Via Deny Free Speech Because… from Ukulele Dave I saw that Dave Alexander was commenting on another article here. I was just going to comment on his blog, but when what I wrote grew larger than both the original article and the unique words of the response taken together, I thought it might just be better to post for a change.
First of all, define hate without including actions that you like. Odds are, you can’t. This pretty much guarantees selective enforcement. Do you really want selective enforcement by a government that you hate and accuse of being allied with the people that your article complains about? Before calling for rights to be restricted, recall that you are not in charge, and the ones who are may see whose rights need restrictions differently than you do.
Secondly, violence. What sport isn’t violent? Football? Hockey? Rugby? Boxing? Wresting? Heck, I’ve seen tennis matches and baseball games devolve into fighting words and fisticuffs. I’m sure if you look hard enough you can find a woman’s water Polo game that devolved into a full on braw. Hunting is violent. Police and military action are often violent. Government force is collective violence on behalf of us all.
We accept a certain amount of violence, rather, we cant help but to accept it. Life would be impossible and uninteresting otherwise. Socialists’ hopes aside, there is at minimum a contest in every transaction we do. We’ve been more or less trained not to argue down the price of a loaf of bread, but that doesn’t stop the competitive nature of trade. I heard someone commenting in Walmart recently that a frozen food item that cost less than 5 dollars was slightly cheaper at Harris Teeter and then she put it back. A customer dividing her trade between several vendors to keep the largest amount of her money for the same (or similar) goods. Violence! Well a contest. No blood was shed. That is more along the lines of black friday.
We more or less draw the line as a society at unjustified intentional bodily harm. If following the rules you slam into another player and he breaks a limb or looses a tooth, those are the risks of the game. We try to mitigate them, but it can’t be entirely prevented and still be interesting. I’m sure we could design protective armor the players could barely move in that would make them fairly safe, but evendors the players don’t want that. Occasional accidents are unavailable.
Whereas, you intentionally kick a player in the kneecap or it even looks like that was your intention, that’s right out. But if you shoot someone invading your home, the facts will be carefully examined but in most cases that is still okay. Intention matters. Justification matters. That the harm is provable also matters. Just calling something violence is never enough of an argument that it should not be allowed. And while there are loons who would outlaw sports, money, self defense, even the concept of property if they could… that would just end up making the world into the gray, uninteresting world of John Lennon’s Imagine. Not only would it not work, but it would be as boring as hell.
While you can argue that speech can cause mental harm, you can never prove it. A harm you can’t prove is one that can be easily faked. Could you imagine a world where the thin claim of mental harm was enough for a law enforcement action? Incitement you can prove. When that relative of a beautific youth who charged a police car after strong arming a convenience store learned the jury didn’t convict the officer who shot him said of the city, “let’s burn this bitch down!” for instance.
Even then, you’d have to put a lot of effort into proving it met the Brandenburg standard in court. Comparatively some of the people on the speaker’s side have directly called for physical violence and gathered specifically for that purpose. Punching a NAZI is violence, even if they are really NAZIs. And they are rarely really NAZIs. He isn’t obligated to mention this, but his complaint is lacking in believability if he doesn’t.
Merely stoking the crowd? Not so much incitement. And in that case, it isn’t the speech that is dangerous, because a crowd you can excite already agrees with you or their disagreement is so shallow they might as well. They aren’t likely to change the things they plan to do. You’re not changing minds. And if you’re not lined up like you’re going to invade Dracula’s castle, it isn’t incitement either. Basically it’s just a lot of people confirming they agree with each other. Violence! Odds are if anyone in the crowd starts behaving violently, they have a crowdless history of doing the same.
The speaker claims that a person being hit by a car convicts the entire crowd of violence. The way violence works is the one who caused the act bears they key responsibility. If a crowd beats someone to death, the crowd is at fault. People who know about an illegal action right in front of their eyes and do nothing may have a certain amount of responsibility. If one person stabs another, the people nearby aren’t to blame even if the murder claims it was them who inspired him, so long as they couldn’t reasonably respond. The Boston bombers, for instance, certainly blamed their victims, but the victims aren’t responsible for what was in those guys’ heads . Beyond the one who did it, people who directly prevent the victim from being saved are at fault. People who move out of the way are not. There is a world of difference between a wish and an act. I’m sure any number of people wished they could take all the money in the bank, but few of them became bank robbers.
If they’re talking about yelling at someone who is not in your clique, calling them terrible things, lying about their motivations and actions, the left does the hell out of that. Have they ever watched a speech by a not at all racist right wing speaker at a university? (I’m not saying it ironically, the American right is not a racist philosophy) Of course not, otherwise they wouldn’t be arguing so hard to restrict speech. Anarchists show up, chant, scream, insult, block the crowd, try to shut off power, and generally speaking, behave like the cast of Lord of the Flies. Not that I’m saying he’d like this (or that he wouldn’t) just that the speakers generally treasure free speech and are compelling, if you’re willing to listen.
Note to the left: Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, various others. These are warnings, not guides.
And as an aside, people wearing tight fitting black cloths that cover their entire bodies and hide their identity are not the opposite of people who wear loose fitting white clothes that cover their entire bodies and hide their identity. Particularly if they enjoy singling out opponents, exposing them, tormenting them, and letting them experience collective(ist) violence. Likewise, people whose collective identity is demonstrated by choosing to relegate their personal identity to their group identity, dressing the same, gathering to force change, who use illegal violence to pressure people into doing what they want, and want to forcefully change the system of government into something more in the communist/socialist spectrum are likewise not the opposite of fascist or NAZIs as that all pretty much describes them to the letter.
Back on subject, what about the people making an argument against a group that changes people’s minds? People who make people hate other people for shallow reasons when they didn’t already? Make a better argument, dumbass. If you can’t make a better argument than a racist troll or what have you, clearly you don’t understand the reasons for your belief that they are wrong. Are you secretly worried you might one day be convinced? Because I sure as heck won’t be.
Anyway, speech is violence. Okaaay. If we’re talking violence in speech, it could only be calling on allies to take away the rights or property of others. I don’t know if the people the author is complaining about are doing that, but the author himself? He sure as heck is. What could be more clear? He literally wants to take someone else’s rights. That is basically the whole thesis. Calling to ban hate speech is calling to use the state’s power to compel, to compel people not to speak. How does the state compel people? They have exactly two means. Reward (paid from other people’s money, obtained via threat of violence) and violence. And personally? I can’t image the state rewarding people for not being a racist jackass. So while it could be argued the author’s speech itself is violence (though I don’t care to make that arguement, and only point it out because of his thesis) it is surely calling for violence and the threat of violence. What else would you call sending armed men to arrest and jail you?
In the end, we aren’t claiming that racist speech has any value. We are simply claiming that it would be impossible to formulate a law which blocks “hate” speech which doesn’t also block the most innocent and valuable of speech so long as the people on the side of enforcement decided they didn’t want it said.
Basically once an enforcement mechanism against speech exists, any speech can become a witch, and the entire left becomes bored teenaged girls and greedy politicans. The right too, after a few incidents. We’ve all seen the twitter and Facebook anti-abuse mechanisms abused. Imagine if the power of arrest was attached? Even if you could go to court and reverse that decision, ultimately the damage would be done. The speech would be stopped, the website would be 404ed, the paper confiscated. Months or years later, when the speech was no longer valuable, what needed to be said could be said. But at that point, what is the point?
We aren’t protecting the right of racists to their propaganda. We’re simply protecting our right to call out the crimes of a politician, to argue against restrictive and unnecessary laws, to point out flaws in other’s arguments. We’ve seen calls to arrest people who spoke out against the global warming propagandists. Such a law would be the way. And no one would know who was next. Odds are it wouldn’t happen in many cases. I’m not saying it would be the end of speech as we know it. I’m just saying that when it was abused, it would be far worse than letting a few jackasses vent. Two weeks before the election a message is prevented that damages one or the other critically. 4 years of a politician who’d never come to power if we’d known. Speech is important. Too important to trust to law.