Josh Barro at Bloomberg View on the coming out of Jason Collins "I'm glad NBA player Jason Collins has publicly announced that he's gay," says Josh Barro. "But I'm already sick of hearing how 'brave' that was. ... He's a graduate of the Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles and Stanford University who has made more than $32 million during his NBA career. His coming-out story reflects the strong personal support network that's available to him. Yet every day, much younger gays and lesbians routinely come out without such social, financial and emotional resources. Their actions are bravery; what Collins did should be expected." Sally Jenkins at The Washington Post disagrees: "Bravery takes a lot of forms, physical being just one, and a particularly unappreciated brand of it is social courage, which is the courage to to risk your place in the society you move in." Meanwhile, Frank Bruni in The New York Times weighs the social reality brought up by Collins himself in his Sports Illustrated cover story. "The unremarkable way a person’s sexual orientation ought to be lived and perceived [is] precisely what Collins and his fellow trailblazers are trying to move us toward: not a constant discussion of the rightful place and treatment of L.G.B.T. people in America, but an America in which the discussion is no longer necessary," Bruni writes.
Nicholas Jackson at Pacific Standard on fighting words Should some forms of speech — such as ESPN analyst Chris Broussard's comments about Jason Collins and the "sin" of homosexuality — be regulated if they inspire gay kids to kill themselves? Nicholas Jackson weighs Broussard's statement in the context of other constitutional limits on free speech: "The blanket free speech argument is a weak one. ... Over the years, the U.S. Supreme Court has tightened the definition of free speech over and over again." In particular, Jackson argues that Broussard's words, which ESPN half-apologized for late last night, fall under the "fighting words" doctrine, which limits speech that, once spoken, causes harm: "After a couple of years in which we’ve seen dozens of studies — LGBT youth who are bullied are far more likely to consider and commit suicide; acceptance from family and friends minimizes risk — and a similar number of deaths, Broussard’s words, and the arguments by otherwise reasonable people that they should be protected by free speech, are no longer acceptable. They're fighting words." Glenn Greenwald was dismayed: "The relentless instinct for people to use the force of law to ban ideas they dislike is so depressing." Amidst an array of criticism, Jackson wrote to one interlocutor, on the question of limiting speech: "The answer is yes, if those views are so aggressive as to inspire personal violence."