Free Speech -- We Were Just Kidding!

The First Amendment is nearly the last portion of the Bill of Rights that courts seem to take seriously -- treating all the others as if the Founders were just kidding.  The 9th and 10th went early.  The 2nd has been nibbled away at.  The 4th has become a bad joke under the last several Administrations.  We abandoned the 6th somewhere out in Guantanamo Bay and the 5th has fallen victim to the drug war.  (The 3rd is still alive and well, though!)

But today freedom of speech is under fire by those who increasingly claim [some] people have a right not to be offended that trumps free speech.  Just who has this new right and who does not (certainly white males don't seem to have it) is unclear, as well as how one can ever enforce a standard where the victim has full discretion in determining if a crime has been committed, are left unexplained.

We have seen this theory of speech gaining adherents in Universities, for example, so while its continued gains are worrisome though not entirely unexpected.  The one thing I never saw coming in the increasingly secular west was how much momentum anti-blasphemy laws would gain, and how much these laws would be pushed by the Left**.

Jonathon Turley has a good article on this topic in the Washington Post, as linked by Reason

Ken at Popehat has a roundup of creeping ant-blasphemy law over the last year (it is hard for me to even write that sentence seriously, it sounds so Medieval)

**It is in fact insane that the Left has so many people coming out in favor of protecting Islam from blasphemy.  I know it is not everyone, but it is just amazing that a good number of people who call themselves liberal can excuse violence by a misogynist culture that is meant to suppress speech in the name of Gods and Churches.  We have actual children of the sixties arguing that threats of violence are sufficiently good reason to suppress speech and that a religion that basically enslaves women needs laws that protect it from criticism  (these  same children of the sixties that all protested the Christmas bombings of Cambodia are also launching drone strikes willy nilly on civilians and claiming that the President can assassinate Americans solely on his say-so, but those are different topics.)

This all goes to prove my long-time conviction that the political parties have very little foundation in any real morality, and that they tend to simply take positions opposite of the other party.  Since Conservatives staked out the anti-Islam position, the Left feels the need to find some way to be pro-Islam.  Weird, but I can't think of any other explanation.  The only exceptions to this rule are 1) expansions of Presidential power and 2) taking the drug war to new stupid extremes.  Both parties seem unified in supporting these two things, at least when their guy is in office.

  • Gil

    Actually where does it say the U.S. specifically is against blasphemy? Pretty much the U.S. is the only country with freedom of speech, press and association in the Federal Constitution. Hence other Western countries can easily pass censorship laws.

  • http://twitter.com/tjic tjic

    > **It is in fact insane that the Left has so many people coming out in favor of protecting Islam from blasphemy.

    More and more I find that the best way to analyze politics is through the lens of tribal affiliation.

    e.g. "Mouth-breathing red-staters are intolerant bigots, and dislike teh Gays, teh Jews, and teh Muslims, therefore we tolerant and wise blue-staters will defend Jews, Gays and Muslims against the intolerant horde of NASCAR-watching inbreds".

    To be charitable, this behavior PARTIALLY stems from decent instincts: protect the under-dog, help the disadvantaged, etc. But that seed is watered by the meme of bashing the Other (ha! it's so fun to use lefty language against them).

    Note that lefties defend anti-female, anti-gay, anti-Jewish religious fundamentalists...but ONLY if those people are brown and non-American. If it's an Egyptian radical spouting these things, it's a misunderstood opressed person. If it's a citizen of Arkansas, it's a typical Republican voter.

  • Shane

    I have finally found a model of the left that will explain many things and not leave you shaking your head at the crazyness. So the left is the victim group. For what ever reason in their lives they feel that they are being victimized real or perceived. So if a group presents itself as some sort of underdog (read victim) in some way, then they are like us and we will stand united against the evil oppressor whom ever that may be. Never mind that the underdog will literally be the oppressor as soon as they are protected enough to to oppress on their own. But for now that group is being victimized and we need to stand up to that group.

    So to say that their foundation has no underpinnings I believe is incorrect, their moral underpinning is the morality of the victim.

  • Shane

    *... we need to stand up FOR that group.

  • aczarnowski

    With security cameras popping up like weeds I think the 3rd has been practically, if not technically, up against the ropes for a while.

  • norse

    I never understood how much Americans profess to care about the constitution, given how little it is respected in practice.

  • mahtso

    It is hard to agree with the blogger's premise considering things such as the campaign finance law ruling (McCain Feingold?) and the courts' hostility toward the free exercise clause.

  • Eris Guy

    "Weird, but I can't think of any other explanation"

    Doesn't seem that hard.

    Islam is attractive to European and American intellectuals because its modes of thought mirror their own. In the West, feminism teaches "women don't lie about rape," that is, that at trial, women speak truth; men speak lies. This division of truth by male and female witness is mirrored in Islam.
    In studies departments in universities, academics teach that truth is related to skin color: white men are greedy, patriarchal, exploitive liars. These are anti-democratic, authoritarian modes of thought. As deconstructionists have taught us, hierarchies are easy to reverse. Islam reverses this, weighing men’s testimony more heavily than women’s testimony. In Islam, a Moslem's word is weighed more heavily than a Christian's word.
    In the West, people have rights according to their class: homosexual rights, women's rights, black rights (there are no white rights). In Islam, people have rights according to their class, the Moslem male having the most rights; the non-Moslem female the least.
    In the West, the use of certain words is forbidden. Their utterance, even as a reference, by someone to whom such words are forbidden will be punished. Other words must be expunged from the language. In feminism, this word is "man." Other words can't even be mentioned here, as this post would be removed. In Islam, words that mock the prophet will be banned and their users punished.
    The reason Islam makes headway in the West is because the West is no longer the West; it already thinks as Moslems think. Only a few names need changed and few hierarchies deconstructed.

  • mesocyclone

    This is certainly part of it. The other part is that the left is still infused with Marxism, even though they don't recognize it themselves. And to Marxists, the successful are always wrong. This has morphed in modern years into "multiculturalism," where the "other" is automatically identified as the "oppressed" So when you take their inherent anti-Westernism and their multiculturalism and their desire to intervene on behalf of all "victims" (except the victims of left wing regimes), their behavior is perfectly explainable. Add to that their lack of respect for old rules (such as the Constitution) and tradition (such as free speech in the US), and again, their behavior fits.

    But it's also true that the left, viewed as a whole, is insane.