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Free speech isn't always pretty - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

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Free speech isn't always pretty [Feb. 12th, 2010|01:42 pm]
Zoethe
I have to say: hooray for the US for allowing this level of offensiveness without government reprisal.

Yes, I find the way the message is presented to be completely offensive. Yes, it's divisive and unproductive in the greater dialogue.

But by the gods, it's freedom.

When George Bush was president, I was free to state how appalled I was by his policies. More than that, people were free to call him an idiot, a murderer, an election thief, a chimp. Now that Barack Obama is president, people who disagree with him are free to call him liar-in-chief, baby killer, Osama Obama.

No one is showing up in the middle of the night to "disappear" those speakers. No thug squad is dragging them from their place of work and making an example of them in the streets. Whichever side of the government you're on, you have the right to express those views openly, curtailed only by the interests of public safety or actual threat of violence against public officials.

That's not the case in much of the world. As messed up as the U.S. is right now, it is still strong enough to endure criticism and castigation by its citizenry. We still have the right to say when we think something is wrong, and to say so loudly and clearly.

I can dissent with my dollars and not patronize that particular establishment. But I would never support attempts to stop him. Freedom of speech demands protection of unpopular speech. Because if you don't protect someone else's right to unpopular ideas, you can't expect people to protect your right to them.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: ladydragonryder
2010-02-12 06:49 pm (UTC)
"I strongly disagree with what yous ay, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

-nodnod-
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-02-12 06:57 pm (UTC)
It's easier to do in theory than in practice, but vital to do in practice.
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[User Picture]From: nex0s
2010-02-12 06:52 pm (UTC)
Yup. He's free to say what he thinks, and I'm free to say that I think he's a mentally unstable bigot.

N.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-02-12 07:01 pm (UTC)
Well, the sad thing is that his message - that the Palestinian people should have a homeland - is completely lost in the diatribe. But he is indeed free to say this so badly that people can't actually hear him.....
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[User Picture]From: jeffpalmatier
2010-02-12 07:53 pm (UTC)
Because if you don't protect someone else's right to unpopular ideas, you can't expect people to protect your right to them.

Just ask the communists who were executed by Stalin during the Great Purge of the late 1930s! After endorsing policies that ended in the deaths of God knows how many people in the USSR, the same sort of policy finally cut them down.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-02-12 09:05 pm (UTC)
Exactly. Whenever I see someone complain that people shouldn't be allowed to express some opinion, I really wonder at their short-sightedness.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-02-12 09:46 pm (UTC)
I wholly agree, but I still hate Illinois Nazis.

-Alex
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-02-12 10:33 pm (UTC)
You can hate them all you want. You just can't shut them up.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-02-12 11:55 pm (UTC)
But can I try to run them over with the Bluesmobile?

It was a reference with slightly humorous, but also serious, intent. I always assumed the presence of Nazis in The Blues Brothers was a reference to the Skokie case, and while I'm no fan of Nazis, that was the first news item that made me want to join the ACLU (I was a bit too young to do so at the time).

-Alex
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[User Picture]From: ccr1138
2010-02-13 02:02 am (UTC)
If this guy and Fred Phelps can be allowed to spew their twisted filth, I figure freedom of speech is alive and well in the USA.
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[User Picture]From: nuadha_prime
2010-02-13 09:23 am (UTC)
Holy crap! You're right. That Ferrett guy you link to is really offensive! ;)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-02-13 02:32 pm (UTC)
LOL!
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[User Picture]From: dana3
2010-02-13 03:40 pm (UTC)
"I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." -- Voltaire

That said, I think that particular paint job is tacky. Not even rising to the level of offensive, it's just tacky political cartoonage -- but it's his building, and if he wants a tacky paint job it's no skin off my nose. I don't shop on E 55th anyway and certainly wouldn't walk into a store painted like that.

Re above comments from Anonymous /s/ Alex -- I was there then for the attempted Neato-Nazi march on Skokie. Two interesting things about that. One, the ACLU was filing in support of the Nazis. (who would have trashed, persecuted and dissolved the ACLU if they had any actual political power) Two -- Frank Collin, the leader of the Neato-Nazis -- well, two details about him. One, he was born Francis Cohen, and apparently his parents were at the B'nai B'rith in a south side suburb wondering what was wrong with their baby and why he'd want to do that. The second amusing detail is that he's apparently now a "prolific new age author", if we believe Wikipedia.

Free speech is good and right and fine. But common kindness, like common sense, seems to be becoming an UNcommon commodity.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-02-13 04:15 pm (UTC)
"One, the ACLU was filing in support of the Nazis."

Yes, of course. And they apparently lost a sizable percentage of their membership because of it. But I don't see being pro-free-speech and anti-Nazi as being mutually exclusive positions.

"(who would have trashed, persecuted and dissolved the ACLU if they had any actual political power)"

I don't see that as being an exception to the rule. If you really believe in free speech, you believe people who don't believe in free speech have the right to say so.

That's the theoretical argument, and should be sufficient in itself, but there's also a practical argument. If you disagree with them, do you want to give them the cachet of being "forbidden"?

The bit about the leader of the group is interesting, but I don't think it alters the underlying free speech analysis.

"Free speech is good and right and fine. But common kindness, like common sense, seems to be becoming an UNcommon commodity."

There is a world of difference between what you are legally permitted to say and what you ought to say. And that is, IMO, as it should be.

-Alex
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[User Picture]From: dana3
2010-02-13 08:28 pm (UTC)
In a curious piece of synchronicity, this item came across on the radio during this discussion.
http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2010/02/12/12849346-sun.html

It disturbs me. While I don't agree with what they are thinking, losing your children for holding a minority opinion is simply too Big Brother for me. And while I don't think children should be used as billboards either, there is still an underlying 'thought police' piece of this that just doesn't sit well.

Anyway -- thanks for the discussion! -- :Dana
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-02-13 08:37 pm (UTC)
It sounds like there was enough just plain abuse going on in the household to possibly justify removal, but yeah, there is a borderline risk here.
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From: simulated_knave
2010-02-15 01:06 pm (UTC)
Personally, I'd say the dividing line is something along the lines of "are you doing something to your kids that will fuck them up such that they are not going to be able to function in society". Not teaching them addition, telling them all minorities should be murdered, teaching them to eat by shoving their faces into their food. That sort of thing.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-02-15 01:15 pm (UTC)
I agree with the assessment that writing pretty much any kind of message on your child - your stepchild, in this case - with permanent marker constitutes assault.
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