In the New York Times: Unlike Others, U.S. Defends Freedom to Offend in Speech
Damn straight, Gray Lady…er…Lady of Deathly Pallor. And also unlike others, we’re the stronger, freer nation.
“A couple of years ago, a Canadian magazine published an article arguing that the rise of Islam threatened Western values. The articleâ€™s tone was mocking and biting, but it said nothing that conservative magazines and blogs in the United States do not say every day without fear of legal reprisal.”
Just the conservatives? The setting on Adam Liptak’s nanny firewall is clearly blocking the hate dripping and oozing from such sites as HuffPo, Daily KOS and even Barack Obama’s official web site. In either case, such things are not said “without fear or legal reprisal”, rather they are said under the protection of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Some prominent legal scholars say the United States should reconsider its position on hate speech.
â€œIt is not clear to me that the Europeans are mistaken,â€ Jeremy Waldron, a legal philosopher, wrote in The New York Review of Books last month, â€œwhen they say that a liberal democracy must take affirmative responsibility for protecting the atmosphere of mutual respect against certain forms of vicious attack.â€
Yes, visibility from the ever elevating Ivory Tower must be a challenge these days, Professor. “Affirmative responsibility?” What the hell is that? Makes as much sense as “negative responsibility.” Is this how legal philosophers talk amongst themselves whilst sipping brandy and smoking Virginia Slims on the balcony?
Professor Waldron was reviewing â€œFreedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendmentâ€ by Anthony Lewis, the former New York Times columnist. Mr. Lewis has been critical of efforts to use the law to limit hate speech.
But even Mr. Lewis, a liberal, wrote in his book that he was inclined to relax some of the most stringent First Amendment protections â€œin an age when words have inspired acts of mass murder and terrorism.â€ In particular, he called for a re-examination of the Supreme Courtâ€™s insistence that there is only one justification for making incitement a criminal offense: the likelihood of imminent violence.
The map is not the territory, guys. The word is not the thing. If an artist can understand this, maybe you professorial philosophy types should switch to smoking pipes.
Laws that attempt to eliminate words which supposedly “inspired acts of mass murder and terrorism” are unenforceable and subject the vast majority of the population to the tyranny of the select few who “define” such words. It’s what’s happening in Canada.
The State jargon of despots such as Hussein, Stalin, Hitler and Mao was the politically correct language of their respective States and times. You won’t eliminate mass murder and terrorism by controlling speech. It’s more probable you will help pave the way toward the next set of global atrocities.
Harvey A. Silverglate, a civil liberties lawyer in Cambridge, Mass., disagreed. â€œWhen times are tough,â€ he said, â€œthere seems to be a tendency to say there is too much freedom.â€
â€œFree speech matters because it works,â€ Mr. Silverglate continued. Scrutiny and debate are more effective ways of combating hate speech than censorship, he said, and all the more so in the post-Sept. 11 era.
â€œThe world didnâ€™t suffer because too many people read â€˜Mein Kampf,â€™ â€ Mr. Silverglate said.