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Freedom Of Speech Under Attack

George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley penned a compelling piece in Sunday’s Washington Post pointing out the extent to which the West is placing increasingly stringent restrictions on freedom of speech in the name of so-called “tolerance”:

Free speech is dying in the Western world. While most people still enjoy considerable freedom of expression, this right, once a near-absolute, has become less defined and less dependable for those espousing controversial social, political or religious views. The decline of free speech has come not from any single blow but rather from thousands of paper cuts of well-intentioned exceptions designed to maintain social harmony.

In the face of the violence that frequently results from anti-religious expression, some world leaders seem to be losing their patience with free speech. After a video called “Innocence of Muslims” appeared on YouTube and sparked violent protests in several Muslim nations last month, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that “when some people use this freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs, then this cannot be protected.”

It appears that the one thing modern society can no longer tolerate is intolerance. As Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard put it in her recent speech before the United Nations, “Our tolerance must never extend to tolerating religious hatred.”

A willingness to confine free speech in the name of social pluralism can be seen at various levels of authority and government. In February, for instance, Pennsylvania Judge Mark Martin heard a case in which a Muslim man was charged with attacking an atheist marching in a Halloween parade as a “zombie Muhammed.” Martin castigated not the defendant but the victim, Ernie Perce, lecturing him that “our forefathers intended to use the First Amendment so we can speak with our mind, not to piss off other people and cultures — which is what you did.”

Of course, free speech is often precisely about pissing off other people — challenging social taboos or political values.

Many of the examples that Turley cites of Western abandonment of free speech come from nations with a far less stringent history of protecting the right of citizens to speak their minds than we have hear in the United States. In that respect, it’s not entirely surprising that a nation like France would find someone guilty of making discriminatory comments because of something that he said in a bar, or that Ireland would pass a law criminalizing the “publication or utterance of blasphemous matter” deemed “grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion.” Neither of these nations, indeed no other Western nation has the same level of protections for free speech that the United States does. Great Britain has the Official Secrets Act and far more stringent Libel and Slander laws than the United States, Canada has a Human Rights Commission that has routinely brought people before it for making allegedly “offensive” comments that would clearly be protected here in the United States, and Germany has long banned virtually any speech that could be deemed supportive of the Nazi Era. On that level, it’s not entirely surprising that these nations would be amenable to restricting speech because it offended Muslims, or homosexuals, or for any other reason for that matter.

What is truly disturbing about recent developments in this area, though, is the extent to which the rejection of freedom of speech and the value of freedom of expression seem to be being tossed by the wayside here in the United States. Hate crime laws that essentially punish people for what they were thinking have proliferated in recent decades. Just this year, the Supreme Court had to deal with a case involving an attempt by the United States Government to prosecute a man for making a false statement about receiving a military award that caused absolutely no objective harm to anyone. Thankfully, the Court correctly ruled that the law under which this man was prosecuted was unconstitutional. More recently, we’ve seen the Obama Administration attempt to cajole YouTube into removing a video that was offensive to Muslims from the service. Then we saw them purchasing airtime on Pakistani video to apologize for this same video even though the United States Government had nothing to do with it. Finally, at the United Nations General Assembly, the President essentially capitulated to the argument that “blasphemy” is a valid complaint against someone’s exercise of their right to speak freely.

Of course, outrages over a film aren’t the only manner in which freedom of speech has been restricted in the United States in recent years. Perhaps one of the most egregious examples of that can be found in something that sprung up seemingly out of nowhere, the concept of so-called “free speech zones.”  As I’m sure all who are reading this are aware, these “zones” are areas mandated by police authorities as the only areas where protests can take place during high profile events such as political conventions. The first example of such a “zone” that I can find goes back to the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, when the City of Atlanta set up “designated protest zones” whose primary purpose seemed to be to ensure that people exercising their right to speak would not disrupt the convention itself. Starting in 1992, these zones became commonplace during the conventions of both major political parties. From there, the use of these “zones” have expanded beyond political conventions to all kinds of events, and the primary purpose has clearly become preventing the protesters from being able to interact at all with the people that they are protesting against. It’s the kind of set-up that Richard Daley would’ve loved to have been able to have back in 1968 since it would’ve allowed his cops to beat up protesters outside the view of television cameras.

Legally, these “free speech zones” are justified under Supreme Court case law that states that authorities have the right to regulate the time, place, and manner of speech activities that could potentially disrupt public life. That point is conceded, but it strikes me that these regulations take that authority a step to far, especially when one notes that, in many cases, supporters of a particular event are not subject to the same “free speech zone” regulations as those who wish to protests against it. That’s  not a time, place, or manner regulation, that’s the government putting its thumb on the scale in favor of favorable speech.

In the end, I fear Turley is correct. We’ve entered an era where freedom of speech is being sacrificed in the name of not offending people, or in the name of security. That’s a mistake.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Franklin says:

    I knew this issue would come up again soon. When it’s illegal to say “your religion is a sham and there’s no such thing as God”, then we’ll know for sure the restrictions have gone too far.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  2. SKI says:

    Finally, at the United Nations General Assembly, the President essentially capitulated to the argument that “blasphemy” is a valid complaint against someone’s exercise of their right to speak freely.

    This is a lie. It is a particularly egregious lie considering you have made it before and had it disproven by pointing to the simple transcript of his actual words which you chose to ignore. Your own blog-partners pointed out to you how ridiculously off-base you were. I truly don’t understand why you would repeat it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 40 Thumb down 4

  3. mike says:

    Don’t Tase me bro.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. SKI,

    I watched the speech, I drew my conclusions.

    Also, why did the U.S. assist Islamic nations in passing a “blasphemy” resolution in the General Assembly?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 35

  5. Clanton says:

    We live in an age where everything has to be politically correct, be careful you might offend someone. People who give an opinion are being called racist and hateful.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9

  6. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: You could only draw those conclusions by ignoring the entire part fo the speech where Obama directly and completely contradicted your assertion.

    As a reminder of what Obama actually said everywhere but inside Doug’s head:

    We understand why people take offense to this video because millions of our citizens are among them. I know there are some who ask why don’t we just ban such a video. The answer is enshrined in our laws. Our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech.

    Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense. Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs. As president of our country, and commander in chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so.

    Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views — even views that we profoundly disagree with. We do so not because we support hateful speech, but because our founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views and practice their own faith may be threatened.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 39 Thumb down 3

  7. SKI,

    It was wrong for the President to even acknowledge the legitimacy of the supposed “offense” created by the video. By doing so, he completely conceded the argument, IMO

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 45

  8. SKI says:

    @Clanton: NO, people who offer racist or bigoted opinions get called racists and/or bigots.

    That doesn’t in any way challenge their right to offer such opinions but just because speech is “free” of governmental restriction doesn’t make it “free” from other people’s criticism – they have their free speech rights too.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 1

  9. SKI,

    Also, why in the name of all that is rational, did Obama need to say, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” Slandering a prophet is the ultimate exercise of free speech.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 21

  10. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: No, he didn’t concede the argument.

    I think your argument here is (a) ludicrous and (b) in bad faith and will accordingly criticize you for it but I’ll be damned before I would let the government prevent you from making it.

    What he said is no different that if he said that “the KKK is offensive and hateful and are truly offensive to the community of Skokie but because of the First Amendment we will allow them to march and demonstrate – no matter how much it offends and infuriates and hurts the community of holocaust survivors and their family and friends that live there.”

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  11. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Sure – so was the KKK marching. But I don’t want the future to belong to the KKK.

    As Americans we understand that the proper response to offensive speech its to point out that it is offensive and appalling and wrong – not to reflexively ban it.

    Obama did EXACTLY the right thing. He acknowledged the speech was deliberately offensive but said the proper response was to criticize it, not to ban it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 2

  12. wr says:

    @Clanton: “We live in an age where everything has to be politically correct, be careful you might offend someone. People who give an opinion are being called racist and hateful.”

    If you express an opinion that’s racist and hateful, you’re going to be called racist and hateful. Heck, sometimes even if you don’t express an opinion that’s racist and hateful you’re going to be called racist and hateful.

    That’s not an attack on free speech — it’s what free speech is: the ability to say whatever you want. Somehow, “conservatives” have decided that freedom of speech actually means that they — and only they — get to say whatever they want and never be criticized for it by anyone.

    Sorry if your feelings get hurt every now and again, but there’s nothing in the constitution about that.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 0

  13. mantis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I watched the speech, I drew my conclusions. dishonestly distorted it to further my agenda.

    FTFY.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 4

  14. wr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: If you’re talking to a bunch of people who have been offended, you have two choices — you can acknowledge that they are legitimately offended, and go on to work towards agreement, or you can say they’re stupid or ignorant for being offended and end any hope of cooperation.

    Is it so hard to understand that a president of the US who wants to work with Muslim countries — and not just invade them — has to say “I respect your opinion,” even when he thinks it’s completely wrong? (If he does, that is — I can’t pretend to read Obama’s mind.)

    Obama did nothing to harm free speech here. All he did was refuse to say exactly the words Doug wanted him to say. Which was pretty much his offense in the Benghazi affair, too.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 3

  15. SKI,

    I don’t believe it’s appropriate at all for the President to soothe the feelings of people who have been offended by something that was done by an independent citizen of the United States.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 22

  16. @wr:

    Who says their offense is “legitimate”? If they can’t handle someone criticizing their religion, that’s their problem.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 21

  17. Ben says:

    So Doug, if the President acknowledged that it was legitimate to take offense to the Westboro Baptist Church, White Power groups, the KKK, etc etc etc, then that would be capitulating and conceding the argument in regards to the first amendment?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0

  18. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Lots of things fall under free speech that are worthy of condemnation anyways.

    “The future of the United States must not belong to the Birthers” is not a renunciation of their free speech rights. It just means that the most ignorant and racist idiots and a$$holes shouldn’t control our future.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  19. mantis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Also, why in the name of all that is rational, did Obama need to say, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” Slandering a prophet is the ultimate exercise of free speech.

    So the future must belong to intolerant assholes because freedom. Got it.

    Here’s what the president said in context (which you ignore on purpose):

    The future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians in Egypt – it must be claimed by those in Tahrir Square who chanted “Muslims, Christians, we are one.” The future must not belong to those who bully women – it must be shaped by girls who go to school, and those who stand for a world where our daughters can live their dreams just like our sons. The future must not belong to those corrupt few who steal a country’s resources – it must be won by the students and entrepreneurs; workers and business owners who seek a broader prosperity for all people. Those are the men and women that America stands with; theirs is the vision we will support.

    The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied. Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims, and Shiite pilgrims. It is time to heed the words of Gandhi: “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.” Together, we must work towards a world where we are strengthened by our differences, and not defined by them. That is what America embodies, and that is the vision we will support.

    Among Israelis and Palestinians, the future must not belong to those who turn their backs on the prospect of peace. Let us leave behind those who thrive on conflict, and those who reject the right of Israel to exist. The road is hard but the destination is clear – a secure, Jewish state of Israel; and an independent, prosperous Palestine. Understanding that such a peace must come through a just agreement between the parties, America will walk alongside all who are prepared to make that journey.

    In Syria, the future must not belong to a dictator who massacres his people. If there is a cause that cries out for protest in the world today, it is a regime that tortures children and shoots rockets at apartment buildings. And we must remain engaged to assure that what began with citizens demanding their rights does not end in a cycle of sectarian violence.

    The message is that the future must not belong to the forces of intolerance, bigotry oppression, and death, but rather it should belong to those who can live together in tolerant, pluralistic societies. Obviously you disagree. You think this message is offensive and future should belong to the worst among us. Thanks for clearing that up.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 2

  20. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Do you think a statement of “grow up, you whiners” would have made our embassy workers across the globe safer?

    Or is their safety and deaths a concern only when we get to parse “act of terror” vs “terrorist attack?”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  21. mantis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I don’t believe it’s appropriate at all for the President to soothe the feelings of people who have been offended by something that was done by an independent citizen of the United States.

    And those of us who understand diplomacy know that it is quite appropriate for the president to explain that we have a free society, and just because we tolerate offensive views doesn’t mean we endorse them. Obviously your idea of diplomacy is “F*ck you if you’re offended. Free speech, bitches.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 0

  22. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Forget soothe. How about acknowledge and agree? I found the video offensive. Didn’t you?

    Again, would you have a problem if the President of the United States in a speech to the NAACP in the 1960s acknowledged and agreed segregation was offensive and morally wrong?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  23. @SKI:

    Segregation wasn’t the exercise of a Constitutionally protected right.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 18

  24. @mantis:

    What Obame said about the “prophet of Islam” wasn’t diplomacy, it was coddling. And they’re going to hate us anyway

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 24

  25. @Geek, Esq.:

    I certainly don’t think accepting the premise of people “offended” by a “movie” they’ve never even seen makes them safer. It just encourages the radicals to do the same thing they decide they’re offended by something.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 16

  26. pylon says:

    It was wrong for the President to even acknowledge the legitimacy of the supposed “offense” created by the video. By doing so, he completely conceded the argument, IMO

    So a president now can’t say he understands why someone would take offense?

    Remind me of that next time a Repub takes offense on behalf of Christians for some perceived slight (eg “Happy Holidays!”).

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 1

  27. mantis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    What Obame said about the “prophet of Islam” wasn’t diplomacy, it was coddling.

    Sometimes there is coddling in diplomacy, which you clearly know nothing about.

    And they’re going to hate us anyway

    Who is they?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 1

  28. pylon says:

    Doug, it appears, wishes to deny the President the right of free speech.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 0

  29. pylon says:

    Some people don’t understand that the defence of free speech often requires an acknowledgement that the speech being defended is repugnant.

    If it were otherwise, there’d be no issue, since its easy to defend free non-repulsive speech.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 0

  30. Rob in CT says:

    Coddling? Hayzeus Christo.

    You’re unhinged on this one, Doug.

    I wish I could attribute it to being angry at the way the Yankees have been playing (and/or lack of sleep because of how late the games go), but you’ve been beating this particular drum for a while.

    I love free speech. And when I see actual moves to restrict it, I get riled too. Which is why I agree with you that “hatecrime” laws are very troubling.

    But this free speech is dying b/c POTUS gave a speech calling for people to be less assholish… yeesh. Massive overreaction.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 0

  31. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: At the time it was, Doug.

    Fine. Let’s say Carter went to Skokie in 1978 and told the community that he agreed with them that the Neo-Nazis were offensive but that because of the First Amendment they needed to be allowed to demonstrate their idiocy and hate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  32. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    What premise did Obama accept?

    That people of faith get pissed off when their faith is insulted? That’s a predictable reality.

    The premise that this justifies restrictions on speech? No he did not accept that premise.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  33. Vast Variety says:

    Hello Mr. Horse… I’d like you to meet Mr. Stick. Mr. Sitck this is Mr. Horse.

    First, the President in no way attempted to “cojole” YouTube into removing the video. He simply asked them if it violated their terms of service, something that anyone with a YouTube account can do. While I don’t know first hand I bet a lot of people hit that little “flag as innapropriate” button.

    Second, As Mantis points out in the partial transcript of the speech, the President in no way threw the 1st amendment under the bus at the UN General Assembly.

    Third, When the speech of one citizens spawns violence that kills other citizens then it becomes the problem of all of us. While our government should never be allowed to ban or punish such speech, I have no problem with our President, as a fellow citizen, using his own right to free speech, to condem the speech that spawned the violence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  34. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    No, ‘they’ are not inevitably going to hate us. The stupid youtube video is the tip of the iceberg–there are lots of reasons for Muslims to be a wee bit resentful towards the US. Some perfectly legit, some not.

    You can’t win everyone over, but you can avoid unnecessarily making enemies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  35. Moosebreath says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “What Obame said about the “prophet of Islam” wasn’t diplomacy, it was coddling.”

    Wow. Just wow. I already knew that a hypothetical libertarian administration would be a disaster economically. However, if Doug is any indication, its foreign relations would be so inept that this country wouldn’t even last long enough for the inevitable revolution caused by its economic policies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  36. @Geek, Esq.:

    At this point I favor getting the heck out of that part of the world and letting them destroy themselves if they so choose

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 15

  37. @SKI:

    I would have considered that inappropriate as well

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 13

  38. wr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Who says their offense is “legitimate”? If they can’t handle someone criticizing their religion, that’s their problem. ”

    They were offended, therefore their offense is “legitimate.” It is a real offense to them. Unless you want to claim that they’re faking for political advantage, which is not, I think, what you’re saying.

    The “legitimacy” of an offense lies completely within the offended party — the ones who feel they have been offended.

    At that point, our only choices are to acknowledge that they are offended, or insist they have no right to feel the way they do.

    Tell me, what possible good could the second path hope to accomplish? Sure, it would make you feel good about yourself. And then what would happen? Do you think it would make your chosen outcome more or less probable?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  39. Rob in CT says:

    Libertarians: taking “a pox on all your houses” way too damn far since before I was born.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  40. wr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: You would consider it inappropriate for an American president to say that neo-Nazis preached a repellent philosophy?

    Does the president give up all rights to opinions once he’s sworn in?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  41. wr,

    The situation becomes very different when we’re talking about communicating to non-Americans, IMO

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 22

  42. mantis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The situation becomes very different when we’re talking about communicating to non-Americans, IMO

    That’s an hilarious answer considering your main point here is “Freedom of Speech is Under Attack!” How is acknowledging offensive speech as offensive to Americans just fine but when you acknowledge it to foreigners, it becomes an attack on free speech?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  43. grumpy realist says:

    @Doug Mataconis: As said, you obviously have never had to carry out any diplomacy whatsoever. Nor have you lived abroad. Yelling on top of a mound about how freedom of speech means you never have to worry about how your speech impacts people isn’t the mark of an adult; it’s the mark of a child who has never grown up. You would scream “First Amendment, freedom of speech!” no matter how many americans outside the borders of the US get killed or no matter what violence gets thrown up. Great. You can plant your Flag of Teh Constitution on the coffins of those dead, smug in your righteousness. The fact that real human beings die? Irrelevant.

    I doubt you do any mediation as a lawyer, either.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  44. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Well, I guess I retract my “lie” comment. You aren’t lying – just hopelessly ridiculous.

    I’m also guessing you have never had a sustained serious relationship. Acknowledging someone’s feelings isn’t weakness, particularly when those feelings are both easily understandable and largely shared. It goes an awful long way – particularly when you are also about to tell them you aren’t going to do what they want.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  45. rudderpedals says:

    I don’t understand the international side of this, Doug. Where in the Constitution is there an overriding duty to evangelize First Amendment freedoms to foreign diplomats and governments? ISTM it would weaken US positions to disarm ourselves, our diplomats and the pres, by forcing them to be undiplomatic in diplomatic venues.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  46. george says:

    Even the people Obama was apologizing to know very well it was a pro-forma apology, in the only important sense: the US government would do nothing to stop similar offenses in the future. Which is why his comments didn’t molify the protesters, who seem to be more intelligent than the people criticising Obama on this – the protesters immediately realized Obama directly said he wasn’t going to stop such films in the future, whereas the people criticising Obama didn’t seem to pick that up. Odd that people speaking English as a second language have better English reading comprehension …

    As someone said above, free speech means being able to say something offensive, and it also means that others can point out that it was offensive. So long as Obama doesn’t want to change the law to censor such offensive speech, there’s zero problem with him basically saying that he didn’t like the speech either.

    I think a bigger problem is curtailing free speech for security reasons, because that’s much more likely to bring in actual censorship.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  47. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Left unsead, pun intended, is a giant flaming neon donkey in the room.

    “Hate crime” laws? Conceived and propagated by the political left wing.

    Stolen Valor Act? Sponsored by two Democrats, J. Salazar and K. Conrad. Passed the House after the ’06 mid-term wave election. Signed into law during the dead duck period of the Bush presidency.

    Of course the fiasco of that YouTube video apology dog & pony show spoke for itself.

    “Free speech” zones are a problem but alas, given the inherent and inevitable violence associated with the hard left, probably are a necessary evil. Nobody wants a Seattle ’99 redux.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 19

  48. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Oops, “left unsaid,” that is. Spell check would be nice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  49. wr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “The situation becomes very different when we’re talking about communicating to non-Americans, IMO”

    Okay… but you just said you thought it would have been inappropriate for then President Carter to go to Skokie and say the neo-Nazis were repugnant but had a right to free speech.

    Last tme I checked, Illinois was part of the USA — and it was your comment about Skokie I was referring to.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  50. michael reynolds says:

    Doug you have a fatal urge to double down on dumb. You would do yourself a world of good if you could learn to consider the possibility that you are fallible. You sabotage an otherwise excellent post by taking a completely false position on the UN speech.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3

  51. Michael,

    I expressed an opinion about Obama’s UN speech. You disagree with as do others. I get that. I’m fine with that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

  52. Steve Verdon says:

    @mantis:

    So the future must belong to intolerant assholes because freedom.

    Yes, I give you PZ Myers,

    Nothing must be held sacred. Question everything. God is not great, Jesus is not your lord, you are not disciples of any charismatic prophet. You are all human beings who must make your way through your life by thinking and learning, and you have the job of advancing humanity’s knowledge by winnowing out the errors of past generations and finding deeper understanding of reality. You will not find wisdom in rituals and sacraments and dogma, which build only self-satisfied ignorance, but you can find truth by looking at your world with fresh eyes and a questioning mind.

    Or this one,

    Religion is a barbarous obsidian knife poised over our chests — put it in a cabinet and admire it as a work of art, but don’t ever wield the damned thing ever again.

    I think it is fair to say a number of religious people would find at least one of these quotes…problematic, to put it mildly.

    And I think you are confused who the intolerant assholes are (psst…the intolerant assholes are the Muslims that think people who criticize the prophet should be killed).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  53. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    You’re unhinged on this one, Doug.

    Don’t you get it? Unless you are obliged to smile and say “thank you master” while someone insults you that person is denied their right to free speech. “Disapproving” of something is clearly a form of censure and must be prohibited by force if necessary to protect free speech.

    At this point I favor getting the heck out of that part of the world and letting them destroy themselves if they so choose

    That video deeply troubled a Pakistani friend of mine who is not particularly religious and got his Masters degree in the U.S. So riding the “bloody medieval savages” train is not a sufficient analysis of the problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  54. Ebenezer,

    Just because you disagree with me doesn’t mean I’m wrong. I really don’t get it, do you guys think that insulting me is going to get me to change my mind?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 14

  55. stonetools says:

    Look, at this point can we just agree that Doug is impervious to logic and evidence on this whole issue of the video/Benghazi/free speech. At some point, he became outraged about a (mythical) concession to free speech rights by Obama Administration concerning this video and he has been making post after post posing as the uncompromising defender of free speech rights against the Obama lovers who (he thinks) place their devotion to Obama above the First Amendment. The more he defends this misguided posture, the more he has resorted to the most nonsensical arguments offered by the hard right on this issue, including this blatant misrepresentation of Obama’s speech. Honestly, on this issue , he sounds no better than the hacks at Hot Air or Pajamas Media. I sometimes wonder whether I’m reading Mataconis or Morrisey . Soon he’ll start calling Obama “The One”…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  56. Steve Verdon says:

    I’d also note I agree with Myers…completely. However, I can also see how a religious person could be deeply offended by what he wrote/said. Some might even conclude he is an intolerant asshole when it comes to religion.

    And I’m fine with him being around in the future. Completely fine with it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  57. wr says:

    @Steve Verdon: “And I think you are confused who the intolerant assholes are (psst…the intolerant assholes are the Muslims that think people who criticize the prophet should be killed). ”

    Ya know, just because the IAATMTTPWCTPSBKs are intolerant assholes, it doesn’t mean that other people aren’t intolerant assholes, too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  58. Steve Verdon says:

    Here is another good quote by PZ Myers,

    Faith is a vice pretending to be a virtue, its lies and errors and frothy nonsense deluding us and distracting us from action. There’s no salvation in wishful thinking, only inertia. Faith is the enemy of reason. The one thing every single one of us here must be united in despising is faith. It’s the barren refuge of the vacuous, the fearful, the frauds, and the obstacles to accomplishment.

    –Reason Rally speech, National Mall, Washington, DC, 2012-03-24

    Again, I agree with what he is saying. However, what would a religious person say about that view? That it is bigoted, intolerant?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  59. Steve Verdon says:

    @wr:

    Yeah, kind of my point wr. We all have our hot button issues where we can become….strident in our statements?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  60. stonetools says:

    At this point I favor getting the heck out of that part of the world and letting them destroy themselves if they so choose

    “That part of the world” is the Islamic belt , which extends from Nigeria in the west to Indonesia and the southern Philippines in the western Pacific and includes a number of countries who are our allies. Withdrawal from the entire Islamic belt is not economically or politically possible. Just sayin’.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  61. Steve Verdon says:

    @stonetools:

    Withdrawal from the entire Islamic belt is not economically or politically possible. Just sayin’.

    Yes, so much better to keep pissing off people by mucking around in their business. Listen you….people…America needs that oil!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  62. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    Just because you disagree with me doesn’t mean I’m wrong. I really don’t get it, do you guys think that insulting me is going to get me to change my mind?

    Doug,

    I’m unclear what you are referring to. I painstakingly deleted a number of insults that sprang to mind after reading through the thread. What exactly did I miss?

    Regarding convincing you I’m forced to admit that I have basically given up on that. Some of you libertarian core principles are essentially religious dogma and seem impervious to any counterargument even in cases where you are completely unable to defend your position according to standard logic. I would settle for a token of understanding of the opposite position but am not optimistic about that.

    To put it more specific:

    1) You hold that free speech must be absolute
    2) Free speech insulting a religion must therefore be protected. It’s expression should be considered valid (regardless of content?)
    3) Both the expression of outrage about that (being insulted) and any criticism of (2) are invalid and must be criticized.

    While it is not impossible to reconcile (2) and (3), you make no attempt at doing so. And the fact that you mix an essentially post-modern values approach (all speech is valid) with a traditional critique (the president / the muslims are wrong about what they say because x) make the article an incoherent mess since you seem to undermine your own argument, apparently without even noticing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  63. michael reynolds says:

    I was a blasphemous atheist a-hole long before it was cool. And I’m a writer. So I’m a first amendment devotee. I am all for a right to absolute free speech. But I can also say that I don’t want the future to belong to people who rather than taking or defending a position rely on gratuitous attacks intended to hurt other people. There is a difference between what we outlaw and that which we condemn as dickish.

    The right to be a dick? Absolutely. The right not to be called out as a dick? No.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

  64. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @wr: If you’re talking to a bunch of people who have been offended, you have two choices — you can acknowledge that they are legitimately offended, and go on to work towards agreement, or you can say they’re stupid or ignorant for being offended and end any hope of cooperation.

    On behalf of the Tea Party and a whole host of conservatives, allow me to say GFY for your past offensive statements.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 15

  65. Steve Verdon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The right to be a dick? Absolutely. The right not to be called out as a dick? No.

    So the future is to belong to dicks….

    I’m fine with that. But I don’t see that fitting in too well with,

    The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied.

    See, it isn’t just that the Muslims have to condemn people who blaspheme about Jesus, but that they f*cking chill when somebody does slander the prophet and realize that isn’t something you kill people over. In fact, if a Muslim doesn’t say a thing when Jesus if blasphemed….I don’t care. I do care when they want to cut of a cartoonists head for drawing a cartoon of the prophet.

    The whole thing about destroying churches was just stupid. Putting in destruction of property and violence in a paragraph that starts out about speech some people find offensive is a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  66. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    The whole thing about destroying churches was just stupid. Putting in destruction of property and violence in a paragraph that starts out about speech some people find offensive is a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment.

    Here, let me translate that for you:

    “You have the right to be a dick. However you shouldn’t be, because no one wants to live in a society where everyone constantly acts like a dick. And yes, we mean all of you – including filmmakers and radical Muslims.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  67. grumpy realist says:

    @Doug Mataconis: If it ends up with a large number of dead bodies, can you possibly admit it was a stupid thing to do, tactically?

    As said, it’s very easy to loudly profess the Freedom of the First Amendment if you’re never the person who’s paying the price.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  68. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Also, why in the name of all that is rational, did Obama need to say, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” Slandering a prophet is the ultimate exercise of free speech.

    ?????????? Really Doug? Free speech is now the enemy of free speech? Doug, you enter the realm of caricature. Here is a clue: Step away from the key board. Nobody will get hurt.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  69. john personna says:

    @Steve Verdon:

    The Obama position is just the old line, late 20th century, US position. It is fully for both free speech and religious tolerance. You absolutely have the right to say anything, but that is not to say that restraint is not a virtue.

    So he did a rolling speech at the UN on tolerance. He did that as a few flavors of intolerance rolled across north Africa, the mid-east, and points further afield. That’s … traditional.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  70. john personna says:

    (The opposite of that traditional, late 20th century, US view is “since I can say anything, I should, and saying anything becomes a virtue.” Kinda shallow morality, in my opinion.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  71. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Segregation wasn’t the exercise of a Constitutionally protected right.

    Ok Doug, you are now arguing that what they said was a right was not a right but they had a constitutionally protected right to say it was a right but nobody else had the right to argue against that assertion because that would be a suppression of their rights.

    Confused? Yah…. so am I.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  72. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Please stop. My head hurts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  73. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis: So we are entitled to our own facts? Interesting!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  74. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @john personna: Libertarian philosophy is not about morality, shallow or otherwise. It is about me doing what I want–and nothing else.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  75. Libertarian philosophy flows from a very simply principle, the liberty of each human being to live their own life for their own sake.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 14

  76. Steve Verdon says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius:

    Sorry it is still stupid Ebenezer. Of course it is true, but the implication is that burning down a church is in the same league as saying that Mohammed is a poop head. Totally ridiculous.

    @john personna:

    The Obama position is just the old line, late 20th century, US position. It is fully for both free speech and religious tolerance. You absolutely have the right to say anything, but that is not to say that restraint is not a virtue.

    I disagree I think Obama chose his words very carefully. I think he was trying to say, implicitly, we don’t like it when people slag on Mohammed. But at the same time you guys shouldn’t tolerate slagging on Jesus. And don’t burn down churches (wtf?). He did not say, “Here in the U.S. some people act like jerks, and we let them. We’ll call them jerks, we’ll even stop associating with them if necessary, but we don’t cut off their heads, or kill their neighbor. I’m sorry, but that makes you far, far worse than the guy who calls Mohammed a poop head.”

    Seriously, that is what we see. Somebody slags on Mohammed….then violence erupts in various Muslim countries and they kill people who did not slag on Mohammed and burn down local businesses like KFC or McDonalds. And we are to be…tolerant and careful what we say. That people shouldn’t slag on Mohammed? I’m sorry, go back and read the quotes by PZ Myers.

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    Great way to show your own morality and tolerance by calling millions sociopaths. And a great way to live up to your pseudonym.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  77. Steve Verdon says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius:

    By the way, does this mean we can tell that fat f*ck Micheal Moore to finally STFU and STFD? I might have to rethink if it does.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  78. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Libertarian philosophy flows from a very simply principle, the liberty of each human being to live their own life for their own sake.

    Libertarian philosophy is simple, all right, as expressed by every teenager since the dawn of time: You can’t tell me what to do! It’s the philosophy of people who have never progressed beyond rationalizing why they don’t have to clean their room or take out the trash. Pouting as philosophy.

    When confronted by the facts libertarians run away into fantasy. There is no world! There is no society! There’s just me in my room and I can play my music as loud as I want! Me, me, me, my, my, my, so there!

    It’s so juvenile it’s embarrassing. You and Verdon are actually cringe-inducing when you try to explain what you believe, because you want to pretend it’s an intellectual position, when it’s just pure emotion. It’s silly, juvenile, shallow, unrealistic and stupid.

    I mean, yeah, when I was twenty. But Jesus, even I grew up eventually. What the hell, boys, time to grow up.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 1

  79. Hans Bader says:

    Is SKI even capable of clicking on a hyperlink proving something before denying a proven fact — like the Obama Administration’s earlier support for an anti-blasphemy resolution at the UN?

    Law Professor Jonathan Turley specifically cites the Obama Administration’s past history of supporting a speech-restricting anti-blasphemy resolution at the UN. (Which contradicts Obama’s more recent and equivocal support for free speech at the UN).

    Doug Mataconis specifically links to that article.

    If SKI clicked on the hyperlink to his lengthy column in the Washington Post, he would get the details of that resolution and the speech it sought to restrict — constitutionally protected speech like “negative stereotyping” of Muslims.

    In any event, Turley was totally correct. For more links, see my web site.

    Yes, Hillary Clinton said that the blasphemy resolution didn’t seek CRIMINAL sanctions. But the First Amendment prohibits even civil penalties against speech. See New York Times v. Sullivan (1964); Snyder v. Phelps (2011).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  80. michael reynolds says:

    @Hans Bader:

    But the First Amendment prohibits even civil penalties against speech.

    So there’s no such thing as libel laws?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  81. James in LA says:

    Doug loses another argument. That’s two in as many days, big-time. Methinks yonder handwriting on the wall of the future bothers him over-much. At least he’s not droning on about a one-party state.

    Obama ceded nothing. It’s just not what Doug would have done, plain and simple.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  82. John Burgess says:

    @Geek, Esq.: When I was an ’embassy worker’, I fully understood what

    “I ________, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

    meant. It meant that I willingly supported the entire Constitution. If that put my life in danger — as simply holding a diplomatic passport sometimes did — then those were the breaks. If I didn’t want to put myself (or my family) at risk, there were other jobs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  83. michael reynolds says:

    @John Burgess:

    Yep, the whole constitution. All of it, verbatim. So, that’s why our embassy staff in London refuse to refer to the Queen as head of state, and regularly criticize inherited titles, and demand that a decennial census be carried out so that the UK can work out the apportioning of districts within the states of said United Kingdom.

    Oops, wait a minute: we can’t really say United Kingdom, can we? Not without betraying the constitution.

    I hate to think just how many foreign service officers have betrayed the constitution. I’m going to guess: all of them, including you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  84. SKI says:

    @Hans Bader: from the actual statement of the US on that UN resolution:

    The United States strongly supports today’s resolution, which like its predecessor rejects broad prohibitions on speech, and supports actions that do not limit freedom of expression or infringe on the freedom of religion. This resolution demonstrates a desire to move the debate on shared challenges in a constructive and affirmative direction to ensure that all individuals enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  85. I find it interesting that everyone who has commented on this post has directed their ire on the one paragraph that dared to criticize the only President who apparently doesn’t ever deserve to be criticized and ignored everything else.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 15

  86. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    That’s your doing. It was a very interesting post that you auto-trolled by veering off into a thoroughly-discredited statement about Mr. Obama at the UN. When I say thoroughly, I mean you had nothin’. You didn’t have the shadow of anything. This particular thing wasn’t just blown up the last time you floated it, it was burned to ashes and scattered to the wind.

    It’s like writing a great piece on astronomy but including the little fact that you believe the moon landing was faked. Of course that’s what people are going to focus on. Duh. And it’s a shame, because this is an interesting subject.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  87. Michael,

    Nonsense. This entire comment thread has been nothing bot trolling by the Obama fanboys

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 16

  88. Pylon says:

    I seem to recall someone in another thread chiding a commenter for resorting to ad hominem name calling.

    Who could that have been?

    Seriously, saying Obama (a) defended free speech while at the same time (b) expressing distaste for intolerance and offensive speech is hardly being a fan boy. It’s just saying that he did so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  89. mantis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I find it interesting that everyone who has commented on this post has directed their ire on the one paragraph that dared to criticize the only President who apparently doesn’t ever deserve to be criticized and ignored everything else.

    You write a post about how freedom of speech is under attack, put a photo of the Bill of Rights at the top, and the only American examples referenced are a “stolen valor” case that the court threw out and this nonsense about the president.

    I don’t much care about other countries not upholding our Bill of Rights because they are other countries. The “stolen valor” case ended correctly. That’s why all you are hearing about is your nonsense assertion that Obama is attacking your freedom of speech. I doubt I am alone in thinking that this entire post is just justification for that assertion, as little sense as it all makes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  90. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @mantis: Let’s take a real close look at one of those sentences you bolded, chum.

    The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.

    “Slander.” Let’s get a dictionary definition of that term:

    2. a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report: a slander against his good name.

    Say I said Mohammed was a pedophile. How do those three elements apply?

    Malicious — I call it “honest,” but I’ll concede that one for the sake of argument.

    Defamatory — oh, definitely. It’s an ugly term.

    but False — nope. Truth is a defense there. According to Muslim scriptures, Mohammed married one of his wives when she was six years old, but held off consummating the marriage until she was nine. I’d say that any adult who had sexual relations with a nine-year-old is a pedophile.

    And the argument has always been that one is responsible for reasonable consequences of one’s actions — “reasonable” meaning “a rational response,” not “a predictable response.” If I take out full-page ads saying that I consider the color purple heresy and will kill a random person should I see someone wearing purple, then by your standard such a reaction is “reasonable,” as I’ve given plenty of notice of my response, and anyone who does not comply with my demand has provoked me unreasonably and bears a certain level of responsibility if I do kill someone after seeing you wear purple.

    Finally, I don’t use the phrase “the prophet Mohammed.” To me, he was no prophet. But those who insist that such terms should be used better start also saying “Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

    Unless, of course, you want to provoke Christians around the world to react to the insult to their Savior by rioting and slaughtering non-Christians. Because that is how a religion gets “respect” these days.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  91. jukeboxgrad says:

    bader:

    Is SKI even capable of clicking on a hyperlink proving something before denying a proven fact — like the Obama Administration’s earlier support for an anti-blasphemy resolution at the UN?

    Resolution 16/18 (link) is not “an anti-blasphemy resolution.” Freedom House explained how it was different from prior attempts at such a resolution (link):

    What is Resolution 16/18 and why is it better?

    In 2011, the OIC did not put forward the annual “defamation of religions” resolution. It was replaced by the vastly improved Resolution 16/18, entitled “Combating Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatization of, and Discrimination, Incitement to Violence and Violence Against, Persons Based on Religion or Belief.” That document focused on the rights of individuals to be free from intolerance and discrimination based on religion while calling upon states to take concrete steps to protect religious freedom, prohibit discrimination and hate crimes, and counter offensive expression through dialogue, education, and public debate rather than criminalization of speech.

    According to Freedom House, the significance of this resolution is that it was specifically not what had been previously attempted: “an international treaty on defamation of religions that would amount to a global blasphemy law.” According to Freedom House, Resolution 16/18 is not “an anti-blasphemy resolution.” So why did you say it is?

    You should cite the text of the resolution and tell us what exactly you find objectionable. Turley cites zero words from the resolution (aside from the title). Likewise for your 1,600 word article. So why don’t you tell us where the problem is, by citing the text of the resolution.

    For more links, see my web site.

    The glorious thing about your 1,600-word article is that it seems to contain zero actual links to the actual resolution, even though it contains about 40 links. I’m pretty sure you don’t even link to anyone who links to anyone who links to anyone who actually links to the actual resolution. How remarkable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  92. jukeboxgrad says:

    jenos:

    I don’t use the phrase “the prophet Mohammed.”

    No one cares if you do or not.

    In your usual style, you’re again promoting baloney that was already addressed the last time you tried it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  93. mantis says:

    @Jay Tea’s puppet Jenos Idanian #13:

    They aren’t my words, friend. I don’t even agree with them. As far as I’m concerned, all religious people can take their idols and shove them up their asses. I, however, am not a politician. I’m a bug. I’m one of the intolerant assholes I reference in that comment. Some people are more respectful of people’s religious beliefs, and I understand that.

    So, you can take your religious war to someone else. If you think your lack of respect for Muhammad will affect me, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  94. michael reynolds says:

    @jukeboxgrad:
    Nice work jukebox.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  95. jukeboxgrad says:

    Thanks, Bader and I go way back. I can see his shtick coming from a mile away.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  96. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Steve Verdon: How did you come to your conclusion? Do you take it as an article of your faith?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  97. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius:

    Some of you libertarian core principles are essentially religious dogma and seem impervious to any counterargument even in cases where you are completely unable to defend your position according to standard logic. I would settle for a token of understanding of the opposite position but am not optimistic about that.

    Well Said!

    And thank you from a religious person (Baptist for 30 some years, Lutheran since) who found nothing objectionable at all about any of the Meyer’s quotes cited. Everything, including faith and libertarian dogma, has its place and when it seeks to supplant the place of something else, it becomes delusional.

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  98. Herb says:

    It was wrong for the President to even acknowledge the legitimacy of the supposed “offense” created by the video. By doing so, he completely conceded the argument, IMO

    We get it.

    You will not defend to the death the president’s right to free speech. Instead you will insist on a “Thou shalt not say this” rule.

    Also, this….

    Libertarian philosophy flows from a very simply principle, the liberty of each human being to live their own life for their own sake.

    While that is quite an apt description of libertarianism, I think it also explains why there are so few of them.

    Religious and political ideas are often passed down through the generations, from parent to child.

    The person who devotes themselves to “living their own life for their own sake” is going to have problems satisfying a mate, much less raising a child.

    Cooperation and compromise ensures the survival of our species. Libertarianism, on the other hand, stunts your intellectual growth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  99. Davebo says:

    At some point, he became outraged about a (mythical) concession to free speech rights by Obama Administration

    Not just some random point. I can’t believe the timing of this post, coming right after Doug’s parsing of “terrorist acts” vs. “act of terror” is coincidence.

    It’s just Doug doubling down on the stupid. At least James is man enough to admit he’s a Republican.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  100. john personna says:

    Driving along yesterday, an explanation occurred to me. To equate criticism with censorship is silly of course. The thing is, it’s simply necessary for epistemic closure. If you let yourself see the distinction, an whole siege wall of far-right beliefs tumble with it.

    I mean, without “criticism is censorship” you lose much of the “apology tour.”

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  101. john personna says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Libertarian philosophy flows from a very simply principle, the liberty of each human being to live their own life for their own sake.

    I’m pretty sure you’ve got libertarianism and amorality swapped.

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  102. john personna says:

    ^^^ wow, simply wow

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  103. jukeboxgrad says:

    I’m pretty sure you’ve got libertarianism and amorality swapped.

    Amorality, narcissism, solipsism and plain old infantile selfishness.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  104. Herb says:

    @john personna:

    I’m pretty sure you’ve got libertarianism and amorality swapped.

    Ha!

    Yep, but this is where Ayn Rand comes in to explain that being selfish is the most moral thing one can do……

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  105. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    Nonsense. This entire comment thread has been nothing bot trolling by the Obama fanboys

    I find it interesting that instead of addressing the logical shortcomings of your article, you prefer to toss out an ad hominem and run.

    Seems to confirm my judgement on the quality of your argument.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  106. grumpy realist says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Which is a nice ideal that breaks down as soon as you get two people or more interacting.

    Want a clue? There never has been a successful libertarian society/economy that has ever existed in modern history. (When you are reduced to muttering about 13th century townhalls in Iceland as your main evidence for libertarianism, trust me, your historical support is a mouse’s fart in a hurricane.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  107. grumpy realist says:

    @Herb: And how! Not to rag on anyone, but my experience has been that self-professed Libertarians make lousy lovers. And lousy partners. All that selfishness gets in the way. Who would have thunk it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  108. Ken says:

    @Rob in CT: Coddling? Hayzeus Christo.

    You’re unhinged on this one, Doug.

    That’s been clear with every single post he has made on this topic. And his responses in this thread are pretty much identical to every other thread where it was pointed out to him that he is completely full of shit on this particular issue. Forgive my copypasta approach, but my comment from the last thread on this topic is appropriate here, as well:

    There are more than a few hardcore wingnuts (of both the conservative variety as well as the libertarian) who seem to think that the appropriate response to people being offended by offensive speech is “We’ll say whatever we want, and if you don’t like it, tough crap, you dirty, ignorant savages! AMERICA, FUCK YEAH! FREE SPEECH, BITCHES!”

    It’s often accompanied by more that a little racism.

    These folks also invariably think that any response even the slightest bit more nuanced than their personal internal chickenhawk toughguy dialog is “apologizing” or “kowtowing” or “capitulating” and that the person making the nuanced response is nothing but a mealy-mouthed pussy.

    When confronted with the cognitive dissonance generated by the uncomfortable fact this personal interpretation doesn’t match reality – for example, providing quotes from the “apology” they are talking about which say the exact opposite of what they claim – they usually either change the subject, leave the conversation, or simply dig their heels in and repeat themselves without making the slightest effort to justify it to anyone who disagrees.

    You folks can point out the actual facts as many times as you like, but it will not make the slightest bit of difference; Doug knows, he really knows, he really truly KNOWS FOR SURE, deep in his heart of hearts that Obama is just another pussy politician who can’t stop apologizing, kowtowing and capitulating to those ignorant Muslim savages.

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  109. Ken says:

    @michael reynolds: The right to be a dick? Absolutely. The right not to be called out as a dick? No.

    This reminds me of a blog post I read not too long ago:

    Regarding the first rule and the First Amendment

    Try not to be an asshole.

    That’s always the first rule. That’s Rule No. 1. No matter what the topic, no matter how specific or how general, Rule No. 1 is always Rule No. 1.

    If we break this rule, then, we should never be imprisoned or fined. There should never be legal consequences for violating Rule No. 1. But there will always be consequences — consequences that are far more immediate and, in some ways, even worse than any legal sanction. The price we will pay if we break Rule No. 1 is that we will become assholes.

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  110. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I’ll echo Michael in that it is your own doing. You took an issue we absolutely agree on* and threw in a completely false attack that required a response.

    *As a big soccer fan (COYS!), I follow a large number of commentators on the Premier League and european football in general . Their default approach to “hate speech” in England (criminalizing it) is mind-boggling to me, a massive First Amendment fan.

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  111. Ken says:

    @stonetools: . Honestly, on this issue , he sounds no better than the hacks at Hot Air or Pajamas Media. I sometimes wonder whether I’m reading Mataconis or Morrisey . Soon he’ll start calling Obama “The One”…

    Wait for it……

    @Doug Mataconis: I find it interesting that everyone who has commented on this post has directed their ire on the one paragraph that dared to criticize the only President who apparently doesn’t ever deserve to be criticized and ignored everything else.

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  112. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Herb: We get it.

    You will not defend to the death the president’s right to free speech. Instead you will insist on a “Thou shalt not say this” rule.

    Excuse me? Are you so stupid, that you’re saying that Obama’s statements are covered by the First Amendment?

    Obama was NOT exercising his right to free speech, he was speaking on behalf of the nation as duly elected President. And as a citizen, I have the right and the duty to howl when he says or does something this fundamentally wrong in his capacity as President of the United States.

    However, I du fully support his First Amendment right. In just a couple of weeks, I’m going to do my level best to give him even more time and freedom to exercise it.

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  113. Steve Verdon says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    Simple really, you assert that a libertarian is one who does not care about morality and does what he wants. I would argue that is a good working definition of a sociopath, one who is amoral and sees only their own gratification as how to guide their actions.

    @Herb:

    The person who devotes themselves to “living their own life for their own sake” is going to have problems satisfying a mate, much less raising a child.

    Not really. I routinely tell my son what I believe and that he is free to make up his own mind. I’m and atheist, he is a deist. I’m fine with that.

    Cooperation and compromise ensures the survival of our species. Libertarianism, on the other hand, stunts your intellectual growth.

    There is nothing in libertarianism that prevents cooperation and compromise, it just doesn’t require it. If you want to be a completely uncooperative and uncompromising dick to everyone you meet, knock yourself out. But don’t come whining to the rest of us about it.

    @grumpy realist:

    And I find liberals are some of the dumbest people I’ve ever met. Example, most people in this thread can’t seem to grasp the concept of a categorical error (abusing notation):

    Slagging on a religious figure = burning down a church.

    Or to put it differently, slagging on a religious figure is to be a dick. Burning down a church on the other hand is to go way, way beyond being a dick. Putting them in the same paragraph as if they are in the same category is just silly.

    See how easy it is to over-generalize from an unrepresentative sample?

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  114. john personna says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I’m sure a President could go out of bounds, but when a President calls for religious tolerance he is both acting morally and advancing the national interest.

    @Steve Verdon:

    That is a much better Libertarianism, yes. That would be one that uses the marketplace and the public square to advance an enlightened morality. That would be one with “dolphin free tuna” still labeled as such in the stores.

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  115. grumpy realist says:

    @Steve Verdon: The problem is that it is always far too easy to find justifications for selfishness and demanding your own way. Most of what growing up is all about is learning that you aren’t the only one in the world and that working together with others in an altruistic method ends up growing the pie for everyone.

    Unfortunately, far too many people (and organizations) are too short-sighted to see that. Remember Alan Greenspan’s absolute shock that banks were’nt “doing the right thing” with CDOs and all the real estate securities? To anyone who had any experience with reality, expecting the banks to do the right thing “on their own” was just clueless idealism.

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  116. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: ” In just a couple of weeks, I’m going to do my level best to give him even more time and freedom to exercise it. ”

    Do your sock puppets get to vote, too?

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  117. Herb says:

    @Steve Verdon:

    “Not really. I routinely tell my son what I believe and that he is free to make up his own mind.”

    Yes, I must admit there is a major “not really” clause in my statement, seeing as its entirely possible for Libertarians to have meaningful relationships and children to boot.

    I do suspect, though, that the most successful spend at least some –if not a lot-– of energy doing things for the sake of others, namely the wife and kids.

    My point isn’t that Libertarians can’t procreate. It’s that the ones who do find out quickly that to “live life for one own’s sake” often requires them to “live life for another’s own sake.”

    Or they pull the old semantic trick and pretend that their wives and their children are extensions of themselves. It’s cute and everything, but that’s more collectivist than Communism and, worse, it’s not even true. Are you your parents? Are you your wife? Is your son you?

    Absolutely not.

    There is nothing in libertarianism that prevents cooperation and compromise, it just doesn’t require it.

    And this, I think is why it fails as a philosophy because human interaction requires it. What kind of philosophy renders optional something that is necessary?

    An inadequate one.

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  118. M&M says:

    asshole!! Pussy!

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  119. M&M says:

    whore?

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  120. M&M says:

    Doug Mataconis is very unarticulated!!

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  121. callie1776 says:

    @Franklin:
    They are already telling us to whom we can pray. No mention of Jesus, by chaplains, in the armed services, because it might offend someone, somewhere. That is intolerance. The arrogance of the ‘politically correct’ who are the pigs among animals. I find them highly offensive. Why must my speech be limited, in a highly personal matter, while others are allowed full expression. It’s illogical and in the long run very scary.

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