February 27, 2024

First amendment protects from government, not employer

To the Newton Daily News and readers:

Many readers may have heard of a recent incident involving editor Bob Eschliman. The story has already been covered by The Des Moines Register and Channel 13 News, but there are still some aspects of the issues that bother me.

I have heard some arguments that Mr. Eschliman should not be punished because he was “just exercising his First Amendment Rights.” Unfortunately, people who voice this opinion forget that the First Amendment protects one from being punished by the government for free speech, but it does not protect one from other civilians or employers. Mr. Eschliman was well in his rights to voice his opinion and hate speech, but he is not above dealing with the consequences of that hate speech.

And yes, what Mr. Eschliman’s said was hate speech. If his same rhetoric had been used to describe an ethnic group I find it hard to believe as many people would be defending his actions. Comparing LGBTQ activists to the Gestapo is not only insensitive to the millions of Jewish people (and other ethnic groups) that were murdered during the Holocaust, but also insensitive to the thousands of LGBTQ people that were murdered in the same tragic event. Comparing LGBTQ activists, who want only to be given equal rights with heterosexual citizens, to the Gestapo ignores the history of the Holocaust and insults all those who suffered at the hands of the Nazis. Mr. Eschliman’s comments were homophobic, and he should be held accountable for his hate speech.

Hate speech is never acceptable and by defending Mr. Eschliman’s actions, you are defending hate speech against your fellow citizens. I applaud NDN for firing Mr. Eschliman. Thank you for not tolerating hate speech!

Jazmine Bjelland