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View Diary: Glenn Beck's exterminationist talk (352 comments)

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  •  Why do you say that's over the line? (5+ / 0-)

    As I understand it, he has to be exhorting somebody to perform some illegal act.  So if he said,

    "Somebody has to kill Michael Moore.  Somebodies gotta do it.  So who will it be?  Are you gonna do it?"

    that would be clearly illegal.  But saying,

    "I think I could do it.  I hate him enough, I think I could rationalize it."

    is not.  Both are clearly disgusting and would warrant firing his ass by any reasonable employer.  But the latter isn't necessarily illegal.

    Justice deferred is justice denied. -MLK

    by zephron on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 12:12:32 PM PDT

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    •  Legally, maybe (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Timaeus, polecat, dchill, Matt Z, Pris from LA

      But I keep thinking, "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?" Ask Thomas a Becket what comes of that.

      "No one has the right to spend their life without being offended." Philip Pullman

      by zaynabou on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 12:52:02 PM PDT

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      •  Free speech is dangerous. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Timaeus, Nowhere Man

        That's something that was understood by the Founding Fathers from the very beginning.  It's also why it needs to be so carefully protected.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to only protect it for the sane and well-adjusted.

        Justice deferred is justice denied. -MLK

        by zephron on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 01:23:37 PM PDT

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    •  I'm not an expert on First Amendment issues. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      antirove

      Here is a cursory discussion on limits on free speech from wikipedia:

      According to the Freedom Forum Organization, legal systems, and society at large, recognize limits on the freedom of speech, particularly when freedom of speech conflicts with other values or rights.[29]  Limitations to freedom of speech may follow the "harm principle" or the "offense principle", for example in the case of pornography or "hate speech".[30]  Limitations to freedom of speech may occur through legal sanction and/or social disapprobation.[31]
      Members of Westboro Baptist Church have been specifically banned from entering Canada for hate speech.[32]

      In "On Liberty" (1859) John Stuart Mill argued that "...there ought to exist the fullest liberty of professing and discussing, as a matter of ethical conviction, any doctrine, however immoral it may be considered."[31] Mill argues that the fullest liberty of expression is required to push arguments to their logical limits, rather than the limits of social embarrassment. However, Mill also introduced what is known as the harm principle, in placing the following limitation on free expression: "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.[31]

      In 1985 Joel Feinberg introduced what is known as the "offence principle", arguing that Mill's harm principle does not provide sufficient protection against the wrongful behaviours of others. Feinberg wrote "It is always a good reason in support of a proposed criminal prohibition that it would probably be an effective way of preventing serious offense (as opposed to injury or harm) to persons other than the actor, and that it is probably a necessary means to that end."[33] Hence Feinberg argues that the harm principle sets the bar too high and that some forms of expression can be legitimately prohibited by law because they are very offensive. But, as offending someone is less serious than harming someone, the penalties imposed should be higher for causing harm.[33] In contrast Mill does not support legal penalties unless they are based on the harm principle.[31] Because the degree to which people may take offense varies, or may be the result of unjustified prejudice, Feinberg suggests that a number of factors need to be taken into account when applying the offense principle, including: the extent, duration and social value of the speech, the ease with which it can be avoided, the motives of the speaker, the number of people offended, the intensity of the offense, and the general interest of the community at large.[31]

      I can't analyze it here in the midst of a work day, but I suspect one could make a decent case that many of Beck's statements transgress Mills' "harm" principle.  I think his statements, by themselves and even more so in the aggregate, pose and clear and present danger to human lives--both specific human lives like Michael Moore and President Obama, but also all progressives.  He should be in prison. Let him cry about that.

      Impeach judicial activists Roberts and Alito!

      by Timaeus on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 12:53:49 PM PDT

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      •  John Stuart Mill was British ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nowhere Man, Pris from LA

        ... which makes a big damn difference.  In Britain, Beck would have been shut up long ago.

        In the US the standard was laid down in Brandenburg v. Ohio.  To wit,

        These later decisions have fashioned the principle that the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.

        I think that pretty clearly means that Beck is safe.

        Justice deferred is justice denied. -MLK

        by zephron on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 01:10:24 PM PDT

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        •  Well, you know, I think the bolded part of the (0+ / 0-)

          Brandenburg decision, which you have just cited, pretty much squarely embodies Mills' harm standard!

          Thus, I'm quite sure that laws that punished Beck would be constitutional.  I'm just not sure whether currently any state or the federal government actually does enforce that kind of punishment.

          Impeach judicial activists Roberts and Alito!

          by Timaeus on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 01:13:00 PM PDT

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          •  You saw an explicit exhortation to violence (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Nowhere Man, Pris from LA

            to a group willing to do it?

            Brandenburg was a KKK leader who was going on and on about "revengeance" against blacks, Jews and the government.  He was talking to an armed crowd of KKK members.  He was trying to organize a march on Washington.  That is what Brandenburg v. Ohio said was Constitutionally protected speech.

            Justice deferred is justice denied. -MLK

            by zephron on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 01:19:21 PM PDT

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            •  Yes, I've read Brandenburg. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dchill

              And I'm insisting that I think what Beck is doing is much worse than that. Seriously.  He has a much larger audience and he keeps doing this for months on end.  I do think he is deliberately trying to incite lawless action and is likely to succeed.

              Impeach judicial activists Roberts and Alito!

              by Timaeus on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 01:41:58 PM PDT

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              •  I don't think that the test involves the (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Nowhere Man

                size of the audience.  Show me where he says, "You there, yeah you, go commit this crime!  Now!" since that is what Brandenburg requires.

                What he does do is more insidious.  He demonizes, and more importantly dehumanizes, a large fraction of the population.  This is indeed a necessary step towards ultimately inciting violence.  And it is wrong and repugnant in a civilized debate.  It debases both him and our political system.  And it's possible (in fact, it has happened) that some nut that listened to him went off on did something violent.

                That said, I just don't see where he has said something that meets the standard in Brandenburg without an overly broad reading of "inciting" or "imminent".  One that I doubt would come close to holding in court.

                Justice deferred is justice denied. -MLK

                by zephron on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 02:40:11 PM PDT

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      •  To be clear, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nowhere Man

        Brandenburg v. Ohio says that not only must Beck say "Kill me some Liberals!" but that he has to be saying this to people who are likely to actually do it.  That is, if he does this at some nursing home, or during a visit to a local school, or to a bunch of Quakers, it's still legal!  I know, Beck addressing Quakers is silly.

        Justice deferred is justice denied. -MLK

        by zephron on Thu Apr 22, 2010 at 01:14:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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