Roseanne's comments spark discussion on freedom of speech

Roseanne's comments spark discussion on freedom of speech
(Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File). FILE

WTOL/ Associated Press - "Roseanne" ABC's hit remake, is being canceled after the show's biggest star, Rosanne Barr, went on a racist Twitter rant Tuesday morning.

The cancellation comes after the show premiered to huge ratings just a few months ago.

The cancellation of the popular TV show touched a nerve with many on our Facebook page.

More than 300 of you sharing our post, 575 plus reacting, and comments, about 600 of them within hours.

Several of those comments asked where did our freedom of speech go? But one local expert said freedom of speech doesn't necessarily apply to your work.

"She had absolute first amendment right to tweet what she wants to tweet," said Dr. Sam Nelson, department chair of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of Toledo, "But she doesn't have the right to the job that she has. Private employers can fire employees for their speech outside of work, their speech at work pretty much whenever they want."

Dr.  Sam Nelson is the chair of the University of Toledo's political science department and he said that both parties acted fully within their rights.

While he wasn't surprised by Roseanne's comments, he was surprised that ABC pulled the show so quickly. He thinks this case is parallel to the NFL Anthem case.

"They are similar in that they are financial consequences for expression, for political expression," said Dr. Nelson, "And what we're getting a lot of is, we're having debates about free speech or arguments about free speech that are really just political arguments and we're throwing speech in there to make it seem like it's not just a political conflict."

Dr. Nelson said in debates like these, people are not consistent in their stance regarding freedom of speech and instead only want what supports their argument. He hopes this latest discussion will spark a larger one.

"It would be great if a debate about Roseanne's speech at work led to a debate about your speech at work or my speech at work, regular people who are not famous actresses,"  said Dr. Nelson.

Nelson suggests employers communicate clearly with their employees about their expectations and recommends that employees simply think before they post online.

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