Hate Speech

 

There is an oft circulated meme that goes something like “when a conservative doesn’t like guns, he doesn’t buy one; when a liberal doesn’t like guns, he tries to ban them.” This is a very telling meme because it highlights the differences between conservative and liberal thought.

A perfect example can be found at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama.  Although it is often suggested that people in the south are inherently racist, I’ve found the opposite to be true.  In fact, race relations are a lot more honest there.

Little Richard Spencer

Auburn recently agreed to provide Richard Spencer a forum to speak in public on his rather ridiculous theories about race and religion. Although sprinkled with lofty-sounding words and scientific-sounding jargon, the policy views expressed in the “Research” section by the National Policy Institute are simply wallpapered garden-variety racism, sexism, and religious antagonism. They sound cultured, but then again, a guy with a M.A. would sound that way while trying to woo the stupid with the siren song of hate.

I won’t debate Spencer’s theories, and I won’t dignify them with exposition. They belong locked in a long-sequestered cabinet that contains Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, and the predecessor cases of Loving v. Virginia.

However, as you might imagine, when someone with lofty language and a decent suit stands up and starts spouting rhetoric that would make Hitler proud, the kooks, fringe elements, and haters of all stripes show up to have their prejudices catered to and to perhaps engage in a little physical violence with counter-demonstrators.  Conservatives see this and think “I’m going nowhere near that mess.”  Liberals have a different approach: speech you don’t agree with must be stopped.  How moronic.

Fueling the Fire of Hatred

When Spencer announced his little event at Auburn, it had the intended effect. Screwballs, tin-foil-hat wearing nut balls, conspiracy theories, and racists of only one color but in many sizes signed up. The event drew rebuke from the intelligentsia at Auburn, and a move was made by the student body to prohibit his event. This, of course, was right what old Mr. Spencer wanted. He wanted, not a forum, but a confrontation with liberals that would fuel his fire of hatred.

Auburn, committed to the ideas of free speech, said that the speech would go forward, but the damage had already been done with calls by liberal students to “shut down” Spencer’s rhetoric.

The Wrong Move

Now, again, I’m not suggesting that anyone who wasn’t interested in fecal-stained semen samples would derive anything from a Spencer rally, but shutting down the speech was exactly the wrong move to make by the students, because Spencer riled up the crazies and they started calling and making – you guessed it – death threats.

So, the natural consequence of that is that the Auburn Police said “uh, not on our watch, thanks just the same,” and they prevailed on Auburn to pull the permit.

Keep in mind now, the permit was pulled not because Spencer is an awful person with awful views that ought not to be expressed, but rather, because his followers and their illegitimate spawn threatened violence (and of course, the students were not about to back down). But the students had done the damage by suggesting that what Spencer said was hate speech, and Spencer went to court to complain about being denied the right to use a public forum on the basis of the content of his speech. If Spencer prevails in his action for injunctive relief, the students who raised the issue and sought to prohibit his speech will have earned their just desserts.  They will, by suggesting his speech be shut down because they disagree with his policy views, wind up achieving the very result they sought to preclude.  And more importantly, they will put lives at risk.

What is Hate Speech, Really?

Speech that goes against traditional American values is often thought of as loathesome. It may be, but it isn’t always ‘hate speech.” Take, for example, Westboro Baptist Church, that fine group of upstanding Christians who apparently skipped that part of the Bible about “turn the other cheek,” and “love one another” and instead latched on to the darker Old Testament fire and brimstone scriptures as the basis for protesting the funerals of fallen servicemen and women. How loathsome is it for someone to inflict their political speech at a time and place where families will be personally insulted and hurt by the speech?

It’s pretty damned bad. But the Supreme Court has upheld their right to do it. It’s awful. But the fact is that if the Supreme Court did not act in this manner, then other speech that is controversial – and perhaps speech we care a great deal about – could just as easily be limited and marginalized. So we tolerate speech we find offensive and loathsome so long as it does not physically endanger people. Some speech, because it endangers the public, is not protected under the First Amendment. This is the old “don’t scream fire in a movie theater” rationale provided by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47, (1919). Schenck defended an espionage conviction on the First Amendment. It was a bad move, and Judge Ollie didn’t much like it.

Not Fire in a Theater

But those who want to equate what Spencer does, and what Westboro does, with screaming fire in theater simply do not grasp the situation. In the fire situation, lives are immediately imperiled, not so much by the truth or falsity of the speech, but by the reaction to it and the risk of harm from panic and overreaction. In neither Spencer’s case nor Westboro’s case is the speech actually liable to cause immediate harm to another person (other than, perhaps, to distort their view of the world). Under the First Amendment only time, place and manner restrictions are allowed.

The Solution

If the issue is the loathsome nature of the speech, rather than the likelihood of immediate personal injury, then the solution to this loathsome speech is not protest (which merely empowers the speakers), but rather, to actively encourage others not to go, to ignore the speech, and to try to pressure the media to ignore it also. The approach works because it eliminates the motivation for both the speaker (increasing his media exposure and street creds with his “people”) and the crowds that want to hear him (discovering you’re one of ten people who all look like they stepped out of Central Casting for a remake of Deliverance should be pretty devastating).

If you stop giving the megalomaniac a platform, and you stop favoring him with sycophants who might otherwise not find him, then nature takes its course and the miscreant takes his hateful message somewhere else.

Conservative v. Liberal Redux

So, again, conservatives won’t go hear Spencer because (a) we’re not stupid; (b) we’re not homophobic; (c) we don’t wear tin-foil hats; (d) we don’t believe Jews control the world; and (e) we understand that in the world of the racist, ignorance is the coin of the realm.

Liberals, however, react by (a) threatening the speaker; (b) pressuring the school to shut down the speaker because of, or in reaction to, the speaker’s message; and (c) try to effectively “ban” hate speech by banning speakers.

But hate speech is zombie speech – it never dies. There is always going to be someone out there with a theory, a belief, or a set of doctored photographs that will convince the ignorant that their life would be better if they just hated the right people.

In the fabulous movie The Blues Brothers, Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi made great fun of the “Illinois Nazis” and that is exactly the best approach to hate speech. Make fun of it. Lampoon it. Point and laugh, shake your head, and shame them. When people who follow the idiot speakers that spout this drivel, you’ll see them self-shame. They never use their real names in comment sections; they never take ownership of their “beliefs” under their true names because they are inherently ashamed of who they are and what their views represent.

In the end, that is the greatest victory that truth and justice can achieve over people who want to turn America into a place of hate.

God Bless America.

 

Running Scared!

Oh the Horror!

It would appear that the NRA’s continual press on Claire McCaskill, the only woman who could really give old Sacajafullofit a decent run for her money in 2020, has been enough to cause her to dip to the bottom of the rhetorical barrel in her quest to bleed her union workers and welfare recipients for donations:

…it turns out President Trump’s idea of “taking care of people” is slashing funds for Meals on Wheels and, at the same time, handing $300 billion in tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans.

The Republican budget priorities are backwards and would be devastating for Missourians and for working Americans across the country. I refuse to let the GOP get away with this, and they’ve taken notice: Right-wing groups have already launched FOUR attack ads to defeat me in 2018.

Yeah, and we’ll be taking out lots more Claire, as 2018 approaches.  You’re in the gun sights (figuratively speaking only).

So, here’s the next question:   where is it written in the Constitution that Meals on Wheels is a fundamental right? If you don’t have your Kazir Khan handy-dandy pocket Constitution on you (perhaps his has the text in Pashtun), let me help you out: it isn’t in there. The fact is that liberals always take the most extreme example or program, and then claim that Republicans are giving the wealthy tax breaks with the implication being that the GOP is starving seniors to pay billionaires.

Here is my thought. Meals on Wheels (MOW) is a wonderful program. It operates in hundreds of different cities and counties, but not everywhere. It feeds seniors and shut-ins, and it does good work. No complaints. It is a program that should continue.  But it doesn’t have to be funded by the taxpayer.

Does MOW have an unending right to continual federal funding? The grants to get the programs started are now routinely renewed without any thought to whether the program is operating efficiently. These programs are staffed by volunteers, except at the administrative level. Isn’t it time the administrators earned their money and found new sources of funding. I’m thinking faith-based groups, charities, and the like might want to chip in. Why is it we always create programs in the federal government and never assess whether there might be some other way to pay for them. Volunteers already get mileage tax breaks. People who get fed ought to, if they can, pay a fee for the food (they would if they went out). And administrators ought to take pay cuts when their leadership fails to develop additional sources of funding.

Instead of telling the whole story, McCaskill paints the GOP as heartless bastards taking the food out of folks’ mouths. Shame on them!  This is especially true where the purpose of the tax breaks is to bring companies back to our shores, put our people back to work, and stop the destruction of the American economy.  If putting millions back to work is not more important than a federal program with limited national exposure that could be funded by the state or private groups, then what is?

McCaskill is running scared.  That’s good news.

But here’s the even better news. If McCaskill loses in 2018, that reduces the number of filibuster votes on the Donkey side. It increases the likelihood that Conceal and Carry Reciprocity will pass and go into law. It makes it much more likely that any other SCOTUS nominations will be filled by great judges as opposed to those ideologically committed to abortion and constraint of gun rights.

Think about that for a minute. The same bunch that wants to “stop gun violence” is all in favor of murdering infants in the womb with chemicals or medical instrument. Whether a beating heart is stopped by a bullet or a drug, the person is still just as dead. So why is life so important when we’re talking about guns, but not so much when we’re talking about babies?

Oh well, you’ll go nuts expecting the left to be rational on any subject, but particularly on these two.

Tomi Lahren is Right; Beck is Wrong!

I am opposed to the idea of abortion. I think it is a loathsome, barbaric practice that should never have been allowed to gestate into a right. But it has, and until the Supreme Court says otherwise, it is a right. But that’s not the point of this piece.

One of the most conservative guys I know is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican who used to be a Supreme Court judge. He is a conservative first, and a Republican second. That is who he is.  He abhors abortion based on a moral convictions.  But he’d find no fault with Tomi Lahren’s position.

One day a partner was complaining that the Republican-led legislature was getting ready to legislate out of existence the right to hold people in our state accountable for discrimination and consumer fraud. As a Republican plaintiff’s lawyer, this gentlemen was opposed to the legislation.

“Every few years the Insurance Industry runs to the legislature and whines that it isn’t making enough money,” he said. “Of course, it doesn’t couch its message in those terms. What it says is ‘claims costs are killing us and we need tort reform.’”  And he is right. So the Republicans in the legislature, like so many wind-up dolls, go forth lemming-like and do the Insurance Industry’s bidding. Then the trial lawyers spend the next ten years in the courts trying to undo it one piece at a time. Then the Legislature gets smarter, writes tougher laws, and does exactly what the industry wants again. It affects everyone’s ability  to bring lawsuits for redress of grievances.  And ask yourself this.  After the last time the legislature changed the tort laws in your state, did you see your insurance bill go down?  Eh, I thought not!  No, this is special interest legislation.

Take, for instance, nuisance law suits. No, not the kind that people refer to with prisoners who want chunky as opposed to creamy peanut butter. But rather, lawsuits about whether a business can create a nuisance by operating, for example, a 3000 head hog farm. Hog farms generate hog feces, and hog feces stink. On any given day near any given hog farm the smell can be paralyzingly bad. With hordes of black flies feasting on feces, and laying their larva in them, flies breed with such abandon that in places the sky darkens with them. Farm workers run around in gas masks with protective clothing. The nearby citizens…not so much. So they sue for nuisance and sometimes they win large awards.

And then the legislature’s golden boy drafts the “Agricultural Protection Act” or some other lofty-sounding statute that essentially destroys the right to sue for nuisance. The only way to overturn the statute is a constitutional amendment because the legislature is bought and paid for, and a constitutional amendment requires at least $2,000,000 to push through (assuming you would win). And city dwellers who never smell this stuff vote no assuming that it will raise the cost of pork chops.  In the meantime the insurance industry and the Chinese-owned hog farms rake in the dollars.

So the question naturally arises, is this Republican-initiated effort the actions of a true conservative. Conservatives embrace natural law, which is morally-guided. They believe in slow changes in society, again, premised on natural law and justice. They believe that society is wise in general and that individuals often act foolishly, preferring to be guided by the public good. Natural law is the common law, built on St. Thomas Aquinas’ Treatise on Law which holds that the first principle of Justice is to “do good and avoid evil.”  They believe that any public measure ought to be judged by its probable consequences, not by popularity (or, for that matter, how much someone wants to pay to get it passed). They believe that government serves the people best by serving it in a very limited way. They believe that the marketplace, including the marketplace of ideas, should be regulated in a very limited way. They believe that freedom from government control and shrinking the federal government are achievable goals that increase freedom and benefit all. These principles are what make America great.

Thus, instead of upsetting the social order by favoring one group (industry) over another (the public at large) and instead of monkeying with the long-established common law, a true conservative would say “let the market sort this out.” If it costs too much to pay nuisance lawsuits, industry and the market cooperate.  Farms can experiment, or fashion technological fixes to reduce emissions in the case of the hog farms.  Companies that discriminate, and thereby alter the social compact, should pay the market costs of that socially-harmful behavior. So, it makes sense, if limited government is truly a conservative idea, that Republicans should limit the amount of intrusion into the common law, and fix only that which needs to be fixed.

Instead the conversation usually goes like this:

 

Industry:        We need to get rid of discrimination laws.

Republicans:  Okay, but that could hamper my re-election.

Industry:        Here’s a check for $100,000. Get re-elected.

Republicans:  Okay, how draconian do you want this to be?

Of course, the same thing happens on the Democratic side of the aisle (just with different issues and different players). But where re-election is at play, both conservative and liberal principles take a backseat to legislative longevity.

Recently a young woman whom I greatly admire, Tomi Lahren, went on The View. I give her credit for walking into the Lions Den with the completely unreasonable, asinine, batshit-crazy bunch of liberal zombies that make up that program. Let me know if you’re unclear about how I feel about The View.  I hold this view because these women espouse views that go against everything I believe in.  And my description is courteous given the amount of time I have spent screaming at these women.

In going on the View Tomi Lahren made the comment that as a limited government conservative she could not countenance government regulating the bodies of women. And this was from a woman who just a few months ago had come out against abortion. Why this sudden shift, the Internet asked?

Except, it wasn’t a shift. Not really. Tomi Lahren is still against abortion. She sees it for the evil thing it is. She is against the regulation of women’s bodies on the conservative principles of limited government. You can have a principled disagreement about the method to stop abortions, but only if you listen, and only if you don’t act like morons when someone expresses a view different from your own. God bless Tomi Lahren. I salute her. I’ve been saying the same thing about tort reform. She hit the nail on the head!

Glenn Beck’s deluded bunch of stick-your-finger-in-the-air-and-see-which-way-the-wind-blows folks started saying she’d be fired for having the audacity to express an opinion about the principles of conservatism that went against with the holy grail of abortion, which frankly is the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on the Church Lady. How Dare You! Republicans, after all, are the anti-abortion party!  And frankly, Tomi can do much better than the Blaze.  Megyn Kelly’s chair is still warm at Fox!

Of course Republicans are the anti-abortion party. It’s been the cash cow of the party since 1973 and Roe v. Wade. Republicans have raised more money off the topic of abortion that you could shake a stick at. They’ve talked about it, whined about it, and continually suggested that they were going to fix the problem. All the while passing laws they knew would be struck down and then crying crocodile tears (and cashing all those $10 checks from the baby boomers and their mothers) when their laws were stricken based on Supreme Court precedent.

News Flash – Republicans do not want to fix the abortion problem: Republicans know that the electorate is made up of 52% females. They know that significantly less than 50% of those women support banning abortion, perhaps because all of them at one time or another have faced pregnancy, and perhaps wondered about their options. They like having this option preserved for their girl children. Why is that important?

Because the problem can’t be solved by legislation. It can only be solved by a constitutional amendment. But it hasn’t been. And the reason is because such an amendment cannot pass the test of getting three quarters of the several states to ratify it. Of course, there is hope that a newly-changed Supreme Court could fix the issue, but that’s unlikely for a number of reasons too significant to go into here.

But why this vitriol for Tomi Lahren? She did not come out in favor of abortion. No matter what you read, what she did was express a principle of limited government that if the Republican Party were less concerned with fund-raising and more concerned with good public policy it would have already incorporated into the party’s platform. Let the state regulate sin; let the government encourage freedom.

The fact is that as long as there are people with even a limited anatomic knowledge there will be abortions. Abortion is evil, and exactly the wrong thing to do. It is a sin that stains a woman’s soul. No one who has ever had one is not changed by the experience. The question of “what might have been” visits in the night when the lights are out, your conscience is awake, and you can’t be heard crying softly in the dark. But the way to prevent it is not to regulate it out of existence. In fact, that’s exactly the wrong idea. Because making it a punitive exercise where the provider and patient are prosecuted simply drives it underground where women die from hemorrhage and infection.

No, Tomi Lahren deserves our thanks, and not because she’s cute, and fiery, and someone who knows how to get her opinion across. She’s rigid in her beliefs. She doesn’t whipsaw back and forth like Glenn Beck who on November 7 was “with her” and on November 9 was praising Trump. She understands that you have to have a personal constitution, and you have to make your decisions and stake out your positions consistent with that personal constitution. She has integrity, which literally means her actions and statements are integrated with her long-held beliefs. Sure, she’s cute, could have any man she wanted, and comes from the Dakotas where rugged individuality is prized above all else. But more important than that, she is, on this subject, exactly right.

Keep it up Tomi. Those of us who are capable of independent thought are with you.