The oldest image of Jesus Christ is a crude, mocking caricature

Blasphemy is an indispensable human right. Without the right to engage in blasphemy, there can be no freedom of inquiry, expression, conscience or religion.

Hussein Ibish

We can have laws against blasphemy or we can have religious freedom. We can never have both.

We have every right to take offense and to give offense. But we should not seek to take offense. And we should not seek to give offense.

Since blasphemy is a theme today across much of the Web, let me quote again some wise words from David Dark’s fine book The Sacredness of Questioning Everything.

This is from Dark’s chapter on “Questioning Our Offendedness”:

It might be of interest to note that the earliest known pictorial depiction of Jesus on the cross was a cartoon. Often referred to as “The Alexamenos Graffito,” it’s a crude drawing of a human figure raising a reverent hand toward a crucified individual with the head of a mule. Discovered on the plaster wall of an ancient Roman school, this second-century parody of a certain Jewish Messianic movment includes, scrawled beneath the caricature, a taunt perhaps best translated as “Alexamenos worships his god.”

I wish this particular cartoon could find wider distribution because it dismantles the image of the Christian, historically speaking, as a member of a special interest group, a sleeper cell for a political party, or a power constellation of offended people looking for something to boycott. …

It probably would have been out of keeping with the presumed ethos of the Jesus whom Alexamenos dared to admire to angrily condemn the ridicule as unacceptable (with a hint of violent reprisal). If the Sermon on the Mount is any indication, Jesus taught his followers that suffering public denunciation is part of the deal. Proclaiming the kingdom of God does not include shouting down anyone who finds your proclamation unconvincing. …

The feeling of offendedness is invigorating. It might even be an effective way to bend a population toward a tyrant’s will. But we must never settle for it. We must not confuse an accelerated pulse rate for the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. We must interrogate our offendedness, hold it open for question. …

Feeling offended is a reassuring sensation. It’s easier than asking ourselves if the redeeming love of God is evident in the way we communicate with people. It’s easier than considering our relationships with the huddled masses throughout the world who find themselves on the wrong end of our economic policies and other forms of warfare. Perhaps our cutthroat ways bear some relationship to our confused notions of God. Maybe we think God, as an intergalactic economist, is a survival-of-the-fittest type. … We might even think that being offended and angry and on the defensive is to be more firmly aligned with the Almighty. …

To keep it all simple and safe, we often become selective fundamentalists. We know where to go to have our prejudices explained as just and sensible, our convictions strengthened, our group or political party reaffirmed. We process whatever already fits the grid that is hardwired (or re-hardwired) in our heads. It’s difficult for anything else to get through. We’re easily offended. Maybe we’re looking to feel offended, which can make us feel better about ourselves. Feeling offended summons a sense of being in the right, a certain strength, a kind of power, an espresso shot of righteous indignation. And if the image of God hardwired into our nervous system is easily offended and put off by certain people and their offensive behavior, there’s a feeling of being that much closer to the winning side, that much more likely to be numbered among the elect, the saved, the documented.

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  • GDwarf

    I find ancient graffiti so interesting, at least in part, because it’s so similar to the modern version.

    I mean, the cartoon isn’t great, but there’s a kernel of a joke there that we understand, even now. Heck, it’s better than…most of the stuff in newspapers now, really.

    Actually, if anything, ancient graffiti tends to be more obscene and inane than the modern sort. The graffiti found in Pompeii is a good mix of the sort of thing kids carve into desks and trees now, stuff that would get you lynched if you said it on TV, and what are essentially Twitter updates (“Just bought some bread”). Plus, of course, people complaining about all the graffiti.

  • Kiba

    Oh my. Loved how most of the graffiti seemed to be about who had sex with whom and who pooped where. 

  • GDwarf

    Hah, yes. Also: Shopping lists. So many shopping lists.

    I like the advertisements, too.

    But yeah, clearly the sort of ancient Roman who wrote on walls was pretty much entirely concerned with sex and defecation.

  • Kiba

    Ha! I liked, “We have wet the bed, host. I confess we have done wrong. If you want to know why, there was no chamber pot,” as well.

    Some of my other favorites:

     Weep, you girls.  My penis has given you up.  Now it penetrates men’s behinds.  Goodbye, wondrous femininity!

     On April 19th, I made bread

    Apollinaris, the doctor of the emperor Titus, defecated well here

    “Secundus defecated here” three time on one wall.

  • Münchner Kindl

     That was so funny in the Rome series: not only very colourful Graffiti in the opening credits, but also later in one ep., it played a political role when graffitis slandered Julius Cesar for being a woman’s man whoring around instead of going to war as he should’ve (although strategically unwise at that moment), goading his wife into nagging him until he acted against better judgment – because he knew that graffiti was like the tabloids and if his image among the plebes was damaged, he wouldn’t stay very long.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    VI.6.1 (House of the Olii; on the Via Consolare); 139: The city block of the Arrii Pollii in the possession of Gnaeus Alleius Nigidius Maius is available to rent from July 1st.  There are shops on the first floor, upper stories, high-class rooms and a house.  A person interested in renting this property should contact Primus, the slave of Gnaeus Alleius Nigidius Maius.

    I see that among the many engineering disciplines developed and practiced by the ancient Romans, a crude form of Craigslist was among them.  

    As far as the bits about pooping and who has sex with whom, it goes to show that graffiti is universal through time.  I remember reading in one bathroom stall in high school someone writing “Poop comes out my anus”.  Yes, unknown graffiti artist, poop does indeed come from the anus, congratulations on your stunning discovery of the obvious.  

    Actually, when I went to Switzerland many years ago, I discovered that the graffiti was actually prettier there than in the states.  I remember visiting a lakeside beach, and going into a changing stall only to discover that someone had written, with clear lettering and in perfect English, a short dissertation on the subject of originality in graffiti.  

    No wonder my sister decided to move there after high school.  

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’ve always been fond of this one (and fingers crossed that my html don’t break):

    ∫e(x) = f(un)

    eta: dammit.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    The most intelligent graffiti I have seen was observed on the wall of a backstage men’s bathroom at a large Seattle theater hall.  It was a joke that read:

    Descartes walks into an ice cream store and orders a sunday.  The clerk asks him if he wants nuts on it.  Descartes says, “I think not,” and disappears in a puff of logic.

    Juxtaposed nearby was a caricature of a man with a penis for a nose.  

  • Jeffrey_Kramer

     At the time when Crystal Lite was running an ad campaign singing “I believe in Crystal Lite, ’cause I believe in me!” I saw on a wall:

    “Cogito, ergo sum, ergo Crystal Lite.”

  • reynard61

    “Loved how most of the graffiti seemed to be about who had sex with whom and who pooped where.”

    Those Romans were a randy bunch, weren’t they?

  • The_L1985

     It reminds me of the graffiti in modern bathroom stalls.

  • Makabit

    ThTThe Pompeii graffiti are hilarious: “One who buggers a fire burns his penis.”

    I

    On

    T

    On

  • Joshua

    That handwriting is even worse than my own.

  • P J Evans

     Worse than his drawing, for sure. I think he’s writing in Koine, because the name is in Greek letters.

  • http://blog.carlsensei.com/ Carl

    I feel like yesterday’s post about Get Religion was just an excuse to be offended that anyone would try to come up with questions for who should be referred to as an evangelical in public.

  • flat

    bathroom graffiti I am not much of a fan because most are dumb dick jokes, and I am more a fan of smart dick jokes, but sometimes you can find a a funny one at the bathroom.

  • bobnelsonfr

    We can have laws against blasphemy or we can have religious freedom. We can never have both.
    We have every right to take offense and to give offense. But we should not seek to take offense. And we should not seek to give offense.

    Absolutely true.
    At the same time, hate speech is of negative value to society, no more acceptable than “FIRE!!” in a crowded place…
    Like all freedoms, free speech sometimes collides with other freedoms. America is unique in its absolutist vision of free speech, allowing such social destruction as that “church” that demonstrates on the lawn of dead soldiers…
    All laws must be written so as to prevent misuse of the law, by interpretation that is either too lax or too strict. 
    So… Yes… blasphemy must be allowed. But hate speech should not.

  • LouisDoench

    America is unique in its absolutist vision of free speech, allowing
    such social destruction as that “church” that demonstrates on the lawns
    of dead soldiers…

    So how long a jail term is appropriate for the Phelps clan?  How big a fine must they pay for “hate speech”?  Is it a sliding scale based on how important are the “victims” of their hate speech? The funerals of fallen soldiers seems like the worst offense, so that’s  what, a felony?  If its just a civilian is it a misdemeanor?

    I’m not normally a fan of the slippery slope fallacy, but in  my reading of history laws against “hate speech” grease up that slope pretty well.

  • bobnelsonfr

    … my reading of history laws against “hate speech” grease up that slope pretty well.

    Oh? European democracies typically have laws against hate speech. Have you, in your “reading of history”, found any slippage on that very real slope? I have lived there (France) for over forty years, and I know of none…

    So how long a jail term is appropriate for the Phelps clan?  How big a fine must they pay for “hate speech”?

    That for the legislature to decide, of course. If you want my own personal opinion: Phelps clan demonstrations are the sort of activity that doesn’t need more than misdemeanor status. The cops can arrest them, stopping their obscene behavior, and they pay a small fine and are released. The important thing is that they are stopped EVERY time they do their gig…  ;-)))

  • vsm

    Inciting hate against a religious, racial, political, sexual, etc. groups gets you a fine or a maximum prison sentence of two years in Finland. I’m not sure how that would translate to the US justice system, but it seems like the right ballpark to me. Mind you, you have to say something pretty outrageous for the police to get involved. Such sentences are very rare.

  • LectorElise

     Hate speech: Any speech meant to condemn, intimidate, or dehumanize a vulnerable person or persons.
    The
    definition needs work, obviously, but I don’t see why the slippery
    slope argument applies here if it doesn’t apply to laws about things
    like stalking, harassment, or yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater. If laws and limits can be passed about those things, hate speech should also be subject to similar laws.

  • Carstonio

     That’s not the definition. Hate speech is vilification based on personal characteristics. While I appreciate the objective of such laws, and I don’t outright reject them, I suspect the First Amendment implications haven’t been fully addressed. Perhaps the objective would be better served by more strongly enforcing current anti-harassment laws.  What I really want is for hate speech to be socially unacceptable, because in a way, criminalizing it represents a failure of social norms. I also want folks like Bill Donahue to be shamed into silence when he accuses anyone who questions Catholic doctrine of promulgating hate speech against Catholics.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    I’m not normally a fan of the slippery slope fallacy, but in  my reading
    of history laws against “hate speech” grease up that slope pretty well.

    Whereas my reading of history shows me that demogogues who are allowed unchecked to spread hate will cause some of their followers to go around and actually kill real people. I consider that worse.

    In the other thread, somebody linked to the very apt new term of “stochastic terrorist”

    Stochastic Terrorism is the use of mass communications to stir up random lone wolves to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.

    http://ukiahcommunityblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/stochastic-terrorism/

    And that’s what hate speech laws try to prevent.

  • aunursa

    So… Yes… blasphemy must be allowed. But hate speech should not.

    One person’s hate speech is another person’s blasphemy.

    At the same time, hate speech is of negative value to society, no more acceptable than “FIRE!!” in a crowded place…

    Only one of the two examples is potentially a direct cause of injuries and deaths.

    The antidote to hate speech is more speech, not less.  If you are deeply offended by the ideas of your neighbor, refute him or ignore him.  Don’t try to censor him.  And don’t grant to the heckler a veto power.

  • bobnelsonfr

    Only one of the two examples is potentially a direct cause of injuries and deaths.

    Oh? Tell that to the victims of hate crimes. Those crimes didn’t arise spontaneously.

    Don’t try to censor him.

    Why not? Is there any value in what the Phelps clan does? I hope you agree that what they do is very hurtful to the families they picket… so why on earth do you defend them??

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Why not? Is there any value in what the Phelps clan does? I hope you agree that what they do is very hurtful to the families they picket… so why on earth do you defend them??

    For my own part: I endorse freedom of speech and freedom of assembly because I believe the harm those things prevent is greater than the harm those things allow, and I want to minimize the harm that gets inflicted.

    For example, I believe that once we accept that it’s OK to prevent people by force from expressing their opinions, we will end up doing a hell of a lot more harm to one another than the Phelps family could ever dream of doing.

  • Carstonio

     

    I believe that once we accept that it’s OK to prevent people by force
    from expressing their opinions, we will end up doing a hell of a lot
    more harm to one another than the Phelps family could ever dream of doing.

    Exactly.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    For example, I believe that once we accept that it’s OK to prevent
    people by force from expressing their opinions, we will end up doing a
    hell of a lot more harm to one another than the Phelps family could ever
    dream of doing.

    But the followers of Phelps and Beck are allowed to use force to kill and harrass people because …?

    Why the use of “force” in this sentence? A state always works under the presumption of monopoly of force, whether it’s tax laws or restriction of free speech because … sexual harrassment in the workplace forbids “by force” that men call a woman “a bitch”.

    So why is telling people that fags will burn in hell or that doing abortions is murder, which always results in people beating gays to death or shooting abortion doctors, not harrassment?

    If one guy goes into a bar and says to a second guy “Kill that guy, I don’t like his type”, then the first guy is guilty of instigation of murder (at least in Europe).

    But if one guy stands in front of a crowd or broadcasts on television to kill all fags because he hates them, and at least one person among his thousands of followers will do it – then first guy should not also be considered guilty of instigation because?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    (I’m breaking up my response into pieces, because it’s otherwise very long.)

     

    the followers of Phelps and Beck are allowed to use force to kill and harrass people because …?

    No reason at all. If I go out and kill or harass people, I ought to be condemned for that, including but not limited to legal punishment; I ought not be spared that condemnation/punishment because I’m a follower of Phelps or Beck or anyone else. 

    Why the use of “force” in this sentence?

    Would you prefer I said “law” instead? I endorse the sentence equally with that substitution.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    Would you prefer I said “law” instead? I endorse the sentence equally with that substitution.

    I was unsure because the use of the word “force” instead of “law” is usually used by anti-Tax libertarians as dog-whistle, so I wanted to know if you are a libertarian or just used a wrong word.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Might have been easier just to ask what you wanted to know.

    I’m certainly not a Libertarian, and I endorse taxes.

    But I also don’t accept that “force” is a wrong word for what legally constituted authorities use when they enforce laws… it’s a perfectly good word for it.

    As to whether I’m a libertarian… my usual answer is that I don’t endorse either pure libertarianism or pure egalitarianism, but that I would like to see my country adopt a more egalitarian stance than it currently does.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    But I also don’t accept that “force” is a wrong word for what legally
    constituted authorities use when they enforce laws… it’s a perfectly
    good word for it.

    If you don’t understand the signifcant, fundamental difference between saying “Something is forbidden because of a law*” and “something is not done because force will be used against you” then I don’t really see how you can argue about laws at all.

    Maybe you haven’t noticed that other groups beside the govt. also use force? Like intimidation? Like getting crazies in their audience all heated up, ready to go and beat people up?

    * Starting from the point that all laws rest on a humanist ethical foundation and apply common sense, so that therefore a rational person can logically derive or understand when explained the reason for the law, and that said reason is not realted to any religious laws?
    If your laws are based on fear or religious morals, then you need to clean this up first, obviously.

    my usual answer is that I don’t endorse either pure libertarianism or  pure egalitarianism, but that I would like to see my country adopt a
    more egalitarian  tance than it currently does.

    Even more? I think your country has given the elites – the 1% – already far too much power and money in the decades after Reagan. You want to go even further? So like South America, then? Everything privatized, laws ignored and gated communites.
    I’m rather against that.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    If you don’t understand the signifcant, fundamental difference between
    saying “Something is forbidden because of a law*” and “something is not
    done because force will be used against you” then I don’t really see how
    you can argue about laws at all. 

    Sure, I agree. I would also say that if I don’t understand that the former doesn’t preclude the latter, and in broad terms depends on it, I am similarly ignorant of how law really works.

     

    Maybe you haven’t noticed that other groups beside the govt. also use force? 

    I assume this is just rhetoric, and you aren’t seriously under the impression that I haven’t noticed this.

     

    I would like to see my country adopt a more egalitarian stance than it currently does.

    I think your country has given the elites – the 1% – already far too
    much power and money in the decades after Reagan. You want to go even
    further? So like South America, then? Everything privatized, laws ignored and gated communites. I’m rather against that.

    I have no idea how your response even engages with my comment. Which, admittedly, seems to happen a lot when I talk to you, so should perhaps not surprise me.

    If you’re actually trying to engage, it may help if we start with a common understanding of “egalitarian.” Wikipedia’s definition is pretty close to what I had in mind, and seems to me 180 degrees opposed to the idea of giving elites more and more power.  If you have some other definition in mind and can share it, that’s fine with me too.

    Of course, if that’s not your goal in the first place, then you can profitably go on doing what you’re doing.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     (I’m breaking up my response into pieces, because it’s otherwise very long.)

    sexual harrassment in the workplace forbids “by force” that men call a woman “a bitch”.

    Yes, correct. Or “by law,” if you prefer.

    So why is telling people that fags will burn in hell or that doing abortions is murder, which always results in people beating gays to death or shooting abortion doctors, not harrassment?

    Calling someone a fag and telling them they will burn in hell is harassment, just as calling someone a bitch is. In some environments (e.g., work settings), harassment is illegal. In other environments (e.g., on television), it is legal. This reflects different understandings of power and recourse… the consequences of shutting off the television are different from the consequences of walking out of my job.

    In neither case is it murder, legally speaking, even if it leads to someone being beaten to death.

    Why isn’t it murder, legally speaking, if it leads to someone being beaten to death? Because there’s a difference between direct and indirect consequences. Accountability is much easier to establish for direct consequences, and the law generally restricts itself to a narrow understanding of accountability.

    And I endorse that restriction.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     (I’m breaking up my response into pieces, because it’s otherwise very long.)

    If one guy goes into a bar and says to a second guy “Kill that guy, I don’t like his type”, then the first guy is guilty of instigation of murder (at least in Europe).

    In the vast majority of cases where things like this get said, I do not endorse such a law being applied.

    I suspect that’s true of you as well. For example, if I were to say “Fred Phelps is a reprehensible human being and deserves to die,” and someone shot Fred Phelps in the head tomorrow, I suspect you would not endorse my being arrested for instigating murder.

    Nor would approximately 95% of the population.

    Further, I suspect that in the vast majority of cases where things like this get said, the law doesn’t get applied… precisely because it’s unpopular in those cases.

    That is, it’s the kind of law that only gets enforced in a narrow subset of cases, but the rules governing which subset get enforced are informal, a kind of gentleman’s agreement where all right-thinking people know what’s objectionable and what isn’t, even if they can’t easily define the difference in law.

    I object to those sorts of gentleman’s agreements. If we’re not prepared to enforce a law as written, we should not pass it as written. To instead enforce it differentially creates yet another mechanism whereby powerful people can informally enforce their prejudices without accountability.

    For example, there are laws on the books prohibiting couples making out in cars by the side of the road. In practice, these laws get enforced differentially. For example, in jurisdictions with homophobic police, same-sex couples get arrested but opposite-sex couples get sent home with a warning and an indulgent smirk. This makes me a second-class citizen, but with little recourse, because the law as written isn’t discriminatory at all. The discrimination isn’t built into the law, it’s built into the community… but because the law is broadly described, it allows responsibility for that to be diffused.

    But if one guy stands in front of a crowd or broadcasts on television to kill all fags because he hates them, and at least one person among his thousands of followers will do it – then first guy should not also be considered guilty of instigation because?

    Exactly the same principles apply. If we pass such a law, we should enforce it equally. If we’re not prepared to enforce it equally, we ought not pass it.

    What I expect is, where we pass such laws, they are written in such a way that if anyone actually enforced them as written, we’d do the equivalent of tossing me in jail if Fred Phelps got shot. And that they “work”, insofar as they do, because we count on police and courts to informally do the work that the legislators failed to do… to decide what the law really means.

    That’s a bad way to run a country. I’m OK with it when talking about high appelate courts, which are in effect part of our legislative process. I’m not OK with it when it’s done independently by each beat cop and station chief, because

    That said, if you’d like to point to a specific hate crime law that you believe defines adequately the communities that are and aren’t accountable, such that that decision is not being left to individual police, I’m willing to read it; I might endorse that law. The ones I’ve looked at don’t have that property.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    In the vast majority of cases where things like this get said, I do not endorse such a law  being applied.

    I suspect that’s true of you as well.

    No, it isn’t. I want people who go into bars to hire a murder to be arrested as instigators. (And given that cops go on stings and arrest people who pay them to murder their spouse, it appears to be illegal in at least some US states).

    For example, if I were to say
    “Fred Phelps is a  reprehensible human being and deserves to die,” and
    someone shot Fred Phelps in the  head tomorrow, I suspect you would not
    endorse my being arrested for instigating  murder.

    It depends on where you said it and to whom. Do you have ten thousands followers who listen to talk radio and believe every word? Do you have a website with bulls eyes for Phelps and an itineray of where he can be found?
    And BTW, you can totally get into trouble already
    http://www.cracked.com/article_18554_5-wacky-internet-pranks-that-can-get-you-jail-time_p2.html

    That is, it’s the kind of law that only gets enforced in a
    narrow subset of cases, but the rules governing which subset get
    enforced are informal, a kind of gentleman’s  agreement where all
    right-thinking people know what’s objectionable and what isn’t,  even if
    they can’t easily define the difference in law.

    I object to those sorts of gentleman’s agreements. If we’re not
    prepared to enforce a  law as written, we should not pass it as written.
    To instead enforce it differentially  creates yet another mechanism
    whereby powerful people can informally enforce their  prejudices without
    accountability.

    No, I don’t follow what you are talking about. We expect our laws to be based on rational morals (From enlightment) and to move with the times. Obviously the process can sometimes lag a bit – when § 175 still forbade gay sex, but the population in the 70s increasingly disagreed, it was less and less enforced, until finally it was removed. (It was called the “Normative Kraft des Faktischen” – the norm-creating power of the facts).

    But generally, laws are expected to be applied equally and according to common sense, not along some Gentleman’s agreement. The cops are trained, and since a law always has a wide span, it’s up to the courts to decide each individual case. That two different people get different sentences is not a bug, but a feature, because people are different: one needs only a slap on the wrist to make him walk straight again, another needs a serious lesson and gets the maximum time, and a third gets somewhere in the middle.

    For example, there are laws on the books prohibiting couples making out
    in cars by the side of the road. In practice, these laws get enforced
    differentially. For example, in jurisdictions with homophobic police,
    same-sex couples get arrested but opposite-sex couples get sent home
    with a warning and an indulgent smirk. This makes me a second-class
    citizen, but with little recourse, because the law as written
    isn’t discriminatory at all. The discrimination isn’t built into the
    law, it’s built into the community… but because the law is broadly
    described, it allows responsibility for that to be diffused.

    First, that law needs to be struck down completly. Parking on the shoulder of the road is dangerous for traffic, unless it’s emergency. Parking offside the road (unless it’s private land or nature park) whether for making out or eating a picnic, is nobody’s business.

    Second, you yourself admit that the enforcment, not the law, is the problem. Making the law more narrow would not solve the enforcment at all – changing the law won’t train your cops or educate your judges, or improve society’s attitude.

    We have extremly broad laws – our constitution starts with “human dignity shall not be violated”. What human dignity is and what violation is, is not defined anywhere. The civil code and criminal code are similar vague. The most specific ones are tax, tariff and traffic laws, where there are some definitions “For the purpose of this law, a small businessman is somebody who doesn’t earn more than 125 000 Euros per year and does not own more than … etc.”

    Most narrow laws, esp. the new internet, or copyright laws, end up being too narrow to catch new developments, but still too broad to be harmful for innocent people (most likely because they were written by technically ignorant politicans). A law shows the intent, but not specifics, because technology and society changes quickly, but changing a law takes time, so we could be without useful laws for some time.

    The correct interpretation and application of the law is then done by the judges on a case-by-case, common-sense basis, checking the specific law against the broad rights and weighing the factors involved.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    In the vast majority of cases where things like this get said, I do not endorse such a law  being applied. I suspect that’s true of you as well.

    No, it isn’t. I want people who go into bars to hire a murder to be arrested as instigators.

    Sure, so do I. If you actually think we disagree on that, then it’s pretty clear we aren’t communicating successfully at all. Come to think of it, that’s also true if you don’t actually think we disagree but chose to say that anyway.

    For example, if I were to say “Fred Phelps is a  reprehensible human being and deserves to die,” and someone shot Fred Phelps in the  head tomorrow, I suspect you would not endorse my being arrested for instigating  murder.

    It depends on where you said it and to whom. Do you have ten thousands followers who listen to talk radio and believe every word? Do you have a website with bulls eyes for Phelps and an itineray of where he can be found?

    I have neither of those things, which I suspect you already knew. I continue to suspect that you would not endorse my being arrested for instigating  murder if I said that.

    And BTW, you can totally get into trouble already

    No doubt. I don’t endorse that either.

    No, I don’t follow what you are talking about.

    That’s a pity, but all right.
    I’m not interested in explaining it further, so I’ll drop it.

    you yourself admit that the enforcment, not the law, is the problem. Making the law more narrow would not solve the enforcment at all – changing the law won’t train your cops or educate your judges, or improve society’s attitude.

    I agree that changing the law doesn’t train cops, educate judges, or improve society’s attitude. It merely removes a mechanism that legitimizes their excesses.

    Perhaps, once our cops, judges, and society are as enlightened as yours, we can make “violation of human dignity” illegal and count on the good judgment and decency of once our cops, judges, and society to never use that law in bad ways. I don’t trust that we’re there yet, though.

    In the meantime, I prefer that the law constrain the actions of people with power.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    Sure, so do I. If you actually think we disagree on that, then it’s
    pretty clear we aren’t communicating successfully at all. Come to think
    of it, that’s also true if you don’t actually think we disagree but
    chose to say that anyway.

    If you say you assume I agree, and I correct that, and you say that you agree, too, then no wonder communication is difficult and not successful.

    On other boards, it’s considered a serious offence to accuse somebody of bad discussion behaviour without serious proof, so why are you insinuating that I am trolling = saying something different than what I mean?

    In the meantime, I prefer that the law constrain the actions of people with power.

    How does your current “Free speech law” do that? The people with the power over hundreds of thousands of listeners and viewers – Glenn Beck, Rush and co – are not constrained; but people who look or act “other” are constrained by fear that a mob might kill them. Abortion doctors and everybody who works at planned parenthood are constrained by fear and heavy security precautions because some crazy will go and bomb them after a hate speech from some fundie pastor, but the fundie pastors are not constrained.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    If you say you assume I agree, and I correct that, and you say that
    you agree, too, then no wonder communication is difficult and not
    successful. 

    Sure, that’s true.

    For example, if I say “2+2=4; I assume you agree,” and you reply “No, I don’t agree, 2+3=5”, and I agree with that, it’s clear that communication is not being successful. And if I say “2+2=5; I assume you agree,” and you reply “No, I don’t agree, 2+2=4”, and I agree with that, communication is also not being successful.

    The two cases are otherwise rather different, though. Reading between the lines a little, I infer that you believe I’m doing something like the second case… is that right?

    For my own part, I think the first case is a more accurate metaphor.

    On other boards, it’s considered a serious offence to accuse somebody of
    bad discussion behaviour without serious proof, so why are you
    insinuating that I am trolling = saying something different than what I
    mean?

    I didn’t use the word “trolling,” whose connotations I’m not sure apply here, and I don’t endorse it.

    But, yes, I agree that I’ve implied (and believe) that your behavior in this exchange has been poor, and I agree that I have not provided “serious proof” of this. I have no evidence that this is a serious offense on slacktivist, but in any case, if you are offended by it I apologize; that wasn’t my intent. That said, I’m not sure how to move forward productively in this exchange without describing the patterns I’m seeing.

    Perhaps it’s best to just drop the exchange?

    In the meantime, I prefer that the law constrain the actions of people with power.

    How does your current “Free speech law” do that?

    By providing the Supreme Court with grounds to remove from the books as unconstitutional laws that prevent low-status beliefs from being expressed publicly.

  • bobnelsonfr

    I believe that once we accept that it’s OK to prevent people by force from expressing their opinions, we will end up doing a hell of a lot more harm to one another than the Phelps family could ever dream of doing.

    On what do you base that belief? Real-world experience, in Europe, proves the contrary. 

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    > we will end up doing a hell of a lot more harm
    Real-world experience, in Europe, proves the contrary.

    Does it? Awesome! I’m delighted to hear that… I didn’t realize our understanding of social harm had advanced that far. Just goes to show you how inadequate a lay person’s understanding of complex fields can be.

    Me, I base my belief on mere personal experience and intuition. Not reliable at all. I thoroughly endorse legislators ignoring my uninformed opinion in favor of actual settled science in fields where settled science exists, and if it turns out that politics is now one of those fields, great! I’ve been looking forward to that day for decades.

    Out of curiosity, who has measured the harm, and what techniques have they used to measure it?  Or estimate it, where they can’t measure it directly?

    Or are you using “proof” here in a looser sense, to mean something like “supports”?

  • bobnelsonfr

    Ummm… Dave?? Are you really asking me to prove that anti-hate-speech laws don’t cause harm? You’re asking me to prove a negative? 

    No Dave, this works the other way around. There have been such laws in Europe for decades, and there is no evidence of slippage down the slope. 

    No need for snarky, Dave.

    I base my belief on mere personal experience and intuition. Not reliable at all.

    But of course these are reliable… on just a few conditions. “Personal experience” is fine… as long as you are familiar with all places and all people. Intuition is good, too, if you are omniscient.

    So if you are omniscient, then your methods are valid.

    Pleased to meet you, God.

    Please excuse my turn at snarky, but seriously… boasting about opinions without facts??

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I deny your accusation of boasting.
    I also deny your implication that personal experience does not include any facts.

    Trying to get away from all the snark… let me approach it this way.

    I know some communities in which topics controversial within the community just don’t get talked about in public. When I lived in such communities, I was harmed by that convention, because they prevented challenging certain widely held ideas (for example, the idea that queer relationships aren’t as moral as straight relationships).

    If the residents of such communities were to tell me that they don’t see their standards causing any harm in their communities, I would disagree, but not know how to begin convincing them otherwise… especially if they dismissed my personal experience as not worth paying attention to, and insisted that the burden of proof lay on me to show that there was harm.

    Ultimately, my response would be “Good for you. I prefer to live in my community.” In fact, that is typically my response.

    Supposing that you agreed with me that their standards were in fact harmful, do you think I have any obligation to prove this to them? If so, how would you recommend I go about it?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Oh, and…

    Are you really asking me to prove that anti-hate-speech laws don’t cause harm?

    No, not at all. I was quoting you claiming, in as many words, that such a proof exists. And I was challenging that claim.

    But apparently your claim was actually that, in the absence of demonstrable harm, we should as a matter of law assume they’re OK. Which I can accept.

  • bobnelsonfr

    OK. We’re cool.

  • Liralen

    bobnelsonfr, in response to your question “Ummm… Dave?? Are you really asking me to prove that anti-hate-speech laws don’t cause harm? You’re asking me to prove a negative? ”

    Actually, you do have the burden of proof since you are the one proposing that we amend our laws.  You should start with crafting the exact text of what you have in mind.  As it is now, I have no idea exactly what you are proposing.

    You seem to be confusing someone saying “X is bad” with “You should kill X”.  There are laws in the US prohibiting the latter.

    Or are you really suggesting that we prohibit anyone from saying “X is bad”?

  • bobnelsonfr

    Liralen,

    First, it is impossible to prove a negative. In this case, Dave (graciously) recognized that I demonstrated that a solid presumption exists, and that that is the most that can be required.

    “Conspiracy to commit murder” is a crime, but that requires the prosecutor to demonstrate that the intent is “immediate”. Just saying “George Tiller needs to be killed” is not illegal. Saying “Gays need killing” isn’t a crime. Tiller died and gays die. After the fact those same words will constitute proof that the crime was a hate crime, and penalties will be more severe. But the dead remain dead.

    I think it would be good to take a long, hard look at people who say such things… before anyone dies.

  • Liralen

    bobnelsonfr,

    Thanks for the explanation and I agree with the expressed intent.  However, I am dubious about how such a law could be worded and not require a Constitutional amendment.

    Yes, I do know it’s difficult to prove a negative, but that is not sufficient reason to amend (or re-amend in this case) the Constitution.  If you think the Constitution needs to be amended, more persuasive reasoning is required than other countries do ok without such a broad freedom of speech guarantee.  Or that Dave agrees that “a solid presumption exists”, whatever that means.

    If you think that a law can be crafted that would not require a Constitutional amendment, I would be interested in seeing the specific wording.  I’ve been very disturbed about the violence caused by that video disrespecting Islam.  I don’t approve of that video, but from what I’ve read, I don’t think the makers of it are guilty of a crime. The criminals are the ones who not only don’t understand what freedom of speech means, they demand that right be denied to other people, and will kill people until they get what they want. 

    Yes, it’s sad that they’ve never had the right of free speech and can’t understand that our government is prohibited from punishing people who offend them, but where do you draw the line?  That’s not a rhetorical question – it’s the very essence of my point.  What is the exact wording of the law that you think needs to be enacted?

  • bobnelsonfr

    Liralen,

    I’m not a jurist, and I try not to play Sorcerer’s Apprentice. So I’m kinda apprehensive of making a suggestion, here. And I don’t know the wording of any European anti-hate-speech laws…

    Those reservations having been made… “inciting to hatred of a person or group of persons, on the basis of race, age, gender………”

  • Liralen

    So that would make guilty that awful film maker?  I assume you meant to include religion?  I don’t agree he commited a crime.  What about other movies that make you hate haters?  Such as Roots, The Color Purple, The Passion of the Christ,  Schindler’s List, Philadelphia?  Documentaries like 500 Nations, The Last Mountain or Gasland?  The last two begs the question – would inciting hatred of industry or corporations be a crime?

  • bobnelsonfr

    Liralen,

    So that would make guilty that awful film maker?

    Dunno. Haven’t seen the video. Does it “incite to hatred”? That isn’t the same as “demonstrate one’s own hatred”…

    I don’t agree he commited a crime.

    Quite right — as the law is written today. 

    What about other movies that make you hate haters?… industry or corporations?

    I suggested the criterion, “on the basis of race, etc…”. That would include none of these.

    Once again… the law already condemns threats to a specific person.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    Or that Dave agrees that “a solid presumption exists”, whatever that means.

    FWIW, I would prefer to be kept out of this exchange altogether if at all possible. I found my exchange with bobnelsonfr on this subject deeply unsatisfying and have no interest in another.

  • The_L1985

     America is not Europe.  This is a country where a renowned astronomer sued Apple Computers* for using his name–as a codename for a not-yet-released system (the official name was still under wraps) because “they’re using my name for material gain without my permission.”

    People will accuse anyone of anything over here.  It’s pretty much a defining feature.

    * Before the sweatshops and the general being-evil thing got started, but after Macs took off

  • bobnelsonfr

    I agree that America isn’t Europe… but I don’t see the relevance, here.

  • AnonaMiss

    Please see my previous post, which apparently got de-linked from the post of yours it was in reply to.

  • aunursa

    Oh? Tell that to the victims of hate crimes.

    You are confusing  hate speech with hate crimes.  Prosecute those who commit hate crimes. 

    Why not? Is there any value in what the Phelps clan does?

    Irrelevant.  The First Amendment does not just protect speech that is determined to be of value.  And “value” is a very ambiguous term.  I would not want my right to spread a message subject to anyone else’s determination of whether my message has value. 

  • Mark Z.

    Why not? Is there any value in what the Phelps clan does?

    I definitely see value in having a permanent traveling roadshow on ignorance and hatred. It’s educational in the same way that the Holocaust Memorial Museum is educational, but with the added reminder that this stuff still exists.

  • aunursa

    Yes.  I see great value in allowing bigots like Patrick Buchanan and Louis Farrakhan to spew their filth openly in public so that all can judge and understand their values and goals.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     Yeah, I don’t see how you can write a hate speech law that also doesn’t prohibit blasphemy. Well, you  could if you let the government specifically define what “blasphemy” means so that its definition can’t be enlarged to include, “drawing Mohammed cartoons”, for example, but I don’t think that that’s a proper role for the government (defining religious doctrine).

  • bobnelsonfr

    Charity,

    I didn’t see this the other day. 

    I don’t see how you can write a hate speech law that also doesn’t prohibit blasphemy.

    It doesn’t seem all that difficult to me…

    It seems to me that the key might be in the notion of “incitement to hatred on the basis of race, sex, age, ….”
    A cartoon? Does it incite to hate its subject? Or does it incite to laugh at its subject?  The first would be illegal, the second not illegal.

  • EllieMurasaki

    hate speech is of negative value to society, no more acceptable than “FIRE!!” in a crowded place…

    Only one of the two examples is potentially a direct cause of injuries and deaths.

    Someone saying that black folks or abortion providers need to die, and then someone else killing black folks or abortion providers and citing the first person as inspiration, that’s not the first person’s speech being a direct cause of death?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    Someone saying that black folks or abortion providers need to die, and
    then someone else killing black folks or abortion providers and citing the first person as inspiration, that’s not the first person’s speech
    being a direct cause of death?

    Yup, that’s right. It’s the first person’s speech being an indirect cause of death. The direct cause of death is the second person actually killing someone. The difference is precisely that the speech requires a human being, who is legally presumed to have agency, to choose to act before anyone dies. Whereas the killing only requires the intermediation of things like guns, knives, bombs, etc…. which are legally presumed to have no agency.

    In other words, legally speaking the second person is responsible for committing murder, no matter who he or she claims as inspiration.

    Of course, this is a problem, because in practice people don’t always have agency and are more accurately thought of as being like guns. And we kind of know that. So the law doesn’t quite reflect our intuitions about this sort of thing.

    But on balance, I prefer the consequences of that confusion to the consequences of establishing in law the principle that people don’t have agency.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What then is the difference between someone in a bar saying “kill all fags” to someone else at the bar, who, observing a known gay person also in the bar, attempts to kill that person on the spot, and someone on TV saying “kill all fags” to a broad audience, one of whom, upon observing a known gay person, attempts to kill that person on the spot? Or am I mistaken and the first scenario places liability for the attempted murder solely on the person who committed it, not shared by the one who incited it?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    What then is the difference between someone in a bar saying “kill all fags” to someone else at the bar, who, observing a known gay person also in the bar, attempts to kill that person on the spot, and someone on TV
    saying “kill all fags” to a broad audience, one of whom, upon observing a known gay person, attempts to kill that person on the spot? 

    In practice? The strength of the impulse is much stronger in the first case. (If the bar contains only themselves, the potential shooter, and the potential victim, the impulse is even stronger. If there are three or four other potential shooters all pointing their guns at the potential victim, the impulse is stronger still.)

    Under the law? Typically no difference at all, as far as I know. (Under U.S. law, that is. Other jurisdictions, other ways.)

    There probably exist laws in some U.S. jurisdictions, and almost certainly exists U.S. case law, that treats the former case as you describe (much as there exists case law that treats queers hitting on men at a bar as legitimate grounds for assault, but no case law that treats men hitting on women at a bar that way). It’s a big country, and lots of decisions get made.

    As for what the legal principle underlying that case law is… beats the shit out of me. In practice, I suspect it reflects the intuitions of the people who happened to be in the courtroom. (Ditto for the case law about “gay panic.”) Case law, by its nature, is often pretty screwed up.

  • The_L1985

    Ideally, there would be no difference.  Telling someone else to kill, in either case, indirectly causes murder.  The direct cause of the murder is still the person using the gun, knife, or what have you to kill the victim.

    However, for conspiracy-to-commit-murder laws to come into play, it’s generally agreed by most law enforcement that you have to have a specific murderer in mind.

  • aunursa

    Someone saying that black folks or abortion providers need to die, and then someone else killing black folks or abortion providers and citing the first person as inspiration, that’s not the first person’s speech being a direct cause of death?

    Hundreds of millions of people read the Bible each day and consider it a blueprint for how to live their lives.  And then they go out and do not attempt to kill gay people or people who violate the Sabbath or disobediant children.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I don’t follow.

    I am not arguing, I do not think I have ever argued, that the statement “kill all fags” is unprotected and ought to be prosecuted, except in instances where someone heard it said and took it as a command to go kill a gay person.

    And it would be damn hard to prosecute the people who put that line in Leviticus. People who quote that line in a context where they intend it to be taken as a command rather than as an instance of people in the era Leviticus was written having different cultural pressures (in particular, if two people were having gay sex, then probably neither was having het sex, which meant neither was making babies, and with infant mortality like it was, the tribe needed babies, so gay sex could reasonably be argued to actually be hurtful), those people ought to be prosecuted for incitement to violence, if, again, someone takes them up on it.

  • aunursa

    I am not arguing, I do not think I have ever argued, that the statement “kill all fags” is unprotected and ought to be prosecuted, except in instances where someone heard it said and took it as a command to go kill a gay person.

    So whether or not it’s a crime in based — not on the content of the speech — but only on the response of the listener? The result of your argument is that the same speech would be considered criminal in one case and not criminal in another case based on something that is out of control of the speaker.

  • EllieMurasaki

    If no damage is done, then yeah, not worth prosecuting. Isn’t that true of everything that’s been declared a crime? It’s been declared a crime because it does damage to someone or something? Not that words alone can’t be damaging, of course, but we have a commitment to free speech in this country, and I do not recall anyone ever saying that it is still bad to shout “fire” in a crowded theater if the theater patrons’ response is to either stay sat or to proceed to the exits in an orderly fashion. The problem with shouting “fire” in a crowded theater is that the expected response is a mad rush to the exits and at least one person with bootprints on their face.

    People should not, of course, say “kill all fags”, and people should pretend Leviticus doesn’t say it either. But unless someone actually tries to do it, it’s the kind of problem where criminal prosecution will make things worse, not better.

  • aunursa

    If no damage is done, then yeah, not worth prosecuting. Isn’t that true of everything that’s been declared a crime? It’s been declared a crime because it does damage to someone or something?

    No.  It’s a crime because it violates the law, not because there is an actual victim.  If you drive 10 miles about the speed limit, you can be cited for a violation even if everyone else drives at the same speed and there is no actual victim.

    The problem with shouting “fire” in a crowded theater is that the expected response is a mad rush to the exits and at least one person with bootprints on their face.

    A person who shouts “fire” in a crowded theater can be prosecuted whether or not the speech causes panic and injury.  It’s a crime regardless of whether there is any actual injury.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I have officially lost track of your argument. If someone who shouts “fire” in a crowded theater can be prosecuted (and, you seem to imply, should be prosecuted) for doing so even if no one is hurt, then what on earth means that people who say “kill all fags” on national TV cannot and should not be prosecuted even when someone is hurt and the person doing the hurting cites the TV person as inspiration?

  • aunursa

    Falsely shouting “FIRE!” in a crowded theater is imminently dangerous and likely to result in injury or death, therefore making it a direct cause of such.  It’s highly likely that falsely shouting “FIRE!” in a crowded theater will result in unnecessary injury.

    While I’m not certain about “kill all fags”, saying something like “fags should die” in nearly all cases is not imminently dangerous because it does not put anyone in imminent danger.  It would be a rare person who would hear that sentence and then immediately seek to kill another person based entirely on hearing that sentence.

    Therefore your two examples are not comparable.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Supposing ‘rare’ means one in a hundred, an audience of one almost certainly won’t include someone who’ll do it. An audience of ten, probably not. An audience of a hundred, maybe not. An audience of a thousand, probably. An audience of ten thousand, almost certainly.

  • aunursa

    Certainly the Phelps family has received widespread, likely worldwide coverage, for the verbal diarrhea that routinely spews forth from their mouths. How many documented cases can you provide of deaths resulting from people who responded as a result of the Phelps’ hateful speech?

  • EllieMurasaki

    I don’t know of any offhand. How about we pretend you said Glenn Beck? http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/01/10/934890/-Stochastic-Terrorism-160-Triggering-the-shooters

  • aunursa

    How about we pretend I said the Phelps family.  Because that’s what I actually said.  So the fact that the Phelps family can loudly proclaim “GOD HATES FAGS” and “FAGS SHOULD DIE” does not result in imminent violence against the target of his diatribes.  However disgusting his message is, it is not a direct cause of violence.

    (The fact that you cite O’Reilly, Hannity, Beck, each of whom has tens of millions of viewers and listeners, and of whom a single person claims to have Beck as a primary motivation for his crimes.  This actually proves my point.  Beck has millions of listeners who have not gone out to start a violent revolution as a result of his speech.  Whatever he says, it’s obviously not an immediate incitement to go out and commit violence.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    No, what it actually means is that ‘rare’ in this case means one in several million.

  • Lunch Meat

    If I’m not mistaken (and I may be) there have been cases where the authorities did attempt to prosecute a public figure for incitement to murder when the murderer did cite the public figure’s words or was otherwise obviously inspired by them. I don’t think anyone is saying (please correct me if I’m wrong) that someone who says “Kill all X” shouldn’t be prosecuted for incitement to murder if it can be proven that that person’s words actually did act as an incitement–such as if the murderer cited those words. However, criminalizing hate speech would mean that someone saying “Kill all X” would be prosecuted whether or not anyone was listening and whether or not anyone acted on it.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    I don’t think anyone is saying (please correct me if I’m wrong) that
    someone who says “Kill all X” shouldn’t be prosecuted for incitement to murder if it can be proven that that person’s words actually did act as an incitement–such as if the murderer cited those words.

    I don’t think I’ve said that, though it’s hard to be sure… I try to be precise with my language, but there are limits to how precise I can in practice be in a blog comment.

    That said, though, I’ll say it now:
    someone who says “Kill all X” shouldn’t be prosecuted for incitement to murder even if the murderer cites those words.

    That said, someone who says “Kill all X” with the reasonable expectation that someone to whom they say it will commit murder should be, which seems to be the case we’re actually talking about, though we’re handwaving away the question of what constitutes such a reasonable expectation. 

  • aunursa

    And it would be damn hard to prosecute the people who put that line in Leviticus.

    Not just one line in Leviticus.  The Bible has a lot of nasty things to say about a lot of people whom it declares are deserving of punishment including death.  And yet hundreds of millions of people are able to read the Bible and go about their daily lives without killing gays or disobedient children or Sabbath violators or any other people whom the Bible deems are an abomination to the Lord and deserving of death.  Amazing!

  • EllieMurasaki

    You’re supporting my point, you realize.

  • aunursa

    I fail to see how I am supporting your point.  Hundreds of millions of people read what could be considered hate speech and do not go out and kill other people.  That supports my point that hate speech does not directly cause people to commit crimes.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So someone who says that they’re acting on someone else’s instructions to kill all fags, they are assumed to be lying, because everyone else who hear such instructions have better sense than to try?

  • aunursa

    So someone who says that they’re acting on someone else’s instructions to kill all fags, they are assumed to be lying, because everyone else who hear such instructions have better sense than to try?

    Not exactly.  Someone who kills someone else is responsible for the murder.  Someone who instructs someone else to kill a specific third party is responsible for the murder.  Someone who issues a broad statement that certain people deserve to die is not directly responsible for any ensuing deaths caused by a listener who decides to kill a third party based on the speech.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Someone is not responsible for a death that would not have occurred if that someone had kept their mouth shut?

  • aunursa

    There are many cases in which someone is not responsible for a death that would not have occurred if that person had not performed an action that indirectly led to the death.

    For example, if a suspect fleeing the police crashes his car into an innocent motorist, the police officers are not legally responsible for the resulting deaths even though the deaths would not have occurred if they had not initiated the high-speed chase in the first place.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Why would the cops be responsible for a suspect getting in a car crash that wouldn’t have happened if the suspect hadn’t ran?

    Why would someone who advocates killing gay people not be responsible for someone trying to kill a gay person and saying that it was on the first person’s instructions that they did it?

  • aunursa

    Why would the cops be responsible for a suspect getting in a car crash that wouldn’t have happened if the suspect hadn’t ran?

    By your reasoning, the suspect and the cops would share responsibility.  The suspect would bear partial responsibility because the deaths wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t fled.  And the cops would bear partial responsibility because the deaths wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t engaged in a high-speed pursuit.

    Why would someone who advocates killing gay people not be responsible for someone trying to kill a gay person and saying that it was on the first person’s instructions that they did it?

    From a legal standpoint, it depends on whether the directive is specific or advocates imminent violence.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    For example, if a suspect fleeing the police crashes his car into an
    innocent motorist, the police officers are not legally responsible for
    the resulting deaths even though the deaths would not have occurred if
    they had not initiated the high-speed chase in the first place.

    Police seems to think different, because the toll of bystanders got so high that they tell cops to not have car chases for non-violent crimes. (Roadblocks can capture a fleeing car, too).

    If the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can be trusted, real pedestrians are far less dexterous than their movie counterparts. In fact, at least
    a third of all fatalities in high speed chases tend to be innocent
    bystanders, just going about their day. We’re talking over 360 people
    per year, just flat out run over by cops and robbers who watch way too
    many movies. Well, that’s the official record, anyway. Geoffrey Alpert, a
    professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina and an expert on police chases, believes the actual number may be three to four times higher.The officials have started recognizing the problem, which is why cities
    like Milwaukee have changed their police guidelines to only allow chases
    if the suspect is wanted for a violent crime.
    So far, it seems to be working — chase-related injuries have been more
    than halved, and the number of pursuits resulting in crashes dropped
    from 25 to 12 over a six-month period
    Read more: The 6 Most Popular Crime Fighting Tactics (That Don’t Work) | Cracked.com http://www.cracked.com/article_19937_the-6-most-popular-crime-fighting-tactics-that-dont-work.html#ixzz28Lt31tiF

  • The_L1985

     No, the first person’s speech is an indirect cause of death.  For it to be a direct cause of death, the speaking of the words itself would have to kill the victim, without any listeners being necessary. :)

  • EllieMurasaki

    So someone in a bar who says “kill all fags” to someone else in a bar, and the second person spots a third bar patron who happens to be openly gay and the second person attempts to kill the third, the first person is in no way responsible?

  • The_L1985

     There is a difference between being an indirect cause of death, and not being a cause of death at all.  There are differing amounts of responsibility, yes, but in both cases we can all agree that the person saying “kill all fags” has done something wrong.

  • EllieMurasaki

    But people keep insisting that the person who says “kill all fags” on TV is not responsible for one of their viewers trying to do so. Why?

  • The_L1985

    Here are some possible reasons:

    1. They feel that the person is morally responsible, but can’t or shouldn’t be held legally responsible because such a law would be easily abused.

    2. They feel that the person is morally responsible and should also be legally responsible, and that the TV personalities are only getting away with it due to the corruption brought on by wealth, power, and fame.

    3. They feel that punishing the direct murderer, and implying that the person on TV is a bad person for saying these things, is enough–and that, somehow, mere disapproval will cause that person to stop spewing hatred on TV.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    But people keep insisting that the person who says “kill all fags” on TV
    is not responsible for one of their viewers trying to do so. Why?

    Dunno about people in general. In my particular case, because you keep eliding the difference between legal accountability and responsibility in general. They are different ideas and they serve different purposes.

  • Jessica_R

    I love some Ancient Greek graffiti I remember a historian explaining in a special I watched ages ago. On a wall is carved “Demetrius is beautiful.” A few feet away is carved “Says who?”

  • P J Evans

    I saw this one, painted on the side of a freeway overpass (it was there for quite a while):

    Who sold you  your indulgences?

  • Carstonio

    I have very strong qualms against trying to ban both blasphemy and hate speech. Not because of the slippery slope, but because it seems almost impossible to have a definition objective enough to pass legal muster.

    I’m still amazed that some European democracies have blasphemy laws – these seem like relics of the Dark Ages where religious authorities held power that often superseded those of civil authorities. Such laws basically let the religions in question dictate what is acceptable speech regarding those religions, providing them with the means to silence critics.

  • bobnelsonfr

    I’m still amazed that some European democracies have blasphemy laws…

    That amazes me so much that I don’t believe it to be the case… There are hate-speech laws, and some particular cases — it is illegal in France to deny the reality of the Holocaust — but I have never heard of any blasphemy laws. Could you cite something?

    Such laws basically let the religions in question dictate what is acceptable speech…

    Again… I know of no such case in the real world — only in slippery-slope arguments. Do you have any actual cases to cite?

  • Carstonio

    Wikipedia lists several European countries that still have these laws, including Austria, Germany, Ireland and Greece. The UK had these until 2008.

    Again… I know of no such case in the real world — only in slippery-slope arguments. Do you have any actual cases to cite?

    No. I’m saying that the effect is that the religions dictate what constitutes acceptable speech. The lawmakers would probably consult with the religions to determine what constitutes blasphemy or sacrilege, and those religions would naturally seek to make those definitions as large as possible to preserve their own power. Similar to corporations like Disney aggressively pursuing infringements on their copyrights.

  • bobnelsonfr

    Wikipedia lists… The UK had these until 2008.

    Oh, c’mon!! I hope you actually read the Wikipedia article. “The UK had these until 2008.” Ummmmm… The Wikipedia article specifically says that the last imprisonment was in… 1921! Seriously!!

    So let me ask you again: Do you have any real-world cases TODAY??

    No [I do not have any actual cases]. I’m saying that the effect is that the religions dictate what constitutes acceptable speech. The lawmakers would probably…

    I don’t understand, here… You recognize that you have no evidence of abuse of Europe’s real-world laws banning hate speech… but nevertheless, “lawmakers would probably…”

    You recognize that abuse of hate-speech laws goes against observed reality, but you maintain that they would be abused… 

    I don’t understand…

  • Carstonio

     Does Life of Brian count as today? True, none of the Pythons were imprisoned, but the film was banned in many jurisdictions in that country. It’s almost like you’re suggesting that a law should be considered anti-blasphemy only if the alleged blasphemer is prosecuted. Although imagine the irony if a film that depicts a stoning for blasphemy did result in criminal prosecution of its makers…

    You recognize that abuse of hate-speech laws goes against observed reality, but you maintain that they would be abused…

    I meant that there’s a very strong potential for blasphemy laws to be abused. If the First Amendment were done away with and such laws were proposed here, I can think of several fundamentalist demagogues who would have their followers lobby heavily for these laws to be as broad as possible. I’m talking about what could happen, not what would happen.

  • bobnelsonfr

    It’s almost like you’re suggesting that a law should be considered anti-blasphemy only if the alleged blasphemer is prosecuted.

    Not quite… I’m saying that a law cannot be deemed abusive unless there is actual evidence of abuse. If a law exists, but is never invoked, then it is probably just an avatar of another epoch, as there exist in every jurisdiction in the world! Our legislators are constantly creating laws, but not often eliminating outdated ones…  :-(((

    … there’s a very strong potential for blasphemy laws to be abused.

    Again… I do not understand! 
    1) You recognize that there are hate laws in Europe,
    2) You recognize that you have no evidence of abuse of those laws,
    3) You insist that “there is very strong potential” for abuse…

     

    I’m talking about what could happen…

    The sky could fall, too. But we’re not going to base our legal system on “could”, I hope! The real-world evidence is available, in Europe: well-crafted anti-hate-speech laws stop the Phelps stuff, without interfering with serious free speech. Wouldn’t it be better to make law based on real-world evidence than on “could”?

  • Carstonio

     

    I’m saying that a law cannot be deemed abusive unless there is actual evidence of abuse.

    You and I seem to be talking about two different things. My point is about laws that disallow speech against deities or venerated religious figures, not abuse of people based on personal characteristics.

    And my concerns about the dangers of blasphemy laws don’t necessarily involve Europe but the Middle East, and to a lesser extent the US. Early in the history of colonial Massachusetts, it was a jailable offense to speak against the ministers who controlled the government. Any law that proscribes speech of certain subjects is vulnerable to abuse.

  • bobnelsonfr

    I don’t think we’re talking about two different things — I think you are amalgamating them, perhaps not consciously. 

    You begin, here by insisting on “blasphemy”… but at the end you generalize again: “Any law that proscribes speech of certain subjects is vulnerable to abuse.”

  • Carstonio

    That generation was meant to express a free-speech principle. I see blasphemy laws as more vulnerable to abuse than laws proscribing speech against people based on characteristics. That’s because religions are powerful organizations that make varying degrees of claims to truth, so often (not always) they have a vested interest in controlling speech. Your post seemed to suggest that blasphemy was a form of abuse, and I doubt that speech against a deity can be compared to speech against a minority group.

  • bobnelsonfr

    I have no opinion on “blasphemy laws”. I know of none, in any modern country, so I don’t know if there is any objective way to form an opinion.

    I was speaking of anti-hate-speech laws, which do exist, which do preclude Phelps-type behavior, and which are not subject to abuse.

  • LouisDoench

     Europe isn’t America. We have a standard in this country… “You may not shout fire in a crowded movie theatre.” You may not directly incite violence.  “You go kill that guy.” isn’t protected speech. “Kill all the fags’ isn’t protected either.  But “God hates Fags” is,  it’s a legitimate expression of the Phelps clans religious and political beliefs.  They are also guaranteed by the first amendment to peaceably assemble, in public places, as much as any other political or religious group.  You may be fine  with granting my government the ability to abbrogate the Phelp’s clans 1st amendment rights from your comfortable perch an ocean away, you will have to forgive me if I’m less sanguine about such a course of action here, where due to the vicissitudes of partisan politics my ability as an Atheist to freely express myself is under constant attack.  I understand that perhaps you feel differently in Europe, but could you at least concede that perhaps we here in the States might have a different POV to observe our own cranks from?

    To be clear, I am an open advocate of hate crime laws, which seek to distinguish crimes that target an entire group of people in order to intimidate or harrass. Hate crimes laws are necessary to distinguish normal crimes against person or property from crimes that target the body politic itself.  But until such time as speech oversteps the bounds outlined by the Supreme Court, speech cannot be de-facto considered a crime.  The misdemeanor offense you prescribe to be applied to the Phelps church would be unconstitutional.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    To be clear, I am an open advocate of hate crime laws, which seek to distinguish crimes that target an entire group of people in order to intimidate or harrass. Hate crimes laws are necessary to distinguish normal crimes against person or property from crimes that target the body politic itself.

    Yes, this.

    I should probably have added this to my response to Münchner Kindl, as long as I was already writing all the words ever, but I didn’t think to.

  • bobnelsonfr

    I think there are a couple of non sequiturs here. 

    (As for “from Europe”, I should clarify: I am an American citizen, a US Army combat veteran, and I travel frequently to the US. I think I am both qualified and entitled to express opinions on American matters… and also on Europe. I think that having both points of view is… useful.)

    What does condoning Phelps’ very unChristian behavior have to do with your Atheism? Do you behave in a similar fashion? If not, why do you imagine that stopping their heinous behavior would have any impact whatsoever on you?

    And again… hate crimes don’t come from nowhere. They are ramped up by hate speech. Hate crime laws are too late — the crime has been committed. Don’t you think it would be better to work to prevent the crime from ever happening?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    Don’t you think it would be better to work to prevent the crime from ever happening?

    Depends on the mechanism.

    For example, I don’t think it would be better to arrest people who we think might be about to commit a crime, even if that prevented the crime from ever happening.

  • bobnelsonfr

    How about arresting people who suggest killing {fill in the target category of the hate speech}? The nutcases who end up committing hate crimes have usually been stoking their hatred on sources that could have been closed down.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Nope, I don’t think it would be better to arrest them either.

  • bobnelsonfr

    Do you think it would be better to avoid killings?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    Do you think it would be better to avoid killings?

    Of humans? Yes, all else being equal. (There are certainly circumstances where I would prefer someone be killed than that they be allowed to live, but they are the exception.)

    Of life forms in general? No, not really.

  • bobnelsonfr

    One question at a time?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Are you asking me why I only responded to your first question?

    If so, the answer — as I said in my later comment when I responded to the rest of your questions — is that you edited the comment after I first read it, and I was responding to the only question I saw. I responded to the rest of your questions when I noticed that they were there.

    If you’re asking me something different, please clarify.

    If you’re not really asking me a question at all, but just trying to score rhetorical points… here, have a rhetorical point.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     You edited your question after I answered it, so I’ll answer the second half here:

    Do you think that hate speech (inciting the killing of whatever group) contributes to nutcases’ killing people?

    Sure.

    I also think letting people drive contributes to drivers’ killing people, but I don’t endorse criminalizing driving. Not everything that contributes to killing people is or should be criminal.

    Coherent??

    I’m not sure what you’re asking.
    If you’re asking whether I think my position here is coherent: yes, I do.

  • AnonaMiss

    What does condoning Phelps’ very unChristian behavior have to do with your Atheism? Do you behave in a similar fashion? If not, why do you imagine that stopping their heinous behavior would have any impact whatsoever on you?

    And this is how we know you’re from Europe.

    Kidding aside, I believe Louis’s point is that in the USA, we have people in positions of power who would try to use hate speech laws as a way of policing blasphemy; and in many parts of the country, they could get away with it. Imagine what anti-hate speech law enforcement would look like in Israel or Bahrain, and you’ve got a decent idea.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    You may be fine  with granting my government the ability to abbrogate
    the Phelp’s clans 1st amendment rights from your comfortable perch an
    ocean away, you will have to forgive me if I’m less sanguine about such a
    course of action here, where due to the vicissitudes of partisan
    politics my ability as an Atheist to freely express myself is under
    constant attack.  I understand that perhaps you feel differently in
    Europe, but could you at least concede that perhaps we here in the
    States might have a different POV to observe our own cranks from?

    First, we do know that you USians consider Free Speech holier than everything.

    Second, nobody is trying to force our standards onto you. Maybe you could start by seeing the different POV by not starting out everytime with “Limiting Free Speech is slippery slope to no freedom!!!!” despite the evidence here in Europe that limiting Free Speech to avoid people getting beaten up or killed is possible without limiting all freedoms?

    You see, in Europe we see the purpose of laws in general to protect the weaker people in society, since the strong ones – the ones with power and money and influence – can protect themselves anyway. And monopoly of force means that we don’t run around with guns to enforce “Justice” or revenge ourselves, we expect the police and the courts to enforce the law.

    Obviously USians see this different, where Freedom comes first, and then nothing else for a long time. Police – as an US court once found – is not able to prevent every crime, so they are not responsible to prevent any crime; and laws don’t protect the weak ones, they protect the rich ones and “morals”.

    Third, all the upset about how (sensible) restrictions on Free Speech to prevent incitment to hatred, upset of peace or similar would mean an end of freedom – oh noes!! – is especially rich considering how much your freedom has already been restricted with the patriot act.
    We think for example that talking to the politicans and others in charge is a much more important part of free speech than the right to insult a gay person. But in the US, talking critically to Bush or other politicans was severely curtailed, even by police and Secret Service.

  • The_L1985

     “Ummmmm… The Wikipedia article specifically says that the last imprisonment was in… 1921! Seriously!!”

    There is a law currently on the books in Alabama that makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle without shoes on.  I doubt that anyone has been arrested for driving-without-shoes in quite a few decades.  However, a lack of imprisonment over a law doesn’t mean that the law itself is not still on the books.

  • bobnelsonfr

    So… you think it is a good idea to create future policy on the basis of  laws that are still on the books, but that no one enforces?

    Or do I not understand your point here??

    ;-))

  • The_L1985

    I never said that.  All I said is that those laws are still on the books.  The following chain of events happened:

    1. Another person said that several European countries have blasphemy laws on the books, and several others only abolished their blasphemy laws recently.

    2. You apparently equated a lack of blasphemy convictions with a lack of blasphemy laws.

    3. I responded with the statement that I made.

    Even if a law is not enforced, the knowledge that that law exists can affect people’s behavior.  In the case of blasphemy laws, a person may be very afraid to say something that may be construed as blasphemy even if the law itself hasn’t been enforced in quite some time.

  • Münchner Kindl

     I assume they are referring to some hate speech laws in the UK and Canada which also target specific instances of hate against religions. That’s why chick tracts are banned in Canada.

  • bobnelsonfr

    Seems likely… if the ban is real. I took a quick Google, and found lots of sites that said this is the case… but none were Canadian…

    I don’t know chick tracts, but from what Wikipedia says about them, they might well qualify as hate speech, particularly for their homophobia.

  • The_L1985

     They also lie blatantly about the beliefs and practices of Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Satanists, atheists, and all other people who aren’t the exact same kind of Christian as Jack Chick.

    You can read the original tracts themselves at chick.com and they’re pretty much all horrible.  (Dis)honorable mentions go to “Allah Had No Son,” “The Death Cookie,” and basically any dumbed-down version of another tract “for African-American audiences.”

    There are 3 tracts I know of that have been discontinued:
    – a tract that explains how Dungeons & Dragons and other such board games lead teenagers headlong into the occult
    – a tract that implies that even if you’ve raped your own prepubescent daughter (no, really), everything will magically be OK again if you repent and say the Magic Prayer
    – a tract that insists that Christian rock is Satanism in disguise.

  • Münchner Kindl

     The parody site Chick Museum has an entry about the ban in Canada http://members.tripod.com/monsterwax/chicklaws.html

    It all started during the 1980s when a right wing anti-immigrant
    party called “The Freedom Front” started to distribute Jack’s
    tracts to highlight how Jews, Catholics and Buddhist Asians were destined
    to hell (see Holocaust , The Death Cookie and The Tycoon).
    Okay, so maybe they were just trying to save some lost souls, but lets assume
    for the sake of paranoia that they distributed the tracts out of meanness
    instead of brotherly love. Whatever the motivation, the liberals assumed
    the worse and demanded an end to free speech. Although they didn’t outlaw
    the actual tracts, sometime in the early
    1980s, Attorney General Roy McMury went on nation wide Canada TV and
    announced a special ban on Chick’s comic books of Alberto
    and Double Cross.
    It’s been downhill ever since.

  • bobnelsonfr

    Thanks for the link. I followed it, and the links it led to… and I still have the impression that the source of the “chick tracts are banned in Canada” legend is… Chick…

    Not that that necessarily means it isn’t true, but it hardly seems a reliable source…   ;-)))

  • Münchner Kindl

     True, I don’t know if it’s correct – because the way it’s phrased, it reads like hyperbole. Maybe some Canadian slacktivists could clear this up.

    But the site itself is most certainly not pro-Chick – they are making fun of him, but see him like Ed Wood type apparently.

  • Damanoid

    Sadly, the Church of Pony Jesus did not survive the Council of Nicea.  

  • Jeff Weskamp

    The graffiti of Pompeii also included political endorsements, such as “The worshippers of Isis in Pompeii favor So-And-So for the office of aedile.”  We also learn that gladiators had “stage names” that they fought under, such as Hilarus (the Joker) and Lepidus (the Nice Guy).

    My favorite wall writing from Pompeii is not technically a piece of graffiti, but rather a list drawn on the wall of a brothel, listing various sexual acts available and their fees.
    Stephen King wrote a short story, “All That You Love Will Be Carried Away,” about a depressed travelling salesman who collected graffiti messages in a notebook.  Most of the graffiti came from rest areas King stopped at while travelling around the country on a book tour.

  • Hawker40

    Grafitti… the bathroom in the Transient Personnel Barracks at Edwards Air Farce Base in the California desert had a written list of military units, presumably the home units of the transient personnel.  Amid the lists of Air Farce, Navy, Army, Luftwaffe, RAAF and JSDF units were the following…
    17th Underground Zeppelin Squadron, Carlsbad Caverns New Mexico
    23rd Unterzee Panzer Division, Zunder Zee Duetchland
    1st Division (Polaris), 3rd Regiment (Pampered Pets), 2nd Battalion, G Company (Rico’s Roughnecks), Klendathu

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The omgslippery slope hate propaganda laws have right-wing Canadians all up a-lather, too.

    It’s kind of funny how the only people who resent “hate” laws are members of the relatively privileged majority.

  • aunursa

    For anyone who supports criminalizing hate speech:  I ask you to provide a definition of hate speech — or guidelines on what constitutes hate speech — that would not include content from the Bible or the Koran.

    Alternately, admit that legislating and enforcing laws against hate speech would result in the banning of those books.

  • Münchner Kindl

     I don’t know enough about the Koran to be sure (but I’m almost sure), but the Bible is not a hate tract. A person reading the Bible on their own will not conclude “Kill all gays”. There is exactly one verse about “If one man lies with another like a woman they must be stoned” and that’s hidden in Leviticus, not only among all those “Don’t boil a kid in the mothers milk”, but also more boring like “if a man has spots on his skin, isolate him for two weeks, then the priests must look at the spots again. If they have increased, he is a leper … if they have not increased, wait another two weeks … rrrr, sorry, I dozed off.

    As Fred has repeadtly pointed out, the most-often repeated lession in both Old and New Testament is “help the poor”.

    This is quite different from hate tracts like the false “Protocols of Elders of Zion” or modern pamphlets like Chick tracts, where the only message is “Bad, bad, danger, satan, baby-killers”

    And I don’t need to admit anything, because we have a law in Germany against “inciting race hatred or disturbing the peace among nations”. We also have a law protection “personal honor” meaning that it’s forbidden to directly insult people. And yet neither the Bible nor the Koran is banned, and pastors preach in their churches. (They don’t preach about hating gays because they studied theology.)
    If a muslim extremist preacher calls for a slaughter of innocents, he will be watched by the police to prevent bloodshed. If a self-made preacher of some sect would call for killing of doctors, the police would also watch him (but we have less crazies of that sort, or they make less headlines).

  • Eminnith

    Why I do not want to see hate speech laws in the United States of America:
    Because in today’s political climate, and in the political climate I expect we’ll have for at least the next several years, any hate speech law would be written with the input of the Religious Right. Who wants James Dobson deciding what we’re allowed to say?

  • aunursa

    Ellie: By your reasoning someone would not be able to determine before he acts to spread a message whether or not his intended act is a crime.  That concept is wholly contrary to the American criminal justice system.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Obvious solution: don’t say anything that suggests it’s a good idea to hurt someone.

  • aunursa

    All the time I read comments on this board that suggest it’s a good idea to hurt people, that suggest that it would be a good thing if certain people would suffer and die (e.g. Republican lawmakers, certain Supreme Court justices.)  By your reasoning such statements could be considered punishable hate speech.

  • EllieMurasaki

    (1) subtle but relevant difference between “wish Scalia would die soon” and “someone ought to kill Scalia”; there is a reason that my hypotheticals have all included someone saying “kill all fags” rather than someone saying “fags should die”. (2) someone here saying someone ought to kill Scalia should only be prosecuted for it if someone else tries to kill Scalia and cites the comment here as inspiration. Which is not to condone anyone calling for Scalia’s death, but if Scalia doesn’t actually suffer death or injury as a result of someone calling for Scalia’s death, then the law shouldn’t get involved.

  • aunursa

    I regret that your understanding of the American criminal justice system is flawed.  You would make the same act a crime or not a crime based on circumstances completely out of the control of the person who commits the act.

    “John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr.–where are you now that we need you?”

    Would you consider that question to be an incitement to assassination?

  • EllieMurasaki

    What would you suggest, then? Let people go unpunished because they did not personally do harm even though they caused harm to be done, or punish people for saying they want harm done even when no harm has been done? Because I am only seeing three choices here.

  • aunursa

    What would you suggest, then?

    I would suggest that we step back and realize that without a specific directive to commit violence or a call for imminent violence, the perpetrator is the one who bears the harm that his actions cause.

    Fight hate speech with more speech — not less.
    Refute hate speech — don’t silence it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What criteria are you using to distinguish “a call for imminent violence” from what I’ve been talking about?

  • aunursa

    “[T]he constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”
    Brandenburg v Ohio, 1969

    “All fags should die!” versus  “Let’s go kill a fag!”

  • EllieMurasaki

    As I’ve already explained, “all fags should die” is different in an important respect from “kill all fags”, and you are failing to show the difference between “kill all fags” and “let’s go kill a fag”. Other of course than that, while both speakers intend literal blood on a listener’s hand, only metaphorical blood gets on the first speaker, while the second intends to participate in the killing. Which isn’t a difference that would get Brandenburg involved to prohibit the second speech but not the first.

  • Lunch Meat

    Can you give a citation of Beck, Hannity or a similar public figure saying “Kill all fags” or otherwise directly, specifically, and literally instructing their listeners to go out and attack a specific group of people? Your dailykos link cites these examples:

    “The clock is ticking. . . . The war is just beginning. . . . Shoot me
    in the head if you try to change our government. . . . You have to be
    prepared to take rocks to the head. . . . The other side is attacking. .
    . . There is a coup going on. . . . Grab a torch! . . . Drive a stake
    through the heart of the bloodsuckers. . . . They are taking you to a
    place to be slaughtered. . . . They are putting a gun to America’s head.
    . . . Hold these people responsible.”

    Violent imagery? Absolutely. Predicting or condoning violence? Yes. Encouraging violence by implying it’s justified? Yes. But the only imperative sentences, the only real instructions in there have plausible deniability because they’re symbolic and metaphorical: “a torch” and “a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers.” I don’t think these are analagous to “kill all fags.”

  • EllieMurasaki

    Not offhand. Know somewhere that’s got all of their transcripts?

  • aunursa

    The U.S. Supreme Court … ruled that Hess’ speech, taken in context, was unlikely to produce any “imminent disorder.” (It was later determined that Hess actually said the crowd could take the street “later” or “again.”)

    Hess continues to be cited by the courts to protect speech that threatens future lawless action.

    Hess v Indiana

    If the speaker indicates that, immediately following the conclusion of his message, his listeners should seek out a person to attack, then his speech would constitute a direction to commit “imminent lawless action” and would be likely to incite or produce such action, regardless of whether the speaker himself participated in the subsequent action.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Skimming the opinion on Findlaw, Hess was arrested for saying “fuck” in public. Not for advocating violence. Not for advocating lawlessness, unless there is some reason to believe that anyone at that antiwar demonstration was acting contrary to the law, and if there is such reason then it didn’t make it into the opinion, which is odd considering that Indiana said Hess was arrested for advocating lawlessness. As far as I can tell, Hess was participating in a perfectly legal exercise of the rights to free speech and free assembly, the sheriff did not like the message that that assembly was trying to send, and the sheriff heard Hess say “fuck” and used that as an excuse to arrest him.

    This case has not a damn thing to do with the subject under discussion.

  • aunursa

    This case has not a damn thing to do with the subject under discussion.

    The courts that have cited Hess regarding lawless action disagree with your assessment.

    Appellant, who was arrested during an antiwar demonstration on a college campus for loudly stating, “We’ll take the fucking street later (or again),” was subsequently convicted for violating the Indiana disorderly conduct statute. The State Supreme Court affirmed, relying primarily on the trial court’s finding that the statement “was intended to incite further lawless action on the part of the crowd in the vicinity of appellant and was likely to produce such action.” Held: Appellant’s language did not fall within any of the “narrowly limited classes of speech” that the States may punish without violating the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and since the evidence showed that the words he used were not directed to any person or group and there was no evidence that they were intended and likely to produce imminent disorder, application of the statute to appellant violated his rights of free speech.

    The Indiana Supreme Court placed primary reliance on the trial court’s finding that Hess’ statement “was intended to incite further lawless action on the part of the crowd in the vicinity of appellant and was likely to produce such action.”
    FindLaw

    It’s quite clear from the FindLaw summary that the court made its decision on the defendent’s entire (alleged) statement, and not just on the profanity that he uttered.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What violence did Hess advocate? What law did he suggest breaking, or encourage the continued breaking of? Far as I can tell from the opinion, the only thing Hess and companions might have done illegally is not get out of the street the very instant the sheriff said to. Might because I have yet to figure out whether a police officer’s instructions have the force of law. Though I suppose there might be or have been a law against peaceful assembly in the middle of the street, in which case I take your point but you do have to first prove the existence of such a law and explain why it applies to an antiwar protest but not to kids at play.

  • aunursa

    In the course of the demonstration, approximately 100 to 150 of the demonstrators moved onto a public street and blocked the passage of vehicles. When the demonstrators did not respond to verbal directions from the sheriff to clear the street, the sheriff and his deputies began walking up the street, and the demonstrators in their path moved to the curbs on either side, joining a large number of spectators who had gathered. Hess was standing off the street as the sheriff passed him.

    It was later stipulated that [the defendent] had said … “We’ll take the fucking street later,” or “We’ll take the fucking street again.”

    It’s clear from the various court statement that the prosecution argued that the defendent was advocating that the demonstrators should commit an illegal action by retaking the street at a later point and again block vehicular traffic.  In other words, he was advocating lawless action, but the Supreme Court determined that his speech was protected specifically because he was not advocating imminent lawless action.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What law forbids or forbade blocking vehicles?

  • aunursa

    I’m not a legal expert on Indiana law, and I can’t cite a specific ordinance.  That said, I have not found any evidence in the case that the defense argued (as you seem to be suggesting) that blocking vehicular traffic is not a crime — which would be a most obvious argument by the defense if that were the case.  If you are in fact arguing that blocking vehicular traffic is generally not a crime, then that’s certainly a novel approach.  But it doesn’t change the fact that legal experts agree that the result of Hess is that speech that advocates lawless action at some undetermined future time is protected by the First Amendment.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I think there’s quite a few people who park such that other people cannot move their cars, or who play games with other children in the street, who would be surprised to learn that their behavior is illegal, rather than merely rude.

  • aunursa

    As you are deliberately misrepresenting my statement, I see that you are no longer arguing in a serious manner; you do appear not to have any sincere interest in the understanding legal distinctions that we have been discussing.

    Therefore I quit.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’d love to know how I misrepresented your argument and what makes you think I deliberately did something I either did not do or did unawares.

  • aunursa

    You implied no legal distinction between a crowd of demonstrators using a public street to prevent vehicles from passing through and adults playing ball with children in a street, when it would be obvious to any reasonable person.

    Additionally, you remain focused on the question of which specific law blocking traffic violates, when that has nothing to do with the legal issues that Hess addresses  — and which constitute its relevance to our debate.

    You can continue to argue that Hess doesn’t distinguish between imminent lawlessness and non-imminent lawlessness.  But I’m not going to play along anymore.  I’d rather spend my time with opponents who are arguing in good faith.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I see no distinction between peacefully blocking a street and peacefully blocking a street, yes. And if the action Hess advocated was not in fact illegal, then it cannot have been illegal to advocate that action, which renders any Hess-based discussion of the difference between imminent lawless action and non-imminent lawless action utterly irrelevant.

  • P J Evans

     There are a lot of people who would be very surprised if they were ticketed for violating traffic regulations in parking lots (speeding and driving the wrong way come immediately to mind).

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Exactly what do you think society stands to gain by prosecuting those hatemongers who aren’t careful to couch their comments in such a way as to dodge the strict technical definition? I’m pretty sure that Glenn Beck, Fred Phelps, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson et all *are* very careful to say “It would be a blessing if (Obama|The gays|all democrats) would die” and not “Please murder them”.

    Do you really think that the one causes violence in a way the other doesn’t?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, it would only net the haters stupid enough to specify that they want the calamity befalling the hatees to be human-caused instead of purely natural, wouldn’t it? So it’s not perfect and probably cannot be made so. And maybe there are better ways to solve at least part of the problem, though I’ve yet to hear one. (Other than ‘wait for demographic change’, but that isn’t happening quickly enough and of course it’d be abhorrent to speed the process.) Neither of those is an argument for why it shouldn’t be done.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    And maybe there are better ways to solve at least part of the problem, though I’ve yet to hear one.

    I’m not quite sure what “the problem” is, actually, it’s shifted around quite a bit in the subset of this exchange I’ve read.

    If it’s mentally ill people who hear media personalities like Glenn Beck demonizing group X and thereafter kill or otherwise significantly harm people in group X, I endorse the solution of devoting resources to diagnosing and caring for the mentally ill.

    If it’s non-mentally-ill people doing that, I endorse the solution of legislating
    against murder and other significant forms of harm, devoting resources to investigating those crimes when they occur, arresting and prosecuting criminals murderers, and punishing convicted criminals.

    If it’s members of group X or other bystanders suffering emotional trauma or otherwise being directly injured by such speech, I endorse preventing such speech in environments where such targets/bystanders have no reasonable recourse (e.g., workplaces, schools, bus stations, etc., but not television broadcasts, unless the broadcast is somehow mandatory viewing).

    I accept that you don’t necessarily consider those better ways to solve those problems than silencing or prosecuting the media personalities in question, and I’m not trying to convince you otherwise.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The problem under discussion, at least in my view, is people engaging in violence that they would not be engaged in if someone whose opinions they greatly respect had not promoted that violence. Putting more resources into dealing with the perpetrators (regardless of the perpetrators’ state of mental health) will not stop the person who said it was a good idea to get violent from continuing to say that it is a good idea to get violent, nor will it mean any sort of consequences for that person with respect to the violent acts springing from that person’s words.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I agree that it won’t stop people who say getting violent is a good idea from saying that, nor will it mean consequences for that person when other people commit violence.

    It will address the problem of people engaging in violence, though… both the particular subset of it you describe, and the larger superset.

  • Madhabmatics

    This argument is dumb as hell, realtalk.  We’ve got half the thread going “Oh man, if you ban hate speech then the bible and the koran will be banned and so will blasphemy!” and yet we actually, in real life, have a ton of countries with hate speech laws that somehow do not result in both the repression of religion and anti-religion.

    Then we have people acting as if “blasphemy” is all hate speech. That’s dumb too, blasphemy encompasses a whole lot of actions – some of which will be hate speech, some won’t. Salafis believe that the way Ismaili pray is blasphemous, but that’s not even close to hate speech. Hate speech laws (again, as they actually work in the real world where humans have implemented them, and not in pretend world where they will immediately ban saying “Yeah I don’t like The Prophet”) do not require you to respect a religion or it’s teachings.

  • Carstonio

    For what it’s worth, I see laws against blasphemy and laws against hate speech as two different things, and both are affected by the principle of free speech, but in different ways. The latter do not make a distinction between serious claims that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead and pranks such as the one Fred illustrates above.

  • Madhabmatics

     That’s because neither of those things are hate speech, hope this helps

  • The_L1985

     Er, no. Both things would be classified as blasphemy.  However, saying that a person who is Christian is stupid or horrible for being Christian, in a society in which Christianity is an unpopular minority (like, say, first-century Rome), is hate speech according to most definitions of the term.

  • Madhabmatics

     The example in the article isn’t “saying a christian is horrible for being a christian” and saying a religion is dumb isn’t hate speech. Do you seriously believe that France is running around arresting people for saying “Islam is dumb” as opposed to “Muslims control our government!!”

  • The_L1985

     It depends.  Telling an individual Christian “Ha ha, you’re dumb because invisible sky daddy!!” isn’t hate speech.  It’s mean and obnoxious, but not hate speech.

    However, around the same time as that Alexomenous graffiti was drawn up, you had people accusing Christians of literally killing and eating babies.

    I would argue that what is merely obnoxious in isolation can become hate speech in a larger context of blood libel and discrimination.

  • Madhabmatics

     Perhaps we could make blood libel illegal and let people retain the right to mock the religion, like they do in countries with hate speech laws.

  • Madhabmatics

    Seriously the image people are painting of places like france* are hilarious. “No, you don’t understand, we will all sink together – only the apathetic will survive!”

    this thread is literally the plot to G.K. Chesterton’s “The Ball and the Cross”

    *A country that has hate speech laws AND literally banned protesting against blasphemy, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech_laws_in_France

  • AnonaMiss

    I love the fact that parts of America are controlled by religionists who would turn hate speech laws into blasphemy-laws-in-practice in no time flat is being ignored by our enlightened European guests. 

    I imagine them sipping their poor quality tea – with milk and sugar, that’s how bad the tea is – and tutting to themselves. “These Americans think hate speech laws could be harmful! Clearly this is an insult to all countries that already have them on the books, and cannot stand!” Then they adjust their monocles and resume commenting.

  • The_L1985

    It’s like they forgot that Republicans exist.

  • Münchner Kindl

     More like ignoring that when screaming “Slippery Slope – restriction of all freedoms” is pointed out to be not true.

    After all, you USians didn’t say “In our country in the current time, hate speech laws could be abused”. You USians said “OMG, hate speech laws will restrict freedom” and when told “Well no, it works quite well over here” going “Lalala , we can’t hear you”.

    But this isn’t the first and won’t be the last discussion on the Internet where the Yanks claim that absolute freedom of speech is the highest right possible that trumps everything else, while the Euros think that people’s right to life and health and being able to go everywhere without fear of being beaten down by a mob are more important than the right of a few demagogues to get power and money by manipulating the crowds.

    Obviously Euros tend to think that a whole lot of other laws brought by the right-wingers in the US are crazy too, and incopamptible with human rights, and should be changed, also. But since in the US, rights begin and end with freedom, the freedom of the powerful to take what they want is more important than the protection of the powerless.
    And I can’t remembery anybody claiming that introducing hate speech laws right now would turn the US into a valley of roses.
    But since you Yanks defend the principle of free speech above all, we Euros point out that other aspects play a part, too, and that it’s not a natural law that hate speech laws will stop freedom. (More than you already did for security purposes, or simply by quietly doing away with methods of free speech by simply letting newspapers die. No law necessary if there is no way to get heard…)

    And since the Yanks are willing to let people die to uphold a principle, while we think that the principle is to protect people, I don’t think this will ever get resolved.

  • Carstonio

     

    the Yanks claim that absolute freedom of speech is the
    highest right possible that trumps everything else

    That’s a straw man. While I can’t speak for any other USians, my own stance is that all organizations of all types, including government, have a natural desire to control speech for their own interests. So attempts by organizations to limit speech through law must be regarded with the highest suspicion. The burden of proof must be set extremely high for any attempt by law to control speech.

    My point is really much more about blasphemy laws and not hate speech laws. There’s no definition of blasphemy that would pass legal muster, and no way to define it without effectively turning over control of speech regarding the religion to the religion itself. Any religion has a vested interest in seeing speech about it be as favorable as possible.

    The rioters in the Middle East, while a tiny minority in their countries, have arguably created a climate of fear where
    people with valid criticisms of Islamic theology might be afraid to
    speak. It’s unacceptable as a matter of principle to use fear to control speech. (Aside: the real problem with the Danish cartoons was that demagogues in that part of the world recirculated the works with other, unrelated images to make them seem more offensive.) Instead of prosecuting folks like the cartoonist, it would be much more just to prosecute the folks who are actually being violent. If you’re offended by anything anyone says about your god or venerated religious figure, surely that’s your problem.

    Organizational control of speech is not so much an issue with hate speech laws, but again, what constitutes hate speech would seem to be highly subjective at best. This wouldn’t be a slippery slope, but just simply a lack of an objective concrete basis for writing law. I view criminal law as the tool of last resort, where a compelling government interest is required. My strong preference would be to try every other tool in the toolbox before attempting to ban hate speech or prosecute folks who make such speech.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    That’s a straw man. While I can’t speak for any other USians, my own
    stance is that all organizations of all types, including government,
    have a natural desire to control speech for their own interests. So
    attempts by organizations to limit speech through law must be regarded
    with the highest suspicion. The burden of proof must be set extremely
    high for any attempt by law to control speech.

    It’s not a straw man, it’s based on the reactions by the USians in this and other thread claiming that every restriction of Free Speech means slippers slope end of freedom … and that’s bad.

    Even Fred in a post some days ago talked about how absolute freedom of speech was essential for a country – thereby again reducing all non-US countries to “not really free”.

    (Aside: the real problem with the Danish cartoons was that demagogues in
    that part of the world recirculated the works with other, unrelated
    images to make them seem more offensive.)

    Actually it was demagogues on both sides – the newspaper the cartoons originally appeared in was a right-wing nationalistic jingoist foreigner-hating paper. The jingoists got to show the Westerns “see how dangerous and dumb the Muslims / brown people are, keep them out of our country/ Europe” and the demagogues in Muslim countries got to show their crowds “See how much the West hates and disrespects us and our religion”. (That some crowds bashed the Swiss embassies because they confused the flag with Denmark is a sad-ironic sidenote on lack of knowledge in crowds that get upset and manipulated, similar to how Anti-Muslim = Anti-Arab resentment in the US has lead to attacks on Sikhs for their turbans, or demonstrations with pork against Christan Arabs).

    Instead of prosecuting folks like the cartoonist, it would be much more
    just to prosecute the folks who are actually being violent. If you’re
    offended by anything anyone says about your god or venerated religious
    figure, surely that’s your problem.

    Maybe you didn’t notice, but the violent riots about the cartoons mostly  occured in the Middle East – where the Danish laws don’t apply and the Danish courts have no jurisdiction. And since several of those countries are still ruled authoritarian, the average Joe on the street (or Achmed) honestly doesn’t understand that the Danish govt. can’t stop the cartoons because in his country, the govt. could and would stop them. So a govt. official telling Denmark to apologize for the cartoons shows ignorance combined with demagogueing to keep people from complaining about the problems of their govt. at home.

    My point is really much more about blasphemy laws and not hate speech
    laws. There’s no definition of blasphemy that would pass legal muster,
    and no way to define it without effectively turning over control of
    speech regarding the religion to the religion itself.

    I finally did remember a Western country (kind of) that has blasphemy laws: the US with the Broadcast decency act http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broadcast_Decency_Enforcement_Act_of_2005 enforced by the FCC, where every time somebody says shit or fuck on TV the station is fined. “Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1464 prohibits the utterance
    of any ‘obscene, indecent or profane language by means of radio
    communication”
    Because … ? It harms the little kiddies? (I see that although the FCC also fined Jackson for Nipplegate, this was overturned by the Court, so it doesn’t fully count).

    So how does that work out in practise, aside from serving as theme for one South Park episode (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_Hits_the_Fan)?

  • Carstonio

    “Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1464 prohibits the utterance of any ‘obscene, indecent or profane language by means of radio
    communication”

    I too have long questioned how both the FCC and the broadcasters handle content, treating violence as more acceptable than sex. Still, what you quoted doesn’t apply to blasphemy, which is defined as irreverence for gods or for other things that religions revere. The law you cite would hypothetically have no problem with the line “Jesus is a loser” but it would with the phrase “Jesus is a fucking loser.”

    Maybe you didn’t notice, but the violent riots about the cartoons
    mostly  occured in the Middle East – where the Danish laws don’t apply
    and the Danish courts have no jurisdiction.

    True. I was stating a matter of principle – ultimately anyone who commits violence should be held responsible for it.

    the average Joe on the street (or Achmed) honestly doesn’t understand
    that the Danish govt. can’t stop the cartoons because in his country,
    the govt. could and would stop them. So a govt. official telling Denmark
    to apologize for the cartoons shows ignorance combined with
    demagogueing to keep people from complaining about the problems of their
    govt. at home.

    No question about the latter. My point is that the average Joe or Achmed on the street should understand that other governments do not control that type of speech. At the least, they should understand it before considering taking to the streets in what you and I agree is manufactured outrage.

  • Madhabmatics

    Seriously if hate speech laws automatically mean you can never say anything vaguely against a minority religion, there should be a ton of cases where people are thrown in jail for making invisible sky wizard jokes, right?

  • AnonaMiss

    Seriously, is there a reason why no one on the “Hate speech laws are cool” side is engaging my objection?

    I’ll admit, I got provocative in my most recent post – but until L commiserated, as far as I could tell, no one was even seeing my objection. Thus, provocation: trying to provoke a response.

    Is the “religionists in charge would turn hate speech laws into blasphemy laws” argument really so stupid or hyperbolic that I’m better off being ignored? Because believe it or not, I am capable of and open to having my mind changed by the internet. 

    If there’s a log in my eye, please, point it out to me. I’m much less attached to being right than to keeping my vision as clear as possible.

  • The_L1985

     It isn’t.  People are ignoring you because they’re having too much fun weighing in on the aunursa vs. Ellie argument.

  • aunursa

    Everybody would like to prohibit some speech by their opponents that they find offensive. Yet nobody would like to grant their opponents a veto power over any of their own speech.

    Wisdom is with those like you who recognize that we can’t have one without the other.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I’d be happy to engage your objection, except I actually agree with you.

  • bobnelsonfr

    Sorry… I didn’t see your second post.

    Do you really see driving and inciting to hate crime as equivelent?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    >Sorry… I didn’t see your second post.

    It’s cool.

    >Do you really see driving and inciting to hate crime as equivelent?

    You decide.

    You asked me if I thought hate speech contributes to people being killed, in a context that suggested that contributors to people being killed was an important category.

    If it’s an important category, then things that fall into that category are relevant, including driving.

    If it’s not an important category, I’m happy to ignore it.  

  • bobnelsonfr

    Free speech is a right. Is driving a right?

    Driving is regulated as a matter of course. Should free speech be regulated equally easily?

    I didn’t make a parallel between the two. You did. I presume you thought about the comparison for more than two seconds before posting…

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Free speech is a right.

    Yes.

    Is driving a right?

    No.

    Driving is regulated as a matter of course.

    Yes.

    Should free speech be regulated equally easily?

    Speech is, and should be, regulated.
    But we should be far more cautious about banning people from speaking than banning people from driving.
    So, no, it should not be regulated equally easily.

    I didn’t make a parallel between the two. You did.

    True.

    I presume you thought about the comparison for more than two seconds before posting…

    I appreciate that. It’s always nice when people presume I’m a sensible human being, even in cases like this one where I question their sincerity.

    Anyway, I’ll try one more time to articulate the comparison I’m making. If you sidestep it again, I will declare you the winner and retire from the field in ignominious defeat.

    Certain kinds of speech can, as you pointed out initially, contribute to people being killed in a small percentage of cases. Is that sufficient reason to ban that speech?

    Certain kinds of driving can contribute to people being killed in a small percentage of cases. Is that sufficient reason to ban that driving?

  • bobnelsonfr

    Certain kinds of driving can contribute to people being killed in a small percentage of cases. Is that sufficient reason to ban that driving?

    No one wants to ban either driving or free speech. Driving is regulated, in as much as people get killed. Driving laws try to save lives without excessively hassling drivers.

    YOU brought up driving as an analogy to free speech. Are you saying that free speech should likewise be regulated to the extent that excessively hateful speech can kill people?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    No one wants to ban either driving or free speech.

    I specifically referred to certain kinds of driving, and certain kinds of speech… specifically, the kinds that can contribute to people being killed in a small percentage of cases.

    I can’t tell whether you’re accidentally changing the topic here (to all cases of driving and speech) because you really didn’t understand me, or intentionally changing it in order to replace what I said with something easier to dismiss, or actually keeping the topic unchanged.

    In the latter case, you’re simply mistaken. Yes, some people do want to ban the kinds of driving, and the kinds of speech, that I referred to.Regardless, I’m tired of having what I say distorted, whether intentionally or otherwise. I’m also tired of an exchange in which I’m expected to answer your questions and you don’t bother to answer mine. So I’m tapping out of this exchange here (as I said I would). You win the debate.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Wait a second, isn’t Pussy Riot being unfairly p(ro|er)secuted for blasphemy and hate speech right now? Does Russia count as Europe these days?

  • Münchner Kindl

     No. Russia never counted culturally historically as Europe. Then there was the Iron Curtain, and afterwards, both the US and the West dropped the ball by handing over money without looking, creating the Russian mafia and plutocrachs grabbing what was left standing of the state. When the majority of the Russians got even poorer than under the Soviets, they elected authoritarian dictator Putin, who’s ruled anti-democratically ever since*. They don’t have free or neutral media in Russia (only on the internet). They have neo-fascist youth groups. They are busily rewriting history so that Russia always wins, and claiming that everybody is out to destroy Russia, so that people will rally behind the president. (After two invasions in history, a bit of paranoia is understandable, but this is just manipulation like in North Korea or the US being afraid of invasions).

    Putin has a strong connection with the powerful Orthodox Church. There are strict anti-gay laws on the books. And the blasphemy charge against pussy riot is pushed by the Church, and Putin doesn’t want to loose them.

    Western Europe is protesting against it and denouncing it, but there’s not much else that can be done.

    * Yes I know that technically Medwew was in charge in between. But every expert agreed that he was only a puppet for Putin.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    “All fags should die!” versus  “Let’s go kill a fag!”

    And such is the hair-splitted decision made that one statement, and not the other, permits a person to claim with wide-eyed faux innocence that they did not in any way mean to contribute at all, no indeedy no they did not, to an environment conducive to the unleashing of bigotry and hate.

  • aunursa

    Both statements contribute to an environment conducive to bigotry and hate.

    But only one statement would be considered incitement to imminent violence.

  • aunursa

    Anyway, I’m going to watch the 2nd MA Senate debate on C-SPAN, so I’m done here.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I reiterate that the only people I see here or elsewhere caterwauling about the omg hdu make hate speech laws HALP SLIPPERY SLOPE in Europe or Canada are those of the majority.

  • AnonaMiss

    If I intuit your point correctly, it’s that hate speech laws are good because they afflict the oppressors.

    If so, the fact that you had to specify “in Europe or Canada” defangs – if not completely defeats – that point.

  • Carstonio

    I was originally thinking that hate speech laws would be hijacked by privileged groups to claim that they’re being oppressed. Like feminists being accused of sexism toward men and civil rights advocates being accused of racism toward men, conveniently ignoring the fact that both isms are systemic phenomena.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    the USA is famous for not having them and having huge shitfits from Republicans whenever someone wants to propose them.

    Invariably such Repubs make false claims about freedom of speech in Canada or Europe as a consequence.

  • AnonaMiss

    If your point was just to defend that they aren’t too harmful in Canada or Europe against what you perceived as an attack on hate speech laws in those places, then fair enough.

    If your point was to suggest that the USA would be equally well-served with hate speech laws and the shitfits are un-called-for, please see my previous posts on who would be prosecuted under hate speech laws in red states.

    I also think your characterization of objection to hate speech laws as a Republican position in the US is unkind and inaccurate. Disagreeing with what their enemies say, but defending to the death their right to say it, is IMO a position more often held by libs in the US – since our conservative party leans authoritarian.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    the only people I see here or elsewhere caterwauling … are those of the majority.

    For my part, I’m a queer man who does not want people put in jail for saying “Kill all the queers” in public. I don’t know whether that makes me one of the people caterwauling. In context, I assume so.

    That said, I am a member of many majorities, as well as a member of many highly privileged minorities, in addition to being queer. So I guess I agree that I’m an example of the pattern you describe.

    If you consider that grounds to ignore my preference, go right ahead; that’s your right.

    Incidentally, I don’t appreciate the way you chose to express it, which I experience as unnecessarily and insultingly dismissive.

    (Yes, yes, I know, tone argument. Except, not really. I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk that way. Go right ahead, if you want to; you have every right to, and I endorse that right. It might even be the most effective possible way to communicate, for all I know. I’m just saying that I, personally, experienced it as an unnecessary insult.)

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Thinking about this some more… a month or so ago, you said about overpopulation and human-induced climate change that they are acts that will ultimately harm human life, but that the proper response to them must nevertheless preserve human agency.

    In the context of this discussion, I’m now wondering why that is.

    That is: what, in your view, is so important about human agency that we should take it into consideration when developing a response to acts that will ultimately harm human life?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Climate change and agency + hate speech:

    It’s about incentives and showing people two things (impersonal “you” used here):

    1. We’re not going to treat you like morons, but we are going to give you incentives that you can follow of your own accord, and which we trust you will see the use for when explained what is going on. In some cases they are PRO incentives. In other cases they are DIS incentives.

    2. The above being said, reasonable boundaries will be set on your behavior because without them, social order will be less effective. So we will fine you if you purposely pollute, and we will block attempts to create an environment in which you are free to avail yourself of openly violently racist speech.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I certainly endorse the framework of providing voluntary incentives at one end of some kind of continuum, and enforcing involuntary boundaries at the other.

    I suppose the question that’s interesting me is what that continuum is, and how we think about its midpoint.

    One way to approach that is: if what motivates enforcing boundaries rather than providing incentives is the desire for effective social order, what in your view motivates providing incentives rather than setting boundaries? (Surely something must, or we would not be balanced between the two poles; we would simply always rely on setting boundaries.)

    Perhaps if we can come to agreement on that, we can come to agreement on under what circumstances we ought to enforce boundaries on speech, and under what circumstances we ought to provide incentives for it instead. Or, if not agreement, at least a shared understanding that what motivates our different policies is an underlying difference in how much we value order vs. how much we value the other thing, whatever it is.

    Any thoughts?

  • PorlockJunior

     “Would you consider that question to be an incitement to assassinate the president?

    Caesar had his Brutus; Charles II his Cromwell; and George III–

    [Treason! Treason!]

    and George III may profit by their example.

    Was it treason? No, not under the not-yet-written Constitution of the reconstituted United States. Is it an indictable incitement to murder? I don’t think so, but as to sedition (the real thing, not the Federalists’ version), it sounds actionable. Maybe.

    Not sure what this proves, but it can be useful to see that the thought experiments have been carried out for real.


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