Opinion: La Comay is Out, but What About Freedom of Expression?
For a while rumors that Antulio “Kobbo” Santarrosa, the creator and voice of the controversial gossiping puppet La Comay in Puerto Rico’s WAPA-TV, was leaving the station occupied as much space in the Latino media as whether Hugo Chavez was dead or alive.
It has now been confirmed that Santarrosa has resigned and there’s fresh rumors about La Comay moving to U.S.-based MEGA-TV. Leaders of the successful boycott that saw dozens of sponsors drop out of La Comay’s SuperXclusivo TV program, have vowed to continue its pursue wherever she goes.
The type of humor represented by La Comay and those mental adolescents of Spanish-language radio morning shows are repugnant to me, and worse yet, they don’t make me laugh. But since I have the freedom to move my radio dial, I never listen to them.
That is the only type of censorship I can tolerate.
As a writer, freedom of expression is the most treasured of all the liberties we enjoy in this country. The right of any citizen to express an opinion, no matter how hateful, is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. It’s the holiest of all constitutional holy cows. Mooo!
Coupled with the right to express ideas, opinions, lies, gossip and bad jokes, is the right —and sometimes, the duty— to not listen/read them.
Radio and television are businesses controlled by private corporations whose main objective is to make money at any cost. The price of advertising depends on the ratings of each program, therefore raising ratings is the equivalent of increasing profits.
As long as radio listeners and TV viewers watch and listen and support sleazy, vulgar and lie-peddling shows, programs such as that of La Comay and TV networks such as Fox News and the hundreds of radio talk shows that flood the airwaves with hateful and manipulative speech 24 hours a day will exist.
I have never felt comfortable with protests intent on removing commentators from the air for expressing opinions that this or that group finds offensive. I have always believed in the dictum “I may not agree with what you say, but would die defending your right to say it.”
Well… “dying” is an exaggeration. I assure you I have no intention whatsoever to shed a drop of blood for La Comay nor Glenn Beck nor Sean Hannity. It’s the principle what counts.
If we join in efforts to silence those whose words offend us, on what moral ground can we complain when someone tries to silence our opinion because they disagree with it?
Living in a democracy is not easy. It requires constant participation. It is a give and take, being aware that your rights end where mine begin. To find and keep the balance on that thin line, that tightrope of interaction with fellow citizens, whether in such simple situations as to not litter the neighbor’s sidewalk or play the music too loud, to voting in every election, is the essence of civic duty and conscientious citizenship.
Now’s your turn. Express yourself. Mooo.