that instead of trying to orchestrate a national campaign to convince CNN to get rid of Dobbs we should be defending his right to “political speech.”

As someone who is a firm believer in free speech and that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I respect both my friend and Lou Dobbs that they each have and express their own opinion.

Yet, I can’t support someone who uses his national platform of influence to distort facts and create a false impression of a group of people who can’t defend themselves.

Because undocumented immigrants can’t speak for themselves openly, it’s up to advocates and others who recognize that Dobbs, a commentator who has become drunk with his own power of influence, needs to be challenged — not for expressing his opinion but utilizing his CNN show as a vehicle to spread that opinion as fact, when as even the CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl told Dobbs, even they couldn’t confirm some of the allegations he had made regarding undocumented immigrants.

Now that there is news that Dobbs’ house in rural New Jersey was shot at, though the bullet didn’t penetrate the siding of the house and local law enforcement says it is more than likely a result of hunters due to the hunting season starting, Dobbs’ rampage against everyone trying to force him off the air is bound to get uglier.

In the process, it’s the undocumented immigrants who will get caught in the middle yet again.

I wonder just how far will Lou Dobbs’ free speech have to go before those resisting to censor him will recognize that free speech is just as lethal a weapon if not used responsibly.


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  • cookie
    October 30, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    What has Dobbs distorted? There was only one time that he passed along incorrect information and that was the leprosy stats that were passed on to him in error for which he apologized for. But the pro-illegals never let that die. They have beat that one to death for months now. Why is that?
    There is no need for those in our country illegally to defend themselves against Dobb’s facts. Facts are facts and not opinion.
    Dobbs had received numerous threats before that bullet entered his property so what would you expect him to think?
    Geraldo has spouted lies about Dobbs but of course you don’t want him censored, do you?

  • laura
    October 30, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Absolutely on target, Marisa. No one is denying Lou Dobbs’ right to free speech. This campaign is about denying him the megaphone to spread falsehoods and hate about Latina/os and undocumented immigrants nightly on a national channel. So your Republican friend needs to clarify in his mind what free political speech actually is. It is not the guarantee of a news show.
    I don’t know about the bullet that hit Lou Dobbs’ home, although I would be very sad and disappointed if it was fired by someone because of Mr. Dobbs’ show. What I do know is that Mr. Dobbs contributes to the atmosphere of hate and dehumanization that has led to hate crimes which have left Latinos dead or brain damaged. In that sense, Mr. Dobbs has incited manslaughter and other crimes and CNN should no longer make itself an accessory to this violence.

  • PM Corn
    October 30, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Free Speech is one thing which I think we all can agree we support.
    Yet there are limits to the 1st Amendment and Free Speech Rights. Common sense limits.
    For instance, you wouldn’t be allowed to yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater and expect it to be ignored.
    Dobbs and his ignorant arrogance is no different when it comes to his rants against Hispanics.

  • adriana
    October 30, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Dobbs does have a right to free speech, especially as private citizen Dobbs. However, he crosses the line when he mixes reporting and commentary into his style of “journalism” without fact checking. We even witnessed this with the “shooting incident.” Dobbs was ready to place blame on activists and an environment that he says they created instead of listening to his own police force.

  • El Guapo
    October 31, 2009 at 4:28 am

    We like to scream and cry about our rights. Rarely is a thought paid to exercising our rights responsibly.

  • Carlos
    October 31, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    No. I believe that many of Marisa’s ideas are not only misguided, but the so-called facts that she use to form her conclusions in this blog are as well. I should then be permitted to have her boycotted and censored. She demands amnesty for people who are in clear violation of our laws. There are millions of people who disagree with her. It is evident to me that she is shamefully intent on silencing opposition to speech that she disagrees with.
    Lou Dobbs has never made racist statements against Hispanics, and you can’t cite one case of it, not one. He speaks against law breaking undocumented immigrants, and they are fair game for criticism, regardless of what leftist Latinos say. I’ll wager that most of the people who are signing the petitions against LD have never even spent one minute of time watching the show, being exposed to distorted paraphrasing and outright lies. This “Basta Dobbs” campaign is little more than a witch hunt, one not unlike Marisa has often referred to in other posts. It is this demonizing speech that has no doubt caused the attacks on LD. This has got to stop. If Mr. Dobbs is injured, the damage to ALL Latinos in the country will be immeasurable. This witch hunt has already caused damage to the credibility of left-wing Latino advocacy groups and exposed their hypocrisy. It no doubt will result in bad will towards the rest of us. Leftist groups have become the very source of violence that they assert has been committed on Latinos. Shamefully, they are taking the Latino community on the low road that can only lead to disaster. Stop it!
    Carlos Rodgriguez
    A conservative American

  • cookie
    November 1, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Why is this not considered hate speech by the pro-illegals? Not only is it hate speech but Geraldo has no proof to back up his statements.
    Speaking at a luncheon sponsored by El Diario La Prensa NY, Rivera disgracefully said, “Lou Dobbs is almost single-handedly responsible for creating, for being the architect of the young-Latino-as-scapegoat for everything that ails this country.”
    One of the aspects of our reality in the United States now is the defamatory tone of the immigration debate and how that immigration debate has slandered an entire race of people. It has been reckless beyond imagining, it has been reckless in a way that is beyond precedent.
    This is utter BS! Americans cannot oppose illegal immigration or it is labeled “hate speech”? What a lie that an entire race of people have been slandered! We have many Hispanic citizens and it isn’t they that we are talking about it is those in our country illegally or those who aid and abet them. Will the lies by the pro-side ever stop?

  • Marisa Treviño
    November 1, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Carlos, There are several statements you make that I find rather troubling. Not that you think I should be “boycotted” or “censored.” That’s what comes with the territory of opinion/blog writing. There will always be people, like yourself, who will disagree with the writer, as it should be. No, what troubles me is that you say I am “shamefully intent on silencing opposition to speech that she disagrees with.” I’m not sure how you can make that observation unless you’re writing under an assumed name because a previous entry you, or any of your friends, may have submitted was not published. Any casual reader of Latina Lista knows that I am one of the few Latino blogs that have regularly published comments that are contrary to mine. I don’t have a problem with that, never have. I do have a problem with people who misrepresent themselves and flood this site with nasty comments that support the “other side.” There will always be two sides of every issue and each side will always feel that their perspective rises above the other. That you feel Lou Dobbs is a benevolent friend to all Latinos and supports them (yes, my interpretation of what you’re saying) does run contrary to how I see this overindulged television host doing more harm to the entire Latino community by singling out undocumented immigrants. You’re entitled to your opinion, Carlos, as I am mine but to say that I’m misguided is a lack of respect that seems to be very common among “conservative critics.”

  • cookie
    November 1, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Carlos didn’t say that Dobbs was a benevolent friend of Latinos nor did he say that he was an enemy of Latinos. He said that Dobbs has never made one racist statement about Hispanics and that he only speaks about the illegal kind. How is this doing harm to the entire Latino community? So we should be hush, hush about this issue to protect the Latino community even though most Latinos in this country are here legally? That doesn’t make any sense.
    The lack of respect is on the pro-illegal lefties side. They demonize anyone who doesn’t agree with them and stretch the truth all the time. They won’t even call those in our country illegally by the proper terms so they can blur the lines between legal and illegal and constantly call those of us opposed to illegal immigration racists and xenophobes. They try to stifle freedom of speech on our side all the time. If the shoe fits, wear it!

  • laura
    November 2, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Geraldo Rivera is actually a representative of the conservative Latinos who have no personal stake in the immigration debate because they and all their family are citizens, but who nevertheless speak out in favor of justice and decency.
    I applaud Mr. Rivera. He will go down in history as one of the (not so many) prominent Latinos who actually spoke up, and used their clout, in favor of others who have no power. I am happy there are still people with a sense of decency independent of their political orientation, and he is one of them.
    I’m sorry to read your words, Carlos. You might want to think again.

  • gunther
    November 2, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    So you would sacrifice the First Amendment for someone with whom you disagree?
    Time for you to take a refresher course in American history.

  • David O. Garcia
    November 2, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Yo Carlos,
    Tell that to Luis Ramirez from POTTSVILLE, Pennsylvania.
    If you believe your own writing then you believe that Limbaugh is the best thing for conservatives since Reagan.

  • cookie
    November 3, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    laura, what makes you think that those in our country should have any power anwyay? If Geraldo had any real sense of decency he wouldn’t have accused Dobbs of the things that he did. If he had any real sense of decency he wouldn’t be an advocate for illegals and he would defend Americans and our laws instead.

  • Karen
    November 5, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    CNN is a business and we the viewers are its customers. We have every right to reject this product and to boycott its sponsors. Nobody is taking away Dobb’s free speech. He has every right to stand on a street corner and say whatever he wants. Plus TV personalities are already censored by the advertisers and their bosses. They can’t say whatever they want. Only what management approves.
    Dobbs is a liar. He equates illegal immigration with Mexicans, even though not all Mexicans are illegal immigrants and not all illegal immigrants are Mexican. Why doesn’t he ever show any white illegal immigrants? They exist. He just uses illegal immigrants as a pretext to bash Mexicans. CNN bosses are using Lou to distract everybody from the NYC Wall St crooks who have destoyedthe global economy.
    Dobbs has also lied by saying that Mexicans are plotting to takeover the United States. He is projecting his own history onto Mexicans because it was white Americans who immigrated to Mexico in the 19th century and who actually took over part of Mexico.
    Dobbs incessantly uses the term “illegal alien.” No human being is an “alien.” Mexicans are from North America, not from another planet. Plus they have been on this continent longer than Dobbs’s ancestors. He is just trying to dehumanize Mexican people.
    Dobbs has also used his show as a platform for The Minutemen and other hate groups.
    Dobbs is low class trash. CNN has sanctioned this garbage and now they are in LAST place where they belong! Time Warner’s stock is also dropping. Keep it up Lou and Jonathan Klein. You will bankrupt CNN.

  • cookie
    November 6, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Karen, why does this have to be repeated over and over? Mexicans make up the majority of illegals in our country. They pour over our southern border by the thousands every day. That would explain the video footage of them doing this and not non-hispanic illegals. Where is this same situation occuring on our northern border or anywhere else? Dobbs isn’t implying that all illegals are Mexican it is just that they are more visible and by far the majority of them.
    There is a reconquista movement in this country so why shouldn’t Dobbs mention it? Sure, it isn’t on a large scale that we know of but it is newsworthy. Most of these reconquista types are American born of Mexican ancestry, not illegals. I have never heard Dobbs say that it is illegals from Mexico seeking to take over this country but let’s face it many Mexicans in Mexico also feel that the southwest was stolen from them. How is reporting facts, racism?
    Again, for the umpteenth time “illegal alien” is the proper government term for those in our country illegally. So those of us including Dobbs who use that proper term are racists? It has nothing to do with “no human being is illegal” because that implies that no human had a right to be born on this earth and that has nothing to do with a person’s violation of a country’s immigration laws. I swear your side is the biggest whiners and spinners of truth on the face of this earth! Why as an American citizen are you getting so worked up over illegal foreigners anyway? Nevermind I know the answer and they use to try Americans for treason for such mindsets. Too bad they don’t do it anymore in today’s PC world.
    No one is a citizen of a continent or can lay claims to a whole continent no matter how long their ancestors have been here. We are all citizens of individual countries now.
    The MM organization is not a hate group. They are a group of citizens who have dedicated their own time to patrol our borders and they only look through binoculars and report illegal entry to the Border Patrol. Sure there have been some members who were rotten apples but they don’t reflect the idealogies of the entire group. Because there are some reconquistas in our country does that reflect the entire Latino community and make them all haters of white Americans? Of course not!
    Illegal = an action not within the law.
    Alien = a foreigner. It has two meanings. Why do you choose the one that indicates someone from outer space when clearly this isn’t what alien means in the term “illegal alien”?
    Speaking of low life trash, Geraldo comes to mind. Touche!

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