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Free Speech Coming at A Cost

In contrast to mainstream news outlets that conservatives have coined the “liberal media,” twenty-four year old Tomi Lahren has gained tremendous success among younger conservatives with her outspoken views deemed too “politically incorrect” for the mainstream media. Her segment called “Final Thoughts” has gone viral on the internet for her extreme comments that have compared the Black Lives Matter movement to the KKK, torn apart Beyoncé for promoting violence by dressing up as a Black Panther and accused liberal millennials of being “snowflakes” who can’t handle political incorrectness. Lahren has frequently stated that she doesn’t do her show to please anyone, and repeatedly cites her right to speak out against things that she believes others in the media are too afraid to say. While I have disagreed with a majority of the inflammatory statements she has made on her program, I agree with her pursuit of fairness in standing up for her right to free speech.

Lahren has refused to shy away from controversy and has, in fact, embraced it to build her career, saying things that she knows others will disagree with. While many accuse her of being a talking head for the conservative party, she revealed on The View last month that she is, in fact, pro-choice. She said it would be hypocritical of her to support limited government yet let the government decide what to do with her body. “Stay out of my guns and you can stay out of my body as well,” Lahren stated. It was unexpected coming from a pundit whose prior views had aligned completely with the conservative outlet The Blaze, owned by Glenn Beck, a famous Republican political commentator.

Lahren was suspended right after her comments and recently found out her show will not be continuing, although she still maintains her contract with The Blaze and is being paid by them. She is now suing them to get out of her contract, citing that she was wrongfully terminated, and accusing Glenn Beck of launching a smear campaign against her that has now stripped her of her ability to comment on the matter. As of right now, she does not even have control over social media outlets, such as her own Facebook page.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Tomi Lahren from watching her program, it is that she does not like to be silenced. As a liberal, this is the one aspect I respect about her. Even though she was fully aware that her comments on The View deviated from the political views of her employer, she stated them with confidence. And now, when she is facing the repercussions, she is standing by her words and is fighting to get out from under a corporation that is trying to stifle her.

The irony of Lahren being silenced by her conservative employers is not lost on me. Frequently she has attacked liberals for trying to diminish free speech in the Republican party, and now she’s lost her job over comments that don’t exactly align with her boss’s political views. It highlights the hypocrisy of her trying to label liberals “snowflakes” when many conservatives are sensitive to certain issues as well.

While Glenn Beck has stated that Lahren was not fired directly due to her comments, it appears obvious to Lahren that she was, and she is not standing for it. Lahren’s ability to cross party lines over certain issues is more than I can say for a majority of politicians on both sides, and her brash declaration of differing views in spite of her dedicated conservative fan base is awe-inspiring in an age when the word “moderate” is becoming extinct in politics. It’s her passion about her views, not what they are, that allows me to cross party lines as well and commend her. Like Lahren said, “Boy, I will not lay down and play dead, ever.” Hate her or love her, you still listen to what she’s saying, and while her controversial statements may have a hard time finding their place in the media, they’re raising valid points about free speech in our country.

Claire Harvey is a second-year literary journalism major. She can be reached at cpharvey@uci.edu.

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