Free speech is more important than a feel good story

I recently saw a post somewhere on Reddit about a 1958 incident in North Carolina:

On the night of January 13, 1958, crosses were burned on the front lawns of two Lumbee Indian families in Robeson County, N.C. Nobody had to ask who was responsible. The Ku Klux Klan had risen again in North Carolina, its ranks swelling after the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education calling for the desegregation of public schools. While the Court instructed schools to proceed with “all deliberate speed,” the Klan fought — often in the form of anonymous nighttime attacks — to slow the process of integration…

Not content to leave it at this, the Klan planned a rally in Robeson County to be held just a few days later….

The rally was scheduled for the night of January 18, 1958, in a field near Maxton, N.C. The stated purpose of the gathering was, in the words of Catfish Cole, “to put the Indians in their place, to end race mixing.” The time and location of the rally was not kept secret, and word spread quickly among the local Lumbee population.

Reports vary about the number of people gathered on that cold night, but there were thought to have been around a hundred Klan members. They brought a large banner emblazoned with “KKK” and a portable generator, which powered a public address system and a single bare light bulb. When the meeting began, the arc of the dim light didn’t spread far enough for the Klansmen to see that they were surrounded by as many as a thousand Lumbees. Several young tribe members, some of whom were armed, closed on the Klan meeting and tried to take down the light bulb. The groups fought, and a shotgun blast shattered the light. In the sudden darkness, the Lumbees descended upon the field, yelling and firing guns into the air, scattering the overmatched Klansmen. Some left under police protection while others, including [Klan leader] Catfish Cole, simply took to the woods.

Of course, it’s no surprise that Reddit ate this up. Why, those racists deserved what they got. After decades and decades of intimidation, not to mention recent illegal acts like cross burnings, no rational person can sympathize with their meeting being broken up. But this isn’t about sympathy. This is about Constitutional rights. The KKK had a right to gather and talk about their racist stupidity all they wanted. It was never the place of the Lumbee Indians to stop the meeting, attacking people and destroying property. They were cowards.

This is where I have to pause to make a note: this isn’t about defending the KKK or showing any support for its positions. This is about free speech: if you aren’t willing to stand up for the free speech rights of every group – even and especially the ones you dislike – then you simply do not support free speech. I hope you enjoy your association with fascism.

Fast forward to today and we have another instance of racists and, largely, Native Americans coming face-to-face:

Having apparently learned its lesson from its predecessors, the modern [neo-Nazi movement] decided to avoid large cities (where anybody might show up with a full tank of gas and half a pack of cigarettes) and take over the small town of Leith, North Dakota…

Leith lay on the outskirts of Bismarck, North Dakota, evidently chosen for the name’s unsinkable record in Nazi history. Until recently, the town of Leith had a population of 24; and it probably would have forever had [the neo-Nazis] not started buying up property there, intending to install it as a foothold for America’s new Nazi movement…

[But one Nazi leader] and all of his Nazi followers may not get the peaceful Aryan paradise they’re looking for — because about 300 protesters showed up to make life a little less peaceful.

Those protesters included about 200 Native Americans from nearby reservations, who played a pivotal role in organizing the protest. The crowd chanted things like:

“Creepy Nazis, Ku Kluzers, get the Hell out of here!”

All these protestors are to be admired and praised. Instead of acting like the cowards of the Lumbee tribe, they stood up, face-to-face with Nazi scum, and fought the protected speech of the neo-Nazis with their own protected speech. That’s how it’s done.

What I find so frustrating about all this, though, is the political correctness pervading the whole discussion. The entire reason I’m writing about isn’t because of the people who side with the Lumbee tribe. I’m writing because of the people who automatically think it’s racist or otherwise wrong to defend the free speech rights of the KKK. It should be obvious to any thinking person that that is not the case, and here is a perfect knock-down of some real bullshit: If anyone thinks it’s racist motivations that lead one to condemn the Lumbee tribe, then they are left with an incoherent hole in their argument when we see a lack of condemnation of the Native Americans who protested the neo-Nazis in North Dakota.

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Anonymous speech is free speech

I don’t remember who said it to me a little while ago, but I heard it argued that anonymous speech somehow, magically, mystically, without regard to common sense or the 1st Amendment, is not protected speech. Of course, it is and SCOTUS cases have confirmed as much. That brings me to this:

An anonymous poster, using the name “Artemis of the wildland” has been attempting to shame some Portland, Ore., residents who use food stamps…

A few weeks ago, similar flyers identified people receiving disability benefits, describing them as “a threat to the Republic.” Police investigators say that message could be considered hate speech.

This is unbelievably offensive. Not the douche threatening to ‘out’ welfare recipients. That’s just run of the mill stupidity. What’s offensive is that some anti-free speech crusader(s) called the (pretend*) Portland police who, in a continuing effort to harm free speech, actually investigated the matter. To make matters worse, they apparently believe that hate speech isn’t also free speech.

It’s pretty unimportant that some d-bag threatened to say who receives a particular type of income. Unless this person obtained the information illegally – and it isn’t even certain he or she has any real information – then there is absolutely nothing to investigate. What is important is that this protected, anonymous speech is being threatened by the government acting on behalf of a few butt-hurt citizens. Fuck them.

*Portland, Oregon is the hipster version of the original Portland in Maine – which, incidentally, is what the pretend West Coast Portland was named after. But I digress.

Free speech is always the answer

I was reading a post at Why Evolution Is True that led me to Pharyngula. At the top of the blog right now is this post:

New Commenting Rules

What are they?

The ongoing meltdown in Thunderdome and the departure of Chris tell me we’ve got something that needs to be fixed. I don’t quite know how to fix everything, so let’s crowdsource it — you people leave comments here telling me what rules you think might work to get the knifey-bitey-smashy atmosphere to lighten up a little. Just a little.

I have no idea what Thunderdome is and I don’t know this Chris fella. However, I do know the answer to PZ’s issue: More free speech. Of course, FtB (and feminism as a general rule) is highly censorious, so this will never happen, but it’s the only reasonable solution. Let people duke it out until they get tired of it. It’s fair, it’s free, and it’s desired amongst those who value variety in ideas.

The trampling of free speech

This is utter horseshit:

The case of teenager Cameron Dambrosio might serve as an object lesson to young people everywhere about minding what you say online unless you are prepared to be arrested for terrorism.

The Methuen, Mass., high school student was arrested last week after posting online videos that show him rapping an original song that police say contained “disturbing verbiage” and reportedly mentioned the White House and the Boston Marathon bombing. He is charged with communicating terrorist threats, a state felony, and faces a potential 20 years in prison. Bail is set at $1 million.

1. Fuck the author of the article, Mark Guarino, for writing as if teenagers need a lesson in why they aren’t allowed free speech rights. Seriously, fuck that guy.

2. I can only imagine the doltish law enforcement officials participating in the quashing of Cameron Dambrosio’s First Amendment rights regret never seizing the opportunity to arrest Johnny Cash for shooting a man in Reno.

3. The biggest issue here is the fact that artistic expression, an entirely protected right, is being violated for obviously and offensively unconstitutional reasons. That said, fuck fuck fuck Mark Guarino.

Supreme Court: Video games are art

Siding with reality, the Supreme Court has ruled against California in a decision regarding the status of video games:

Video games are art, and they deserve the exact same First Amendment protections as books, comics, plays and all the rest, the U.S. Supreme Court said Monday in a ruling about the sale of violent video games in California.

California had tried to argue that video games are inherently different from these other mediums because they are “interactive.” So if a kid has to pick up a controller and hit the B button — over and over again until he starts to get thumb arthritis — to kill a person in a video game, that’s different from reading about a similar murder, the state said.

The high court didn’t buy that argument, however.

I was reminded recently that this case was coming to a head and I wondered to myself how ‘Justice’ Scalia would rule. After a little consideration, I surmised he would come down in favor of the gaming industry. He often makes poor decisions based upon little to nothing, but this case was just too obvious for him to get wrong:

“Like the protected books, plays, and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas — and even social messages — through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot, and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player’s interaction with the virtual world). That suffices to confer First Amendment protection.”

So not only does the interactive medium not make video games fundamentally different than things like music and literature (in terms of being art), it actually is a feature which helps to define it as art. Everyone has been telling this to California all along, but I’m glad the Supreme Court could articulate it so well.

And as much as I dislike Scalia, I’ve always thought he was a decent writer, sometimes even humorous. He doesn’t fail to deliver here:

That’s all well and good. But the most fun to be had in this potentially dry court opinion is when Scalia starts writing about how gory old-school stories are, too. He’s trying to make the point that stories have included violence for as long as there have been stories.

The examples are pretty hilarious:

“Grimm’s Fairy Tales, for example, are grim indeed,” he writes.

Then there’s this:

“Cinderella’s evil stepsisters have their eyes pecked out by doves. And Hansel and Gretel (children!) kill their captor by baking her in an oven.”

And, finally, if that wasn’t enough eye-related violence for you:

“High-school reading lists are full of similar fare. Homer’s Odysseus blinds Polyphemus the Cyclops by grinding out his eye with a heated stake.”

Well done, sir. Now excuse me while I go snipe some Elites.

Hawaii ends state prayer

The Hawaii state Senate has decided to do away with the prayer it used to open each session.

A citizen’s complaint had prompted the American Civil Liberties Union last summer to send the Senate a letter noting that its invocations often referenced Jesus Christ, contravening the separation of church and state.

That prompted the state attorney general’s office to advise the Senate that their handling of prayers – by inviting speakers from various religions to preach before every session – wouldn’t survive a likely court challenge, said Democratic Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria.

“Above all, our responsibility is to adhere to the Constitution,” Galuteria said after Thursday’s vote to halt the daily blessings.

This is a pretty straight forward decision, one that reflects the fact that Christians don’t get to do whatever they want. But that doesn’t mean everyone has to understand it.

“They (the ACLU) continue to threaten governments with lawsuits to try to force them into capitulating to their view of society,” said Brett Harvey, an attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, made up of Christian lawyers to defend free faith speech. “Governments should take a stand for this cherished historical practice.”

Thank you for confirming that the prayers were all about Christians, but really? It’s an organization dedicated to defending free faith speech? Do they realize that there is no such thing? That if such a thing were to exist, that it would be a privilege, not a right? There is simply the right to free speech.

Besides, it isn’t free speech if it’s being endorsed by the government.

We have the right!

One of the pissant arguments I’ve come to detest the most is the one that begins by pointing out that everyone has a right to free speech, at least in the U.S. It’s terrible for a couple of reasons: 1) no one said otherwise and 2) everyone already knows it. Take a look at this hick.

Around one minute into Steve Douchey leading the interview to the specifications of FOX Noise, Douchey points out that the atheist group and everyone else has the right to put up any sign. The hick agrees, further pointing out that he also has the same right.

Who the fuck was saying otherwise? Who are these people that keep vehemently insisting there is no free speech in the U.S.?

This a point which needs to die because I think I die a little inside every time I hear it.