Defining dissent as violence

First you define the expression of ideas that you disagree with as a form of “violence.”  Which means you are justified in using actual violence against those ideas in the name of self defense.

From Pete Spiliakos, When Dissent is Equated with Violence | First Thoughts | Blogs | First Things:

UC Santa Barbara Professor Mireille Miller-Young is more imprudent, but no more ideologically insane than the administration of Stanford University. Miller Young forcibly took a sign from, and allegedly assaulted a pro-life protestor at her college. The Volokh Conspiracy cites the police report, in which Miller-Young argues that her actions were “in defense of her students and her own safety.” [Read more...]

“Liking” as free speech

Well, the consensus as to my query about whether you would like a “like” feature in the comments seemed to be “dislike” and “thumbs down.”  (That’s what we need:  a voting plug-in so we can do polls and surveys!   I am curious about someone’s reference to a larger range of responses that someone has put together.  And maybe something to help people keep track of threads and responses.  We’ll look into some possibilities and maybe try some, letting you voice your opinion after the fact to see if you “like” a feature or not.)

I know for a fact, though, that some of you “dislike” some of the comments, enough to contact me offline about them.  Which means that it is probably time for another of my exhortations:  Don’t hijack topics!  Don’t resort to insults or name-calling!  Don’t be vicious!  And, for heaven’s sake, at some point, just let it rest.  You don’t need to have the last word.  I mean, what more can be said after 200 comments on William Tell, though notice that after 100 or so comments , we typically have drifted far away from the topic of William Tell or whatever it is.

But, in honor of the original topic, I offer this, showing the power and the vast constitutional implications of just hitting a “like” button:

Daniel Ray Carter Jr. logged on to Facebook and did what millions do each day: He “liked” a page by clicking the site’s thumbs up icon. The problem was that the page was for a candidate who was challenging his boss, the sheriff of Hampton, Va.

That simple mouse click, Carter says, caused the sheriff to fire him from his job as a deputy and put him at the center of an emerging First Amendment debate over the ubiquitous digital seal of approval: Is liking something on Facebook protected free speech?

Carter filed a lawsuit claiming that his First Amendment rights had been violated, and his case has reached the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. This week, Facebook and the ACLU filed briefs supporting what they say is Carter’s constitutional right to express his opinion, signaling the case’s potentially precedent-setting nature.

The interest was sparked by a lower court’s ruling that “liking” a page does not warrant protection because it does not involve “actual statements.” If the ruling is upheld, the ACLU and others worry, a host of Web-based, mouse-click actions, such as re-tweeting (hitting a button to post someone else’s tweet on your Twitter account), won’t be protected as free speech.

via A Facebook court battle: Is ‘liking’ something protected free speech? – The Washington Post.

Do you think hitting a “like” button should count as free speech?  And while free speech means that the government must not punish people for expressing what they think, does free speech mean that individual citizens have to tolerate whatever someone says or symbolizes and that their bosses shouldn’t be allowed to fire them for it?

The erosion of limited government & individual sovereignty

George Wills reports on a free speech case in St. Louis:

[Jim] Roos responded [to repeated efforts by the local government to seize his property] by painting on the side of one of his buildings a large mural — a slash through a red circle containing the words “End Eminent Domain Abuse.” The government that had provoked him declared his sign “illegal” and demanded that he seek a permit for it. He did. Then the government denied the permit.

The St. Louis sign code puts the burden on the citizen to justify his or her speech rather than on the government to justify limiting speech. And the code exempts certain kinds of signs from requiring permits. These include works of art, flags of nations, states or cities, and symbols or crests of religious, fraternal or professional organizations. And, of course, the government exempted political signs. So the exempted categories are defined by the signs’ content.

The Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm defending Roos, notes that signs may be the oldest form of mass communication — Gutenberg made advertising posters — and they remain an inexpensive means of communicating with fellow citizens. St. Louis says that it regulates signs for “aesthetic” reasons and to promote traffic safety, but it admits that it has no guidelines for the bureaucrats exercising aesthetic discretion and no empirical evidence connecting signs with traffic risks. And why would Roos’s mural be less aesthetic and more distracting to drivers than, say, a sign — exempted from any permit requirement — urging the election of the kind of city officials who enjoy censoring Roos?

St. Louis is not the problem; government is. Many people go into it because they enjoy bossing people around. Surely this is why a court had to overturn a decision by the government of Glendale, Ohio, when it threatened a man with fines and jail because he put a “for sale” sign in his car parked in front of his house. The city said that people might be distracted by the sign and walk into traffic.

St. Louis Alderman Phyllis Young is distressed that Roos’s speech might escape government control: “If this sign is allowed to remain, then anyone with property along any thoroughfare can paint signs indicating the opinion or current matter relevant to the owner to influence passersby with no control by any City agency. The precedent should not be allowed.”

The alderman’s horror of uncontrolled speech is an example of what Elizabeth Price Foley, law professor at Florida International University, calls “an ineluctable byproduct of disregarding the morality of American law.” In her book “Liberty for All” (2006, Yale), she says that the growing exercise of legislative power “in the name of majoritarian whims” has eroded America’s “twin foundational presumptions” — limited government and residual individual sovereignty.

via In St. Louis, a protest sign meets government arrogance – The Washington Post.

Can you think of other examples of the erosion of these “twin foundational presumptions”? Is there the possibility that we might have too much individual sovereignty and that our government is too limited? Or are there lines that need to be drawn?

You are not allowed to say what you think

Juan Williams, the African-American journalist who is often the token liberal on Fox News, was fired by National Public Radio for saying that passengers in Muslim garb on airplanes make him nervous.  This was in the context of arguing with Bill O’Reilly that he should be careful about stereotyping all Muslims as extremists.  See Williams’ self-defense: FoxNews.com – JUAN WILLIAMS: I Was Fired for Telling the Truth.

Other public figures have been getting pilloried for saying that they do not approve of homosexuality or masturbation or evolution or whatever.  These are things that lots of people think, but it’s not socially acceptable to say so.  Is freedom of speech just something for the government to not infringe, or should it be a value that the culture as a whole upholds, if it is to actually be a free society?  That is to say, if people lose their jobs for stating their opinion, do we really have free speech?


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