Thought of the year

God still doesn’t exist, alt-medicine is still quackery that cures nothing (including the flu, colon cancer, and diabetes), and Tom Brady is still the greatest NFL player of all time.

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Merry Christmas

Most people would give up on making the same joke for the better part of a decade, but here I am, posting a picture that I really should just update.

Merry Christmas

Advocating genocide is never incitement

There’s a disturbing trend these days to claim or imply that language is violence. That, of course, is nonsensical rubbish that should have no place in a serious discussion, but here we are. (My history of urging that Philosophy 101 be mandatory at the high school level is reaffirmed as a good idea every single day.) In particular, there has been a growing position that advocacy of genocide is such abhorrent violence that it, in fact, is not free speech. Again, nonsensical rubbish. Here is one example of someone saying as much:

The growing fascist movement in the United States often claims that it is marching for “free speech” and complains that Antifa and other opponents are violating their rights. Unfortunately, this cynical claim has won some credibility among liberals and even the ACLU. But the law does not protect the advocacy of violence any more than it protects child pornography. These well-established legal principles should be extended to prohibit the advocacy of genocide, the ultimate violence.

Arguing about the free speech rights of Nazis, fascists, and KKK members is a trap. The issue is not speech, it is violence. The fascists do not want to argue with us, they want to kill us.

I originally picked this article merely because it was a quick result on Google; my goal here was to generally address the issue of calling genocide-advocacy violence. However, the muddled understanding of free speech is too much to ignore. The article continues:

A brief review of U.S. law demonstrates that fascist advocacy of violence and genocide can and should be prohibited. In 1969 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brandenburg v. Ohio that there is no free speech right to advocate violence when there is a likelihood that violence will actually occur. The Court traced the development of U.S. law from its earlier prohibition of even abstract teaching of the necessity of violence for accomplishing social change to protecting such speech “except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

As it so happens, I made this post because I wanted to specifically talk about Brandenburg. Nearly every person who claims speech is violence has never heard of the case. The fact that this article brings it up is both surprising and, for the author, embarrassing. Brandenburg is the precise reason advocacy for genocide is always protected speech:

The Court’s Per Curiam opinion held that the Ohio law violated Brandenburg’s right to free speech. The Court used a two-pronged test to evaluate speech acts: (1) speech can be prohibited if it is “directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action” and (2) it is “likely to incite or produce such action.” The criminal syndicalism act made illegal the advocacy and teaching of doctrines while ignoring whether or not that advocacy and teaching would actually incite imminent lawless action. The failure to make this distinction rendered the law overly broad and in violation of the Constitution.

This couldn’t possibly be more on point. Advocating for genocide is 1) advocacy for a necessarily lengthy process and 2) often an advocacy for a change in law. Both of these points immediately fail the first prong of the test. A lengthy process – that is, systematic killing of an entire group of people – cannot possibly incite imminent action, lawless or not. Genocide is, by definition, not imminent. And where its advocates want a change in the law that allows for genocide…well, I mean. C’mon. That’s not only a lengthy process that requires years of lobbying and voting, but just imagine if you weren’t allowed to campaign for a change in the law because it was unpopular.

The article continues:

We are not proposing that offensive speech, or even speech that many consider hateful because of its abusive treatment of people based upon their race, gender or ethnicity, be outlawed. A free society must tolerate speech that is hurtful or offensive. But no civilized society must or should tolerate behavior by individuals or groups of people that promotes violence and even the total destruction of people based upon their color, gender, religion, or origin.

Notice the subtle bait-and-switch I’ve highlighted. We’re supposedly talking about speech, but the author here changes the issue to behavior. It’s a tacit surrender of the issue. Speech which fails to incite – and advocacy of genocide fails to incite, through and through – must be tolerated. Despite the incorrect interpretation of the specific ruling that renders the entire article wrong, the author acknowledges as much.

Just imagine if advocating for something violent was itself considered violence. We would have to lock up all the people who support the death penalty. Every shitty YouTube commenter who says [enter politician] should be hanged for [enter crime, usually treason] would have to be charged with criminal wrongdoing. And what’s the next step? If advocating for general violence at some indeterminate point in the future is violence, then would it also be violence for someone to advocate for the right to advocate for general violence? If I think neo-Nazis and antifa people should be able to advocate for violence, am I engaging in violent speech?

Here’s the bottom line. Advocating for genocide is free speech. You can talk about your desire to emulate Nazi Germany, if you wish. You can talk about your desire to kill all Jews or Muslims or Christians or blacks or whites. Take your pick. You can even say we should round-up and murder all the people who say we should round-up and murder other people. You are free to do that. It is 100% free speech.

No, accepting a pardon does not mean accepting guilt

The claim that Joe Arpaio implicitly admitted guilt by accepting Trump’s pardon is junk. The proof people cite for this claim comes from dicta in a 1915 SCOTUS case. That is not binding law. Furthermore, the lower court prior to that ruling pointed out that there are a myriad of reasons why someone might accept a pardon. This was and is binding law because it is part of the reasoning for the ruling. Double furthermore, the US Attorney General’s office kept records for the reasons for pardons well after that 1915 case. Triple furthermore, there are federal laws that account for compensating people who are given pardons due to innocence. Quadruple furthermore, the 1915 case pre-dates Alford, which found that a defendant can explicitly maintain innocence while accepting a plea; the logic from Alford inherently says the use of something from the justice system is not an acceptance or blessing of that thing.

Joe Arpaio is a piece of shit and it’s garbage that Trump pardoned him, but the forced attempt at catharsis through a willful or ignorant misuse of a 100+ year old, irrelevant ruling is also shit and garbage. It’s shit and garbage all the way down.

Thought of the day

The social justice use of the word “privilege” is almost always wrong. What people cite as examples of privilege are more often examples of baseline treatment. And if you’re getting baseline treatment, that isn’t privilege. For instance, if I walk into a department store and no one starts watching me or following me with cameras, that isn’t privilege. If they have no particular reason to target me and they therefore don’t, in fact, target me, that’s baseline treatment. It’s what anyone ought to expect. However, if a black man walks into the same store and finds himself immediately watched for no reason other than that he’s black, he isn’t getting that same baseline treatment. That’s obvious discrimination. But racially-based discrimination does not somehow magically make baseline treatment a privilege in comparison.

Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have a job because he sucks

There has been a lot of talk since NFL free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick opted out of his contract back in March. A lot of casual football fans knew his name years ago when he had some decent success in San Francisco, long before he made national headlines for kneeling during the anthem before games. So it has been a surprise to some that the season is well underway and he’s still unsigned. Some sports fans and many non-sports fans (“Sportsball! lol!”) have taken to claiming that his continued existence in free agency is due to racism. Even though many players have been kneeling, he was the first and he made all the headlines, so now owners and coaches are keeping him in his place as a black man, they say.

That’s bullshit.

Colin Kaepernick isn’t on an NFL team because 1) he’s a bottom-tier quarterback, 2) he wants to start, 3) he wants starter money, 4) he wants multiple years, and 5) he isn’t better than any current starter on a playoff-bound or playoff-bubble team.

I recently read an article where Richard Sherman of the Seahawks listed a handful of quarterbacks Kaepernick was better than. I’m going to address a host of quarterbacks and teams in a moment, so I won’t delve into the details of Sherman’s comment, but I will note one example he had. The Jets quarterback. He got the name wrong, but it’s who-gives-a-damn. (Okay, it’s Josh McCown.) Kaepernick is better than him. The Jets are also going to win 1 to 3 games this season. (I’m amazed they even won one so far.) So, sure, Kaep > McCown. But why in the hell would the Jets sign Kaep? What would the point be? They’re actively trying to tank this year.

So without further ado, I want to go through every NFL team and their starting quarterbacks to quickly see where Kaepernick might fit.

Bills – Tyrod Taylor is marginally better than Kaepernick with marginally greater upside. You could probably swap the two quarterbacks without noticing much offensive difference, but the Bills don’t know where their future is right now.

Patriots – Tom Brady is the greatest player in NFL history.

Dolphins – They replaced Tannehill with Cutler because 1) they only needed a one year replacement, 2) Cutler is comparable to Tannehill, 3) the Dolphins want a pocket passer, and 4) Tony Romo didn’t want to do it. This was Kaepernick’s best shot at getting on the field in 2017, but he wasn’t going to get multiple years and a big pay day in the process.

Jets – Like I said, Kaepernick is better than McCown without a doubt. The Jets are also intentionally tanking.

Chiefs – Kaepernick was Smith’s backup at one point. Smith is absolutely better.

Broncos – Is Trevor Siemian the future of the Broncos? I doubt it, but he has upside and he’s still only 25. Besides, the Broncos tried trading for Kaepernick, but he nixed the deal because he wouldn’t take a pay cut and no one wanted to cover his bloated salary. He isn’t worth as much as he thinks he is at the quarterback position.

Raiders – Derek Carr is wildly better.

Chargers – Philip Rivers is wildly better. He’ll finish his career in…sigh…LA.

Ravens – Flacco is slightly better, his most recent game notwithstanding. Rumor had Kaepernick working on a deal, but it’s unclear why it fell apart.

Steelers – Roethlisberger is a top 5 quarterback with at least this season left, possibly next season.

Bengals – Dalton is a mid-tier quarterback who has the job secured right now.

Browns – As always, the Browns are trying to build. Kaepernick is better than Kizer, who probably won’t be the future, but he’s still a rookie. At any rate, this team is not playoff bound, so why would they spend money on Kaepernick?

Titans – Mariota is severely underrated and he’s the Titans future for years to come.

Jaguars – Had the Jaguars cut ties with Bortles, I suspect Kaepernick would have ended up here, even with the team not being playoff bound. But they didn’t cut ties, so here we are.

Colts – I think Luck is overrated, but he’s a consistently in top 10 lists, and usually top 5. Jacoby Brissett is filling the role very well right now.

Texans – Watson is the future and he’s light years better than Kaepernick.

Eagles – They want Wentz to be the future.

Redskins – Cousins is either going to get franchise tagged or sign a huge long-term deal.

Cowboys – Dak is the future.

Giants – Eli, while mediocre, has 2-4 years left.

Rams – Goff might be the future. Probably not. But he’s a rookie. And the team is absolutely not playoff bound.

Cardinals – Palmer is a top 10 quarterback.

Seahawks – Wilson is a top 5 quarterback.

49ers – Well, this isn’t an option, now is it?

Vikings – Bradford is in the top half of quarterbacks. He’ll be around for awhile.

Lions – Stafford is criminally underrated and the leader of the Lions for years to come.

Packers – Aaron Rodgers is the second best quarterback in the league.

Bears – Glennon is trash and Kaepernick is absolutely better. The Bears also aren’t playoff bound, plus Trubisky is the intended future.

Falcons – Matt Ryan is one of the best in the league with years and years left.

Panthers – Cam Newton is their guy (though he’s really overrated).

Buccaneers – Winston is mid-tier and their guy.

Saints – Drew Brees has a couple of more years left and he’s one of the greatest of all time.

So, to recap, Kaepernick is better than Mike Glennon, Brian Hoyer (of the 49ers), Blake Bortles, McCown, Jay Cutler, maybe Tyrod Taylor, maybe Trevor Siemian, and maybe Joe Flacco. Two of those quarterbacks – Joe Flacco and Trevor Siemian – are on potential playoff teams. No deal was to be had in Baltimore, and Siemian has upside.

If Kaepernick was desperate to have any contract, including a cheap back-up contract, and no one would sign him, I’d be the first to say he was being blackballed. But as it stands, there’s no team that has a single reason to sign him to be their starter. If he wants to suit up, he has to be willing to ride the bench or wait until next year when he absolutely should get signed.

Thought of the day

Free speech has no legal restrictions in the United States. Not a single one.

  • Laws against incitement are not restrictions on free speech.
  • Laws against threats are not restrictions on free speech.
  • Laws against fighting words are not restrictions on free speech.

All of these things are outside the definition of free speech in the first place; free speech is any expression which does not violate the rights of others. To say that the illegality of something which violates a right is also a restriction on said right is nonsensical. No one argues that the illegality of murder is a restriction on one’s right to liberty for that very reason. Murder isn’t part of the definition of liberty in the first place. It can’t be. No rights violation can ever be part of the definition of the right(s) it violates.