Free Speech Or Free Hand?

I don’t know why conservatives are always confusing the two. Yet they do. Here’s Ben Stein, suing Kyocera for not signing him as a pitchman because they didn’t want to be represented by an idiot:

According to the complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Kyocera approached Stein in December 2010 to inquire as to his availability to appear in TV advertisements for Kyocera printers. Stein agreed and they began negotiating a contract. Three months later, before the contract was executed, Kyocera learned that Ben Stein is an idiot who denies the reality of global climate change. So they changed their mind and withdrew the offer, because they didn’t want to be represented by an idiot. That’s how capitalism works, right? Companies make decisions based on their interests, and contracts are the law of the land.

No! Capitalism works by suing people when you don’t get your way. To hear Stein tell it, even though they didn’t sign a contract, they still had a contract since Stein really, really, wanted the $300,000 Kyocera had offered contingent on signing the contract, which never happened.

Also, according to Stein, he has a right to the $300,000 under the Constitution, which guarantees him freedom of religion. See, Stein believes that global warming isn’t real because “God, and not man, control[s] the weather.” When Kyocera declined to pay Stein $300,000 to represent the corporation in part because it doesn’t want to be associated with that belief, it violated Stein’s constitutional right to $300,000. He also accuses Kyocera of violating his “freedom of speech” and “political freedom.” Stein has no political freedom, because Kyocera robbed him of the freedom when it refused to pay him $300,000.

No, you do not have a constitutional right to be a Kyocera pitchman.

News flash: Kyocera Corp. is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of solar panels and other PV systems. While Stein would not have been hawking its solar products, I can see how having a vocal climate change denier pitching any of the company’s product lines would be a little awkward, to put it mildly. So a big boo to whatever genius suggested Ben Stein for this gig in the first place: advertising agency Seiter & Miller, I’m going to assume. That was just a dumbass move all around.

And I’m sorry, but Ben Stein? Hello? Try reading your own damn columns and books about the free hand of the market. Also, I haven’t had a chance to dig into the memory hole, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t find something in there from him decrying the burden of frivolous lawsuits and advocating tort reform and all that.



Filed under advertising, Ben Stein, free hand of the market, free speech

7 responses to “Free Speech Or Free Hand?

  1. PurpleGirl

    Also, I haven’t had a chance to dig into the memory hole, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t find something in there from him decrying the burden of frivolous lawsuits and advocating tort reform and all that.

    I can’t put my finger on when, but I’m sure I heard him talk about tort reform for CBS’s Sunday Morning.

  2. That’s fairly creative equating global-warming denial with his lovely Jewish faith. After all, only God can send the rain and sunshine! In fact, He’s busy right now getting ready to paint sunsets all across Europe! Unfortunately even California’s painstakingly exacting anti-discrimination laws with regards to contractual liability presuppose an actual business relationship such as a signed contract. There are twenty-one defined categories of persons in California that are protected against discrimination. Veterans, sexual orientation, gender, age, color, religion, race, et cetera. It would be great if political views were one of the protected categories. Then we could sue a lot of dickhead republicans that refuse to hire liberal democrats.

    • What kills me is that celebrities lose endorsements all the time, these contracts always have clauses in them outlining the circumstances under which the relationship can be severed. Just ask Tiger Woods! But it’s not just morals clauses: I think the Dixie Chicks lost their Lipton Tea sponsorship after Natalie Maines made her “ashamed President Bush is from Texas” comment. Madonna lost Pepsi.

  3. I missed the meeting long ago where it was decided that Ben Stein was funny. Or, you know, relevant.

    I’ll never understand his appeal.

    • I think I remember he played a teacher on The Wonder Years where his extremely bland, monotonous deadpan somehow worked fairly well. He bombed on the ClearEyes commercial that it landed for him. Worse than the Geico caveman. Had to resort to right-wing politics like so many other losers.

  4. Maybe some reptilican gazillionaire can start up a new TV network that would run comedies featuring an ensemble cast of folks like Gary Busey, Victoria Jackson, Kirk Cameron, Randy Quaid, Michael Moriarty and, of course, Ben Stein. Oh, wait, Rudeprick Moldycock already has Fox, too bad.