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President Obama at 2009 Notre Dame commencement
President Obama at the 2009 Notre Dame commencement ceremony.
Recently, there has been a rash of misunderstanding of what "free speech" means and a failure to understand that protest is speech. The two latest iterations—the Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling affair and the protests at Rutgers University against the honoring of Condoleeza Rice (Rice withdrew)—have been met with varying degrees of condemnation. Of course, very few people are rushing to the defense of Donald Sterling's "free speech" rights while the conservative media (and assorted others as we shall see below) has condemned the Rutgers protests as censorship.

Consider this twitter exchange:

Brendan Buck ‏@BrendanBuck  May 3 I'm embarrassed for Rutgers students

Jon Favreau‏@jonfavs @BrendanBuck no fan of Bush policies, but I completely agree

That John Boehner's press spokesman would demonstrate such a fundamental misunderstanding of free speech and that protest is an important part of that is not surprising. That President Obama's former speechwriter demonstrates such a blatant misunderstanding and expresses such contempt for protest is distressing.

This article provides a bit of articulation on what these gentlemen seem to base "their embarrassment" for the Rutgers protesters:

I realize some will take issue with what I say next, but it left me saddened. It is great that you disagree with me. In fact, I welcome it because this is what discourse is about.  [...] Do I have questions and reservations about what occurred during the years Rice was in her positions? I definitely do. But is there something that I think I could learn from her and would it be useful to hear her perspective in a world that is challenging to figure out? Yes, definitely. [. . .] This, of course, speaks to a much larger issue in terms of what academic inquiry and freedom really mean. To some extent we can find concerns and areas of disagreement with everyone. So should we all be silent?
Let's start with some basics. A commencement speech is not "academic inquiry." It is an honor. It is not a dialogue. It is a speech. Indeed, it is a commencement speech, which in the normal course of events, is filled with platitudes about the future and "making your way through life's challenges" and the like. Rice's commencement speech was not going to be some great conversation about how she came to engage in a campaign of deceit of the American people to mislead the nation into a disastrous war. It was not going to be a conversation about how Rice came to support the war crime of torture. If anything, it was a symbol of IGNORING all of these issues by making Rice and her role in the Bush administration non-controversial. Sort of a "See? We're past all that" moment.

It was, in fact, the protests that drove the continuing of that conversation, not Rice's being invited to be honored at the cost of a $35,000 Rutgers speaking fee to Rice. "Academic inquiry" was not going to be the point of Rice's speech. Indeed, if she wants a little inquiry on the subjects, the protesters stated expressly they would welcome her involvement in such an inquiry at Rutgers. Somehow I doubt Rice would participate in such an exercise.

I have more to say on the other side.  

I've always felt that there has been a general misunderstanding about the fact that protests and boycotts are free speech. The condemnation and boycotts of the Dixie Chicks for their criticisms of President Bush the Dumber were wrong and wrongheaded in my view, but such criticisms and boycotts were speech. The protests against President Barack Obama's invitation to be the commencement speaker at Notre Dame due to his support for a women's right to choose were wrong in my opinion, but they were speech. (Interestingly, President Obama took the opportunity to discuss how the issue is discussed at his Notre Dame commencement speech). Indeed, the event in question is illuminating:

THE PRESIDENT: I also want to thank you for the honorary degree that I received. I know it has not been without controversy. I don't know if you're aware of this, but these honorary degrees are apparently pretty hard to come by. (Laughter.) So far I'm only 1 for 2 as President. (Laughter and applause.) Father Hesburgh is 150 for 150. (Laughter and applause.) I guess that's better. (Laughter.) So, Father Ted, after the ceremony, maybe you can give me some pointers to boost my average.

I also want to congratulate the Class of 2009 for all your accomplishments. And since this is Notre Dame --

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Abortion is murder! Stop killing children!


THE PRESIDENT: That's all right. And since --

AUDIENCE: We are ND! We are ND!

AUDIENCE: Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

Free speech was not harmed by this exchange. And Condoleeza Rice could have done what President Obama did and not backed out of her Rutgers speech. That was her choice and her choice alone. But what if Rutgers had done as Brandeis did with regard to anti-Islam activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was to receive an honorary degree? Would free speech have been harmed then? In my view, no. As I wrote:
It so happens I agree with the "shunning" of [Brendan] Eich but disagree with the shunning of Hirsi Ali (I am pretty strongly anti-organized religion). But my personal views on the relative merits of these actions is really not to the point—free speech rights include the right to criticize and yes, shun.

Let me give the most obvious example that in fact everyone agrees with this conception (that non-state actors can shun, boycott, protest, etc. anyone for their speech)—imagine an accomplished person in any field espousing the view that interracial marriage should be outlawed. Who do you suppose would protest in defense against calls for removal of such a person from a position of public leadership? No one, that's who. And therein lies the point—we all agree that lines can be drawn. We often disagree with where the lines are drawn.

Fortuitously for my point, the Donald Sterling affair erupted very soon after. The reaction to Sterling proved my point—there are lines where everyone agrees condemnation and a demand for disassociation is appropriate. Of course, we don't all agree on where that line is. That's the point. No one REALLY disagrees universally with shunning and demands for disassociation, we just disagree on where that line is drawn (except when we all agree, as in the case of Sterling.)

One critic of the Rutgers protests against Rice wrote:

For many reasons, I would go see and listen to Rice, and I don't think that means I completely agree with everything she was involved in. But for many reasons, I would go see and listen to Rice, and I don't think that means I completely agree with everything she was involved in. But I am not trying to place her in exile for her leadership in a frightening chapter in our nation's history.
This truly misses the point. The opportunities to "listen to Rice" are numerous. She can speak and be heard more easily than the vast majority of the country. The last sentence reveals the difference: I am not trying to place her in exile for her leadership in a frightening chapter in our nation's history. Some of us, including the Rutgers protesters, would like to see Rice's "leadership" be exiled from the acceptable in behavior by our government leaders. The writer does not feel that her behavior was beyond the pale. Many of us, including the Rutgers protesters, clearly do.

The Rutgers protest was speech articulating that view (just as the Notre Dame protesters against President Obama did, or as the protests against Brendan Eich, Hirsi Ali and yes, Donald Sterling, did.) If you disagree with that view, then by all means express your disagreement.

But do not misunderstand that protest is speech.

President Obama, Rice, Eich and even—maybe especially—Donald Sterling have every opportunity, in fact much more than most, including other public figures, to articulate their views. Protests against associations with and honors for them do not silence them. The protests are speech. And if these persons wish to respond to the protests, there is no doubt they have ample opportunity to do so.

Including, in Rice's case, at the commencement speech at Rutgers, fromwhich she chose to withdraw.

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Comment Preferences

  •  And now the Benham brothers who (64+ / 0-)

    I never heard of before, were bounced from their HG show due to their anti-gay rights views.

    I'm no expert on this but I get the feeling that pro gay rights folks form a large bulk of HG's audience.

    Seems like it was a bad fit.

    The market at work no?

    •  Yes (6+ / 0-)

      Although conservatives are already at work spinning it as another "assault on the free speech rights of Christians."

      My reply to this is that if I were selected to host a program on Trinity Broadcast Network or Daystar (two large religious TV networks) and it subsequently came out that I had been outspoken in favor of marriage equality, I would certainly lose my job.  And, again, it would be the market at work, since such a stand is overwhelmingly unacceptable to the audience of those networks.

      Needless to say, speech free of consequences is apparently only intended to be a right for conservatives and right-wing Christians.

      If Democrats proclaim the the Earth is round and Republicans insist it is flat, we will shortly see a column in the Washington Post claiming the the earth is really a semi-circle.

      by TexasTom on Sun May 11, 2014 at 06:32:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think I would be even more pissed off (20+ / 0-)

      If I were a Stanford student knowing my school was giving aid, comfort, and material benefits to a war criminal.

      The Rutgers people, what were they thinking?

      •  Stanford doesn't have any choice (6+ / 0-)

        Rice has never been indicted in the US and is a tenured professor at Stanford, who has no legal basis to terminate her. In addition, while the former Stanford Provost has critics at the school she also have a very broad group of supporters. She teaches classes where her eight years in DC give insight to students that are uncommon for most college courses. However, she spends most of her time in her very lucrative consulting company RiceHadleyGates, LLC.

        "let's talk about that" uid 92953

        by VClib on Sun May 11, 2014 at 05:28:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  A $35,000 infomercial to be exact! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      whl, dksbook, unfangus, a2nite
      •  Rice doesn't need $35K (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        whl, mmacdDE, dksbook

        Any honorarium should be donated to the neediest students.

        The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

        by LiberalLady on Sun May 11, 2014 at 06:13:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  True. But I think Armando's point was different (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wintergreen8694, StrayCat, dksbook, a2nite

      I think his point was that Rice could speak and folks could protest, and that would be free speech (the speech and the protest).  Or people could protest and Rice could volunteer not to speak (that would be free speech on the protesters' side, and a voluntary decision on Rice's part to NOT exercise her free speech.

      Or at least I think that was his point.

      Of more interest to me .... given Rice's history, how "disruptive" could protest be at her speech (had it been given) before the protesters would have crossed some other constitutional/legal line?  Turn their backs?  No big deal.  Walk out?  No big deal.  Shout her down?  Hmmm.  It is Rutgers' stage, would that cross a line?  But then isn't Rutgers a state institution?  Does that change the nature of the "private" venue?

      Oh - and for the record, I'd not be happy if she was my commencement speaker either.  And would probably do something along the lines of the first two without hesitation.  Or maybe hold up pictures of dead American soldiers and Iraqi citizens.  Not sure I'd get into a shouting match.

  •  For Someone That Loved War As a Gov't Employee (13+ / 0-)

    She sure caved easy from this fight.


    by Johnny Wendell on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:01:11 PM PDT

  •  pfft (31+ / 0-)

    these people should STFU.

    we, the faculty and student body, of rutgers university did not want her to address the graduating class nor did we want to her to receive an honorary degree. we, the faculty, voted that we would be happy to have her speak at rutgers in an academic setting.

    the shocking part here is that the administration listened to the wishes of the student body and the faculty.

    but, ive posted this in comments before, come to the Newark campus Condi. You have an open invitation to speak to any of my sociology or anthropology classes at any time.

    I cant pay you anything, but if academic and intellectual integrity is important to you, Im sure you will do this for free. Just as the GOP suggested for the New Orleans school system post Katrina, if you really care about the students, you'll be willing to work for less...or free.

    I cant tell if its a West End musical or Marxism in action.

    by Evolution on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:04:16 PM PDT

    •  So true . . . more places than just Rutgers (9+ / 0-)
      the shocking part here is that the administration listened to the wishes of the student body and the faculty.
      At my midwestern private, the faculty get nods, the students get indulgent smiles, and the administrators take home the bacon.

      Once you put convenient, lethal force in the mix, liberty becomes a zero sum game. -- DIgby on open carry.

      by Rikon Snow on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:37:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Shunning" is the key concept here (6+ / 0-)

      Those who have been pushed out of their public roles (or speaking engagements), like Eich, Sterling and Rice are expressing views or represent actions that society as a whole has come to find repugnant.  All of them are being shunned for unacceptable views and history.   Society's attitudes qua Sterling are well established in recent decades, and are not a surprise.  Eich's contribution to the Prop. H8 campaign was acceptable in many circles when he made it, but those circles have grown constricted and scarce since.  He is a victim of changing social mores.  Rice's actions were war crimes.  She should be in a prison cell, and the fact that she's not is due to Beltway and corporate media misrepresentation of the Bush administration's record.  Her shunning is long overdue, but is far from universal.

      Hirsi Ali has strong and strongly expressed views against Islam.  As a woman who grew up in a Muslim society and was subject to female genital mutilation as well as other degradations, she can certainly be excused for her views.  That others find them deeply objectionable is also understandable, but that's where academic freedom comes in.  Neither view is socially dominant (in this country), so there is no cause for shunning.

      Barack Obama at Notre Dame represented the majority view regarding reproductive freedom in this country, but not at a conservative Catholic university.  The crowd's attempted shunning of the president was unsuccessful, because its view on abortion was not so strong that a shunning could be successful, even there.

      Shunning is an expression of the consequences of transgressing the limits of social tolerance.  It is an entirely different concept than that of "free speech," which of course pertains only to governmental entities.  Those limits move and change over time.  As a gay man of a certain age, I had to live some of my life in the closet for fear of shunning.  I know what it feels like.  I'm certainly glad the shun is now on the other foot, as it were.  It's about damn time the homophobic bigots got a taste of their own medicine.

      We have always been at war with al Qaeda.

      by Dallasdoc on Sun May 11, 2014 at 04:59:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Obama wasn't shunned at my alma mater (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dump Terry McAuliffe, Dallasdoc

        His commencement speech (which has become a virtual routine for 1st year presidents since Carter in '77), admittedly, generated considerable controversy.  All reports I've seen, however, indicate that he was treated w/ considerable respect during his campus visit.  I know that a conservative ND friend whose daughter graduated that day was impressed by the whole experience.

        Believe it or not, Reagan's commencement speech in '81 (the year after mine) also generated controversy at the time.  So did W's in '01.  W cited Dorothy Day in his speech--my suspicion is that he never heard of The Catholic Worker.

        Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

        by RFK Lives on Sun May 11, 2014 at 08:24:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Evolution - Condi is too busy making money (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      whl, a2nite

      to visit your class for free.

      In addition to paid speaking gigs her consulting firm RiceHadleyGates, LLC is very lucrative.

      "let's talk about that" uid 92953

      by VClib on Sun May 11, 2014 at 05:30:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  thanks, armando (8+ / 0-)

    this is a very enlightening and educating essay.  before reading it and with only partial information of the whole circumstance, i was lightly on the other side, with the caveat that i am subjectively on the side of the protestors, but uneasy with squelching discussion.  as you've laid it out, i think i have a better understanding for and appreciation of the whole and am much more comfortable with the end result being HER CHOICE.  

  •  But, but, but ...I thought money was speech! n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alice Olson, Chi, whl

    I think you're some kind of deviated prevert.

    by ColBatGuano on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:05:27 PM PDT

  •  President Obama stood up, and she's a coward. n/t (8+ / 0-)

    "Really nice, but also very serious about his job." Jackie Evancho on President Obama 6/7/12

    by BarackStarObama on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:07:16 PM PDT

  •  I admire Rice for putting the students ahead of (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Peace Missile, Jay C, VClib, mmacdDE

    her ego.  A commencement is not about the speaker, it's about the accomplishments of the students and an opportunity to send them off into the world with some words of encouragement.  

    I work close to Rutgers, and I found the comments of some of the Rutgers faculty to be classless.  Those same people would have been outraged if a progressive speaker was hounded out of speaking by a vocal group of neo-con professors who made it clear that they would disrupt graduation if that person spoke.  

    If you don't like her politics, let her speak.  The best disinfectant is sunshine.   This was a sad day for Rutgers.   They get Tom Kean, now, instead.   Bring your pillow and an alarm clock.

    If you get confused, listen to the music play - R. Hunter

    by SpamNunn on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:14:44 PM PDT

    •  It's never a bad day when a public university (16+ / 0-)

      can save $35,000. and, you seem to have missed the point  They have invited her to come speak -- first at commencement (she decided against it) then in far more appropriate venues on campus (I gather she decided against this as well).

      Nothing the least bit sad about this, in my view. She wasn't going to say anything in the least bit enlightening for the $35,000 and she likely doesn't have it in her to expose herself to a real discussion about war crimes and the Bush Presidency. The ball was in her court and she decided she didn't want to play.

      The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain, is floating in mid-air, until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life. Jane Addams

      by Alice Olson on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:32:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  War crimes are not "politics" (14+ / 0-)

      They are the most egregious  violations of international law.  This woman is a monster.

      "If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." - Will Rogers

      by Kentucky DeanDemocrat on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:33:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How do you feel about our unfettered use of (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Peace Missile, Damnit Janet, jfdunphy

        drones to kill people in countries that we are not at war with?   War crime?

        If you get confused, listen to the music play - R. Hunter

        by SpamNunn on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:39:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  nice try at deflection (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SpamNunn, doroma, StrayCat

          You look like an even bigger contrarian GOP apologist douchebag than normal when you defend a war criminal because you'd rather not be bored by a different speech.
          If she was such a great leader and able to deal with her critics, she could have spoke, just like Obama did at ND.  But she's a coward, probably because she knows her actions were indefensible.  
          But hey, it was just torture, lies, countless lives, and a trillion dollars.  Just politics to you.  Keep digging moron.

          •  It's a fair question. No answer? (0+ / 0-)

            You are a rude person.  You don't want to debate.  You want to abuse people who do not agree with your views on this point (and probably a lot of other points), so I will decline to engage with you.   Have a nice evening.  

            If you get confused, listen to the music play - R. Hunter

            by SpamNunn on Sun May 11, 2014 at 04:15:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Fair question...yes. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              It is a fair question.  And another prospect is that Hillary supported Bush's war, and has never apologized for it.  Would the PC crowd be OK with Hillary giving a commencement speech (and being paid 35K for it)?  a lot of them would.  

              •  Agreed. I have this thing about fairness. (0+ / 0-)

                I think when you give your "side" a pass, it robs you of your credibility.  The only good side is the side of truth.  

                If you get confused, listen to the music play - R. Hunter

                by SpamNunn on Sun May 11, 2014 at 05:07:08 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Sort of (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  Agree with Janeane BUT I think Rice's role in the Iraq war goes far beyond "support".  She deliberately lied to the nation repeatedly (remember "mushroom cloud") in order to scare the public into supporting a war for profit.  I think her "crimes" are far more grave than Hillary's.  Though Hillary is not completely blameless.

                  But as the diarist noted -- Rice withdrew. She was not forced to not give the speech.

                  The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

                  by LiberalLady on Sun May 11, 2014 at 06:20:31 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  I couldn't disagree with you more. Fortunately, (14+ / 0-)

      I'm sober. If I weren't, you'd know.

      The issue is NOT about "her politics."  She was an active, front and center participant in war crimes.  Period.  The middle east going up in flames is largely due to her activities n the Bush maladministration.  I don't care if they get someone who is conservative; hell, if that's your thing, get Christie Todd Whitman to speak.   But Condi Rice needs to have her criminal, warmongering days hung around her neck forever.

      •  I suspect that Islamist extremists don't need (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        much of an excuse to press their radical agenda to compel the entire world to submit to their version of Islam.  

        The middle east going up in flames is largely due to her activities n the Bush maladministration

        Read a history book.  Rice became the NSA in 2001.  There wasn't a lot she could have done to cause 9/11, and Arab Spring came after her tenure in office.  

        If you get confused, listen to the music play - R. Hunter

        by SpamNunn on Sun May 11, 2014 at 04:22:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No one could have anticipated (7+ / 0-)

          the attacks being made via airplane. [despite G-8 fears]

          Paraphrased, but I got the gist of her ridiculous statement.

          Mushroom cloud...

          Really.  She caused so much damage to us and to the people she labeled as enemies.

          I think Israel (and/or AIPAC) has a large and problematic influence on our foreign policy and legislation as it relates to Iran and the Middle East. Since I've been hidden for saying this, I expect to be hidden every time I post with this sig.

          by Black Mare on Sun May 11, 2014 at 04:33:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Jesus H. Christ (4+ / 0-)
          There wasn't a lot she could have done to cause 9/11, and Arab Spring came after her tenure in office.  
          Of course she could have done many, many things to prevent 9/11! For one, listening to Clinton's warnings about bin Laden when he was leaving office. Also, does the daily brief about "bin Laden determined to strike within US" ring any bells?

 longer in SF.... -9.00, -7.38

          by TFinSF on Sun May 11, 2014 at 04:43:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The comment I responded to said she caused (0+ / 0-)

            the Middle East to go up in flames.  Caused.

            Words have meaning.  

            If you get confused, listen to the music play - R. Hunter

            by SpamNunn on Sun May 11, 2014 at 05:04:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  ummm Iraq (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TFinSF, doroma

              and yes caused.

            •  Ah (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              doroma, StrayCat

              so you were making the point that 9/11 was caused by al Qaeda. Super. Not really relevant to the point that the middle east is going up in flames due to the Bushies (Iraq? Hello?), but that wasn't your intent was it?

              I take it you don't make a living by making persuasive arguments.

     longer in SF.... -9.00, -7.38

              by TFinSF on Sun May 11, 2014 at 05:13:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Only to people capable of understanding reason. (0+ / 0-)
                I take it you don't make a living by making persuasive arguments.
                You can hardly blame Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen on Rice, and the last time I checked, both parties and both Houses of Congress voted to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

                What, did Condi Rice fool them all?  Please.   Make a better argument or don't bother responding.  

                If you get confused, listen to the music play - R. Hunter

                by SpamNunn on Sun May 11, 2014 at 05:18:33 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  I hope there was a fainting couch nearby (6+ / 0-)

      when you heard how uncivil those mean professors were. I do declare! longer in SF.... -9.00, -7.38

      by TFinSF on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:35:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  LOL... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      They get Tom Kean, now, instead.   Bring your pillow and an alarm clock.
      LOL.  Kean is one of the most boring politicos out there.  
    •  How do you know that's what she did? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      She may have withdrawn to avoid discomfort or embarrassment of protests.  

      The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

      by LiberalLady on Sun May 11, 2014 at 06:17:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Words of encouragement" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Condoleeza Rice as National Security Advisor was a stark failure in her management of National Security assets prior to 9/11, and certainly afterwords, denial of fault, bolstered the flimsy evidence for Weapons of Mass Distruction with evidence conforming to the administrations goals.

      "No one could have known" and lack of any evidence of an existing WMD program in Iraq to support an invasion and war are her legacies as much as any other in the administration.

      Not sure what the "words of encouragement" would be to the students other than "deny" and "lie" were germaine to her path to success.

      Now of course, I could mention her complete failure as an expert on the Soviet Union to predict its collapse.

      What exactly does Condoleeza bring to a commencement speech anyway?

  •  Using logic to understand the Repugs... (4+ / 0-)

    ...will get you nowhere.  They are at war with America as we know it and as we think it can become.  The bullets have not started flying yet, this may come after 2016 IMO, however close we got to that with Bundy and his Nevada caper.  If Bundy had not aired his hardcore racism who knows what would have happened.

    The Repugs are becoming totalitarian.  Voting rights mean nothing to them like they didn't to white Southerners during Jim Crow.  Separation of church and state is a figment of our imagination.  In their America all schools would teach their form of Christianity.  Their Ayn Rand libertarian streak would lead to a form of neo-feudalism.  Enough of corporate America would go along with them.  And the neo-cons would insure a state of perpetual war.

    Logically this makes no sense but in their emotional state they have no issue with this vision.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:18:28 PM PDT

  •  Freedom (0+ / 0-)


    Donald Sterling has the same right to freedom of speech that you have, and you can't limit his without ultimately limiting your own.



    •  Yup he does. Exactly the same as mine! (12+ / 0-)

      He can speak and write and he has the same right as I do of people listening or not, publishing his writings or not, paying attention to what he says or not, as I do.

      And, yes, if I make stupidly racist comments, other people have the freedom of speech to shun me for that and I have the right to listen to their condemnation or not and stick to my racism.

      Yup, we both have the same rights, except that his rights are far better protected because of his billions, so he gets more air-play than I could ever hope for, being merely a lowly academic.

      It's *Gandhi*, not Ghandi

      by poco on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:37:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  He has more freedom because he's a billionaire; (8+ / 0-)

      He's just been outted. Some people his evil corp sponsors & his employees & his biz partners & many is us don't like it. He needs to keep talking. No body asked him to shut up.

      I voted tuesday because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

      by a2nite on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:38:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, when he became an owner of (0+ / 0-)

      a sports team, he became a public figure, so actually he has the same free speech rights as as celebrity, including Caroll Burnett, who did successfully sue a tabloid. So actually you and I have more free spech rights than Donald Sterling. Except for the fact that, thanks to Citizens United, his dollars give him more political free speech than you and I.

  •  I remember (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alice Olson, poco, a2nite, greenbird, whl

    at my JC graduation, I had no idea who the speaker would be as we were a little school and I could have cared less at the time as I knew we probably wouldn't get anybody good. While it wasn't a major part of the speech, he joked with the Dean about which one of them killed the most people in Vietnam. That was so jarring I don't remember anything else that was said. Had I known before hand, I would have tried to mount a protest, but we were in a very red area and this was in the early 90's, not too long after the 1st Gulf War, so between the patriotic fervor and the healing of wounds, the protest would have gotten nowhere. I still would have protested though, just like I protested the Gulf War. It completely took me out of the moment and got me angry, which you shouldn't be at your graduation. (I was born in '70, but I still have strong feelings about the Vietnamese War even though I had no "skin in the game" as they say.)

    As far as that piece of filth Favreau, nothing he says could surprise me. He should have forever drifted in the Horse Latitudes of infamy for his and his buddy's groping of the Ms. Clinton cut-out in 2008. Seriously, that guy needs to drink a big cup of STFU and go pee off the balcony of a Frat House somewhere.

    Great diary Armando, tipped and recced.

    "Been made accomplice to all that I promised I would never fucking be!" Propaghandi

    by Yang Guang on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:31:55 PM PDT

  •  You're free to speak . . . doesn't mean anybody (12+ / 0-)

    has to listen to you, has to listen respectfully, or even stop talking themselves.


    Once you put convenient, lethal force in the mix, liberty becomes a zero sum game. -- DIgby on open carry.

    by Rikon Snow on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:40:18 PM PDT

  •  so, let's say: thinking is hard. proly should be. (0+ / 0-)

    knowing what you think.
    why you think it, why you speak about it .

    any speaking about what you think
    should follow rigorous thinking, innit ?

    or so -- just follow that blue-face guy, bellowing 'freedom' stuff.
    but follow totally.

    either one is fine by me.

    so you choose to think, speak, follow ... a choice.
    some would clearly make a choice for you. i just have a few pages left ... i'm sure gonna miss this book.

    you haven't read it yet ? ...

    TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes? -- Addington's Perpwalk.

    by greenbird on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:45:38 PM PDT

  •  Noting again (0+ / 0-)

    that those who protest one's right to say something are really making the ultimate concession: that the best defense they can give to what they have to say is that it's not literally illegal to express.

    And that goes above and beyond the point of Armando's diary, too.

    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

    by raptavio on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:56:07 PM PDT

  •  More exchange good. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    More exposure of war criminals even better.

    If they don't come out, they can't be confronted.

    Too bad Condi opted out.

    "You cannot win improv." Stephen Colbert ( at 16:24).

    by Publius2008 on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:56:22 PM PDT

  •  Besides which, I'm sure she'd be warmly received (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, whl, StrayCat

    at Liberty or Oral Roberts.  Those christians sure like their wars.

    Oh, look. free speech.

    Once you put convenient, lethal force in the mix, liberty becomes a zero sum game. -- DIgby on open carry.

    by Rikon Snow on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:59:07 PM PDT

  •  A commencement speech (5+ / 0-)

    is different in that the graduates feel an obligation to attend. Otherwise only people who wished to be exposed to the vile woman's lies and justifications could attend but the graduates will want to be there and so will many of their families and they should not be subjected to her.

  •  The RW everywhere screams that liberals are (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, whl

    suppressing their freedom of speech ( even though they are heard everywhere) and are 'closed-minded' these days
    and they are getting away with it thanks to media filters looking for 'balance'.

    I'm not sure that a marketplace of ideas works as intended by the Founders( them again).

    If truth really is an absolute defense against slander, why don't we see more of it?

    Half a truth is often a great lie.
    --Ben Franklin

  •  I've often wondered just who bothers to listen (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to a commencement speech in the first place.  Surely NOT those for whom finally getting their Diploma is the object of the whole fuss and foofaraw.  They've already had at least 4 years of experience with lectures, speeches, and the like - all the way from excellent and inspiring down to deadly boring, stale, canned, and soporific.  And, if there be a Grad School involved . . . how many of the attendees have already given their own examples of what lot - or little - they have to say, to those forced to attend the classes they taught along the way?

    And, what use is a commencement speech anyway?

    But, there's no accounting for some of society's silliest rituals and customs.  And, so far as Academia be concerned, the whole thing is, really, as Shakespeare so aptly put it:  Much Ado about Nothing.

    Ah!  But then again, just think!  What a pageant of plumage as the Administration and Faculty parade in their gowns, robes, and accouterments.  The Mortar Boards, the pleated and pom-pomed velvet Chapeaus, the panoply of colors in the Hoods and facings.  All because . . . .

    Yep!  SO MUCH ado about nothing!

  •  obviously sterling has a right (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jfdunphy, a2nite

    to his views and to express them and the society has a right to react accordingly.

    sec rice has a right to speak but it disturbs me that more americans are not upset with her and what she and others did getting us into an illegitimate war under false pretenses.

    those individuals should be treated with the same contempt we hold criminals of other countries rather than showing them the respect they didn't show america or the world community.

    sec rice's cancelling her speech because of a protest shows just what type of person she is shallow and contemptible imo.

  •  the stupidity of liberals (0+ / 0-)

    Liberals seem to forget, when it's inconvenient, the reality that every liberal cause in human history began with unpopular speech. The day we condone efforts to destroy the careers of the Dixie Chicks or Eich or Sterling because of what they believe, the right of unpopular speech dies, and then liberalism dies. If you try to split hairs in such a way as to condone unpopular speech you agree with while applauding when conservatives get defenestrated because of their beliefs, then you're not a real liberal anymore. You're just a hypocrite who doesn't understand how liberalism works. "I believe in free speech for....people I agree with!"

    By the way, the destruction of the Chicks wasn't some popular boycott. It was an organized effort by corporations and radio stations to destroy their careers forever.

    When speech turns to action -- if a company head not only dislikes gays buy discriminates against them, or whatever -- that's different. That's action, not just belief.

    •  Completely missed the point (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      whl, gramofsam1, a2nite

      I'd say reread the piece again, but I assume you read it already an didn't get it the first time.

      Speaking unpopular points of view takes courage it is true, but if you are confident in your beliefs and willing to suffer the consequences, then you have confidence that history will vindicate you or not.

      You demand consequence free speech and at the same time wish to silence those who disagree with you.

      Which is, by the way, completely acceptable imo.

      I've expressed many an unpopular opinion at this site and had many people demand my removal and banning.

      In fact, I was banned/left.

      I never complained about the protests against me. I just disagreed with them.

      Do you understand the difference?.

    •  The stupidity of liberals? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      All due respect, you did not understand my piece at all.

      Try reading it again.

  •  I guess I'm too thick to follow this. Obama (0+ / 0-)

    being heckled was ok because he handled it well? And if the heckler(s) refused to stop so he couldn't continue? He coud have very well been heckled for being a war criminal, or for his hand in the continued assault on our constitution. Can't pick and choose so easily.  

    Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

    by the fan man on Sun May 11, 2014 at 05:06:12 PM PDT

    •  I disagreed with the heckling (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      whl, a2nite, StrayCat, mmacdDE

      But it was speech.

      Did Obama handle it well? I don't think he did anything in particular.

      The protestors' view just did not win the day.

      Do you imgine Rice would have been shouted down?

      Even better, I would not have objected with the concept pf  Obama withdrawing or Notre Dame rescinding its invitation.

      That's their right to speech.

      I would have disagreed but that's different from saying protests or refusing to associate with a view is some attack on free speech. It isn't.
      You missed my point entirely.

  •  Um, didn't Obama himself cover this in 2009? (0+ / 0-)
    "See? We're past all that"

    "Republicans are shameless dicks. No, that’s not fair. Republican politicians are shameless dicks." - Al Franken

    by AlyoshaKaramazov on Sun May 11, 2014 at 05:11:58 PM PDT

  •  For your consideration (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

       When I was a student at UT in the '60s Madalyn Murray O'Hair was scheduled to make a speech in one of the auditoriums on campus. There was such an uproar about it that the speech was cancelled. Those who wanted to hear her repaired to the student union where she spoke extemporaneously in the cafeteria.

  •  I think commencement speakers... (0+ / 0-)

    ...should be noncontroversial.  Graduation should be a celebration, not a teachable moment.  As for the President, he or she has 4 service academies to speak at every year, and that should be enough.  Frankly I don't like external speakers at graduation in the first place, since it conveys that the students graduation aren't the main attraction.

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Sun May 11, 2014 at 05:51:08 PM PDT

  •  interesting diary, senor! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    food for thought all around...
    i am a condi despiser. but i'd let her speak for free somewhere, maybe on a real soapbox, near the tower of london...
    if she runs for governor here in cali, i will b exercising my vocal chords freely, chasing her from place to place.
    what a whiny beeyach!  $35000 from a public Univ?  christ on a cracker.

    my beef with speakers is the strange calibration of their fees.  a speaker, a glass of water--that's it!  
    do you know what 35,000 grand would buy you in the struggling theatre or dance world?  (not the equity houses)
    i am always pissed off at ticket prices of $75 and up for a single speaker or author.
    $75 for a dance company would get you 15 trained dancers AND an orchestra and the after party!  jeebus.
    k, end of rant.

    I am tired of laughing at the irony of their stupidity.

    by stagemom on Sun May 11, 2014 at 06:23:28 PM PDT

  •  This isn't an issue of free speech it is an issue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    of whether or not the honorees of the party having a say in what person is to present the gifts.  

    Graduation is not about the speaker it is about the graduates and  they should have at least a veto power over who they have to sit and listen to so they can finally walk across the stage and get their pitcher took and get a fake dead ovine body part.

    I give Rice full creds for saying the right things after she decided to withdraw.

    And full creds to Rugters grads for politely non destructively expressing their distaste for the US having been lied into a bloody immoral war.

    It would have been a larger mess if the admin and Rice had insisted she speak.  There would have been no shows, and possible demonstrations, some silent and some exercising their rights of free speech during her speech.

  •  I'd be interested in hearing (0+ / 0-)

    from a black, female war criminal.
    At least she did something with her life, which is more than most of these grads have yet to do.  Report to me back in 30 years when you have turned down lucrative careers in Wall Street, helped out in Haiti, gone to jail for your beliefs, been beaten in the head with a police night stick.
    Picking on Condi is like picking on Clarence Thomas, do you really think they are important policy figures in the Republican, Conservative community?  

  •  Hirsi Ali is a hero! (0+ / 0-)

    Direct, right and eloquent.
    Wish more were like her.

    •  Really? (0+ / 0-)

      joshd covered it pretty well here.

      As he sums it up:

      So Ali wants a giant asterisk to be placed next to the First Amendment saying "Muslims excluded". And if Muslims don't quietly accept this? Well, you gotta kill them.
      I've been on the other side of this one.  I'm a Jew.  I'm not about to let what happened to us happen to anyone else.

      "A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home." - James Madison

      by gharlane on Sun May 11, 2014 at 10:09:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes this is a good example of.. (0+ / 0-)

    .. missing the point

    One critic of the Rutgers protests against Rice wrote:

    For many reasons, I would go see and listen to Rice, and I don't think that means I completely agree with everything she was involved in. But for many reasons, I would go see and listen to Rice, and I don't think that means I completely agree with everything she was involved in. But I am not trying to place her in exile for her leadership in a frightening chapter in our nation's history.

     - emphasis added describing something that does not exist, or rather did not happen - "Placing someone in exile"

    And why the hyperbole? "placing someone in exile". Now that begins to sound like suppressing free speech;  when there is no offense in protesting the honoring of whomever one chooses to not honor; iow's protest, and that it should be condemned is the implication

    - at least it seems that way to me - and hope I'm not to far afield on the point

    Thx Armando

  •  This is definitely not Armando's (0+ / 0-)

    Point, but I do wonder why I did not know most college commencement speakers are paid to give those speeches, and p/u an honorary degree. Seems to me there should be a footnote in the commencement program.

  •  Hiding (0+ / 0-)
    The protests are speech. And if these persons wish to respond to the protests, there is no doubt they have ample opportunity to do so.

    Including, in Rice's case, at the commencement speech at Rutgers, fromwhich she chose to withdraw.

    And that's how cowards react to the light of publicity shining on their lies and deceit. They run and hide.
  •  one problem with sterling (0+ / 0-)

    what exactly was "public" about his comments?

  •  same as intolerance of intolerance is bigotry (0+ / 0-)

    I think many of the reaction to the protests against Rice at both Rutgers and at Minnesota are similar in conception to the accusations that those who are intolerant of intolerance are the true bigots. Some people are of the opinion that waterboarding is torture, some are not...We are all entitled to our opinions and no one can argue against your opinion without being intolerant. I heard that very point made this morning on NPR by a man in Missouri with regard to the mayor who was driven to resign for pointing out that many corporations are run by Jews...His defender pointed out that he has a right to his opinion and no one should be able to argue that his opinion is wrong.

    Funny how the right wing has become the defenders of moral relativism, at least when it is their morals that are being criticized.

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