Posts tagged ‘Ann Coulter’

How The Left Is Changing the Meaning of Words to Reduce Freedom -- The Phrase "Incite Violence"

A surprising number of folks on the Left of late seem to be advocating for restrictions on free speech -- Howard Dean is among the latest.  One of the arguments they use is that, they say, it is illegal in one's speech to "incite violence".  Folks like Glenn Reynolds and Eugene Volokh have responded with legal analyses of this statement, but I want to point out something slightly different -- that in the way the Left is using this phrase, the meaning has been shifted in very dangerous ways.

First, some basic legal background, and on First Amendment issues I find it is always safe to run to Eugene Volokh for help:

To be sure, there are some kinds of speech that are unprotected by the First Amendment. But those narrow exceptions have nothing to do with “hate speech” in any conventionally used sense of the term. For instance, there is an exception for “fighting words” — face-to-face personal insults addressed to a specific person, of the sort that are likely to start an immediate fight. ....

The same is true of the other narrow exceptions, such as for true threats of illegal conduct or incitement intended to and likely to produce imminent illegal conduct (i.e., illegal conduct in the next few hours or maybe days, as opposed to some illegal conduct some time in the future). Indeed, threatening to kill someone because he’s black (or white), or intentionally inciting someone to a likely and immediate attack on someone because he’s Muslim (or Christian or Jewish), can be made a crime. But this isn’t because it’s “hate speech”; it’s because it’s illegal to make true threats and incite imminent crimes against anyone and for any reason, for instance because they are police officers or capitalists or just someone who is sleeping with the speaker’s ex-girlfriend.

So it is illegal to "incite violence" though this exception to free speech is typically very narrow.  As I understand it, a KKK speaker who shouts from the podium, "look, a black guy just walked in, everybody go beat him up" would probably be guilty of inciting violence if the crowd immediately beat the guy up.  A BLM speaker who shouted as part of his speech that the crowd needed to fight back against police oppression would likely not be guilty of inciting violence if, some months later, one of the audience members assaulted a police officer.

But what all of this has in common is speakers telling their supporters to go out and commit violence against some other person or group.  The violence incited is by the speakers supporters and is specifically urged on by the speaker.  But this is not how the Left is using the term "incite violence".  The Left is using this term to refer to violence by opponents of the speaker attempting to prevent the speaker from being heard.  For example,  when folks argue that Ann Coulter cannot speak at Berkeley because she will "incite violence", they don't mean that she is expected to stand up and urge her supporters to go do violence against others -- they mean that they expect her opponents to be violent.

This is a horrible newspeak redefinition of a term.  It is implying that a speaker is responsible for the violence by those who oppose her.  By this definition, the socialists of 1932 Germany were guilty of "inciting violence" whenever  Nazi brownshirts tried to brutally shut down socialist meetings and speeches.

I am not sure why the Left is so good at this - perhaps because most of the media is sympathetic to the Left and is willing to let them define the terms of the debate.  The Left has successfully performed a similar bit of verbal judo with the claim that Russians "hacked" the last election.  By calling leaks of Democratic private correspondence "hacking the election", they have successfully left the impression among many that the Russians actually manipulated vote totals, something for which there is zero evidence and really no credible story of how it might have been done.

Modest Proposal on Same Sex Marriage

I have never understood the argument that allowing same sex marriage would weaken marriage.  I couldn't possibly fathom why allowing two men to marry made my marriage worse.  This same argument was made by John Stossel arguing with Ann Coulter on his show.   Coulter said it was not an issue about one's own marriage getting worse, but about a general loss of respect and strength for the institution as a whole.

I am still not buying it.  But I want to help.  If we really want to improve the general respect for the institution of marriage, here is my modest proposal:  Allow gay marriage and ban Kardashian marriage.

You're welcome.

Happiness Is: Being Allied With Neither Political Party, And So Not Having to Comment on Ann Coulter

So I won't.  Which doesn't mean I haven't found all the squirming on multiple web sites immensely entertaining.  Jeff Goldstein, as is often the case, is perhaps the most entertaining.  While Jeff will never be invited to speak at a MoveOn rally, on the other hand it is about as easy to lump him in with Pat Robertson as to group "Little House on the Prairie" into a double feature with "Team America World Police."

Though I am not convinced it is an especially apt comparison for the Coulter remark, I did particularly note one observation.  Goldstein's commenter said, in part, this:

I am reminded of the whole "niggardly" thing.  Of course, we KNOW what
it means.  But, you cannot really use it unless you want to be
misunderstood and have your message distracted.

Jeff responded:

This is, of course, quite stunning and more than a bit dangerous to the cause of liberalism.

I mean, look again at what Steve just argued:  "Of course, we KNOW what
it means.  But, you cannot really use it unless you want to be
misunderstood and have your message distracted."

Translation: We know what it means, but we must assume nobody else does.  Therefore, their misunderstanding is to be countenanced and massaged"”which, in effect, empowers ignorance
rather than treating it as ignorance.  It is the perfect example of the
intellectual welfare state:  rather than working to force people to
break out a dictionary, we'd rather provide them with succor because,
well, they can't really be expected to learn things on their own,
right?  Those kinds of people?

I don't read Protein Wisdom all the time, so I am not sure if "intellectual welfare" is a term Goldstein uses a lot.  I coined it independently a few years ago, when discussing social security.

Conservatives Can Squelch Campus Speech Too

Campus liberals rightly get a lot of heat for their attacks on free speech and expression at universities via speech codes and the like.  I have piled on a number of times.  However, the impulse restrict speech you don't agree with is not limited to liberals (though it may be more prevalent due to leftist control of most campuses).  Take this story via Volokh:

Vince Finaldi points me to the affidavit justifying the arrest of a student for asking a rude question at an Ann Coulter speech.  If the facts in the affidavit are accurate, then it looks like the student has an excellent First Amendment defense.

Basically, the student asked Ms. Coulter her opinion of a married man and woman engaging in sodomy.  Granted that he asked the question in a fairly profane manner, but he seems to have followed the Q&A rules by getting up, asking his question, and quietly waiting for the reply from his seat.  So why are the police hauling him away?

Ann Coulter Doll Rescues Cody From Islamic Terrorists

Ann Coulter doll giving speech to the troops, ala Patton

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Ann Coulter doll saves Cody (or is that Jenifer Garner doll in disguise?)

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Stay tuned next week when computer-savvy terrorists kidnap Aki from Final Fantasy

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Scrappleface has yet another take.