Juan Williams is now with FOX News and not with NPR. NPR has taken a big hit from most quarters for his firing, and especially for the way he was dumped.
NPR showed some really poor judgment in the way it parted ways with him and may be wrong on the merits.
Whichever way you fall on those issues, the incident raises another issue.
A lot of conservatives are calling for defunding NPR using the argument that taxpayer money should not be used to support a partisan news organization. Even if NPR can’t really be categorized as “partisan,” should all of us pay for something used by only some of us?
A quick answer is, we do it all the time.
I haven’t been in a library in years but a little bit of my money goes to support them. And libraries spend money in ways I wouldn’t – I wouldn’t buy any romance novels. The City of Atlanta, like other governments, requires 1% of public construction money to be spent on “art.” I’ve seen very little public art that I like. I don’t have kids who use schools ... (you get the idea).
There are lots of laws that limit the use of public money for purposes – stem cell research, Planned Parenthood, buying Chinese steel for public construction projects - that are value driven.
We spend, and limit spending, taxpayer money with the idea that it will result in overall benefit to all of us. A literate, educated society is a better society. Art enriches us all. Buying “American” keeps American people employed. We shouldn’t mess with God’s plans for us. Check off the values you agree with.
As a lawyer, it’s distressing to say that these value decisions have nothing to do with law and everything to do with political judgment. If most people want bad public art, so be it. If using stem cells to advance medical science breaches a widely held ethical or religious belief, cut off the funds and explain the results to your children and grandchildren.
If public money for boring classical music and (fill in the blank ____ good ____ bad) news reporting floats or sinks your boat, vote and politic accordingly.