Posts tagged ‘Charolettesville’

Free Speech – What a Quandry

Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government: When this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved,

Who knew free speech would be so hard? The ACLU took major criticism after fighting for the White Nationalists to march downtown and the result was a death. Here is from which kind of lays out the issues:

In the days before the Unite the Right rally, it became clear that Charlottesville would be a gathering point for both right-wing rallygoers and left-wing counterprotesters. The city of Charlottesville attempted to defuse the situation by moving the Unite the Right rally away from its original location — Lee Square, in downtown Charlottesville, featuring the statue of Robert E. Lee that was the ostensible cause of the rally — to a location farther away from the center of the city.

The city argued it was trying to prevent confrontation. But to free-speech activists — including the ACLU of Virginia — it was a pretty standard attempt to use a rally permit to marginalize unpopular speech. So the organizers of the rally sued, with the ACLU’s support, and won the right to keep the rally downtown.

…With more “alt-right” rallies planned for the weeks after Charlottesville, and mounting pressure on the ACLU to stop “defending Nazis,” the ACLU’s California affiliates issued a statement on Wednesday declaring, “We review each request for help on a case-by-case basis, but take the clear position that the First Amendment does not protect people who incite or engage in violence. If white supremacists march into our towns armed to the teeth and with the intent to harm people, they are not engaging in activity protected by the United States Constitution.”

Is that the right answer? I can think of speech against, say a President Trump, that the government could define as leading to revolt and therefore illegal and no protected. So then you ask, is the Declaration of Independence covered? Remember that that document was a justification for Revolutionary War with Britain. From the Vox article cited:

To be specific, government can prevent speech in the case of an “emergency” — when it’s clear that there’s no other way to prevent or protect against violence. But for more than a century, the courts have wrestled with what responsibility someone has when their speech results in violence — and when it’s okay to outlaw the former to prevent the latter.

Okay, these folks were carrying guns, clubs, and prepared for battle. Then we have another right that might be in play:

 “The cases acknowledging an individual right to bear arms are very recent,” White points out. After decades of maintaining that the Second Amendment applies to groups of people (a “well-organized militia”) instead of individuals seeking to own and carry guns, the Supreme Court sided with the “individual right” in the 2008 case Heller v. District of Columbia. That puts it “like 50 years behind where the First Amendment is,” White says, in terms of case law about what that right actually means: who it refers to, when it applies, and what if any “emergencies” justify the government curtailing it.

Yikes. We know that protecting the speech of what most of us consider abhorrent speech is necessary, but that also protects us from our government when we want to criticize them. But what if the speech is violates our Constitution. Clearly trying to deny the rights of anyone but white people is totally antithetical to our Constitution and basic values. Yet what if the Congress passed an Amendment against say flag burning. By the above metric were used, could my right for free speech be curtailed if I wanted to criticized that or even the Supreme’s ruling about individual rights to bear arms?

If you think there is an easy answer here, you are wrong. But how do you define probable violence? The Vox piece does a good job of pointing out the problems here. But then they offer this:

 From a leftist perspective, there’s more to violence than physical aggression — it’s also violent to promote ideas that see other groups of people as less than human, marginalize them, or prevent them from speaking. Those are the people who believe that “hate speech” either isn’t protected as free speech, or that it shouldn’t be — because in the case of “hate speech,” speech and violence are the same thing.

I would argue that this may be the way forward. I can think that say Republicans are totally wrong and in the process of destroying our country. I should have the right to shout that from the roof tops. But I cannot and should not describe them as subhuman or not deserving of the same rights as I do. My argument should not evolve around the personal, but on policies. Oh, and calling them morons, unless you are wondering, is not hate speech.  The morons still get all the rights of you and I.

I am not sure where this is going, because as points out, even my hate speech criteria has its problems. I guess from an ACLU point of view, they have to decide which cases to take and not take. Do you want to defend racists marching with guns, or a college professor who is being censored for his views. I would spend my limited resources on the latter. It is a terribly important thing to sort out and we have not really even scratched the surface yet.  And we are not really talking about it, except for us bleeding heart liberals.


The President and His Remarks

Blah, Blah, Blah…Blah, Blah, Blah.  The President had his chance and if you are surprised by his failure to condemn white supremacists and to try to paint this as some kind of both sides do it argument, you were asleep at what he did in his campaign and what he is quietly doing now.  During his campaign he pandered to violence, and labeling “those” people, and refused to separate himself from white nationalists.  Now he has an avowed white nationalist in his administration.  He dropped the government support of the Texas law suit to protect voter rights.  He has redirected the Attorney General to refocus on white affirmative action as though whites are suffering badly.  He has appointed a panel to find voter fraud which is a thinly veiled way to further suppress votes. He directed Homeland Security to redirect funds toward looking at domestic terrorism to islamic terrorism.  His actions are those of a white nationalist pure and simple.

Now he comes out and tries to amend his statement and actually mentioned neo-nazis and white supremacists, but there was still code in there to let them know he is spewing words and not to worry.  There was still a soft pedaled all groups (i.e. those crazy people who were resisting hate groups). He disavowed violence, but not the groups, just the violence of the groups.  Right, racism has no place in America, and then never connected the dots to white nationalism. And ask yourself this, where is the action by this administration to do something about these groups, hate, and the rights of minorities?  Where are the policies? He was forced to say something and he got the words he had to say in, but there was nothing there.  Hot air so he can hold on to his base.

And note that Republicans disavowed Trumps words, say all the right things, but do not go after to him.  They continue to enable.  President Trump is scum of the earth that has practiced hate speech using his twitter and we expect anything different?  Note he started his speech by how he saved the economy, which was already doing fine, and miss-led on what he has accomplished and what was already happening anyway.

Now he will move on and nothing changes unless we do something about him.  As for the Republicans and impeachment, don’t hold your breath.  This is not a surprise and to act surprised is an act of massive hypocrisy. Let’s not pretend that anything has changed.  But maybe the rest of us got a wakeup call.

Free Speech Versus Hate Speech

Well a sign of our times is the Neo-Nazi/White Nationalist face off in Charlottesville Virginia in a protest to removing a Robert E. Lee Statue. Oh, did I mention the Ku Klux Klan? Wait, there was a militia marching with their weapons. They are all clashing with counter protestors. Welcome to Trump’s America. Also note that as of this morning, Breitbart is not reporting it, I guess because their continuous legitimizing of hate has now broken out. It is the Alt-Right under one banner. And it is the people who elected Donald Trump. And why is a hate monger like Steve Bannon in the White House?

We are going to see a further rise of violence and white nationalism, because that is how Donald Trump won the election, by goading and legitimizing those hates. So in one part of our country we are turning on each other and finding ways to hate each other. That is the America middle America brought us because we did not understand their pain. They wanted change. How’s that change working?

And make no mistake, the Alt-Right is not exercising their free speech rights, they are engaging in hate speech. There are limits. I am appalled that our greatest strength, our diversity and tolerance, is now under attack and that is clearly legitimized by one person, Donald Trump. The man is not just a disgrace to America, but to the human race. And now we see the fruits of stupid people casting stupid votes.

I would like to expand on that, stupid, ignorant votes. The conventional wisdom is that when Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan (roughly just 80,000 votes) went Trump, because he was the only one who spoke to their pain. Horse shit. The word is pander to their pain and they stupidly fell for it. It was ignorance at work. Sure, even I thought Hillary did not bring real understanding of the increasing economic inequality, and was part of a Democratic elite too tied to the status quo and Wall Street. But Donald Trump was a racist liar. That is not an opinion, he displayed it in every campaign rally he spoke at.

So Hillary did not pander to them, and in fact did not even think they were worth listening too, but the Donald did. And what he promised them was a total fantasy, that he would bring back manufacturing and coal. But how? They never asked that. He is a business man and will run government smartly. Really? That is another stupid and uniformed belief that government is anything like business, nor should it be. It is not to maximize profits, it is to protect us and invest in our futures. So without any plans for the future, describing a reality that does not exist, exhibiting misogynistic, racist, white nationalist tendencies, they voted for him. They are fucking idiots. Now we have the rise of white nationalism, and hate everywhere. We may talk ourselves into several wars, and trust me, the economy is going to crash.

So do you think the Democratic Party should pander to their stupidity and racism? I don’t think so. Don’t move to the middle if that is what moving to middle means. Certainly they have problems and they should be addressed in a more holistic manner in policies to deal with economic inequality. Hillary would have been so much better for them, even with all her faults. But they were mad as hell and stupid as a block of wood. And now we live with what they delivered to us. I tell you who is mad as hell…

So I am doing my part. This is what stupidity and ignorance bring us. We should not pander to it, but educate it, shun it when it won’t be educated, and be a Party and a people who stands for diversity and equal rights, including fixing our economic system so it works for all of us. Hillary did not get that the system is fatally flawed, but she might have eventually, and certainly steered a course that would not give rise to hate, and further violence. We would not be having a legitimized alt-right today.

We are in such dangerous times, both from the bluster abroad and the rise of armed alt-right here at home. This is squarely on Donald Trump. What we need to do as a People and as a Party is to reject both and show a level of intolerance to the hates and fears that sparks all this violence. Republicans continue to pander and enable what we are seeing. Democrats need to firmly reject all of it. Oh sure, we will get statements of horror from Republicans, but Donald Trump is who they enabled. And now the fate of the nation lies in the hands of Republicans in Congress who could do something about him. So far, we have seen what they are made of.

UPDATE: President Trump on Saturday issued a vague condemnation of violence in Charlottesville in a televised statement from New Jersey.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides,” Trump said.

On both sides? Maybe someone ought to show him video of his own speeches. Or maybe someone ought to explain to him what the alt-Right is all about, hate, fear, and violence, not to mention intolerance. The Kettle calling the Pot black. What would President Obama have said, or for that matter, President Bush? Oh have we have fallen.

Bernie Responded:

Oh and here is real leadership and pointing the finger at white supremacy and neo-nazis: