An Easter break to spend time with her children

Is there a free speech right to bully?

Fox’s Laura Ingraham is wrapping herself in the free speech flag.

Fox News host Laura Ingraham returned to her show Monday night following a week vacation in the middle of a mass exodus of the program’s advertisers over controversial remarks she made about a Parkland shooting survivor. Ingraham focused on freedom of speech in her first show back, and attacked the left’s alleged stifling of conservative voices.

Ingraham was returning to her show after announcing on March 30 she would be out the following week for an Easter break to spend time with her children. The announcement came at the end of a week in which more than a dozen sponsors of her show pulled advertising over her criticism of Parkland shooting survivor and gun control advocate David Hogg.

The Fox News host had taken to Twitter in late March to mock the 17-year-old for getting turned down for admission by multiple colleges.

See, that’s not “criticism,” nor is it a simple matter of “conservative voices.” That’s a middle-aged adult with a Fox News megaphone making fun of a teenage boy for getting college rejections. That’s not political debate, it’s not philosophical disagreement, and it’s not “free speech” as normally understood. It’s “free speech” in the bare minimum sense that it’s not a legally punishable crime, but there’s a lot of territory between “not a crime” and “okay.” It’s not a violation of Laura Ingraham’s free speech for her employer to tell her to go away for awhile when she bullies a teenager in public.

Ingraham focused on the left as a whole on Monday and announced a new segment called “Defending the First,” a recurring feature which she said will “expose the enemies of the First Amendment, of free expression, and every thought, while showcasing those brave voices making a difference.”

Brave? Really? So it’s brave for a famous Fox News “personality” to try to humiliate a teenager in public? That’s making a difference? A difference of the good kind?

“I have been the victim of a boycott,” Ingraham said. “It is wrong. You shouldn’t do this by team. It is the modern way of cutting off free speech.”

But bullying children isn’t “free speech” in the sense she’s using it there. She wasn’t bravely stating an unpopular principle, she was insulting a kid. Nothing is lost if that kind of “free speech” is cut off.

Notice, for instance, that I’m saying this without resorting to personal insults aimed at Ingraham. I’m saying she’s wrong in what she said yesterday and what she said about David Hogg, without bringing anything personal into it. Notice how easy it is to do that.

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