Can We Have A Smarter Conversation About Free Speech?

 

Freddie deBoer recently phoned in a defense of  free speech principles against “broad left-wing flirtations with abandoning them on [leftist] grounds.” As is normal for the genre of straight white dude condescendingly upholding the right of people to spew hatred and incite violence against classes of people he doesn’t belong to, the piece is a litany of bromides we all learn as children, unimpeded by a single fact or citation from history or common law. DeBoer even dispenses with the convention of providing a timely example of some odious piece of shit who wants to say, set up a fast food restaurant and donate proceeds to hate groups, or sell animal torture porn — that we must, if we are not complete authoritarians, defend because if the odious piece of shit can’t set up his fast food restaurant or the animal torture pornographer can’t torture animals for paying sadists, it obviously follows that nice lefty folks won’t get to topple the government and transform society.

First of all, is this country in peril of being too vigilant in the defense of women and marginalized populations?  Is there some draconian Federal hate crimes law pending that I don’t know about? Why are we always talking about the policing of hate speech, when the straight, white dudes that benefit most by its defense still have the upper hand in all facets of U.S. society? If we’re going to invoke slippery slopes, wouldn’t it be prudent to work with an imminent precedent? Why don’t deBoer and his ilk agonize over timely assaults on the free speech of people we should support unequivocally, like the epidemic of Ag Gag laws that make it illegal to blow whistles on hideously cruel, unsafe and unsanitary practices in meat production? Is it really so hard to perform your wonderful commitment to speech in a way that actually defends speech leftists have an immediate — not simply theoretical — interest in defending?

It is not my intent here to make a pitch for hate crimes laws. I don’t like laws generally and I’m very much all over the map myself where free speech is concerned. What I want more than anything is a smarter conversation about it, where the participants actually seem to know things, like that historically hate speech has occupied a privileged place relative to radical speech. Like that free speech absolutism is working out particularly well for corporations. Like that many states have had hate crimes statutes since the 1980s and the sky hasn’t fallen. DeBoer ominously promises that “the day that the United States bans hate speech, such a law will be invoked against a pro-Palestinian activist, to pick one example” but has not burdened himself with showing a precedent at the state level or in countries where hate speech laws are much stronger.

DeBoer does all his fact-free bromide-reciting under the title “Power is not Our Friend” arguing that leftists “simultaneously [recognize] that we live within structures of intrinsic, intentional inequality and injustice, and yet [are] forever ready to abandon that skepticism towards those structures when it seems convenient to do so.”  I ratify all of this, which is why the conventional view of free speech rights that deBoer espouses has always struck me as strangely starry-eyed and minimizing, imagining a state that plays by the rules no matter how power is distributed or what is at stake at a given point in time. But if deBoer is convinced hate speech laws will be selectively used against, say, pro-Palestinian activists, what is the basis for thinking the First Amendment or common law will apply any more fairly?  When we talk about a hate speech law and the First Amendment are we not talking about an instrument of the state in both cases?

Of course we know that if the state gives clearance to a white supremacist church leader to call for a racial holy war, even after one of his acolytes goes on a killing spree, it does not obviously follow that U.S. Muslims have the the right to make an analogous call against Christians. See Ali al-Timimi, a Muslim cleric in Virginia, sentenced to life in prison for exhorting his followers to fight for the Taliban following 9/11, or Tarek Mahenna, sentenced to 17 years in prison for simply translating publicly available pro-jihadist documents and posting them online. We see this double standard reinforced in mainstream media, where there are few constraints on inflammatory speech directed at Muslims, but where an extremely tempered critique of militarism by a Celebrity Left necessitates a groveling apology.

Furthermore, the state has many ways of oppressing deBoer’s imagined  “pro-Palestinian activist” without resorting to hate crimes laws, such as selective policing, or selective permit-granting, or “free speech zones.” If those methods fail, it can try tax auditing, infiltration, provocation, entrapment or murder. Most of the time it suffices for corporate-dominated media to keep worthy causes and struggles on the margins and atomized. Which is why surely it makes more sense to amplify these struggles than to make yet more hackneyed, infantile defenses of hate speech, “on principle”.

UPDATE

I just discovered this, from Greenwald/Omidyar contract  troll “Mona Holland.” As odd as it may sound, she’s responding to this post. Apparently I write about Free Speech because of my obsessive hatred for Glenn. It can’t possibly be that among the things I find pernicious about GG is his reactionary First Amendment Absolutism

But nothing short of obsessive adoration will do for these people.  That people defend this shit, that it doesn’t put them off GG at all, is almost as sickening as their constant smearing and pathologizing.

crazy-mona

Related

Glenn Greenwald’s Free Speech Absolutism

A Radical Look at Free Speech

Authoritarian Asshole Erick Loomis’s Free Speech Problem

Free Kathryn Bigelow

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to Can We Have A Smarter Conversation About Free Speech?

  1. Nemo says:

    As a non-American who tries to follow American politics from time to time (gotta keep an eye on the Imperial Capital lest I be surprised by a punitive legion suddenly landing on the shores), it seems to me that this preoccupation with theoretical “Free Speech” is a distinctly American phenomenon. Do you also get that feeling or am being prejudiced?

    Not to say that political speech and action isn’t censored in countries that have hate speech laws (like mine), but in my experience the State doesn’t need to resort to hate speech laws to censor. For example, last year there was a wave of protests around here, and most people went to jail for “vandalism” or various contempt of cop “charges”. Most charges didn’t stick, of course, but they didn’t need to stick to be effective at suppressing protests.

    Anyway, just wanted to tell you that you have people that read you beyond the Greenwald issue, even if it doesn’t look that way sometimes. 🙂

    • Tarzie says:

      Yeah, I hear this from non-Americans all the time.

    • Henry Larsen says:

      > Most charges didn’t stick, of course, but they didn’t need to stick
      > to be effective at suppressing protests.

      The cops don’t really care about the charges; they even have a slogan about it: “You might beat the rap but you can’t beat the ride” (i.e., to the precinct house … in the back of the paddy wagon … where they beat _you_ ).

  2. walterglass4 says:

    This might be a bit off-topic, but I read something else this morning that de Boer’s piece makes me think of:

    “These days it appears that most Western left-wing intellectuals are not even seeking power, anymore. They are comfortable with their feeling defeated and powerlessness. They appear to enjoy hopelessness and gloom. They constantly describe the faults and crimes of the Empire, but are unwilling to really confront it, in any determined way. They do not build barricades and they hardly fight intellectually.” (from here – http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/11/14/do-western-leftists-hate-socialist-countries/)

    Now obviously we can have a longer debate about the extent to which the Left should actually seek power, and that probably intertwines with the free speech debate, but I think the above is relevant to de Boer’s completely depressing view of the Left and its role. He conjures up this entirely hypothetical hate speech law that instantly fucks over Palestinian activists, and it doesn’t do this because of any ideological or structural forces, but just because power is evil and laws are evil and the Left just needs to stay away from these things at all costs.

    I mean, in the American context he’s probably incidentally correct, but really how stunted is this guy’s imagination? If he’s going to dream up a law that sanctions people for rape threats and racist epithets, why can’t he also dream up a world where support for Israel isn’t so absolute? Even his daydreamed victories are really just losses. It’s like the only thing the Left is ever allowed to do is sit on the sidelines so they don’t get corrupted by the ability to actually make anything better.

    Like you I have no fixed position on free speech or many of these issues, still very much working all this out. But I’m tired of this performative and impotent despair from privileged leftists. It’s just a bunch of bullshit.

    • Tarzie says:

      He conjures up this entirely hypothetical hate speech law that instantly fucks over Palestinian activists, and it doesn’t do this because of any ideological or structural forces, but just because power is evil and laws are evil and the Left just needs to stay away from these things at all costs.

      That’s an interesting point. I have been saying the absolutist view of power is overly positive, but I guess it’s more schizophrenic. On one hand, it assumes the state is going to use hate speech laws to fuck over people we like — so we should oppose hate speech laws — on the other, power is so evenhanded in its application of common law and the First Amendment, it makes sense for us to defend white supremacists who incite spree killers. As you suggest, it sees power as immutable. Free speech is a matter entirely separate from social and political conditions. The end result is stasis, even outright support for the status quo, by way of ostensible tactical support for racists, sexists and capital.

      It’s especially weird to see a Marxist disavowing state power, particularly one who makes no secret of his contempt for anarchists and libertarians. He’s a muddle.

      • Are you sure he’s a Marxist though? I had the impression he was a social democracy inflected liberal. I seem to remember him identifying as socialist, but I thought he meant that in the sense that he supported adding more social programs to the current system.

        His contempt for anarchists in particular is really the context that makes his post weird for me. If it weren’t for that disdain, I would probably have read his point as a pretty reasonable argument that the state is the tool of the ruling class and, therefore, petitioning the state to outlaw oppression is a pointless exercise at best and more likely than not to be counterproductive.

        Also, as a sidenote although there is no danger of a surfeit of actual, concrete protections for women and marginalized populations, I have noticed that the rhetoric of human rights used to justify contemporary imperialism often focuses on accusations of misogyny (and “intolerance” generally) in the nation to be occupied, particularly when justifying military action to liberals. See, for example, the infamous cover of Time magazine in the “What happens if we leave Afghanistan” issue.

      • Tarzie says:

        Are you sure he’s a Marxist though?

        Now that you’ve asked, no, I’m not. I think your diagnosis might be more correct, though I’m not sure he would classify himself as such. Being a social democracy inflected liberal while signaling that you are something more radical seems all the rage since Occupy.

        Even if he were an anarchist, I wouldn’t call his argument reasonable, simply because it’s happy to make common cause with white supremacists in conflict with the state over free speech, as though doing so cascades benefit down the food chain, because the state is so even-handed in the application of its power and protections. In each case you’re talking about the enforcement of a state mandate: The Hate Crimes Law or the First Amendment.

        I also don’t think that the state is an instrument of the ruling class forecloses on agitating it into doing the right thing occasionally. I happen to think anti-discrimination laws are a good thing. I think food stamps and Medicaid are good things, even though it’s state-fortified class and race inequality that makes them necessary. I don’t think hate speech laws are an obviously bad thing that power uses in the way deBoer predicts, though I haven’t made an exhaustive study. That there was no evidence provided for the claim also makes his ‘argument’ inept. As I said in my post, though, I ratify his overall skepticism about power and his disdain for lefts and liberals that uncritically make common cause with it.

        although there is no danger of a surfeit of actual, concrete protections for women and marginalized populations, I have noticed

        Yeah, that’s been going on for quite a while and we also now see LGBQT concerns being used as a cudgel against Russia, the Palestinians and Iran. It’s just a variation on ‘spreading democracy.’ I thought maybe I was overstating with the line you’re referring to, but I don’t see any strong relationship between that and hate crimes law. Using feminism as a wedge in foreign policy disputes doesn’t advance women’s interests at all domestically any more than it generally advances women’s interests abroad. I think the constant invoking of hate speech in these arguments is truly bizarre in light of the assault on political speech and whistleblowing. The extent to which arguments like deBoer’s minimize what hate speech does disgusts me.

      • walterglass4 says:

        I watched an old Blacksploitation Western recently about two black bounty hunters who become Sheriff and Deputy of an all-white town. There’s a scene where they institute a new series of laws, including a $25 fine for calling someone the n-word in public. I’m sure de Boer would have been horrified.

      • Tarzie says:

        There’s a scene where they institute a new series of laws, including a $25 fine for calling someone the n-word in public.

        Fascists!

        I was about to make a devil’s advocate case for Freddie, to the effect that he would say that there is no comparison between an all-white town run by two black guys and a late capitalist state in service to a predatory oligarchy, but then I remembered he thinks hate speech is defensible on principle. So, never mind. Fuck that dude.

        Was the movie as fun as it sounds?

      • walterglass4 says:

        The movie is super fun, and despite the fact that it’s called “Boss N****r” I found the racial politics in it to be miles ahead of “Django Unchained.” It’s wild how many of these schlocky exploitation flicks were so far ahead on social issues.

      • diane says:

        You’d love Bounce TV (black tv station, cable not required), if you’re not already aware of it, for viewing all the free Richard Pryor and Blacksploitation movies one may have never seen, and more …;0).

        Far, far better for free tv movies than being stuck with the ION constant violence (Criminal Minds [Lone Wolven Terrorists Everywhere!!!] ) Hawk network; when one doesn’t have/want cable and either can’t, or, for whatever reason (including creeped out at the concept, yes I am a proud Luddite), don’t want to connect their laptop to their tv.

      • diane says:

        (though, I should qualify that you’ll likely want to mute the long and predatory commercials, along with much of the fare. Watching Bounce TV is analogous to listening to great music on a black radio station which is owned by a teeny handful of quite predatory black folk (check out the founders and you’ll get the gist). Remember WAMO (radio station), Tarzie?)

  3. Michael says:

    “Hate speech” is often “radical speech,” just associated with the right wing. Leftists should use hate speech more often. For instance: “I hate our corporate masters. I wish the people would guillotine them, confiscate their wealth, and put it where it will do the most social good.” That’s very clear. It’s not hand-wringy or couched in the softness of academic or pop-psychological diction. I often think the success of the right wing stems at least somewhat from its ability to speak bluntly to its base and to the those it wishes to convert (“The poors are lazy and deserve our disdain”)–people respect no-nonsense clarity. Shows strength.

    • Tarzie says:

      “Hate speech” is often “radical speech,”

      I don’t agree. You’re conflating two different things. Hate speech as popularly understood is incendiary, biased speech aimed at people customarily afflicted with prejudice. You are also conflating radical with reactionary. Hate speech is very much in line with ruling class interests and domination. Which speaks to your other point about the success of the right wing, which I think owes almost entirely to its utility to the ruling class, and the learned powerlessness of the left.

      Mind you, I’m all for ‘kill the bankers’ talk, but any prominent left that talks that way isn’t going to last long on the public stage.

      • Dissent Now says:

        I commend your willingness to publish your final paragraph, here, as when I initially read this several days ago, I felt it was glaringly missing from the piece itself. Undoubtedly, of course, this is part of the problem – which speaks to so much of the other things of which you write with regard to the celebrity left, etc., all of which, to my mind, is very valid, and hence, why so marginalized and maligned.

        Someone’s got to write it, though, so thanks again.

      • Tarzie says:

        I’m not sure I get your point. Could you be more specific on what was glaringly missing from my post?

      • Michael says:

        Ok, I appreciate the clarification on “hate speech” (I was using it to mean something like “speech that expresses open hatred toward a particular class”). Certainly, the left should not be using hate speech as you define it.

        However, I do think the “public stage” is less important than it was during the prior, more unified media era (the reign of “TV” or “Mass Media” or whatever you want to call it). Now, with the rise of blogs, the media scene is more fragmented; there’s room for truly jacobin outlets (unlike “Jacobin,” which, while a nice change of pace–I certainly read it–is very much academic, soft, and “respectable” in its approach) willing to communicate with open hatred and vitriol (and verve!) for the ruling class.

      • Dissent Now says:

        Oh, I don’t know – maybe it only felt missing after the fact, or once you uttered it- the bit about killing the bankers. Certainly I was not able to articulate what felt missing after reading the original piece, but for my part, once it was actually uttered in the comment above, it felt right – that at least in some cases, this is what one means by radical speech. It does not matter how inane the idea might be, or how easily proven worthless by better and more learned writers and thinkers such ideas might be. What matters sometimes is only that the words are uttered, “the bankers need to be killed.”

        Right or wrong, valid or not, no one’s doing this, of course (not killing them, not writing about killing them), and certainly not on any prominent stage – and this is definitely not because everyone already knows it is a bad idea (to be honest, I don’t claim to know this or not – I’m not well read enough), but because they have been either trained into using tamer voices by the prominent journalists, or frightened into the same by the things the same voices inform them their governments will do to them if their voice is too loud at all, and so really, at the end, it was just good (like rain on a dry plain) to have spelled out a concrete example of what radical speech might look like.

  4. Rachel says:

    @Tarzie “but then I remembered he thinks hate speech is defensible on principle.” Is that really what he says? If so, he’s absolutely wrong.

    One defends the principle of free speech, not the content. The content, if I disagree with it, I can admonish it, counter it with ideas that demonstrate its fallacy since I, too, enjoy freedom of speech. But to suppress “hate speech” because of its content, to censor it would be to censor my own speech eventually, for when the majority decides that my thinking produces hateful speech, once suppression is well established, it will easily suppress my own speech without a moment’s pause for reflection.

    Something like that happened last week to a woman, an English teacher in the environs of Dallas, who got into a Twitter fight with some white people over the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and she was fired for her “hate” speech calling them “crackers” supplemented with a volley of “fucks” and the like.

    Since white people feel their speech has been impinged upon by the Federal government in its protection of the sensitivities of blacks in America, they called for her firing for her racist “hate” speech, and, no surprise, got their way.

    dailycaller.com/2014/11/10/texas-teacher-likely-to-be-fired-over-anti-white-ferguson-tweet-video/

    • Tarzie says:

      yeah I am aware of cases like that but generally i dont agree with your conception of the slippery slope which is very much like deboer’s.

      I dont object to black people calling white people crackers and i realize it is in no way analogous to white slurs against black people. At the same time I don’t think that under some statutes it would qualify as hate speech argues on its own against hate speech laws, which I havent argued for anyway. Besides she was fired, so it has nothing to do with hate speech law anyway. Pretty sure white people werent more tolerant of being called crackers and fuckers thirty years ago, before “hate speech” was a thing. If anything, I think white people have a thicker skin about that than they used to.

      • Rachel says:

        I’m not sure I share much in common with deBoer – I’m not at all familiar enough with his work or ideas to know. Other than the blog post you linked to, I know little else. Under his Interfaces of the Word he indicates a paper of his has been accepted for publication. It addresses the problems inherent in current algorithmic/computational methods used in language translators, with suggestions of how to improve computer generated translations of foreign languages to one another. I’m all for that!

        But the issue of defense of the principle of freedom of speech goes back to ancient Athens. With the Renaissance and the expanding notion of humanism accompanying it, came the recognition of the rights and responsibilities of the individual in securing his liberty, in wrenching it from the control of royalty and other autocratic arrangements.

        If you, Tarzie, are comparing defense of the principle with Greenwald’s defense of the KKK, I think you may be making an error. First of all, under our constitution every individual, savory or rank, has a protected right to a defense from charges brought against him. And though G in theory cites freedom of speech as his principle, he’s not being honest. He doesn’t practice freedom of speech himself, not in principle, not in its ethical form. He bans commenters who don’t agree with him; the more cogent they are, the more likely they’ll be censored. He censors comments while his representatives BTL swear he doesn’t.

        His defense of the KKK, I am convinced was a career move, and if more, it was very little more. His grasp of what freedom entails seems too limited to be other than nominal. For instance, someone at the Guardian asked him during one of his pre-Snowden Q&A’s what was his position on the state killings at Waco. He answered quite briefly something to the effect of “they were engaging in criminal activity.” At that point I was certain he was a fraud, but I stayed around for the Snowden whistle-blowing.

        He is an example of the sort Kierkegaard was likely describing when he said, “People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.” But if that’s so, it in no way implies the fault is with the principle of freedom of speech but rather with the practitioner. Those who use their freedom irresponsibly do it and all their fellow citizens a disservice, and set themselves up to have their own freedom abridged by authority of the state. Even so, when some use their freedom irresponsibly, those of us who value it should defend the principle more so when the speech is deplorable. So I feel it important to not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

        As for deBoer’s use of the term power, I read that as real political power which has been monetized and goes to the highest bidder now. That’s a reality. The Gilens & Page Princeton study (PDF) measured the quality of influence various economic groups enjoy in today’s political climate. No surprise they reported the oligarchs and even wealthier elites enjoy the most beneficial effects of their power and influence. The power left to the rest of us is minimal. So how do we reclaim it? How do we throw the bankers out? They’ve bought everyone with influence, and those who tell the truth are ridiculed out of existence.

        But to address hate in America and elsewhere – I am horrified by hate crime laws. They are facile little weapons against freedom of every kind, and an uneducated (dumbed down) citizenry has glommed onto them with gusto. Combined with the increasing loss of privacy, they are an assault on free thinking and conscience, both of which are essential to being and living free to the extent any individual can in any society, let alone such a mind-controlled society as ours.

        Still, the unfortunate woman in Dallas who lost her job for losing her patience on Twitter, lost her job precisely because the white majority, feeling threatened by State-initiated*(fake) revulsion against “hate speech” demanded she lose her job. Racism thrives, while freedom of speech takes yet one more arrow to its heart. Thirty years ago white people were not so threatened by the State. Back then the State appeared to be on their side.

        *Remember, the very worst abuses of racism are those perpetrated by the State through its institutionalized racist policies that place insurmountable obstacles in the ways of Blacks and Latinos beginning as early as kindergarten.

        ~~~
        I hope my link formatting works. Apologies if it doesn’t.

  5. john says:

    just wanted to remind walterglass4 that the movie in question isn’t called “Boss N****r.” it’s not even called “Boss n-word.” it’s called Boss Nigger.

    i mean, being a thread about free speech and white lefty intellectual dickishness and all.

    • walterglass4 says:

      Your intellectual courage is awe-inspiring.

      • john says:

        thanks. but it’s not about my courage, but your timidity. so in the spirit of the “smarter conversation,” who exactly are you offending less by referring to the word ‘nigger’ with its asterisk cousin? and it’s even in the fucking title of the movie!

      • Tarzie says:

        I think n*****r concisely ratifies the warranted taboo on white people’s use of the word while erring on the side of black people who find the word in its raw form objectionable. I don’t think ratifying that taboo or not is a question of smarter and dumber or brave and timid.

  6. soft targets make me feel like a sniper says:

    I dont object to black people calling white people crackers and i realize it is in no way analogous to white slurs against black people.

    in NO WAY, huh? and just upthread there was talk of a lack of imagination. thanks buddy. good to see you’re so superior while being inferior. easy target, the Bore. easier than Glenn Beck.

  7. walterglass4 says:

    Yeah what Tarzie said. In this context either asterisks or no asterisks probably would have been defensible, so it’s pretty silly to rake someone over the coals for either choice.

    • john says:

      yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah. in your context asterisks are only obsequious.

      p.s. hey guys, by the way, have you read Conrad’s, The N****r of the ‘Narcissus’?

      yeah, i know, it was titled, The Children of the Sea in the first American edition.

      • diane says:

        It would be very special to know how a very different: physical, face to face, vocal timbre understood, body language clear …version of this conversation between two humans trying to do thier best in life in terms of those they effect …would have went.

      • diane says:

        After all, that is how the elites do it, they are the rare few able to ‘catch a (TSA Free) flight’ for that physical face to face; and they are the rare few able to enjoy the analog (such as a magnificent wind up watch, which used to be affordable to all) after obsolecing it for the multitudes (they still know the value of dial phones and the laws surrounding such). An Elite never, EVER, wittingly airs thier differences in a space where thier differences and rage will be blatantly recorded for future black mailing.

      • diane says:

        in, ultimately, the same vein:

        EFF founder tried to become CIA “double agent” in 1990s. …

        Cutting to the kernel:

        Online privacy
        Double agent
        Jan 22nd 2014, 14:00 by L.S.| MUNICH

        Yes, ya’ll read right, that EFF founder, John Perry Barlow, who desires all ‘lower life forms’ to spill their guts on line (much like cree$pter TV Millionaire, Dr. Phil [!]), was/is a slobbering fan boy of the CIA.

      • diane says:

        who wants to place a bet as to whether Master, John Perry Barlow, still has a far more legally protected Land Line Phone, while all his disciples have long since migrated to snooper’s delight ‘mo biles’ and, creep$ter from its inception, Skype™ , et al?

      • Henry Larsen says:

        And here all these years I’ve been thinking that Thomas Bowdler was an object of scorn and ridicule.

        Above and beyond Huck Finn, another delicious example comes from the UK, where the pc-crowd squishes and squirms whenever a particular 1955 movie is mentioned. On the one hand, they are so proud of The Dam Busters — where the Greatest Generation fought the Good War and Britain Saved The Free World. It’s just so … unfortunate … that one of the heroes had a dog called Nigger.

      • Tarzie says:

        What I meant by “smarter conversation” was one that gets away from deBoer’s absolutism, a point which seems lost in all this antfuckery over Walter’s deference to taboos around oppressive language. This is truly not the conversation I was hoping to elicit with this post and I’d appreciate folks moving on.

      • walterglass4 says:

        All right that Thomas Bowdler thing is really too much. It’s not like I’m demanding that all public school copies of Huck Finn be surrendered to the censors, I made an entirely voluntary choice to put a few asterisks over an inflammatory word. In a WordPress comment section.

        I would think that part of the “smarter conversation” about free speech would entail recognizing that an occasional act of voluntary self-censorship never killed anyone, but maybe thinking that makes me part of the PC police. Whatever.

      • walterglass4 says:

        Just to be clear, I’m not in favor of Huck Finn being censored.

    • diane says:

      (had not intended that ‘green’ “avatar”, but it’s likely apropos ;0) .., yes, I have had a few … :0) … ;0) . shoot me? …really? … ;0) …..)

      • diane says:

        that above, crimson, post was not intended for you, walter, I have loads and loads of fondness for you, I intended to have the above comment show up under the green avatared comment, timed at: November 16, 2014 at 9:22 pm …but everything is so painful and overwhelming I find myself not even desiring to be sober anymore … and, therefore …stumbling ….all .. about ….

  8. PMB says:

    I went looking for the DVD mentioned above as it sounded interesting. I agree that much of what was done a few decades ago on film could not possibly get green lighted today and would have to go direct to DVD without a rating. Finding an audience would take great effort on the filmmaker’s part to see if an online buzz could be created. Possible, likely, in my experience the Internet has not widened people’s desire to learn, but have created a new cult of addictive game players and music listeners.

    Oddly enough when i put in the search term in NYPL, BPL and QPL catalog search not a single institution had a copy. I then tried Worldcat using the same term “Boss Nigger” and still did not find a match. However, when typing in only “Boss” the DVD showed up in Worldcat. I then clicked on one of the holders and saw they cataloged the movie as simple “Boss.”

    However when searching on Amazon (yes, yes, beat me) and using the full title an exact match came up.

    Appears for public institutions the use of the full title was seen as offensive. I wouldn’t want Huck Finn to be edited so why should that not apply to this film. This disturbs me.

  9. Dave Knight says:

    “When we talk about a hate speech law and the First Amendment are we not talking about an instrument of the state in both cases?”
    WTF One is an instrument of the states power, one is a check on the states power. Can you not see the difference?

  10. Mallam says:

    Like you, I’m much of the same boat; my thoughts on the issue go to and fro. I guess I don’t have a truly settled position because reactionaries have always had the power, and I just can’t be assed when their speech is “stifled”. Take Andrew Sullivan’s rantings today:

    Illiberal Feminism Strikes Again

    It’s hard to set aside his clear biases and problems with women — which constantly come bubbling to the surface when he discuses women’s issues — but even if I try for one second to set it aside, he can’t understand why women might want to shut down this stupid “debate” and in the name of “free speech” wants it to go on. Academic, and completely out of the realms of real women, whereby there have been more forced birthing laws erected or submitted to state legislatures for “debate” since 2010 than 2000 to 2010.

    • Tarzie says:

      such a dick, sully

      if these assholes just once acknowledged the difference in our platforms vs theirs…

      it’s also sickening that it’s always some poor silenced white dude(s) they go to bat for

      • Mallam says:

        I also like the reference to the fact that “the right to an abortion is deeply rooted in law.” If that’s so, why are we having this debate at all? I admit, abortion access in England is pretty accessible, certainly more-so than most of Europe and the United States. But the whole point of these “debates” is to put that in question, and to erect barriers that hurt (and sometimes kill) women.

        I also had numerous arguments today about the “shirt” worn by Matt Taylor of the ESA, and why his choice in attire was poor. That delved into accusations of “misandry”, including comparisons with Ray Rice and Hope Solo. To which I’d just like to quote TNC:

        “Hope Solo only becomes Ray Rice through the annihilation of inconvenient history—through some forgery that implies that there is no tradition of men controlling women through violence. We are familiar with other such forgeries. It is how a conversation about the racism of Richie Incognito becomes a conversation about banning black people from using the word “nigger.” Or how the destruction of Mike Brown’s body becomes a debate about “black-on-black crime.” Or how Ray Rice knocking his wife unconscious morphs into, “Yes, but women do it too.” Indeed they do—but neither with the consistency, nor urgency, nor lethality of men.”

        They refuse to acknowledge these things. Fucking white guys, of which I am one.

  11. poppsikle says:

    This issue, I have fought it so long, its such an injustice, the common-held and law-protected, staunchly advocated for, concept of Free Speech – its inaccurate and deadly.

    These 1960’s progressives in Berkeley, got together and marched for Free Speech, they saw it as a big victory, and then, afterwards, sat on their couches, ignored the Internet – which came after their activism – ignored the Fact, that the Internet spread and encouraged, the very worst in human nature, its most brutal, And, shed it of all accountablity. talk about an open door to so much harm.

    • poppsikle says:

      They are also, ridiculous cowards, who don’t go onto the hate sites, to fight back and try and really have, Voltaire’s Free Speech. Very few of them anyway.

      To set up something as The Truth, and then not to defend it?? as always, it sure needs it! as much as they hate that, they are such cowards.

  12. Pingback: I Do Not Mourn the Deaths of Racist, Imperialist Provocateurs | The Rancid Honeytrap

  13. Pingback: Fuck Charlie Hebdo, or, Take Your Free Speech and Stick It | 100 Flamingos

  14. Pingback: Free Speech spectacles are civic-religious rituals in service of colonial civilization | Full Spectrum Cromulence

  15. Pingback: Recent reading. | perry street palace

  16. Pingback: White Supremacy and Magic Paper | The Rancid Honeytrap

  17. Pingback: Animal rights in an age of corporate globalization | HermannView

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s