Rochelle Riley apparently has a problem with free speech


Detroit Free Press readers were treated to an unusual column this Halloween morning. It was one of their star columnists essentially questioning why the government doesn’t clamp down on media more.

Specifically, Rochelle Riley, a beneficiary of this thing we call the First Amendment, was railing against what's probably the top cable TV series in the country, The Walking Dead.

Because it’s able to show whatever it wants to, being a paid service between the person watching and the person producing.

Riley stops just short of saying it, but she seems to want the government to step in and interfere with that freedom. Because, after all, 9-year-olds might walk by, and then become “school shooters and thugs and monsters.”

Never mind that research is unable to produce a direct causal link between violent movies and video games and violent behavior.

In fact, there’s so much old-church-lady nonsense in this column, from the first word, “Well!” in which Riley draws herself up in umbrage against impropriety, through the way she places an angry call to the network, down to an admission that she wants “the show to be penalized in some way.”

It is probably the most anti-free speech column to come from the Free Press since Mitch Albom’s 2009 editorial that included the line, “Who the bleep is the ACLU?” (Which seems to have been banished to the land of 404 since its publication.)

But let’s take Riley at her word: What right does a cable station have to show a piece of fiction in which a savage beating takes place?

Just about the same right that a newspaper has to publish an editorial for the person who buys it at the newsstand.

As a colleague said this morning, it never fails to astonish us when people who make their living on the First Amendment cry that it should be limited for others, especially when it offends their delicate sensibilities.

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