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Free speech or fireably offensive?

January 28, 2008

Television critic Mary McNamara took Fox talk show host John Gibson to task for controversial remarks he made in the wake of actor Heath Ledger's death -- remarks that some took to be homophobic in nature. Readers responded in force online at latimes.com/entertainment. A sampling:

Calls for his resignation are a bit extreme. Look, we live in a market-based economy. Guys like Gibson are on the air because they can draw an audience and because advertisers are willing to buy airtime on his show to reach that audience. Gibson's comments are juvenile and illogical; however, they violate neither any law nor any codified standard of conduct for broadcasters.

-- Submitted by SkyBeaver

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Gibson should lose his job.

-- Submitted by David L. Wylie

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Whoa -- calm down, everyone! Some guy makes an insensitive remark (at best), and everyone starts screeching and hand-wringing about "hate!" Let's save the superlatives for those who truly deserve it. . . . There are worse things in the world. We've all said insensitive things at some point in our lives. This guy does not deserve to be fired. Talk about self-righteous.

-- Submitted by Kate

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Right on, Mary. Death in any form is a tragedy, and no mocking should be done regardless of who they are or what roles they have played. How sad that his family will have to now listen to something like this being played out in the media. Perhaps Gibson should consider that angle.

-- Submitted by Linda

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Not a sincere apology at all. Disgusting and hateful.

-- Submitted by Ann

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If you think Gibson should lose his job for "chortling" over Ledger's death and making a few jokes, then please, hold the same standards for other media personnel on the day any right-wing actor, such as Mel Gibson, dies. He made the comments to draw more attention to himself and he succeeded. You are whining about them to draw more attention to yourself and you succeeded. Congratulations.

-- Submitted by Mike

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Let's be realistic -- everyone says stuff they shouldn't. Absolutely everybody, without exception -- why do we get all uptight over a bad joke? Why is Heath Ledger so much more important than the other millions of people who have died this past week and who are dying as we speak?

-- Submitted by Alex

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No, he should not be fired. Remember the 1st Amendment, Ms. McNamara? He has the right to be offensive, just as your left-wing comrades do. His comments were offensive and should not have been made, but this is part of a free society.

-- Submitted by Randy

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Vile behavior -- should be dismissed permanently.

-- Submitted by Bob

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