About that free speech thing . . .

Someone claiming to be a member of Emerald City Antifa e-mailed me after I put up my previous post.  He denied that the poster it cited was from EFA, and claimed it was a forgery by ‘provocators’.  He also took issue with my article yesterday about the demonstrations at UC Berkeley, and sent me the link to this XKCD cartoon.  (Click it for a larger view at XKCD’s Web site.)

He argued that there is no First Amendment protection for ‘hate speech’, and that the demonstrators were therefore justified in shutting down Milo Yiannopoulos’ presentation.

I replied that although he was technically correct about the First Amendment, it nevertheless applied to all speech, not just that which is ‘politically correct’.  Furthermore, there’s a much older law, one that applies even when the First Amendment doesn’t.  That law is the Golden Rule, which is found in almost every major religion and philosophy of life (see the link for more information).  Briefly, it says that we should behave towards others in the way we wish them to behave towards us.  That means, if it’s OK for you to disrupt a presentation of which you disapprove, then it’s also OK for others to disrupt presentations of which you approve.  To put it another way, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.  According to my correspondent’s logic, if I’m confronted by (say) Black Lives Matter demonstrators, I’m therefore entitled to treat them in precisely the same way as the protestors at UC Berkeley treated Milo Yiannopoulos and his supporters.

He replied that I was a fascist, and therefore unable to understand.  (He didn’t put it quite as politely as that, you understand, but I won’t reproduce his actual language here.  This is a family-friendly blog, after all.)  I simply shrugged.  People like that – people from that background – are very vocal about ‘respect’.  They demand that their views and their persons be respected – yet they refuse to respect other people and other views with whom/which they disagree.  It’s got to be their way or the highway.

I invite readers to draw their own conclusions about who’s unable to understand . . .




  1. You can't show Milo the door if you don't own the door.
    The people who owned the door let Milo in.

    Thus, these terrorists also violate property rights.

  2. And… as long as the University is receiving Federal Funds, they not only can't ban speech but must do whatever is necessary to make sure the First Amendment is respected on campus, something they clearly failed to do.

  3. I understand that the 1st amendment protects against government infringement of speech. But what if lack of government action amounts to the same thing. If the police department of a city refuses to enforce order at the direction of their political bosses, does that amount to the same thing. I worry that this trend will continue until the antifa protesters pick a city where the community responds by putting a company's worth of Oathkeepers on a dozen rooftops.

  4. He is mistaken as regards "hate speech." The Supreme Court has, since the Chaplinsky decision, increasingly limited the "fighting words" decision to a very narrow set of circumstances. Hate speech is protected by the First Amendment, the insistence of the intolerant notwithstanding.

  5. In watching coverage of the Berkely business I couldn't help but harken back to the days of the LA riots.
    And as I recalled some very practical minded Korean shopkeepers defended their property quite handily simply by placing folks with rifles on their shop roofs. And like most cowards and bullies the rioters went elsewhere where they could vent their spleen unimpeded.

  6. The cartoonist and the poster both miss the point that UC Berkley is not a private school but a government one.

  7. I quit reading XKCD when he posted an "I'm with Her" cartoon and started running biased toons. Even internet toons have become contaminated with politics. I don't want it, or need it, and I refuse to accept it.

    At Christmas I was going to pick up several copies of his clever books as gifts, but decided against it.

  8. So far, these folks have kept their activities mostly confined to Criminal Protection Zones (marked as Gun Free Zones by the politically correct). They've also only engaged when they can gang up on their victims. Easy to do, as we folks on the other side of the divide generally don't like to visit CP zones and limit our exposure as much as possible.

    If/when this changes, there will be bloodshed. Expect them to try to make the most of those horrible gun-lovers and scream for disarmament. Listen to your gut, folks, and try to have someone with you if it's uneasy.

  9. @ Anonymous 1:55 PM, respect is something that must be earned. Unearned respect may be simple courtesy or it may be facile fawning, but it isn't, truly, respect. Those who must speak to ask, whine, demand, or rage out the lack of respect they are getting deserve it not.

  10. The other right that is being violated is the right to peaceful assembly. When public speeches or debates have to be cancelled due to violence all those who would have attended are denied that right. I recall that highways were blocked this past summer to prevent Trump supporters from reaching the venues that he visited.

    I am hesitant to add more laws to the books, but I believe that perhaps one or two should be added to punish those individuals and groups who do not allow others to exercise their 1st amendment rights.


  11. Law Enforcement in this country ought to take a look at what will happen to them and theirs if they continue to ignore Rule of Law.

    Of course, since most of these event happen in the hive shiiteholes, I am not particularly worried if the terrorists decide to burn the whole thing down.

  12. The thing is, the comic strip has it MOSTLY right. Freedom of speech means you may speak without fear of being silenced by the State. Nobody owes you a podium, a printing press, or an audience.

    OWES being the operative word here.

    If a group of people with whom you disagree has hired a space, and you make it impossible for them to access it, that isn't free speech on your part, that's douchbaggery. If PETA gets to reserve a space at a University, and the University would used campus security to clean out any anti-PETA protesters, then the Campus Republicans better get the same treatment. Period, dot. That goes doubled, redoubled, in Spades if the University is a State owned one.

    Of course, the longer the Idiot Left keeps throwing tantrums, the more likely a Trmp landslide in 2020 becomes….

  13. Fred: under modern jurisprudence, every university, public or private, is bound by the First Amendment, with the solitary exception of Liberty University. The government has taken the position that accepting federal student loans constitutes federal funding, and therefore imposes the restrictions any government agency must follow. Liberty is excepted because it doesn't take any federal student loan money.

    As to the applicability of the First Amendment generally, there's a bit of a wrinkle: lecture halls/meeting rooms/etc. are not a traditional public forum, so the applicability of the First Amendment thereto is not a given. Rather, when the university makes them available to student groups, such facilities become a designated public forum, which enjoys all the protection of a traditional public forum so long as it is used for that purpose. If UC Berkeley wanted to, it could stop allowing use by any student group without running afoul of the First Amendment; as soon as it allows use by some, though, it loses the power to restrict use based on content or viewpoint.

  14. Both the alleged "member of Emerald City Antifa" who contacted you, AND XKCD (whomever the goofball behind that sometimes-amusing series of "cartoons" is) are wrong, of course, in a number of fairly-obvious and important ways about what the First Amendment says and what it specifically protects – which is altogether not that much of a surprise nor is it at all unusual; there's a whole bunch of people who have an extremely-limited understanding of the First Amendment and its effective-protection statements…and much of what they imagine they "understand" is bull-cookies.

    I'm not going to try to enumerate all of the misunderstandings and other nonsense involved, here – that could take DAYS, and a lot of it is pretty boring anyway. I will, however, speak to two specific items.

    First of all: In the case of XKCD's "cartoon", it's mostly-wrong, and is primarily an expression of a set of opinions – only the statement in the third panel is factually generally-correct. The rest is primarily the "cartoonist"s expressions of opinion; at most, SOME of it MAY be marginally-true, depending on circumstances – otherwise, it's largely…bull-cookies.

    Second: Your supposed-ECA "communicant" is full of those same bull-cookies regarding the incidents at Berkeley vis-a-vis Milo Yiannopoulis – a) The purely-legalistic "term of art" known as "hate speech" defies description anywhere outside of a courtroom, a civil-crime charge sheet or a set of law books; it's notoriously-flexible as to definition in real-world terms, to the point of being an effectively-useless "talking-point"; b) As you quite-rightly pointed out to him, virtually ALL speech falls within the bounds of the First Amendment (with a very few – chiefly, so-called "fighting-words" – exceptions – once again, as law-system-defined) and should be afforded the same protections (if any), even if he (or anyone else) happens to be offended by it. The correct remedy is: Don't listen – NOT disrupt the speaker or the proceedings

    If there's any "fascism" involved there, it's those morons screaming and rioting and breaking and burning stuff – and klowns like your "communicant", imagining they are "rightfully correct and protected". It's to be hoped that, soon enough, some law-enforcement folks show them the error of their imaginings.

    Wilmington, NC

  15. It should be pointed out that nationalism (and its militant form in fascism) are based on fundamental human rights of nationality, self determination, cultural survival and a host of others.

    The AntiFa turds are in their fundamental principles violating their opponent's rights in every way.

    The US has become an empire. Nationalism is a natural and peaceful response against the internal imperialism being imposed on the American nation and it is based on rights. The AntiFa have no moral standing for their drivel.

  16. I think some of the issue at hand lies with the fact that those of us who generally agree wit you, or agree to disagree can have our opinions and we don't or try not to think someone is evil. Much of the left thinks anyone who does not share their opinion is indeed Evil no matter what.

    Now if you were to shout down a popular thing enmass such as a BLM gathering, or a feminist gathering or any of the darling children of the left you would be pilloried in the media. The hate speech the left gives notion to is not so much hate speech as it is they HATE what you have to say or talk about.

  17. XKCD is wrong.

    Your First Amendment rights protect you against the government shutting down your free speech.

    But you still have the right to free speech. Someone may throw you out of their place when you exercise your right to free speech. If it's their place, then they are within their rights in doing so. But they cannot claim to support free speech when they do so – after all, they violated your free speech.

    This is why the only comments I delete at my place are the spam ones. Sometimes people leave comments that I disagree with, but I support free speech even when I disagree with it.

  18. So essentially you have PERMITTED speech, not free speech. You are permitted to say anything you want as long as it is approved by the Guardians Of Political Correctness. No?

    Phil B

  19. Anti-fascists and the left keep using the word fascist to describe their opponents. I'm reminded of The Princess Bride meme which says “You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means”. Have these people ever actually read The Fascist Manifesto? It's for the most part a laundry list of leftist goals and priorities. It's much like when the left uses the term Nazi. Setting aside the racial component for the moment, the goals and platform of National Socialist German Workers' Party pretty much lines up with the much of the views of the left. Exchange the Nazi militant racism for the militant anti-racism and the two movements are similar in most respects.

    Well, all that said, I always thought it'd be clashes between the fedgov and right that would light the fuse of our next Civil War but more and more it looks like the left will be the ones to instigate widespread violence against the normal folk or the fedgov which will precipitate the beginning of violent organized, widespread domestic war. I can't help wondering if this is kinda what it felt like in the late 1850s 1860. The fault lines appear to be just as deep if not more so. It's indeed brother against brother again with the added factor of an unprecedented invasion of foreigners in the past several decades most of which really have no cultural or religious ties to the inhabitants of the nation they've invaded. If this mess can't be tamped down and permanently defused by peaceful partition or some other non violent means the resulting conflagration will be worse than anything seen in 1861-1865 and will make the Yugoslavian wars seem like garden parties in comparison. Think Rwanda- with nukes. Maybe things like this are just bound to happen every so often when peoples lose their cultural cohesiveness and their morals, religions, and life ways become just so different as to be incompatible. I just dread what's coming and coming it is.

  20. Readily apparent, by the 'logic' of the dimwit, is behavior which is actually destructive of the real property of others is allowable under 'free speech'. Further, that real threats of violence or inciting others to that end is protected as 'free speech.

    M'God, for once I wish I had an offspring who believed such things so I could beat the tar out of them. That not being the case, perhaps I'll mosey down to the nearest campus to randomly play the knock out game. It is a game right? Are there points for melting snowflakes?

  21. Issues:
    Anti-fascists are actually the embodiment of fascists; left wing and violent. We should call them what they are.
    2. The violent left are getting plenty of practice engaging in unopposed violence which achieves their ends.
    3. There have been no effective counter -actions by law enforcement or by self-proclaimed patriot groups.
    4. Yes this is primarily happening in the major cities controlled by the left, so police likely restrained.
    5. They own the media narrative right now.
    Bracken is correct; we on the right are stymied by our own morals and to an extent a failure to understand how serious are these rioters and their less kinetic supporters and backers. Even had Trump won popular vote or a more moderate Republican beaten Clinton, do you think these riots and demos would not also be happening?

  22. Just read elsewhere… "The reason for free speech is so the stupid, the vile, and the dangerous can let us know who they are."

    In this case though I'd just call it verification of what we kind of already knew.

  23. I think they might've overplayed their hand. Just look at that video from Portland, Oregon of a group of random citizens cheering a squad of riot police for forcefully shutting down some 'protestors' blocking an intersection.

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