Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Free to Say What?

We have freedom of speech in this country, guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

We’re free to say anything we like, with notable exceptions carved out after 220 years of jurisprudence — direct incitement to violence and shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

Free speech must be punishedAnd we are about to add another exception: “hate speech”. A generation of college students has come to maturity under a regime in which free speech most emphatically does not include the right to say anything that might be construed as hateful towards minorities, women, gays, disabled people, animals, trees, etc.

These students are in the revolutionary vanguard of the softened-up, so that by the time Congress slips through a law that actually criminalizes “hate speech”, the constant repetition of the mantra “hate speech is not free speech” will have taken its toll. Everybody will already be used to the idea, will accept it as a given, and, after the required Supreme Court decision, the new, leaner version of the First Amendment will become the law of the land.

If you think I’m being paranoid or overreacting, then you haven’t seen Rep. John Conyers’ proposed kid-gloves-for-the-Koran resolution, H. Res. 288 (the full text is here):

Resolved, That the House of Representatives —

1. condemns bigotry, acts of violence, and intolerance against any religious group, including our friends, neighbors, and citizens of the Islamic faith;
2. declares that the civil rights and civil liberties of all individuals, including those of the Islamic faith, should be protected;
3. recognizes that the Quran, the holy book of Islam, as any other holy book of any religion, should be treated with dignity and respect; and
4. calls upon local, State, and Federal authorities to work to prevent bias-motivated crimes and acts against all individuals, including those of the Islamic faith.

This is pernicious on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to start. It asserts that one person’s right to be respected overrides another person’s right to speak freely. It singles out a single religion, Islam, for special treatment. It accords the holy book of the Muslims more respect than is owed the flag of the United States.

This is a CAIR-sponsored Trojan horse, ready to be rolled through the gates into the First Amendment. And its sponsor is about to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

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When I defend the right to free speech, what am I defending?

The Founders weren’t thinking about the right to print gay porn. When they crafted the First Amendment, they most emphatically intended to protect political speech. A lot of what passed for political speech in those days was insulting, libelous, vicious, and mendacious, but the framers of the Constitution were determined to leave it unrestrained.

But what about today? What words are so dangerous, so foul, so beyond the pale, that the force of law is required to protect them?
- - - - - - - - - -
The example I am about to give is so offensive that I will be in hot water for posting it here, even though I don’t subscribe to it myself, even though I find its appalling and repugnant, even though I would not willingly share the room with someone who uttered it. The amount of trouble I bring down upon myself will illustrate my point.

I’m displaying it here as an image, so as not to be indexed for the obnoxious phrase by the search engines:

The unutterable phrase

This is what the First Amendment protects.

In what follows I will refer to this sentiment and the people who hold it as “IHN”.

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The cry of “Racism!” is what the modern politician or public figure will go to any length to avoid. Just ask George Allen — the well-timed appearance in the media of an Al Sharpton-related moment will kill a political career.

There are many young people — the future Baron tells me stories about them from his college — who consider complete license to be their natural right. They will entertain arguments for and against infanticide without blinking. They presumably consider sex with animals to be just another lifestyle choice, as long as no animal was harmed in the making of one’s pleasure.

But racism — that’s another matter. There oughta be a law!

From their point of view, IHN has no right to his opinion.

How did we get to this point? It was a slippery slope downhill from liberty to where we are now, with some notable landmarks on the way:

1. The civil rights movement.

By statute, one could no longer discriminate on the basis of race. This was a good idea that has since been extended to ludicrous levels in order to serve illiberal purposes.
2. The definition of discrimination.

To the definition of “discrimination” was added, “speech or actions that tend to exclude a person on the basis of his or her race.”
3. The evidence for exclusion.

That a person of a protected group feels excluded became prima facie evidence that he or she has been excluded, and is therefore a victim of discrimination.
4. The feelings of protected minorities.

Feeling unwelcome or offended became the same as feeling excluded, so that feeling offended is equivalent to being discriminated against.

Thus has the “hate speech” camel crept under the tent and taken up residence. You don’t have to subscribe to IHN to violate the hate speech codes; all you have to do is offend some member of a protected group. At that point the grievance mill starts gearing up to grind exceedingly fine, and you’ll be lucky if your only consequence is to undergo twenty or thirty hours of “diversity training”.

But where do CAIR and Conyers come in? How did they manage to piggyback on the hate speech craze?

The trick was to add a #5 to the above list:

5. Muslims are the equivalent of a racial minority.

Even though Muslims come in as many races as other human beings, even though Christians, Jews, and Hindus have no such protections, Islam has claimed for itself the same status as blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, etc. It’s a shrewd move, one that has been patiently and painstakingly crafted over the last ten or fifteen years by CAIR and similar organizations.

It’s probably too late to stop this process. Soon it will become effectively illegal to say what is said in this blog and others like it. National Review and City Journal will be in the line of fire for what they print. Books by Robert Spencer will have to be published offshore and smuggled into the country.

Perhaps I’m exaggerating. But John Conyers is about to become a very powerful man in the Democrat-controlled Congress, and he’s made it very clear for whom he is working.

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Then there are “hate crimes” and “bias crimes”. If you rob a bank because the branch manager is Lithuanian, and you hate Lithuanians, then that’s a hate crime, and you’ll get a couple of extra years tacked onto your sentence.

Does that make sense? Which is worse, to blow away the Senegalese convenience store clerk because he’s black, or because you want the $100 in the cash register, or just for kicks? Of those three, which is murder most foul?

If you do it for kicks, just to watch him die, you get twenty-five-to-life. If you do it because you’re IHN, you get thirty-to-life.

Don’t make no sense.

Why do we need to restrain IHN? What could he do that requires speech laws to guard against?

He could get a gun and shoot every black person in sight. No, wait; that’s already illegal.

He could torch the car of his next-door neighbor from Somalia. No, we’ve got laws that cover that.

He could scream racial epithets at every swarthy person he passes on the street. But even that is already covered by existing laws against disorderly conduct, public nuisances, stalking, and so on.

The ugly truth is that “hate speech” rules are a cynical way to cow political opponents and intimidate those who don’t fall in with the party line. However, you’ll notice that these rules are very selectively enforced — no particular consequence ever seems to fall on those who scream, “Death to the Jews!”

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There are trends at work in the West today that are far worse than racism. Racism — if I may utter such a dangerous heresy — doesn’t necessarily do any damage to a particular society.

Take Japan, for example, which is the most ethnically homogeneous country on the planet. I don’t know if the Japanese are racists, but even if they are, it won’t do their country any measurable harm. They can make fun of the big-eyed people all they want, print mocking cartoons of them in their newspapers, and their civil society can still flourish and their democratic institutions can still function effectively.

Racism is more pernicious in a multi-ethnic country like our own, and it is well to be mindful of that fact.

But other much more dangerous trends rage unchecked through our society. Some of them are even actively promoted by the élite guardians of culture. Nihilism, ethical relativism, sexual promiscuity, flagrant hedonism, and the enforced removal of religion from the public square — all of these are far more harmful than racism, and their damage is far more lasting.

But, just as I defend the right of IHN to utter his egregious words, I defend those who espouse, promote, and publicize all the other dangerous idiocies that float around in our culture.

Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.

What part of Congress shall make no law is unclear?

The First Amendment guards all of us. It brooks no exceptions.


kepiblanc said...

Truly a scary perspective, Baron. Strange thing is, that if taken literally the Danish Constitution actually outlaws Islam :

Section 78 [Freedom of Association]

(1) The citizens shall be entitled without previous permission to form associations for any lawful purpose.
(2) Associations employing violence, or aiming at attaining their object by violence, by instigation to violence, or by similar punishable influence on people of other views, shall be dissolved by judgment.

And I'm still allowed to say IHN to my hearts content since it hurts nobody but myself.

Lao said...

one of your best - btw have you updated the blogger software? /sigh I lost so much

Sir Henry Morgan said...

What about all the hate speech within the Islamic texts?

Is there any difference between a white South African calling a black man "Kaffir", and a Muslim calling a Christian "Kaffir"?

And there is a lot of hate in the Islamic texts - this one could turn around and bite them on the arse (that's ass to Americans, I suppose).

scrilla said...

this is sadly funny, not only because Muslims, especially Arabs, are some of the most racist people on Earth.

i wonder if the Muhammedans are as amazed as we are to see the "superpower" bend over for them so easily. it is the blackest of comedy

X said...

Wait a moment... doesn't this law, as quoted, breach the establishment clause? By favouring one religion over others, mentiniong it by name without similar reference to to other religions, it clearly places that religion in a superior position to others, effectively establishing it, in law, as a religion of preference for the state. Isn't that unconstitutional?

scrilla said...


McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance BS was unconstitutional too - that didn't stop it.
remember, religion-bashing is OK so long as it's Christianity (or Judaism).

Mr. Spog said...

Baron -- Did you have anywhere specific in mind when speculating about offshore publishing? The U.S. is the world's principal remaining "free speech zone". If free speech goes in the U.S., there might be nowhere else where books of all kinds could be freely published -- or internet services freely hosted, etc.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Baron. Compliments to your responders, also. Islam is less of a religion than it is a political and military machine wrapped in the trappings of a dark medieval religion. The goal is clearly and repeatedly stated as world dominance, death to...(freedom, liberty, America, Israel and so forth). It is a dangerous precedent by CAIR and Conyers to accord freedom and tolerance to a politic that wishes to crush that very same freedom and tolerance. Too bad the Danish can't share a little of their clear thinking regarding dhimmification with Washington, (with the exception of Rep. Goode!) Here's to wishing America a "Goode" year!

Pastorius said...

Yes, this is one of your best posts ever, Baron. Thanks for saying it for us.

Here's how I like to explain it. Our society is made up of some very powerful institutions. Among these are

1) government
2) media
3) big business
4) religion

Now, we would never think that it would be wise to cut down on free speech which is critical of government, media, or big business. We are all in agreement that to do so would be give those institutions do much unchecked power.

So, why would we, even for a second, consider putting a stop to criticism of religion?

I can find no answer for that question. It seems to me some very irrational forces are at work in our world today.

I'd say everyone better start buying their guns, because guns might be next.

Red Tulips said...

I happen to be fine with gay porn AND hate speech. When in doubt, allow it in.

And why single out gay porn as bad, versus regular porn?

The only sort of porn that should be banned is kiddie porn, not gay porn.

Baron Bodissey said...

Mr. Spog,

There are essentially lawless offshore locations that host internet functions that the US gov't can't touch (I believe Nigeria is one of them).

I assume that books could be published in places like that and shipped to this country. If there's a market for it, some enterprising foreigner in a Third World country will find a way to do it...

Baron Bodissey said...

Red Tulips --

What makes you think that I object to the publication of gay porn? I simply asserted that the Founders never considered it when they crafted the First Amendment.

I'm a libertarian. I think that adults should be able to buy and read whatever they want. That doesn't mean that I approve of the display of such things in public spaces, however.

Kiddo said...

Brilliant work. I've been hand-wringing and writing letters over this one, but I couldn't even write about it in a post, it got me that worked up. This is completely ILLEGAL according to our Constitution, as you point out. I've read over it all numerous times, and in no reading has it not astounded me the lengths gone to in the language to specify "muslims" and "islam".

Perhaps my next tactic will be to forward on to Conyers some of the hilariously racial comments thrown between Arabs and Turks. I've rarely seen hatred toward an ethnic group such as exhibited by Arabs (particularly muslim Arabs) towards the Turks. Frequently quite openly. Very amusing, as people expect such behavior from the Greek girl, to see a Jordanian shopkeep I know cursing Turks who come to buy coffee and tobacco products.

Absolutely correct, this "minority status grab" is absurd. Since hearing of the "massive Israeli land grab", I phrase things in this manner. Mo's "deity grab", CAIR's "minority status grab". Note though, the utter SILENCE from CAIR on hate crimes against M. Eastern Christians. When a Coptic family was slaughtered by muslims, was Egyptian CAIR member Ahmed Bedier spouting off on his blog or at YouTube about it? No. Only if a taxi driver gets his feelings hurt.

Harrison said...

Excellent post. This is top-notch!

I would like to share this article with those who aren't already convinced of the extent to which the doublespeaking, invidiously crafty CAIR has been attempting to infiltrate and subvert tolerance. Tolerance always faces the dilemma: since everything is permissible in the spirit of tolerance, are intolerant religions, faiths, peoples also acceptable? We should not be afraid to defend our right to tolerance against those who would choose to destroy it - that is not hypocrisy but a noble act of protecting our sacred values.

OMMAG said...

We've already crossed that foul line in Canada!
If you want to see the consequences of politically correct hypocrisy put into law look here..or in Europistan.

Profitsbeard said...

As Theo Van Gogh asked (in the title of his now-defunct newspaper column) "May I Say This?" ("Mag Ik Dit Zeggen?" in Dutch.)

Islam wrote their answer in his blood.

The civilized answer to speech is counter-speech, not government supression, 'holy' terror, or self-silencing via cowering intellectual (and eventually literal) suicide.

Me, I don't like Negro Bugs. (Look them up in any agricultural pest manual before their name is changed.)

But people, of all colors, as long as their brains aren't poisoned by delusional dogma ("hate speech", etc.), I like.

Mockery of intolerance posing as super-tolerance is what is needed.

Redneck Texan said... long did you stare at the publish button before you pushed it?

Very gutsy, from the heart post. Your arguments are as ugly as they are bulletproof.

Of course commenting on this thread feels kinda like finding your way through a minefield. I dont want to say anything too rednecky that others might hold against you.

But yes, I dont think our founders intended for normal human behavior to become a jail sentence multiplier.

But you cant blame our foreign and domestic enemies for using our own consciences against us, its our fault that it works so well to silence us.

History Snark said...

I grew up near Dearborn, Conyer's stomping grounds, and went back thru the area a few years back. Pretty much every store in town has Arabic script on the sign. Which is ironic to anyone who remembers when the city was run by Orville Hubbard, who was apparently an IHN type...

But I digress. A couple years ago, I recall reading of a piece of legislation, introduced by Conyers as I recall- or another black democrat from that area of MI (Dingell, perhaps)- which proposed making it a crime to burn Islamic flags/symbols. Totally floored me. I just assumed that it was pandering, since even a liberal dem ought to be aware that this is unconstitutional. Perhaps that is what this is as well...? He just throws this out to fool his ignorant, anti-American constituents, knowing that it will never leave committee, but that they'll mortgage the convenience store to give his campaign money.

Or else it's just that he's an idiot. I won't bet either way.

Vol-in-Law said...

"...recognizes that the Quran, the holy book of Islam, as any other holy book of any religion, should be treated with dignity and respect..."

Isn't this a direct violation of 'congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion'?

anti-uffe said...

If anything, such legislation should prompt somebody to try and bring a case against that repository of hate speech Mein Jihad a.k.a. the Qur'an, e.g. 9:29 or 9:5, or the "sons of apes and pigs" filth. Should such a case be won, these legislators will have scored an own goal. Should the case fall or not be prosecuted because the law protects it, the hypocrisy will be clear for all to see.

Epaminondas said...

Terrific spot

I keep saying this and saying this... the correct response to this kind of garbage is a campaign to end incitement to violence and making statements such as this JAILTIME, and viable for immediate civil suits before the result occurs:

Book 041, Number 6981:

Ibn 'Umar reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: You will fight against the Jews and you will kill them until even a stone would say: Come here, Muslim, there is a Jew (hiding himself behind me) ; kill him.

Book 041, Number 6982:

Ubaidullah has reported this hadith with this chain of transmitters (and the Words are):" There is a Jew behind me."

Book 041, Number 6983:

Abdullah b. 'Umar reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: You and the Jews would fight against one another until a stone would say: Muslim, here is a Jew behind me; come and kill him.

Book 041, Number 6984:

Abdullah b. 'Umar reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: The Jews will fight against you and you will gain victory over them until the stone would say: Muslim, here is a Jew behind me; kill him.

Book 041, Number 6985:

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.

Making such speech illegal without regard to religion would shut these morons up.

Imagine if the Hadiths like this became hate speech, by law?

Mr. Conyers, are you paying attention?

anti-uffe said...

Principles aside, the worst effect that hate speech legislation can have would probably be to defer critical discussion while time remains. The problems that Islam will cause to the American society will be on a scale that cannot be swept under the rug by legislation.

Europe is doomed. Whether we will go with a bang or a whimper depends on particular circumstances, but we are not going to "rise" against the threat that will engulf us. Sarcasm alert: oh no, that would be "intolerant," and who are we to say we are better, what with the Crusades, the Nazi genocide, and colonialism?

Not so with you US guys. Sooner or later you will rise to the challenge, and no Washington legislation will hold you back.

The attitude of CAIR shows where you are heading. Islam is cruising for a bruising. And they will get it, in the US.

Gordon Pasha said...

Baron, One would be ill advised to look to a wannabe islamist republic like Nigeria to publish texts that would be critical of islam, unless one wished to be shortened-up by about 25cm, or buried under a pile of rocks (small ones, to prolong the pleasure). There are very few free-speech zones left on Earth, and the very last one will likely be on US soil. I am not a preacher of violence, nor do I have any wish to see violence, but I do fear that the 2nd amendment of the US constitution may prove to be the very final barricade between modernity and the long, dark night.

Gordon Pasha said...

p.s. maybe a far-sighted person would set up a publishing house in New Hampshire, Live Free or Die, and all that.

eatyourbeans said...

I think the final assault will be along this line: Just as you don't have the right to shout FIRE! in a crowded theatre, your right to say IHNs or IHMs or whatever is limited by the curcumstances under which you say it. If I walk into a Mosque and shout Allah eats dogshit, the inevitable and immediate result will be a threat to public safety and order; can any reasonable person wish to protect such speech?, our thought police will jesuitically ask. There is some truth here, enough to succeed.

But that's why there is the 2nd Amendment.

Vicktorya said...

Regarding the 'where to publish', I'd suggest our commonwealth friends (before third world options). New Zealand and Australia, if not Canada, may, for somewhat different motivations, be able to brook a wave of controversy about free speech. If anyone needs a book published 'offshore' (aka 'not in the USA); we can find someone to do it, in a native english speaking country.

The point in general that all of these 'little steps' that are encroaching upon the freedoms, must also be (probably!?) won back step-by-step. The hard part of the step-by-step processs, is that it requires real people, in a real situation, to bring a real case, to a real court of law, in a (relatively) law-abiding and law-enforcing country. You may need to go south of the border, to get offshore, but make that the southern hemisphere. There are a few friendlies in the upsidedownunder part of the globe.

And they publish real books, too.
lower overhead, too.
distribution will be, as ever, the major hurdle for low-budget publishers to handle effectively ...
however ... with a few friendly blog outlets, a good book could certainly make the rounds?

mail order; it's your friend.

Terry Crane said...

The weird thing about this "hate speech" thing is that the Koran itself is a hate speech. Its content is deeply offensive to non-Muslim, and its treatment of Old Testament goes well past disrespect.

You are right that this legislation is about giving Islam preferential rather then equal treatment. Any ban on hate speech that doesn't favor Islam will spell the end of Islam in US.

Behr Whitewash said...

Doesn't the SCOTUS have a broad interpretation of what 'religion' is? This exacerbates the problem of granting books of 'religion' with dignity and respect, ie nearly every book - once at SCOTUS - will have to be treated with dignity and respect. I once said something bad about 'Charlottes Web' - eek!

Then the Fed will spend 10 years and $10B US taxpayer dollars debating and deciding objective criteria for what actions constitute 'dignity' and 'respect'.

Flanders Fields said...

If you are familiar with "Hate" crime laws, you understand that they are actually THAT. They are a license for the leftists and the minorities to band together in order to deny the rights of non-minorities. Once they obtain a grip in society, one has to consider the consequences from anything you may say or write. It filters down into all aspects of peoples lives.

Look at the British suppression of the BNP for an example. It is a lawful political party that is being hounded and suppressed by action of governmental leftists and bands of minorities. Go to and check out the story of the ballerina who the leftist/minority alliance is trying to force from her employment because of her having joined the BNP.

Hate laws are the most dangerous laws we face. Fight them with all your might and force. If they are passed you will have few allies when they choose to brand you as racist for whatever reason they choose. Others will fear the label and will not join you.