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CoexistOne never has to look very far to find those who would cast a baleful eye on any group, any minority, any political or religious belief at variance with their own, and accuse that group of being the ones responsible for damaging the fabric of society, and imperiling the nation.

The blame game is a really neat trick if you are dishonest enough to pull it off. It completely absolves you from personal responsibility. No need to examine your own prejudices, attitudes, words or deeds. Freedom from the guilt of a life spent pointing the finger at your neighbor and, for many, a sure and certain knowledge that you are to leave this Earth for Heaven, because you went to Church every Sunday and never stole, or walked on the cracks in the pavement.

There is one particular group, the Westboro Baptist Church, that serves to demonstrate the perversion of a culture that accepts that not only do we have the right to be judgemental, we also have the right to express our views of others with no regard whatsoever to their well-being; or their right to live free from fear and harassment.

"God Hates Fags". If nothing else there is a simplicity to this message that represents merely the end result of a society where many we consider to be Community Leaders spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about, then preaching about, the sex lives of other people. I am not going to even attempt to pick that appalling phrase apart. Not only is it a complete fail simply on the face of it, it hides multiple fail levels, and fail heaped upon fail should you begin to think about the mindset required to believe it is okay to say things like that. Not only do they say them, they prostrate themselves with them. No, I'm not going to examine it, it is simply a cesspool of depravity.

There was a time when I blamed the 1st Amendment for this ability to spew filth and hatred, regardless of the harm it causes. I have modified that view somewhat, because the Constitution is "just a G'damn piece of paper", no more able to control or modify our behaviour towards each other than the Bible, or the Koran. Those words, never actually confirmed to have been said, but widely attributed to President George Bush sound harsh to many, brought up, as they were, to feel that the Constitution was a document designed and written to form a nation, then guide its future.

The words themselves actually contain a degree of insight that I never credited George Bush with possessing, so I lean towards believing that he didn't actually say them. At least not in the way I believe it to be the truth. As we are seeing in decision after decision, the Supreme Court is and has been playing politics with the Constitution in a manner perhaps not seen since Dred Scott. Bad as this may be, it simply serves to demonstrate that the whole of politics is controlled not by a document, but by people. The decisions are influenced by the words, but the personal thoughts and opinions carry more weight. Justice Scalia is quite capable of reversing himself from one case to the next, this is not news.

It's not the written word that permits the outpouring of hatred from the Westboro Baptists or any number of White Supremacist groups, it is our society's propensity to tolerate them. The written word can inform. In some circumstances it can guide the actions of others. What it cannot do is change behavior in a country, and among a people who may find such behaviour repugnant, yet seem to feel that these groups have the right to speak freely. Often my suspicion is that much of the hate is not very far removed from many of the thoughts of those in polite society. Although they might be too refined to utter the words themselves, neither are they minded to actually condemn with positive actions, those of others.

I sometimes wonder how we will ever prevent the youth, in our schools and colleges, parks and playgrounds, from verbally abusing gay, lesbian, black, brown, disabled and any other minority, when the adults tell them we have a right to free speech, and they can see for themselves the Westboro Baptists holding their disgusting placards. When they can see and hear the filth spewed by good, God-fearin' Christians outside Women's Health Clinics. We know they are "God-fearin'", because they tell us so. Apparently the bit about "love thy neighbor" somehow was lost in translation.

Of course it is simply wrong. No one has the right to behave in this manner, even if the laws appear to permit it. There is no such thing as unfettered free speech, we simply haven't fettered the right bits yet. We have not yet matured sufficiently as a society to codify the very simple principle that your rights extend only to the point where they infringe upon the rights of others, and not one inch further. We have reached the point where it is unacceptable to discriminate against some minority groups in housing, employment and a raft of other areas, yet the nuance is missing.

We still allow hate speech, we still allow discrimination against LGBT people in very many areas. We do not recognize those people as citizens with full rights, the pursuit of happiness among them, because we still allow and support the idea that others are free to impinge upon that happiness, and make the lives of others as miserable as they can. We protect that position with the supreme law of the land. We talk about Right to Work as if it is an employment matter. We justify it by suggesting that employers must be flexible, that they might create a maximum number of jobs. We fail to push back against Right to Work with the most powerful argument we have; that Right to Work is effectively a rolling back of a generations of hard-won civil rights. You can't fire workers for being black, or Muslim, or Jewish, but you can fire them, or discriminate in hiring, if you are able to fire for no reason. See what they did there?

The people of the United States generally hold the view that they live in the world's greatest country, and the world's greatest democratic republic. Well I wouldn't argue with the first bit. I think everyone should feel a certain pride in their community and country. I'm torn, because I'm not American and even I feel some pride in your country. I'm far less sure about the second part though.

It is some perverse irony, given the current political landscape, that it was Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, who uttered these words:

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Yet when I look around the developed world, it seems that the people have fewer advantages here than in most other countries. It seems that America is the one country among a raft of comparable societies that has done the least for its people, yet many of the people think it has done the most.

Pick an area .... Employment rights, Trades Union rights, Pension provision, Sick Leave, Parental leave, ANY leave. Minimum wage, the right to healthcare, Education provision. The right to legal redress and a humane justice system. The rights of minorities, women, gays.

Point to any of those areas and explain how Americans have more rights, or better provision than any European nation .... Even the other North American nation seems to be managing its affairs more equitably.

We are terrific at making laws that jail folk for personal drug use, but the Holocaust Deniers are walking the streets, publishing their Blogs, Tweeting their filth and generally going unhindered about their business. It is curious that a habit that mostly affects only an individual is illegal, and one that seeks to subjugate and torment the lives of others is protected. Something is deeply flawed about that.

We need to be smarter, and I know many of my readers are just that. We need to be smarter as a society. We need to start putting people first, and we could consider that the judgemental behaviour of a large section of our society is not just hampering our development; it is a self-fulfilling prophesy. If we allow the fundamentalists to spread poverty and hatred, then we create whole sections of society that has little of value, and less to value. Then we point to those sectors and complain that they commit most of the crime. At the very same time, we allow others who commit far more serious crimes to appear on Talk Shows, blaming the criminals. It's a sweet system we have going.

There will be those who will tell me that we can't outlaw speech. That the thought police have no place in our country, that we have freedoms! Well if we are going down that road, I will simply respond by saying that the day that "God Hates Fags" on a placard, becomes illegal; then that is a day I will celebrate. Why shouldn't it be illegal? The day that those we elect to be judges begin to deal harshly with the worst expressions of the judgemental is a day that cannot come quickly enough. Not because I want to see any stifling of debate. Not because I would think it a good idea to outlaw different views and opinions, but because the term "Free Speech" carries a responsibility, which is to use your freedoms wisely. They are not an excuse to subjugate others, and we should not be tolerating it.

--

After I had finished writing this Diary I came across a story that typifies the kind of hate speech that concerns me the most.

It is a story from Portland, Oregon, and is reminiscent of the outing of abortion providors, a campaign that led directly to the murder of at least one doctor.

In this instance, an anonymous coward calling them selves Artemis of the Woodland has circulated a flyer threatening to "name and shame" people on disability in a Portland neighborhood.

Later I found a Diary on the subject by Cartoon Peril. The whole episode is clearly designed to be hateful, and to intimidate people who are already suffering, because scapegoating is easy, and the disabled are not to be taken to the waters at Lourdes and cured, but shamed.

In that Diary, the commenters were clear that this odious communication probably strayed right up to the line of legality, but stayed the right side. Yet clearly the message was designed to strike fear through intimidation. It is hate speech, pure and simple.

All of this is bad enough, yet could be put down to a single warped individual who should be in jail, but probably won't be found .... Except he might be, by this guy who I found in the Portland personals of Craigslist:

wzwk2-3992483629@pers.craigslist.org
flag [?] : miscategorized prohibited spam best of

Posted: 2013-08-10, 2:13AM PDT

Artemis of the Wildland

Looks like you're under some scrutiny. But I see what you're trying to do, and I like the creative problem solving.

We should talk, we would make good associates.

The link might not stay up, so I copied the message here. Whoever this person is, he (and it is almost always a "he"), heard of the story and wishes to expand on the domestic terrorism represented by this nasty campaign of hatred.

It might be that the law simply can't make the definition. It's like pornography ... I can't describe it but I know it when I see it. If that is correct, then maybe we should have a broad law that criminalizes hate speech, and we can let the courts "know it when they see it", and set the boundaries accordingly.

If we fail to act decisively, to protect those who we know are vulnerable, and who are being targeted for intimidation, then I am wholly unsure why those people should not simply believe that we as a society support this kind of abuse.

--

10:37 AM PT: Before there are many more comments about "loving" the 1st Amendment, I would like to remind the demographic of this Blog of a few pertinent issues.

This is NOT an academic argument. These points, as they relate to hate speech, are not an arcane discussion about rights and freedoms.

I don't know where you all live, but in areas of America where the hate is palpable, these are real problems, for real people. The hate and bullying are real, they affect real lives.

Not outlawing any speech might satisfy your inner liberal, but it does not help when we signally fail to send a powerful message to those who use their "rights" to bully, harass and subjugate.

Originally posted to Every Part of You Belongs to You on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:01 AM PDT.

Also republished by LGBT Rights are Human Rights.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Thank you :) (4+ / 0-)

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      Who is twigg?

      by twigg on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:07:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Unfortunately, (0+ / 0-)

        the quality of "debate" has not improved, as the "free speech" zealots here, strenuously displaying their Personal Virtue, have demonstrated.

        In the US, the First Amendment has always been a national piety, an altar before which all "good Americans" must genuflect lest they be labeled "enemies of freedom" or (gasp!) "un-American". There is no right to lie. Malicious misinformation cannot legitimately be protected by any legal code. However, pointing out those basic realities is all too likely to arouse the fury of the "free speech" zealots.

        I don't know where you all live, but in areas of America where the hate is palpable, these are real problems, for real people. The hate and bullying are real, they affect real lives.

        Not outlawing any speech might satisfy your inner liberal, but it does not help when we signally fail to send a powerful message to those who use their "rights" to bully, harass and subjugate.

        All too true. But I concluded years ago that the "free speech" zealots are far more interested in their pretty abstractions than they are in the lives of those who suffer real harm from the perpetuation of those pretty abstractions.

        The more people I encounter, the more I appreciate our cats.

        by Old Sailor on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 01:08:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Ditto (2+ / 0-)

      I agree.  There are limits too free speech.

      America would be less hated in the world if it adopted anti-hate speech laws like Canada and Europe.

      A lot of teabaggers deserve to be in jail.

      We should have no tolerance for intolerance.

      •  And there's the problem right there. (11+ / 0-)
        A lot of teabaggers deserve to be in jail.
        That is a recipe for the complete destruction of democracy.

        When one party believes that "a lot of the other party deserves to be in jail," simply for speaking their opinions, and then has the legal power to put that belief into practice, how could the result possibly not be characterized as tyranny?

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:33:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  i'm curious (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sandbox, FrankRose

        why are we in some sort of popularity contest with the world?

      •  I'm astonished that so-called progressives would (4+ / 0-)

        say such things. We absolutely should have tolerance for intolerance. So long as people aren't physically harming other people, they have every right to disagree vehemently with those other people's religion, choice of lifestyle, politics, etc. If saying "I think Catholicism is irrational and the Church has too many pedophile priests" is intolerant, fine; I'm proudly Catholic and I will defend to the death any American's right to insult Catholicism and the Pope til they're blue in the face, if they like. Why on earth should the state intervene and say "You must not express intolerant views of the Catholic Church. You must not make Catholics feel insulted." If I, as a Catholic, feel insulted, it's my responsibility to deal with my feelings like a grown-up, not someone else's responsibility to shut up.

        Once you start legislating tolerance, you're well on your way to a totalitarian society in which dissenting views are classed as crimes against society. We should never submit to that. As Americans, we need to be strong enough to take a little hatred from the world in defense of the freedoms that are enjoyed in precious few places other than America.

        •  We need to get away from the idea (2+ / 0-)

          that we are talking about "disagreement".

          This is not about that.

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          Who is twigg?

          by twigg on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 12:17:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's what *you* think (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Be Skeptical, sandbox, FrankRose, T100R

            But in fact, once you start criminalizing so-called hate speech, it takes about 30 seconds before groups that can't face criticism start agitating to define any criticism of their group as "hate speech." And there you go - disagreement becomes illegal.

            In fact, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation is working on it right now at the UN level -- working hard to make criticism of Islam a crime. If the Catholic Church were doing the equivalent, I think people here would be screaming bloody murder.

            Thank God we're Americans, and know better than to let any state authority tell us what we're allowed to think or say. Most of us do, anyway.

          •  Yes. We are. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Be Skeptical

            Simply because you are talking about speech that you 'vehemently disagree' with doesn't make it any less about 'disagreement'.
            Everybody should have the right to love.....or hate anyone they choose, so long as they don't act in an illegal manner on it.

            I trust my ability to act appropriately to other's speech, far more than I trust any powerful entity to decide what is appropriate speech.

            Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

            by FrankRose on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 03:32:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  And have you considered (3+ / 0-)

        what a Teabagger might consider hate speech?

        We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

        by denise b on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 01:51:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent analysis (9+ / 0-)

    because I could feel the words you were holding back while you were writing this. Yes, yes, of course yes.

    This is a country that takes seriously a right wing exception to a bullying law based on religious principles. That shouldn't be allowed to happen, but it is. Exactly, twigg.

    Seneca Falls, Selma, Stonewall

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:07:48 AM PDT

  •  Westboro Baptist Church (10+ / 0-)

    and Holocaust deniers are seen by 95% + of Americans as being nutjobs.

    They pose no real threats.  I'd much rather live in a country that "tolerates", in the sense of not banning, the sort of crackpot speech they spew, than in a place where that speech as been safely banned.

  •  Criminalizing speech is a slippery slope (15+ / 0-)

    We are the only country with the protections of the First Amendment, and I thank God and the Founders for that. The right answer is more speech, not criminalizing free speech. I want politicians and judges to be severely restricted in their ability to make me a criminal, based on what I say or write.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:14:29 AM PDT

  •  T & R, even though I disagree about hate speech, (9+ / 0-)

    but it's an important conversation, and you make good arguments.

    Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

    by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:14:55 AM PDT

  •  The best way to counter hate speech (13+ / 0-)

    Is not by criminalizing it, but by confronting it in the marketplace of ideas. Let it compete with other ideas and let it be completely exposed and destroyed by rational ideas.

    I am not a fan of suppressing speech, simply because I don't believe there should be a crime called a thought-crime. It sets a dangerous precedence. If some unwanted thoughts/ideas can be criminalized then the status quo has the potential to criminalize political dissent by claiming that those ideas are "hateful."

    While I understand where twigg is coming from and respect his well articulated position, I simply love my Constitution more.

    •  As We've Seen in Citizens United, When Speech Is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      twigg, Old Sailor

      made a market commodity, as with everything else, those who have the biggest markets have the most speech, and can easily make the most important speech inaudible to society.

      Free speech and free press in our era are more than sufficient to bring down the American Experiment, being so primitively expressed compared to the realities of our world.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 12:14:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  No. Just no. (16+ / 0-)

    It would be the end of any democracy if the people give politicians the power to outlaw speech that they don't like or find offensive.  

    I'm sure George W. Bush would have considered any number of the things said about him here -- "chimpy" for example -- offensive, and "hate speech." I'm sure Republicans would consider a number of names that they are routinely called here offensive, and hate speech.  I'm sure fundamentalist Christians would find a number of names that they called here offensive and hate speech. I don't want to give them, or any politician, the right to outlaw speech that the politician decides is offensive of hate speech. They don't get to make that decision.  

    Now, I completely agree that we, as a private citizens (not the government) can make decisions about speech we believe is hateful or offensive.  And we can use the tools available to us, such as boycotts or more speech, to counter that.    

    But having constitutional protection for speech we find offensive is the price we pay for not allowing someone else decide whether OUR speech is offensive.  Once you give those in power in the government the power to outlaw speech that they find offensive, you have essentially conceded that someone else who may fundamentally disagree with you has the power to outlaw YOUR speech.  

    You can't have it both ways.  Either everyone -- including people who say things that you or I find horrid and offensive, like the Westboro Baptist Church -- is protected by the First Amendment, or no one is.

    •  Hmmmm! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      allergywoman
      It would be the end of any democracy if the people give politicians the power to outlaw speech that they don't like or find offensive.  
      Two things about this ...

      Firstly, government already has that power. They can make any law they like, they frequently do, and most are upheld by SCOTUS.

      Then there is the deliberate mic-characterization of the debate I raised. I am not talking about speech I disagree with. It is dishonest to suggest that the Diary seeks to restrict difference or debate.

      It does not help the discussion to suggest that speech designed only to hurt others is in any way related to normal political discourse.

      Most developed countries have laws outlawing hate speech, their democracies appear to have survived.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      Who is twigg?

      by twigg on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:41:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  we're not talking about democracy (6+ / 0-)

        but democracy in Europe is affected by speech bans. If you believe that democracy is the most important thing and that people have the right to be represented... then by extension Haters also have the right to be represented. How can haters organize a political party and hold political rallies, etc if they aren't allowed to say what they think? I'd rather keep my hate speech and know who the nutters are than to keep everything underground and not know.

      •  No. (9+ / 0-)
        Firstly, government already has that power. They can make any law they like, they frequently do, and most are upheld by SCOTUS.
        The First Amendment means that, with certain very narrow exceptions (like speech designed to, and likely to, incite imminent lawless action, Brandenburg v. Ohio) our government does not have the power to outlaw speech based on the content of the speech.   And the SCOTUS, and the other federal courts, have many, many, many times found laws unconstitutional on that basis.  

        But here's the most important part:  

        Then there is the deliberate mic-characterization of the debate I raised. I am not talking about speech I disagree with. It is dishonest to suggest that the Diary seeks to restrict difference or debate.

        It does not help the discussion to suggest that speech designed only to hurt others is in any way related to normal political discourse.

        Who gets to decide this????

        Who gets to decide whether the content of my speech "is designed only to hurt others"?  Who gets to decide what political discourse is "normal" and what political discourse crosses the line?

        Are you fine with George W. Bush making the decision when your political discourse crosses the line, or when speech at this site is designed "only to hurt" Bush or Speaker Boehner or Republicans or fundamentalist Christian? Who do you want making that kind of decision????

        Our constitution says that we, as a people, make those decisions based on how we react to speech, or counter that speech.  Our constitution says that people in power in the government don't get to make that decision, because they will tend to find "offensive" things that the other side says, and not things that THEIR SIDE say.  We have a political system -- our elected officials (on both sides) consider politics in virtually everything they do.  Because they consider politics in virtually everything they do, I DON'T want them making decisions about what is "normal" political discourse and what political discourse crosses the line and should be outlawed.

        As odious as I find the Westboro Baptist Church, their horrible statements are directed to a political issue -- same sex marriage and the treatment of the LGBT community.  I don't want politicians to have the power to outlaw speech about political issues when the politicians decide (based in part on their OWN political views, which is that basis of virtually all lawmaking)  that certain speech goes beyond "normal" political discourse.  

        The fact that YOU think that some of the name-calling  on at partisan places like this site is "normal political discourse" is no guarantee that a Republican administration will decide that some of the name-calling at this site is "normal political discourse."  Yet your approach would be to give a Republican administration the power to make that decision.  

        Just No.  

        If you want the benefit of a constitutional right like the First Amendment, you have to acknowledge that people who say things that you hate must have the same rights you do.

      •  Maybe not your intent, but likely the outcome. (6+ / 0-)
        Then there is the deliberate mic-characterization of the debate I raised. I am not talking about speech I disagree with. It is dishonest to suggest that the Diary seeks to restrict difference or debate.
        Outlawing speech you disagree with may not have been the intent of what you propose, but I find it hard not to believe that it wouldn't be the outcome were we to put your suggestion that government can take action against those who engage in certain speech acts, simply by virtue of those acts being characterized as "hate speech."

        Who would determine what constitutes "hate speech," and what checks would exist stopping them from simply declaring any speech that could possibly remove them from power to be "hate speech"—and thereby criminalizing any opposition to them within the marketplace of ideas?

        Do you seriously believe that in this political environment, the Republicans wouldn't make it their #1 priority to take over whatever body determined "hate speech," and use that to criminalize each and every speech act that opposed them?

        Think of the Christian Right's persecution complex, whereby they see it as an attack on them whenever two men have the audacity to hold hands in public, or whenever we tell them that their businesses have to follow the same laws as everyone else, or whenever anyone suggests that our laws shouldn't be based on their narrow interpretation of their holy book.

        Can you seriously imagine that they wouldn't outlaw all such "persecution," if given this Mack-truck-sized hole in the First Amendment?

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:16:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are guessing (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          allergywoman, Old Sailor

          You are suggesting that we do nothing, because doing the right thing might, in some unspecified way, harm our democracy:

          Outlawing speech you disagree with may not have been the intent of what you propose, but I find it hard not to believe that it wouldn't be the outcome were we to put your suggestion that government can take action against those who engage in certain speech acts, simply by virtue of those acts being characterized as "hate speech."
          Many countries have already outlawed hate speech, they are not filling their prisons with political dissidents.

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          Who is twigg?

          by twigg on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:24:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Those countries are far more homogeneous.... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Noisy Democrat, VClib, T100R

            ...than the United States.

            Many countries have already outlawed hate speech, they are not filling their prisons with political dissidents.
            Show me a country that is as heterogeneous as the United States—not just ethnically, but also politically, religiously, and culturally—that has effectively implemented limitations on "hate speech."

            And I wouldn't bring up Europe as a shining example of tolerance, given many European countries' attitudes toward Muslim immigrants and their willingness to permit public expressions of Islam to be outlawed. Switzerland has outlawed minarets, and France has taken aim at hijab, because basic civil rights like freedom of expression and freedom of speech take a back seat to the will of the majority. How is that better?

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:37:30 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Defending our hard-won rights as Americans is not (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib, FrankRose, T100R

            "doing nothing." Free speech is very much under attack in this world -- within this country and at the level of the UN. We're not doing nothing. We're speaking up in defense of our rights.

            •  You think the 1st Amendment was a (0+ / 0-)

              "Hard won right".

              No, it wasn't. Equality for LGBT. Civil Rights. Union Rights.

              They are the hard won rights. Free speech is a corrupted right, with the freedom being granted mostly to those with the most money.

              Standing on a street corner yelling abuse at abortion providors is not an exercise in free speech, it is an exercise in hatred.

              The ability to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into a political campaign reduces your free speech to almost zero.

              There is no argument that Campaign Finance Reform is necessary, and urgent, yet the status quo is defended on exactly the same "free speech" arguments that some in this thread are relying on.

              I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
              but I fear we will remain Democrats.

              Who is twigg?

              by twigg on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 12:50:10 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  How far do you think the fight for LGBT rights (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Be Skeptical, FrankRose, T100R

                would get in a country in which saying anything in defense of gay people was criminalized as obscenity? What if pointing out that Islam mandates the death penalty for homosexuality was criminalized on the grounds that it's anti-Islamic hate speech?

                And yes, I do think that it took some work to get a country with a Constitution like the one we have. I don't think countries like ours are a dime a dozen and I think we need to be vigilant to protect what we have.

              •  Standing on a street corner (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib, FrankRose, AaronInSanDiego

                yelling abuse at abortion providers is very comparable to standing in front of the White House yelling that LBJ is a baby-killer.

                As long as they don't threaten bodily harm, incite violence or interfere with people coming and going, I don't want to stop them from expressing themselves. They have a right to their views.

                We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

                by denise b on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 02:12:22 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  twigg - "The hard won right" (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Be Skeptical, FrankRose, Pi Li

                started with the Revolutionary War.

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 02:32:30 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  I cannot agree. (7+ / 0-)

        I love our First Amendment. Yes, the Supreme Court has misinterpreted it.  There was Oliver Wendell Holmes and his infamous comparison of handing out anti-draft leaflets in wartime to "shouting 'fire' in a crowded theatre". There was Citizens United.  But I am glad that the words are written down, that the law is the Supreme Law of the Land, and that there is a strong tradition of taking them seriously.  And the reasoning of Holmes was overturned in later SC cases involving war protests. And hopefully, CU will be overturned.

        But in the meantime, I object to weaking the 1st amendment in the style of Europe.  It is counterproductive, and wrong. First, it blurs the distinction between speech and action, leading to controversial and subjective arguments. Second, it empowers those whose speech is suppressed, and weakens those who are resorting to using suppression rather than argument to make their case.  

        I strongly support the tradition that evil speech should be countered with counter-speech, not with government force.

        And let's look at Europe.  Do you really want to defend what passes for freedom of speech over there?  I don't!  Let's look at some cases.

        1. England.  No written constitution.  So if my civil rights are infringed, I'm not able to argue in court that their so-called "unwritten constitution" protects me.  In the meantime, disgusting right-wingers are legitimized in mocking the "political correctness" of liberal suppression of speech.

        2. The Netherlands.  There is a so-called "grondwet", but it is so impotent it might as well not be there.  Nearly every right is qualified by a clause that says, "you have this right .... except where limited by Parliament". They don't get it!  They miss the point that a true "grondwet" means stating what Parliament isn't allowed to do.

        3.  France.  Supposedly has civil liberties, but they have still managed to figure out a way to make burka-wearing designated as a kind of attack so that they can criminalize it.

        4.  Hungary.  Yuck!!  Do you think the "hate speech" laws have weakened the Jobbikosak???  (That is, members of Jobbik, the neo-fascist party that calls itself "nationalist" and "Hungary for the Hungarians" but is really anti-semitic and anti-Roma.)  Listen to the stupid arguments over the banning of the uniforms worn by the Magyar Gárda (Jobbik's version of the Sturmabteilung). "Oh, it's the emblem of the Nyilaskereszt, so it's bannable as a Nazi symbol!"  "No, no, you fool, can't you see it's not a Nyilaskereszt symbol, it's an Árpádsávok symbol.  It has 9 stripes instead of 8! Can't you count?"  In the meantime Jobbik keeps increasing its representation in the Hungarian Parliament and the European Parliament.  Fooey.  You're not going to suppress Jobbik by arguing over whether their uniforms are Nazi symbols and hence "illegitimate speech" versus "legitimate" 13th century patriotic coats of arms.  You're supposed to challenge their whole way of dividing people into "their kind" and "our kind" and explain why xenophobia is wrong.

        I'm a card-carrying ACLU member.  If I could support the right of Neo-Nazis to marge through Skokie, I'm going to stand firm on the 1st amendment.  If somebody wants to burn a flag or a draft card or say "God hates fags" or whatever, I may argue (or in the case of the draft card, I may support), but for me it's speech versus speech, and I want it to stay that way.

      •  You said Holocaust Deniers should not be allowed (6+ / 0-)

        to put out their views. That would be stifling disagreement and debate. And I write as someone who thinks that Holocaust deniers are psychotic a*holes.

        Somehow you keep imagining that only the things *you see as hateful would be made illegal. Everything that you see as legitimate disagreement would get past this putative law just fine. I don't think it would work that way -- and frankly, I wouldn't want you to have the power to decide what kinds of criticisms I'm allowed to make. If I criticize some group or ideology and you don't like it, you can just call me an a**hole. That's free speech.

      •  twigg - the fact that the First Amendment (4+ / 0-)

        starts "Congress shall make no law ..........." has been a good deterrent to an overactive Congress who might want to trample on our free speech rights.  

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 02:29:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I am much more fearful of hate speech laws (6+ / 0-)

        than hate speech.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 02:31:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  EXACTLY! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lasgalen Lothir, Noisy Democrat

      and remember. speech goes to much more than just words. it goes to actions and art. Just imagine what removing the right to free speech would do to film? if a republican was in office at least half of Broadway would be closed. gays kissing in, or out of, public is a form of speech. that would be banned. most video games; banned!

      The fact is, the Westboro Baptist Church gives me more hope through their actions than the Obama administration does now. The fact that they still exist means we haven't lost all of rights... rights that President Obama has been actively undermining.

      The entire Obama rodeo clown thing makes me ashamed. Not that it happened per se.. but the fact NAACP called on the government to actually investigate it. The fact that everyone was made to apologize for it and take sensitive(soviet; re-education) courses. They didn't apologize because they felt sorry. They did so only because they felt overwhelming political pressure and that's wrong. Whether or not that rodeo clown shows that they are bigots or just far right wingers doesn't matter. They made a statement and they shouldn't have to be made to apologize because someone was offended.

    •  Agreed. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lasgalen Lothir, Loge, FrankRose, T100R

      Moreover, the Westboro Baptist Church is so outrageous that they help drive Democrats and left-leaning moderates and independents to the polls. The 1st Amendment gives the Westboro Baptist Church enough rope to hang themselves.

      -4.75, -5.33 Cheney 10/05/04: "I have not suggested there is a connection between Iraq and 9/11."

      by sunbro on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:58:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The thing about free speech... (4+ / 0-)

    is that hate speech is protected because it doesn't challenge the 1%.

    On the other hand, you go and sing in a rotunda, and suddenly you're a dangerous criminal.

    The logic is perfect.  As long as you're willing to divide the people, you're fine.  Start trying to come together to create REAL change, and it's amazing how many tiny little laws you're breaking.

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:48:25 AM PDT

    •  do you think a racist rally in the rotunda (0+ / 0-)

      would be treated more leniently?

      Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

      by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:28:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The WBC probably would be fine. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        twigg

        They'd apply for their permit, stand quietly, with their message of pure unadulterated hatred and leave when told to by the police.

        Which is all that really matters, apparently.

        /snark

        I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

        by detroitmechworks on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 12:37:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What is interesting about this, (0+ / 0-)

          among other things, is that the speech currently being suppressed is lawful, and not in the least hateful.

          It is being suppressed by political opponents, for the purpose of political opposition. That can be done by the authorities, who then find it enormously difficult to clamp down on real hate speech, which hurts real people.

          We have the worst of both worlds.

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          Who is twigg?

          by twigg on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 12:41:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  You know, before the Internet, I was a complete (3+ / 0-)

    First Amendment absolutist. Let anyone say anything, I used to say.

    Then I saw how blatant trolling and hate speech, unrestricted, shuts down conversations and hurts people.

    (Let's not even get into how many people don't even have an outlet for speech any more, now that the Big $$ Interests run most of our dialogue.)

    Nope. Now I'm for restricting hate speech and trolling, hard. It is contrary to the spirit of the First, it harms people, and it does not add to the conversation. Shut it down.

    •  if speech ever hurts you (4+ / 1-)

      then it's you that has the problem. seek mental help. You have to allow hate speech or else legit dissent will be harmed.

      •  Tell that to the parents (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        allergywoman, Wee Mama

        of the gay teens who have killed themselves.

        Your comment disgusted me, but this is my Diary so I have to give you a pass.

        Suggesting that the victim of hate speech seek mental health care is outrageous.

        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

        Who is twigg?

        by twigg on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:09:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  HRd because telling someone to seek mental help (4+ / 0-)

        Because they see something different than you is way over the line.

        Most of the people taking a hard line against us are firmly convinced that they are the last defenders of civilization... The last stronghold of mother, God, home and apple pie and they're full of shit! David Crosby, Journey Thru the Past.

        by Mike S on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:13:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I think a lot of people here are missing one thing (5+ / 0-)

        The First Amendment does not give you the right to "free speech" anywhere, any time, or any place.

        What it does is keep the government from restricting your right to speak.

        Private entities, such as blogs, YouTube, companies that you work for and other groups can and do tell you what you can say while in their territory.

        And I disagree completely on the idea that speech cannot hurt you. If you tell your three-year-old child that they are worthless - you really don't think that's going to affect them for the rest of their lives?

        You don't believe that bullying can destroy lives?

        The old saying claims that "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me."

        Wrong.

        Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can hurt a lifetime. And they can kill.

        Hate speech on the radio or television can drive an already unstable mind to do horrific things. Without that prod, they might otherwise stay within the bounds of humanity.

        Words are all we HAVE. They're our deepest form of communication.

        And I'm betting if someone here said something to you that hurt you deeply - stabbed at an issue that went to the core of your being - you would be hurt and offended.

        "We have only the moral ground we actually inhabit, not the moral ground we claim." - It Really Is That Important

        by Diogenes2008 on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:20:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  i was bullied from second grade (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Noisy Democrat

          through eighth. I know how it feels. I got over it.... actually with a lot of help from school councilors. I GOT HELP.

          •  That's great for you but you (5+ / 0-)

            should apologize to allergywoman for that comment.

            Most of the people taking a hard line against us are firmly convinced that they are the last defenders of civilization... The last stronghold of mother, God, home and apple pie and they're full of shit! David Crosby, Journey Thru the Past.

            by Mike S on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:29:58 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  i see what you're saying (0+ / 0-)

              but to do so would be completely anti-thetical to the point I've been trying to make here.

              •  It is worth considering (0+ / 0-)

                that you meant something different to the way the comment actually reads.

                If it were simply poorly worded, and some do think it was, then you might make the point again in a way that doesn't cause offense.

                If the point is that people are able to get over emotional abuse, with the help of counseling, then sure they are.

                The point here is that when that abuse is open, and visible, do we not have the responsibility to halt it?

                We are not talking about disagreement here, the Diary was quite clear on that point. We are talking about the speech that is designed to do nothing other than wound others.

                I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
                but I fear we will remain Democrats.

                Who is twigg?

                by twigg on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 12:23:27 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Say what? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Wee Mama

                Apologizing for saying something that is offensive is the same as having laws made outlawing hate speach?

                One is legislating speech, the other is common courtesy.

                Most of the people taking a hard line against us are firmly convinced that they are the last defenders of civilization... The last stronghold of mother, God, home and apple pie and they're full of shit! David Crosby, Journey Thru the Past.

                by Mike S on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 12:23:46 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  i'm not really willing to make the distiction (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Noisy Democrat, VClib, denise b

                  between what is merely offensive speech and hate speech. I don't believe that I, any politicians, judges, or bureaucrats is qualified to make that call.

                  bullying though.. might be handled under harassment laws. if physical attacks are employed than assault charges. but I would never put some one in jail for just saying things we don't like.

                  •  And when the bullying (0+ / 0-)

                    is directed towards a racial group, or a group defined by sexual orientation, we are somehow now powerless to stop it?

                    That makes no sense at all.

                    Terrifying an individual we can deal with, terrifying an entire community not so much?

                    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
                    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

                    Who is twigg?

                    by twigg on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 12:44:51 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  counter it with more speech (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Be Skeptical, VClib

                      .. not speech bans.

                    •  "We"-- the people -- are not powerless (7+ / 0-)

                      in the face of speech we find offensive.  We can ridicule it.  We can persuade others that it is offensive.  In the case of a business or business owner, we can refuse to do business with them.  In the case of a politician, we can use their words to campaign against them.  In all cases, we can use our own speech (along with those who share our views) to drown them out and to convince others to support our views.  

                      Allowing a group of elected officials to decide what speech they think is "offensive" enough to be banned is contrary to the most basic principles that this country is based on.  

                      When the speech crosses the line into involving physical violence, that's when the law can and should step in.

                    •  also rhe constitution (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      VClib

                      Guarantees individual rights... Not really group rights except for the right of the individual to join groups

          •  So was I. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Wee Mama

            I didn't know I could get help from school councilors. This was quite a while ago. Back then most school officials were very hands-off about bullying.

            It affected me deeply, and others have died because of it.

            Saying it's okay because you got help doesn't cut it, sorry. Not everyone has the access to help - or the knowledge that the help is out there.

            "We have only the moral ground we actually inhabit, not the moral ground we claim." - It Really Is That Important

            by Diogenes2008 on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 12:00:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I was bullied, too (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Diogenes2008, Wee Mama

            You do not speak for me personally or the bullied generally. I find it incredible that a person who was actually bullied could be so callous.

            I don't mind if you're straight. Just don't flaunt it in public.

            by Chrislove on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 02:30:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I'd be hurt and offended (4+ / 0-)

          and then I'd get the f*** over it. I would never in a million years want a law passed to prevent people from saying things that hurt and offend me. A website can have policies against certain kinds of comments and that's fine -- you've drawn a good distinction -- but the government has no business being the "play nice" police.

      •  Bullshit. n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        twigg
      •  Are you freaking serious? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama

        Have you been completely insulated from the LGBT teen suicide epidemic? From the existence of hate crimes? Do you really think these have nothing to do with a society that allows hate speech?

        I call bullshit on your slippery slope argument. And how fucking dare you tell victims of hate speech to seek "mental help"? The four upraters should be ashamed of themselves.

        I don't mind if you're straight. Just don't flaunt it in public.

        by Chrislove on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 02:27:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Do you seriously believe... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Be Skeptical

      ....that a law could possibly be crafted that could effectively restrict "trolling" on the internet, without restricting a single legitimate speech act?

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:18:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do you seriously believe that I was talking (0+ / 0-)

        about making laws? 'Cause I don't get that from anything I said, above.

        •  You wrote about the First Amendment. (4+ / 0-)

          The First Amendment, like the entire Bill of Rights, determines the boundaries of state power—not the power of private entities or individuals.

          The First Amendment already permits private entities like Big Orange to restrict trolling on their sites, because it governs only state actions.

          Thus, to suggest that certain speech acts like trolling do not fall under the protections of the First Amendment, is to suggest that the state should have the power to restrict such speech acts—and the only way the state could restrict such speech acts is through laws.

          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

          by JamesGG on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:42:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  We're talking about (0+ / 0-)

          altering the First Amendment and you lumped trolling and hate speech together and said they should be "shut down", so, yes, it certainly sounded as though you were talking about laws.

          If we can deal with trolling by challenging and countering it then we can deal with hate speech the same way - as we always have in this country.

          We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

          by denise b on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 02:29:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  shorter: we must ban speech to save it. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Be Skeptical, FrankRose, T100R

      good luck with that.

    •  Who decides who's a troll? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      T100R

      On this site and every other, we often see disagreement. Who would decide who gets shut down? You?

  •  Two specific dangers (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnny wurster, denise b, T100R

    Suppose there had been hate speech laws during the 60s. They could have been used to shut down anyone who spoke angrily about white people. They would have been used that way.

    Another is that a tyrannical abusive cult could shut down media coverage of their victims by calling it anti-religious hate speech.

    John Stuart Mill covered this argument a long time ago.

    Anyone considering a dog for personal safety should treat that decision as seriously as they would buying a gun.

    by Dogs are fuzzy on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:56:50 AM PDT

    •  Sort of like Scientology tries to do now (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      denise b, T100R
      a tyrannical abusive cult could shut down media coverage of their victims by calling it anti-religious hate speech

      “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

      by Catte Nappe on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 12:41:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If and when we hold The Second American (0+ / 0-)

    Constitutional Convention this subject will receive thorough, intelligent discussion. We're doing any number of things problematically as a society, and some we can't really change because they are complex, and getting beyond the superficial seems to be becoming harder and harder. But even worse than that is the fact that many of most serious issues have actually been bestowed upon us by a right wing SCOTUS and simply can't be fixed short of changing our Constitution. What to change, how to change things? These issues need anything other than a superficial treatment.

    Take this diary on Freedom of Speech, for instance. Because of it's length, few people even at a place as enlightened as DKos will actually give the issue the quality of consideration that it deserves. Even as well done as it is, though, it barely scratches the surface, compared to the discussion that we, as a society, ought to be having. A Convention would be a group of people capable of doing justice to the challenge, and tasked with exactly that.

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:58:12 AM PDT

  •  Basic to civics education US v Schwimmer 1929 (4+ / 0-)

    Justice Holmes set forth a bedrock observation that guides First Amendment law:

    "...if there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought—not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate."

    It is instinctive to want to quash thoughts that we hate and to look for ways to use the law to do it.  

    The First Amendment serves us well and we should reflect on the true nature and causation of societal prejudices that we would like to see made obsolete.  

    This is about public education and the way society evolves in the long run.  People who say stuff in public that is repugnant to common sense and fairness ought to be called on it by those who simply have the courage to do so.  

    It is the debate itself we protect by supporting the First Amendment tradition and our right to participate in it freely.

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:59:27 AM PDT

  •  I think you are absolutely right, many countries (4+ / 0-)

    limit hate speech and still have more freedom of expression than we do here. Heck it was just last month that Americans were allowed to listen to what Voice of America says on the air all over the world (it used to be illegal to re-broadcast VOA in the US, go figure!).

    So while I am a strong defender of the First Amendment, there are several things that are beyond the pale and should not be protected speech (or at least not in public).  Cue in the people telling me about the irony of someone with my screen name posting this, but the Constitution is not an unchangeable/fixed mandate - it is meant to evolve, and thank goodness for that, imagine how much worse we'd be doing if the XIV and XIX Amendments had not drastically changed the Constitution.  I am glad to see so many defenders of the 1A, but a bit distraught to see so many defending Scalia's "originalist" views that nothing in the Constitution can change.

    Cold this be abused?  Absolutely and that is why we need a strong democracy to make sure it doesn't happen.

    •  Maybe if we changed the conversation. (4+ / 0-)

      I am shocked by many of the respondents here, who seem to conflate hate speech with free speech. They are not even close to being the same thing.

      Maybe we should start describing hate speech as a crime of violence, given that the only purpose of such speech is to intimidate others, cause them to live in fear, and to recruit other haters to a violent cause.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      Who is twigg?

      by twigg on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:16:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Twigg, but you have to answer this: (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        twigg, johnny wurster, sandbox, FrankRose

        How, and whom, defines 'hate'? Where is the line drawn? And how can you safeguard it from being abused by the wrong people?

        While you dream of Utopia, we're here on Earth, getting things done.

        by GoGoGoEverton on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:26:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  hate speech and free speech are conflated (4+ / 0-)

        The problem with the framing here is that somehow the principle of Free Speech is supposed to operate outside of the way law actually is made and enforced.  

        What we are talking about is necessarily, criminalizing people for saying something.

        It happens that I went through a torturous process of discovering all this as a member of a city council appointed advisory body associated with telecommunications.  

        The biggest controversy at the time was a public access producer who used sexual imagery and created a big political controversy, since the city contracted with the public access provider and funded the non-profit's operations.  

        The committee I was on spent a year looking at all the ways that First Amendment law and criminality were likely to be involved.  

        One of the outstanding lessons was that most lawyers have no clue, since money is to be made in contract disputes, property issues and other matters.  

        The other is from sitting in front of a Grand Jury and being grilled on the policy we adopted, which derives wholly from First Amendment tradition, especially Supreme Court decisions.  

        Who decides what community standards are?  It turns out that we are talking about prosecuting attorneys who get a bee up their butt, Grand Juries that decide to get all righteous, and trial juries.  

        Even if the result is a conviction of a misdemeanor, you still are taking away rights and assigning criminality.  

        Indeed, this is dangerous and must be considered with real knowledge of how the court system works and what the difference is between civil lawsuits and criminal trials.  

        hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

        by Stuart Heady on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:26:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Hate speech is free speech (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Be Skeptical, sviscusi

        Calling it violence is untrue and such talk undermines the attempt to crack down on real violence.

        Rush Limbaugh is hateful and he inspires hate everywhere.  And so do other homophobic and misogynistic and xenophobic voices on radio and TV and at pulpits and other places.

        But having the government shut him down??  Imprison him??  No.  Let's heckle him.  Let's do what a group here on DailyKos does -- try to persuade radio stations and their advertisers to shun him.  Let's mock him.  Let's stage other events mocking other homophobes and misogynists and xenophobes and other bigots.  Give our athletes at the Russian olympics diplomatic immunity and let them stage massive kiss-ins flouting those stupid laws.

        But arrest a Rush Limbaugh or a Fred Phelps and how are you going to prevent a conservative government from imprisoning Jane Fonda?  (Hopefully you're not among those who thinks she should have been arrested!)  Or those who burned their draft cards or the flag during the Vietnam war?  Or who yelled "Hey hey LBJ how many kids did you kill today" (as I in fact did)?  Couldn't you imagine people saying (as many in fact did) "Oh, they're helping the enemy kill our soldiers while they're in battle -- how will you explain that to the mothers of the boys who died?"  

        Luckily we clung to the official story that the "boys who died" in Vietnam did so to support my constitutional right to call LBJ a babykiller and be as (non-violently) rude as I wished to be at demonstrations.  And I don't want that constitutional right to be diminished one hair.

        I am staying here in the USA, despite all its faults, rather than going back to Hungary, land of my ancestors, because I don't want the USA to become like England or Germany or Hungary or all these countries that talk about "free speech" while making it clear that they just don't grok the 1st amendment.

    •  Consider this then (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DefendOurConstitution

      If hate speech is going to be a crime then hate speech on the internet is going to be a crime. Then we have to do away with anonymity, and empower the government to track down people for posts they made under screen names. Does anyone really want this?

      We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

      by denise b on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 02:35:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here's the problem: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stuart Heady, twigg, Loge, Catte Nappe

    In order to outlaw "hate speech," you would need a working definition of the term.

    Given that we're treading on the damn-near-sacred ground of the First Amendment, I think that working definition would need to be:

    • Incredibly precise and objective in order to set down a clear and bright line between non-hate-speech and hate speech, so that it was all but impossible to unintentionally engage in hate speech;
    • Stringent enough to never flag any non-hate-speech act as hate speech, so that no legitimate speech act was ever restricted; and
    • All but sealed off from the political process in order to not become a political football whereby those in political power could not simply use it to outlaw the other party.

    Furthermore, given the extent to which freedom of speech is a foundational principle for any kind of working democratic republic, whatever legal framework you set up to outlaw hate speech would have to fulfill all three of those criteria immediately.

    The stakes would be far too high to implement any kind of "work in progress" legal framework. To create any opportunity for a legitimate speech act to be outlawed as hate speech, to permit even the slimmest of cracks whereby the political process could sneak in and determine the definition of hate speech, to set up even the remotest possibility that one could unintentionally engage in hate speech, creates a substantial probability for the complete elimination of anything even approaching democracy and the slide towards totalitarianism.

    Thus far, I have yet to see a pragmatic or practical legal framework that comes anywhere within a hundred miles of those criteria, in the context of the American political system—and, as I wrote above, I believe that no framework at all for outlawing certain speech acts as "hate speech" is preferable to one that would restrict even a single legitimate speech act.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:31:36 AM PDT

    •  Excellent comment, thank you. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Old Sailor, JamesGG

      I don't think anyone has ever pretended this would be easy.

      What is interesting is that we are able, broadly, to define bullying and apply sanctions to our young people, but not apply the same standards to ourselves.

      We do this because the very real harm is recognized, yet leave school and suddenly you are free to intimidate others to your heart's content.

      It would be a hard thing to do, but when was that ever an excuse for doing nothing to protect the vulnerable?

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      Who is twigg?

      by twigg on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:38:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think it's more than "not easy." (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AaronInSanDiego

        I think it's all but impossible, particularly within the context of the American political system.

        The third criterion in particular would be the most substantial sticking point, I think. How could one create a body that could determine the "rules" for hate speech that would be completely insulated from the political process while not being completely unaccountable for their decisions?

        I cannot think of even one instance in history where a system that fulfills that criterion—being simultaneously both insulated from popular politics/factions, and accountable to the body politic for its decisions—was implemented for even a short time, to say nothing of such a system remaining in place for any appreciable period of time.

        Anti-bullying rules in public schools are permissible in part because we acknowledge that young people are particularly susceptible not only to the harm caused by bullying but also, on the other end, to the impulse to engage in bullying. While they may cognitively "know" better, their immaturity causes a disconnect between that knowledge and their decision-making. That's why we raise children—in order to bring their consciences and their decisions closer together.

        Anti-bullying rules are also permissible in public schools because schools' purpose is pedagogical, not democratic; the harm of "over-diagnosing" bullying in preventing too much speech is significantly smaller than the harm of preventing too little speech and allowing too much bullying.

        Preventing children from saying certain things judged as "bullying" does not change the course of our democratic republic, nor does it suppress any population from participation in society—particularly since, as you write, those rules apply only in very limited circumstances. Unless it were absolutely perfect right out of the gate, any legal framework outlawing certain speech acts as "hate speech" potentially could and, I'd argue, almost certainly would have that effect.

        Finally, I dispute the notion that those who, like me, do not see any pragmatic way to implement laws banning hate speech are somehow uninterested in protecting the vulnerable. There are myriad situations in our society whereby a given "solution" to a problem can cause significantly more harm than the problem itself was causing; this, I would argue, would be such a "solution." That does not mean that I'm not interested in solving the problem—just that I don't think this solution would be beneficial overall.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 12:22:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We're also talking about anti-bullying (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Be Skeptical

          in the context of the school, which has authority over students' behavior.

          There are things that a school may forbid on school property as bullying but that doesn't mean we can call the police if they occur elsewhere.

          We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

          by denise b on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 02:41:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  There are legal definitions of illegal speech (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AaronInSanDiego, Catte Nappe

      Very specifically, these are defined in terms of harm actually caused.  The person yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater may create a hazard in which people are injured or even killed.  There are laws against producing such a circumstance.  

      Using a video camera to watch a woman undressing and posting that on an access channel or You Tube comes under the so called "peeping tom" laws.  

      There are other examples of harm that a jury might assign criminal misdemeanor or felony charges for.  

      Obscenity is defined as what a local jury agrees with a local prosecutor agree it is.  

      When you get to the problem of taking abstract ideas like "hate" and defining them prescriptively, you get into trouble.

      When a crime has been committed against a person as a result of hate, then blame can be assigned that is specific to that crime.  

      The English language is a great and flexible thing.  It allows us to engage in thinking with each other.  But it does not create an ability to prescribe remedies for things that have not specifically caused harm yet in the future.  

      hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

      by Stuart Heady on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:41:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sure it does: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        allergywoman, Old Sailor
        The English language is a great and flexible thing.  It allows us to engage in thinking with each other.  But it does not create an ability to prescribe remedies for things that have not specifically caused harm yet in the future.  
        Many countries have done just this, in German and French as well as English.

        Those countries are still alive with political debate, it has not been impeded.

        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

        Who is twigg?

        by twigg on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:48:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This area of American law requires reading (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Loge, denise b

          We have a First Amendment tradition in the first place because of European experience in the historic period leading up to the Revolution.  

          This is not really a matter of rhetoric, but of law.  

          Again, assigning criminality or civil penalty to speech comes with a heavy burden of proving harm in the contest of the court arena, as well as in the political arena where laws are promulgated.  

          I am offended by a lot of right wing hate but I am more offended by attempts to tinker with the legal traditions we have built up over two centuries of practice and argument in this country.  

          I think a lot of people who call themselves liberals and who tend to want to join the parade of those who would limit speech freedoms really need to do more serious reading.  These debates are ongoing and there is a huge body of literature out there already.  

          hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

          by Stuart Heady on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 11:54:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  are you sure? (0+ / 0-)

          I'm willing to bet that political debate in those countries are EXTREMELY different than if they had our definition of free speech. You're acting like just because there IS still a political discourse that bans on speech has had no impact on that discourse.

        •  It has most *definitely* been impeded (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          anime1973, sandbox, Be Skeptical, T100R

          In Austria, Elisabeth Sabaditch-Woolf was tried and convicted for making a factually-correct comment about Muhammad's having married a prepubescent child. That's only one example -- there are plenty more. Many people in Europe have commented on how difficult it is to have a vigorous debate about the pros and cons of Islam because criticism of Islam is easily construed as hate speech and people are in fact getting prosecuted.

          Do you really want it to be illegal for someone to say that Christianity sucks, or that homophobic religions are bad for society? Because that's the kind of "hate speech" law they've got going in Europe. The laws seem to be applied more vigorously when it's a matter of people criticizing Islam, but the principle is the same.

  •  Most Americans fear infringement of their free (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stuart Heady, twigg

    speech rights almost as much as they fear the establishment of a state religion, not realizing that in nations like the UK, said establishment led to less influence of the church in politics and daily life rather than more.

    So, if you insist on tinkering with the First Amendment, leave the free speech issue alone and change the clause regarding religion to make clear that "no law respecting an establishment of religion" allows no protection from due process and taxation.

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
    If Westboro didn't benefit from the current tax laws it wouldn't exist.

    Include a hate speech penalty on assault, slander and libel charges, much as there is a hate crime penalty on crimes of violence.

    But keep in mind that there are many Americans who want a Constitutional amendment to ban burning of the American flag as a form of protest. Sometimes we have to protect the ugly in order to preserve the freedoms the rest of us want to enjoy.

    •  In a curious irony (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Susan from 29

      many of those responsible for this:

      But keep in mind that there are many Americans who want a Constitutional amendment to ban burning of the American flag as a form of protest.
      Are the same ones whose hatred knows no bounds.

      Thanks for your comment.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      Who is twigg?

      by twigg on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 12:02:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Law of Unintended Consequences (3+ / 0-)

      Most likely a Constitutional Amendment process that would re-write any clause or make any change at all would become an open door through which would rush the 2nd Amendment people and the corporate sector.  

      We could wind up with a Constitution re-written according to the taste of corporate wishes, and possibly those of the Dominionists.  

      Better to leave the current status quo the hell alone.  The body of law we have that one can study up on, which stems from the First Amendment works pretty darn well.  

      I can't imagine the corporate influence sector and the nutjobs and the idiots being kept away from any process that opens it up to changes at this time.  

      Our public debate processes are really full of potential not yet realized.  

      hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

      by Stuart Heady on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 12:16:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  two other points, (0+ / 0-)

    first i agree with the posters who rightly note that under the law as it exists, there is no way that a viewpoint or even content based ban on political speech would ever be upheld, but the comparison to Europe isn't entirely one sided.  Hate groups there can cover themselves in "anti-establishment" cachet, which paradoxically helps their recruiting.  Second, we've seen France go down the road of not just banning Holocaust denial as a form of personal expression (which the denialists spin as, "what are you hiding?"), but passing laws banning the Hijab in public places, and Germany has gone on a vendetta against Scientologists, when laughing at them would be more appropriate. (Tom Cruise is so short!)  On net, it's better to have a legal regime where securing rights of the bigots ensures the same rights by more sympathetic minorities.  In the U.S., probably the closest we have to hate speech laws are "material support" of terrorism statutes directed at polemicists, and that's pretty uncomfortable.  

    This is however a totally separate inquiry from "hate crimes" laws, which since they require an additional criminal act whose liability already turns on state of mind, I see no a priori Constitutional objection, though here too, application is tricky.  

    Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

    by Loge on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 12:15:54 PM PDT

    •  You can't be one-sided in your presentation (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Old Sailor

      of the situation in France.

      France has not targeted the clothing of Muslim women as an attack on Islam.

      France has attempted to grapple with religious intolerance by completely separating church from state.

      They have, for example, banned all religious expression in schools, including the wearing of cruxifixes and yamulkes.

      Churches remain full on Sundays, and entirely unhindered.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      Who is twigg?

      by twigg on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 12:27:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's itself one-sided (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        T100R, sviscusi

        the burden of removing the hijab is not equivalent to the burden of removing a crucifix.   And it's not a protection against religious intolerance, it's the the force of the state to say that the line between public and private religious expression must exist on Western secular terms only.  If anything, it's an embodiment of religious intolerance, and under the guise of "elevating" the status of Muslim women (by having them dress like Catherine Deneuve), they've instead made it less likely they'd work outside the home.  And the point wasn't that it's a problem with laws against hate speech, but the larger problem of using laws to assert legal control over expression of conscience or belief, as an invitation to unintended consequences.  

        Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

        by Loge on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 12:52:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Loge ... France is a Western secular country. (0+ / 0-)

          The laws in France reflect that, so it's kinda hard to blame them for expressing things in those terms.

          I have to remove my crash helmet when I go into the bank, whether I want to or not.

          France is a democracy, and laws can be made and changed freely.

          Women in France are free to wear the clothes they choose, including wearing none at all in many places. This conflicts, I agree, with some traditions, in some Islamic communities where women are not free to make choices, and wearing certain clothing is part of that.

          France will not change it's laws to accommodate that which the French consider to be discriminatory, and religious beliefs play no role in that because they have a separation that has teeth.

          Some Muslims may indeed consider this to be an imposition, but many do not.

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          Who is twigg?

          by twigg on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 01:25:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  France changed its laws (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FrankRose, T100R

            to be MORE discriminatory, but that's a bit of a side issue besides querying the "why can't you foolish Americans be more like Europe" premise.  The U.S. has a doctrine of "reasonable accommodation" that works well in the U.S. and to a lesser extent pre-Sarkozy Frahnse.  If a job requires a woman not to wear a hijab, it goes; otherwise, no.  The bike helmet analogy is utterly trivializing.  Separation of church and state is a two edged sword - both the establishment clause and free exercise clauses have to work together to promote individual liberty.  France can call what it's doing separating church and state with teeth, but it's a pretext for anti-immigrant nativism.  (And in a country of roughly 65 million, you can find many people believing anything.)

            Similarly, allowing the hateful expression of hateful ideas at least provides something of a safety valve.  Often, the justification for banning speech is that it would lead to violence in the future, but what if violence is the consequences of allowing the hateful ideas to bubble over?  I don't think it's possible to answer this question in all cases, but in the case of anti-gay speech, attitudes around the country have changed with no banning of speech; and by the time there would be enough of a political consensus that such a law could pass even if it were Constitutional, it'd be already unnecessary.

            Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

            by Loge on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 02:06:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  The logic is tortuous (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Be Skeptical, Loge, FrankRose, T100R

        They had to have all these commissions spend hours debating what the "inner meaning" of a headscarf is and whether it satisfied some ambiguous concept of laïcité.

        Fooey.

        It doesn't help if your daughter wants to wear a headscarf in class and is expelled for doing it.  Or if your son wants to wear a kippah at a basketball game.

        And actually you're wrong that "all" religious expression was banned.  They tried to cut a distinction they shouldn't have had to make. From Wikipedia:

        The Stasi Commission published its report on 11 December 2003, considering that ostentatious displays of religion violated the secular rules of the French school system. The report recommended a law against pupils wearing "conspicuous" signs of belonging to a religion, meaning any visible symbol meant to be easily noticed by others. Prohibited items would include headscarves for Muslim girls, yarmulkes for Jewish boys, and turbans for Sikh boys. The Commission recommended allowing the wearing of discreet symbols of faith such as small crosses, Stars of David or Fatima's hands.
        So you have freedom of religion if some national commission decides it's sufficiently "inconspicuous".  And lots of people still suspect that someone was looking for a reason to ban Muslim dress while giving the appearance of being neutral.  And I'm not sure I blame them for being suspicious.

        My position is still that the Europeans don't "get" our 1st amendment.

  •  Twigg, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Be Skeptical, AaronInSanDiego

    What would a law banning these types of speech look like?

    Can you write the actual text of what the law might look like?

  •  I've said it before and I'll say it again (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    twigg

    Our freedom should not be defined by the amount of vile, despicable things we're allowed to say about minority groups. I don't understand people who define their freedom this way. We will be no less free if it is against the law to intentionally stir up hatred against vulnerable minorities. We need to stop viewing free speech in the abstract. Like guns, speech can be a weapon, and it can kill. Ask the LGBT youth engulfed in the recent suicide epidemic, not to mention hate crime victims. A civil society should have no place for certain forms of speech.

    Needless to say, I'm all for an interpretation of the First Amendment that allows for strong hate speech laws. We already regulate speech, and I don't buy into the slippery slope argument that making the most vile of hate speech against the law will lead to a loss of freedom. But that's just me. Perhaps I'm shaped by my own experience, in which I learned the hard way that speech can have a detrimental impact on one's life.

    I don't mind if you're straight. Just don't flaunt it in public.

    by Chrislove on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 02:23:18 PM PDT

    •  What should be the penalty, in your opinion, (0+ / 0-)

      for violating the speech limitations that you're in favor of?

      •  That will be up to the drafters of a law (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        twigg

        Fines and/or imprisonment, the latter especially for particularly egregious cases. But again, that would be up to the drafters of the law. What I'm advocating is simply that hate speech should be illegal.

        I don't mind if you're straight. Just don't flaunt it in public.

        by Chrislove on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 03:11:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  right. we progressives are against (3+ / 0-)

          the corporate prison system.. and in order to protest it we're going to put more non-violent offenders who said mean things in prison...

          •  I believe you are again making stuff up. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Chrislove

            And you are also being intellectually dishonest.

            "Mean" things???

            You have nothing further to say on this matter if all you are going to do is deliberately trivialize that which seeks to harm others.

            I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
            but I fear we will remain Democrats.

            Who is twigg?

            by twigg on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 03:21:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You make it sound so benign (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            twigg

            These "non-violent offenders" who "say mean things" have real blood on their hands. Again, this is not an abstract problem. People die every day as a result of the environment that the hate speech we allow reinforces.

            I don't mind if you're straight. Just don't flaunt it in public.

            by Chrislove on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 03:22:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  i see suicide as always the fault (0+ / 0-)

              Of those who commit it. A bully can lead you to that line.. Only you can cross it

            •  tell me (0+ / 0-)

              If we're. Blaiming 'the environment' that hate speech reinforces... Do we also ban other things that reinforce the environment like gendered clothing? That only serves to reinforce straight cis normativeness and is hurtful to trans

              •  Oh please (0+ / 0-)

                Are you really comparing gendered clothing to hate speech? Are you really, seriously comparing skirts and Levi's to spreading the message that gay people are sick and worthy of death?

                This is just getting ridiculous.

                I don't mind if you're straight. Just don't flaunt it in public.

                by Chrislove on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 04:22:45 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  people kill themselves generally for two reasons (0+ / 0-)

                  either they are in extreme physical pain..

                  or nothing about their environment validates their identity.
                  when most people are straight.. and even most of the gays are at least cis.. I'm pretty sure a trans or intersexed person wouldn't feel at all validated by their environment and are much more likely to kill themselves. Bullying and hate speech are only the loudest most noticeable parts of "the environment" you speak of.  

                  and so long as you are going to blame the bullies for suicides.. are you also going to blame bullies for when the bullied kids break the other way and go on a homicidal rampage? are you going to say that they had it coming?

                  •  I reject your idea that (0+ / 0-)

                    because we can't completely legislate away a heterosexist, transphobic society, we can't at least tackle the very real issue of the hate propaganda that is spread on a daily basis. I reject that idea, and so do other Western countries.

                    At this point, we're just going to have to disagree, because I am not having a conversation about homicidal rampages.

                    I don't mind if you're straight. Just don't flaunt it in public.

                    by Chrislove on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 05:00:29 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  why not (0+ / 0-)

                      a bullied kid can either

                      A) do nothing, deal with it and become stoic
                      B) act violently(up to suicide) towards themselves
                      C) act violently(up to murder) towards their tormenters

                      If you're going to blame B on the bully why shouldn't you blame C on them too? is it too uncomfortable for you to blame a murder victim of his own death?

                      •  Again, I'm not having this conversation (0+ / 0-)

                        I understand that you keep wanting to veer into new topics, but I'm not going to.

                        I don't mind if you're straight. Just don't flaunt it in public.

                        by Chrislove on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 05:06:24 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  you opened the door by saying the bullies (0+ / 0-)

                          are responsible for suicide which is, by the definition of suicide, is false and now you don't want to talk about the giant holes in your logic.

                          •  No, I said that making blanket statements (0+ / 0-)

                            about suicide being the fault of bullied teens is callous and simplistic. And it is.

                            I don't mind if you're straight. Just don't flaunt it in public.

                            by Chrislove on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 05:11:43 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  yes, you did (0+ / 0-)
                            These "non-violent offenders" who "say mean things" have real blood on their hands. Again, this is not an abstract problem. People die every day as a result of the environment that the hate speech we allow reinforces.
                            you blamed bullies for deaths.
                          •  Oh, FFS. I was talking more about (0+ / 0-)

                            people like Bryan Fischer in that comment.

                            But yes, for the record, I blame bullies and Bryan Fischer and Tony Perkins and fundamentalist preachers for deaths. Absolutely. I am also capable of realizing that there are many other factors involved, but yes, haters have blood on their hands. I stand by that.

                            With that, I really am done with you. There is absolutely nothing productive about pushing this conversation farther and farther to the right of the screen. You can continue to pose questions, but you will not see another reply from me. Have a good evening.

                            I don't mind if you're straight. Just don't flaunt it in public.

                            by Chrislove on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 05:22:10 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  i win (0+ / 0-)

                            and if you reply to this.. then I win twice.

        •  Okay, but I'm asking for your personal (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Be Skeptical

          opinion. I'd like to know what you think. If you're advocating for something to be illegal, you must have some opinion on the penalty, right?

          So, again I ask, what should be the penalty, in your opinion, for violating the law that you want?

          •  My opinion (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Chrislove

            is that penalties would be part of the conversation.

            I am usually in favor of people making restitution, and I rarely support prison sentences unless society needs to be physically protected from harm.

            I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
            but I fear we will remain Democrats.

            Who is twigg?

            by twigg on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 03:22:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I would support prison sentences in (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              twigg

              egregious cases. What constitutes an egregious case, of course, would have to be hashed out. For many offenders, I would support fines/resitution. I'm definitely not for putting a bunch of people in the prison system, as anime1973's comment suggests.

              I don't mind if you're straight. Just don't flaunt it in public.

              by Chrislove on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 03:33:26 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  And I gave you my opinion (0+ / 0-)

            Fines and/or imprisonment. Certainly a hefty fine and at least a few years in prison for the most egregious offenses. I'm not for locking them away for life, but there absolutely should be prison time for those who intentionally and maliciously stir up hate against a group of people.

            I don't mind if you're straight. Just don't flaunt it in public.

            by Chrislove on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 03:24:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Who decides? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      T100R
      We will be no less free if it is against the law to intentionally stir up hatred against vulnerable minorities.
      The problem is that you then need to create legal definitions for terms like "stir up hatred" and "vulnerable minority"—and those definitions would have to be drawn either so narrowly as to make it all but impossible to violate them, or so broadly as to take in virtually any criticism.

      Fundamentalist* Christians, for example, would maintain that they're a minority in this country, and that calling them bigoted or hateful or ridiculing or mocking them is "intentionally stirring up hatred" against them. They would also claim that their speech towards LGBT people is motivated not out of hate, but out of love for their souls and desire for them not to continue in their sin and go to hell.

      That people like us think they're wrong on both counts would make no difference if they managed to gain control of whatever governmental entity had the power to decide what constituted "stirring up hatred" and "vulnerable minority." And any system that insulated that governmental entity from being used by fundamentalist Christians to outlaw any criticism or ridicule of their beliefs, would all but certainly be similarly insulated from supporters of LGBT rights using that entity to outlaw the kind of anti-LGBT bullying that leads to far too many suicides.

      So we're left with this governmental entity being either a political football, used by those in power as a bludgeon against those with whom they disagree, or being so completely insulated from any kind of controversial opinion as to outlaw only the most egregious, Westboro Baptist-esque speech acts.

      The truly hateful bullies could easily find a way to skirt the Westboro Line and engage in speech that would be just as damaging to the psyche—and could, in fact, be even more insidious and dangerous, since it has now been officially declared Not Hate Speech by the government.

      * I use that term to refer not to all evangelical Christians, but to Christians whose denominational history is specifically tied to the fundamentalist movements of the 1890s-1930s.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 03:17:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lawmakers decide (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        twigg

        like they do on other matters in our republic. You're right, there will need to be legal definitions of terms. This is something that would need to be hashed out by lawmakers.

        This works for other Western nations, and I do not buy that the law would be impossible to write and the terms impossible to accurately define.

        I don't mind if you're straight. Just don't flaunt it in public.

        by Chrislove on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 03:27:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I find it odd that there are even liberals (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chrislove

          who think this is too hard for America to accomplish.

          People cling to the 1st as a mantra, wanting the protections it affords, yet seemingly resigned to the very real disadvantages that accompany that Amendment.

          In reality, for nearly everyone, how much real harm would be done to people's rights to be heard?

          In the name of the 1st Amendment, how much harm is currently being done?

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          Who is twigg?

          by twigg on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 03:32:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Too hard for America, or too hard for Congress? (0+ / 0-)
            I find it odd that there are even liberals who think this is too hard for America to accomplish.
            It's not about what America as a nation can accomplish—it's about what the American government, and particularly the American Congress can accomplish. And right now, this American Congress can't even accomplish basic things like raising the debt ceiling or passing a transportation bill.

            What makes you think that the very same U.S. Congress that can't even continue to fund the government without right-wing extremists hijacking the process, would be capable of navigating the unbelievably complex and dangerous waters of defining a new limitation on speech?

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 03:51:53 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Why do you trust the government so much? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Be Skeptical

            Do you also believe the government when they say that voter ID laws are intended to prevent fraud?

        •  ps ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chrislove

          I also think there are many commenters who have never suffered as a result of overtly expressed hatred.

          I rather think they would take a different view if they had.

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          Who is twigg?

          by twigg on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 03:33:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think you're absolutely right (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            twigg

            People who have not directly suffered seem to view this in the abstract. It drives me nuts, because this is anything but an abstract argument...lives are at stake.

            I don't mind if you're straight. Just don't flaunt it in public.

            by Chrislove on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 03:34:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  In my case, you'd think wrong. (0+ / 0-)

            I was bullied growing up, because I was awkward, nerdy, and a bit "odd."

            And I can tell you from personal experience that those who were doing the bullying knew exactly where the line was drawn by whatever set of rules was in force, and exactly what they could do without ever crossing it.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 03:45:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Perhaps it's a matter of degree. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Be Skeptical

            I have been subject to antisemitic speech several times over the course of my life, mainly when I was younger, but I don't think I suffered a great deal as a result. Most off the time I attributed the comments to ignorance, and didn't take them as personally threatening. But this is partly because the cultural context had become less hostile to Jews than it perhaps had been earlier, and I didn't face the same level of obstacles that others did.

            Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

            by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 04:19:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  In *this* Congress? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Be Skeptical
          This is something that would need to be hashed out by lawmakers.
          If you think John Boehner & Company would allow any truly damaging and hateful anti-LGBT speech to be outlawed, I think you're deluding yourself.

          We would be left with definitions drawn so narrowly as to be virtually meaningless in all but the most extreme situations—which would do very little, if anything, to stem the tide of the kind of hate speech that drives LGBT teenagers to suicide.

          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

          by JamesGG on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 03:43:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Who said anything about this Congress? (0+ / 0-)

            I certainly didn't. We can't even get ENDA out of this Congress.

            I don't mind if you're straight. Just don't flaunt it in public.

            by Chrislove on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 03:54:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  And yet, you would give that very Congress... (0+ / 0-)

              ...that even now won't pass ENDA, because the idea that employers shouldn't be able to discriminate against LGBT people is too radical for them, the power to define "hate speech" and prescribe criminal penalties against those who engage in speech that meets that legal definition.

              Unless you're going to change the very nature of Congress and the legislative process itself, giving the power to criminalize speech to any Congress means that you're eventually going to be giving that power to another Congress like this one.

              If you're serious about this proposition becoming law in the US, it would have to pass not through an ideal Congress but through the real one, in which many of the representatives hold opinions that might place them on the receiving end of any penalties prescribed for hate speech.

              "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

              by JamesGG on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 08:11:12 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Obviously, it's not going to pass out of Congress (0+ / 0-)

                anytime soon. That much, we can all see. In principle, I wholeheartedly support criminalizing hate speech, but I am not blind to political realities.

                Assuming something like this became law, neither of us can look into a crystal ball and know whether or not a future Congress would try shenanigans with the hate speech law. But that doesn't change my support for hate speech laws. I believe it is fundamentally the right thing to do. Obviously, the passage and survival of a hate speech law comparable to those in other Western countries would require a number of moving parts, including a Congress willing to pass it and a Supreme Court willing to uphold it. I do not look for it to happen in my lifetime, but I will go to my grave supporting it.

                I don't mind if you're straight. Just don't flaunt it in public.

                by Chrislove on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 09:05:17 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  James ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chrislove

        Much of the answer here is not about defining banned speech, and punishing the wrongdoers, although there may be an element of that.

        It is about making a statement about who we are, and what we will and will not tolerate.

        Making a law in isolation does little other than persuade some to try to circumvent that law, but changing the dialogue, and supporting that with some modest proposals regarding the laws is normal. It is what we do.

        We did it with DUI, we did it with seatbelts, we will do it with guns and we can do it with hatred.

        If a particular church has a problem with that, then that church has a problem with a society that will not tolerate bigotry and hatred, and they will change or shut up.

        It's not so long ago that it was considered permissible to beat your wife. Then we made laws against it, and, patchily, started enforcing them.

        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

        Who is twigg?

        by twigg on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 03:28:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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