June 16, 2009

"I believe in the principle of free speech but..."

Consider this post a kick in the ass to everyone who says that!

71 comments:

American Liberal Elite said...

I believe in the principles of free speech, but David Letterman should not have compared Sarah Palin to a slutty flight attendant. Ouch, my butt!

Elliott A said...

How can you have free speech when you have hate crimes?

campy said...

How can you have free speech when you have hate crimes?

You can't — but you can have a principle of free speech.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Evidently ALE thinks free speech means you can say anything you want without repurcussions. Actually free speech means you can say anything you want without being locked up by the government. It doesn't mean you can't be ostracized by polite society.

Just ask Imus. Or is that different?

Scott M said...

Or the Dixie Chicks.

This is the fundamental misunderstanding in western society. Cool-aid drinkers think free speech means freedom from judgement, which dovetails nicely with their innate moral relativism. Free speech in this country means, simply, no government sanctions for what you're saying as HD said.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Bingo, Hoosier. Liberals seem to think that the right to free speech ends when you stop disagreeing with conservatives. Letterman has free speech to say what he said, but I also have free speech to say that he is an ass to have said it, and, if I choose, to urge people to avoid his sponsors.

I have not heard a single person in this Letterman fiasco urge gov't intervention against him. Have you, ALE?

rhhardin said...

I remember at the lunch table one day explaining kettle logic and its surprising lack of relation to feminism.

That got me turned in. A long discussion with my boss, which I certainly enjoyed, ended with him saying, ``Well, don't talk to women.''

I have my own principle of free speech. Never be cowed.

Hoosier Daddy said...

This is the fundamental misunderstanding in western society. .

Well actually if you go to several 'western' countries, you'll find that free speech isnt' as fundamental as you think. Mark Steyn was hauled before the Canadian Human Rights Commission for an 'Islamophobic comment' which was an actual quote from an Iman. Same thing happened to Oriana Fallaci in Italy. Denying the Holocaust in Germany and Austria will get you a prison sentence. Free speech without government sanction is a uniquely American right although the left is determined to whittle that down with 'hate speech' ordinances.

I don't think Letterman should be fired or sanctioned by the network. I think the blowback by those who thought his comments were below standard adult behavior was sufficient.

Lem said...

I believe in the principle of Free Speech but if you are going to trash a mother’s underage kid you deserve everything that’s coming to you and more.
Hell hath no fury like a mother’s scorn.

MadisonMan said...

I believe in the principle of free speech, but I think some people should just STFU.

mariner said...


I don't think Letterman should be fired or sanctioned by the network.


I think Letterman should be fired or sanctioned by the network.

I just don't think he should be fined or sent to jail by the government.

As far as free speech, we stopped having it when the first "hate speech" laws were passed.

traditionalguy said...

Bold speech freely declared/published is the basic freedom that is the foundation to all political freedoms. However society does not like to see freedoms that upset applecarts. So we all do have to moderate the damage we do to peoples feelings, or we end up without friends. Common sense requires that we balance speaking with keeping the mouth shut.

Lem said...

I believe in the principle of Free Speech but if you are going to talk during the movie... (inaudible)

Meade said...

I believe in the principle of free speech but if I have to pay for it, I'd like it to be competitively priced.

OldGrouchy said...

Freedom of speech means that we have the capability to say what we wish, with only some well defined limits; perhaps other limits TBD by The One in coming years!

FoS also means we can tell those that piss us off, to go bugger off. FoS never has meant in this country that there's a right to be heard; thank God for that.

Oops, did something fall there in the CBS wilderness wood?

Jason (the commenter) said...

I believe in the principle of free speech but that doesn't mean I have to sit here and listen to you whine all day long.

Eldan said...

Leave David Letterman alone!!! *sob*

Big Mike said...

I started to write that there should never be a "but." Not now, and not ever.

But (there's that word!) there is a "but," isn't there? The only right and proper "but" is that words can have consequences and the speaker may not enjoy those consequences.

I have the right to call my boss a moron and he has right to fire me. (Luckily, he is far from being a moron; I have to run hard to keep up with him and I like it that way.)

David Letterman has the right to make a stupid joke, and the rest of us have the right to retaliate by tuning in to Conan (or watch "Law and Order" reruns) and to boycott his advertisers. If he doesn't like the probable consequences, he should think before he speaks.

MadisonMan said...

Jason, that's a great line for kids.

rhhardin said...

If he doesn't like the probable consequences, he should think before he speaks.

Or take it like a man, as the saying goes.

The consequences unfortunately aren't honest ones but chiefly intimidation of advertisers. You might not want to be part of that even if you're offended or pretending to be offended.

What mob will you join next? Always the question under such circumstances.

Elliott A said...

Political correctness in schools, colleges and universities, municipal environments, etc are clear abridgements to free speech. Since the various governments involved do not actively remove these inhibitions on free speech they are giving de facto support of the policies of all these institutions.

dbp said...

Freedom of speech means being able to say what you want, not being immune from criticism.

The criticized are free to say they're being censored, and the critics are free to say that claims of censorship are bull...

Bissage said...

“I don't like violence, Tom. I'm a business man. Blood is a big expense.”

-- Virgil “The Turk” Sollozzo

Quayle said...

I believe in the principles of free speech, but in our modern cash worshiping society, when one's large cushy income looks threatened, all principles go out the window and most people will apologize and backtrack from almost any statement they made, principle, principled, or neither.

gaywrites said...

Elliott A said: How can you have free speech when you have hate crimes?

I assume this was meant to be a rhetorical question, expressing disapproval of hate crime laws. So, while Elliott A probably doesn't care to hear a response, I'll give one because I...wait for it...have the right.

Hate crime laws penalize conduct, and specifically, the motivation for that conduct. Beating someone in the street based on their race or other characteristics may be viewed as freedom of expression, but the Supreme Court distinguishes expression from conduct. Hate crime laws (when they are valid) merely allow for increased penalties based on motivation, which is always a legitimate concern in determining a criminal sentence. There is plenty of precedent that shows that speech can be used as evidence to prove an element of a crime or to prove motive or intent. People are allowed express their ideas, but when they engage in criminal conduct based on those beliefs, First Amendment rights are surrendered.

Additionally, juries decide whether bias motivated crimes are actually present, not judges. So if you're worried about some "activist" judge getting involved, don't. Members of the community are deciding, and the prosecution must do so beyond a reasonable doubt.

And, if hate crimes suppress first amendment rights, why does Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 not do the same thing? Do we want to protect employers that discriminate against their employees under the First Amendment?

TRO said...

Liberals consistently show a profound ignorance of what free speech means in this country. And the truth is most of them don't really know it means government restriction only. The rest ignore it because it suits them.

TRO said...

"Hate crime laws penalize conduct, and specifically, the motivation for that conduct."

That sentence makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Seriously, it is totally contradictory. It's "shaking my head" nonsensical.

Big Mike said...

@gaywrites, in the context of the Professor's post and his 8:43 comment, I always assumed that ElliottA mean hate speech as opposed to hate crimes.

I think he's right about hate crimes, too, BTW, but that's a discussion for another time and place.

"Hate speech" is wrong because (1) it's contrary to our most fundamental principles as incorporated into the 1st Amendment, and (2) it's unidirectional. Only selected members of the student body are protected while others are fair game to be the recipients of harangues of the vilest sort.

But even if "hate speech" regulations were even handed they'd still be wrong.

Henry Buck said...

I believe in the principle of free speech butt, because when women splash logos or slogans across their asses, it gives me an excuse to stare.

Jason said...

Gaywrites,

Wow. So since we have anti-sodomy laws on the books, then we could enact laws that punish homosexual conduct, but specifically the motivation to commit homosexual conduct. And there's no constitutional problem with that.

Gotcha.

bagoh20 said...

How do we parse Freedom of Speech with laws against inciting? If things I say get people all fired up and they start rioting, then my speech is no longer free. That always seemed real unfair to me.

bagoh20 said...

Hate speech laws are simply wrong. The main body of speech that needs protecting is speech that attacks someone or some group. That's essentially the purpose of the right.
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Will hate for the government fall under hate speech laws eventually. I know a certain very thin-skinned narcissist that may push that soon. I mean, we can't finish the important work the government is doing to save us if everyone is attacking it.

Daniel Macintyre said...

I believe that since Letterman apologized, Palin should forgive him.

I also believe she should go on his show as a measure of good faith.

I said as much here.

hawkeyedjb said...

Everything I need to know about free speech, I learned from...

The Constitution: "Congress shall make no law..."

Oriana Fallaci: "You go fuck yourself. I say what I want."

bagoh20 said...

"I believe that since Letterman apologized, Palin should forgive him.

I also believe she should go on his show as a measure of good faith."


She did accept it today, graciously.
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Her family never did anything to him to deserve the insults. He is unworthy of her help with his ratings.

I'm sorry is fine, but going on his show rewards him for the unsolicited attack. Her appearance would only benefit him for his low character.

Elliott A said...

Expressions presented symbolically are usually defined under free speech, but are treated as hate crimes. Examples are burning crosses and swastickas painted on synagogues. All crimes against individuals are actually hate crimes, since the individual victim often represents something which the perpetrator is lashing out against. Rape is a hate crime, but is not treated as other hate crimes. How can anyone truly know another's motivation? Do people hate the individual group, or what they represent?

My initial rhetorical question, perhaps awkwardly worded (I'm a dentist, not a lawyer), was meant to show how Orwellian "doublespeak" (hate crime) cannot coexist with free speech. The presence of the former along with its official sanction denies the latter.

Elliott A said...

Political correctness in schools, colleges and universities, municipal environments, etc are clear abridgements to free speech. Since the various governments involved do not actively remove these inhibitions on free speech they are giving de facto support of the policies of all these institutions.

nansealinks said...

i believe in turning off the radio and tv.


i believe in selective listening.

selective eating, selective drinking, and highly selective pursuits of my own happiness, which is a tedious trial and error process.

tim maguire said...

I believe in free speech in theory. But come on, what kind of society is this where I can't have people who say things that annoy me thrown in jail?

Really? Would you want to live in a society like that? Cause I don't! I have a right to be annoyance free!

ANNOYANCE FREE!! ANNOYANCE FREE!! FREE ANNOYANCE!! Err, wait...

William said...

Mormons can be ridiculed in a way that black Baptists or, heaven forbid, Muslims cannot. The first comedian to make a joke about Sotomayor's weight or Michelle's overbite will lose his job. The people who are most eager to expand the envelope of free speech do not include a return address on that envelope.

MadisonMan said...

Her appearance would only benefit him for his low character.

Perhaps, but I think it would be great television. I don't watch much of Letterman, but he's a very polite interviewer and the interviews are mostly very interesting to watch.

I doubt it will happen.

Justin said...

My initial rhetorical question, perhaps awkwardly worded (I'm a dentist, not a lawyer), was meant to show how Orwellian "doublespeak" (hate crime) cannot coexist with free speech. The presence of the former along with its official sanction denies the latter.

But it really doesn't. Hate crime laws don't impact the freedom to say or think what you want. They just prevent you from acting on those words or thoughts.

Hate speech laws are in a different category. I.e., freedom of speech means that you can use words like (to take an example) faggot all you want. The idea behind hate crime laws is that when hatred of "faggots" motivates someone to commit crime, that person should face greater punishment because they pose a greater threat to society. It has nothing to do with speech.

the quietist said...

"I believe in the principle of free speech, but not when people say things that I disagree with."

-- about 90% of my (college-aged) students

Of course, they use the word "offensive" rather than "disagreement," but what is the difference?

chickenlittle said...

MadisonMan said:
I believe in the principle of free speech, but I think some people should just STFU.

I'll echo that.

Robert Cook said...

Justin said: "Hate crime laws don't impact the freedom to say or think what you want. They just prevent you from acting on those words or thoughts."

Hate crimes laws criminalize thought. We have plenty of laws on the books that prohibit and punish stalking, harassment, assault minor and major, battery, etc. What essential difference is there if an assailant commits violence against another in the commission of a robbery, because of a personal beef, for no reason at all, or because he hates his victim's race, religion, sexual identity, or so on? A punch in the face is a punch in the face, a black eye or broken limb is not made worse depending on the motive driving the fist or club.

Hate crimes are terrible, as are all crimes of violence; hate crimes laws are laws against the thoughts driving already criminal acts and are thus unConstitutional.

By the way, by the standards of most commenters here, I'm one of the lefties. Also, those who proclaim support for freedom of speech but who actually don't may be found all across the political spectrum, and are not limited only to conservatives (as many liberals think) or liberals (as many conservatives think).

Shanna said...

"I believe in the principle of free speech, but I think some people should just STFU."

Exactly, MM. As long as it's not the government who shuts them up.

Jeremy said...

Lem said..."I believe in the principle of Free Speech but if you are going to trash a mother’s underage kid you deserve everything that’s coming to you and more.
Hell hath no fury like a mother’s scorn."

Does that bit of wisdom include this "joke" relating to Princess Sarah's "underage kid?":

"Gov. Palin announced over the weekend that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is five months pregnant. And you thought John Edwards was in trouble before! Now he has really done it."
"The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," 9/2/08

Should he also be fired?

Bruce Hayden said...

The problem with hate crime laws is that I see, above and beyond the criminalizing of certain thoughts, is that most crimes of violence are hate motivated. Hate crimes just provide added penalties to politically incorrect hate. Black on black gang violence doesn't count, despite the fact that the Crips probably hate the Bloods far more than straights beating up gays, or Whites assaulting Blacks. But Black on Black violence, despite all the evidence of hatred expressed up to and during the violence, doesn't count. It isn't politically incorrect.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that this phrase is most abused on academia. You just need to go onto the FIRE website to get an idea of how frequently free speech is suppressed in what should be its bastion.

Jeremy said...

Bruce Hayden said..."The problem with hate crime laws is that I see, above and beyond the criminalizing of certain thoughts, is that most crimes of violence are hate motivated."

I have no idea what you base this statement on. "Hate" crimes are always directly related to people killing others because they literally "hate" something about them relating race, sexual preference or ethnicity.

You appear to be saying that most of the people killed during the course of robberies, drugs, burglaries, rapes, and even planned murder, all of which easily constitute an overwhelming majority of violence, are based on those people "hating" their victims?

I'd like to see a link to anything supporting that premise.

Oligonicella said...

I believe in the principle of free speech but I agree that you shouldn't be allowed to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

Chip Ahoy said...

I believe that Frank Sinatra was insane when he sang that for every drop of rain that falls a flower grows, because that flat does not work out mathematically, but I suppose he had the right to sing that nonsense and to profit by it.

I believe in the principle of free speech as set out in the US constitution but not as it's been picked up by those who feel it gives them the right to say whatever flies through the vacuum between their ears.

I believe that satire is a thing distinct from dementia.

I believe in continuous use of MUTE function. Especially when it comes to enablers of narcissistic politicians, Billy Mays, and that Dealing Dan guy who sells cars ...

and earplugs, the right to walk out on conversations, to hang up, to shut people out entirely if it gets to that, and I believe in a nice heavy cast-iron frying pan when one is handy and your immediate interlocutor refuses your pleas to shut up.

I believe in hunting down internet trolls and burning down their houses, or at least having a wee on their bushes. I believe in keying cars displaying offensive bumper stickers, after all, they've already marred them, and I believe whoever installs political posters in their windows are asking for a rock to be thrown through it.

I believe in tagging over tags with homoerotic messages, just don't get caught with the stencils.

I believe I can instigate a revolt against the US government and can not be jailed for it, although people within the government can retaliate by making my life miserable by auditing me continuously, calling me up for jury duty regularly, accidentally cutting off my electricity and water and being slow to turn it back on, they can employing easement property rights to knock down my fence in order to move heavy equipment through for no serious reason, or they can legally seize my property outright and pay me less than its worth, ostensively for a public project that never comes about. They can have me subpoenaed for disposition in unrelated cases, they can arrest and detain me for contrived infractions, investigate me then leak their findings, have me smeared in ways I haven't the means to counter nor the ability recover. They can freeze my assets, they can open my gate and let out my dog having previously left a trail of liver bits to a nearby highway, they can legally enter my home then accidentally siphon my aquarium onto my den floor leaving my fish stranded, and while there carelessly feed my bird chocolate and an avocado pit causing it to sicken and die. They can legally cause all kind of trouble with my driver's license and my passport. They can put me on the no-fly list and make it impossible to be removed.

I believe that Gardiner had the right to categorize hieroglyphs however he chose but he really should have put the ib glyph of a little clay pot meaning "heart," under D. Parts of the Human Body and not under F. Parts of Mammals (34), because -- come on! -- it doesn't belong there. That's right, I said it, a human heart! I do believe I have the right to say that counter to authority.

Jeremy said...

Oligonicella said..."I believe in the principle of free speech but I agree that you shouldn't be allowed to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater."

What if the theater is on fire?

Jeremy said...

Chipper - Do you believe there are people who obviously have too much time on their hands and post ridiculously long and incredibly vapid comments?

Just wondered.

Jim said...

What I find extraordinarily amusing about those who claim that those who "intimidate advertisers" or are part of the "mob" mentality with regard to those organizing a campaign against Letterman's advertisers have never spoken a bad word about ANY Leftist organization organizing similar boycotts.

So it's just "mob mentality" if they go after speech you like and "intimidation" if it's done by conservatives, and "speaking truth to power" or other Leftist cliche if it's done by Leftists.

Interesting. And highly informative about the true beliefs of those who claim to be more tolerant and open-minded than the rest of us.

Justin said...

What essential difference is there if an assailant commits violence against another in the commission of a robbery, because of a personal beef, for no reason at all, or because he hates his victim's race, religion, sexual identity, or so on? A punch in the face is a punch in the face, a black eye or broken limb is not made worse depending on the motive driving the fist or club.

I disagree. And I think sentences in criminal cases, especially in federal court, reflect that all punches in the face are not alike. There are factors that drive a sentence up, and there are factors that drive it down. It's important to note that hate crime statutes (at least the ones I'm aware of) are not substantive crimes; they are sentence enhancers.

To take your example, a person who commits robbery because of a personal beef need not be punished as severely as a person who commits robbery because they believe black people are worthless and it's therefore ok to rob them, because the former is less likely to rob again than the latter. The former is also more likely to understand, and accept, that what they did was wrong.

Is it really such a stretch to say that one is objectively worse than the other?

And again, IMHO, hate crime statutes do not punish thought. They punish acting on certain thoughts. We're allowed to think about all sorts of criminal activity. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be punished when we commit crimes. Nor does it mean that punishment shouldn't reflect a person's overall dangerousness to the community.

Jeremy said...

Jim said..."What I find extraordinarily amusing about those who claim that those who "intimidate advertisers" or are part of the "mob" mentality with regard to those organizing a campaign against Letterman's advertisers have never spoken a bad word about ANY Leftist organization organizing similar boycotts."

Who is this "mob" you refer to?

Why would anyone left or right care about a boycott?

If it works, it works, if not...it doesn't.

Jeremy said...

I notice Lem isn't quite so upset at Jay Leno as he appears to be about Letterman.

Hypocrite.

Scott M said...

And again, IMHO, hate crime statutes do not punish thought. They punish acting on certain thoughts. We're allowed to think about all sorts of criminal activity. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be punished when we commit crimes. Nor does it mean that punishment shouldn't reflect a person's overall dangerousness to the community

Permit me to jump the track a bit here...I find that most people that support "hate crime" legislation tend to be moral relativist and hold to the notion that no culture is innately better or worse than others.

It seems to me that this is a good example of how nonsensical that viewpoint is. A culture that fosters hate in the many of racism, sexism, etc, would be, if you support hate crime sentencing, inferior to one who holds haters accountable for their hateful actions.

And, if you have to allow that one culture is superior to another there...well, the whole house of cards starts to tip over...

Synova said...

"To take your example, a person who commits robbery because of a personal beef need not be punished as severely as a person who commits robbery because they believe black people are worthless and it's therefore ok to rob them, because the former is less likely to rob again than the latter. The former is also more likely to understand, and accept, that what they did was wrong."

Those considerations are made even without "hate" legislation, aren't they? So what does the hate legislation do other than present opportunities for politicians to pat themselves on the back in public and vilify those of their opponents who don't prove they're on the right side of things by passing whatever law presented to them that will show they "care"?

And if, as someone suggested, those laws only apply higher penalties in specific situations between specific groups and not to violence against opposing gangs of the same race or some odd obsession against people with red hair or lesbian ninjas hunting the city at night castrating straight men, then it's not actually about hate as motivation in sentencing. It's about something else.

jimspice said...

Re: hate crimes: the speech is not the crime. The murder, or the attack, or whatnot, is the crime, and the intent, the hate, is simply an enhancer. Here the hateful speech is simply evidence of the intent, just as a confession, another type of speech, is evidence.

elizabeth said...

Free speech is only free in Americuh until it reaches a liberal ear!

It is amazing to me these (former?) hippies who fought for freedom from authority are now wanting to be the authority in charge of speech...it's always been about what THEY want.

gaywrites said...

Many people have been addressing the hate crimes thread. I've been working so I've been unable to follow it all but I will respond to responses to my comment this morning.

First, TRO criticized my statement about the difference between conduct and expression as nonsensical and contradictory. It's actually neither. If you've read any of the Supreme Court cases regarding hate crimes and the First Amendment, you'll see that in State v. Mitchell, 508 U.S. 476 (1993), the Court distinguished an invalid hate crime statute that specifically punished the placement of certain symbols on property (violation of content-based speech regulation) from a hate crime statute that increased criminal sentences based on motivation. The Court ruled that the former statute was an impermissible restriction on expression, whereas the latter statute was constitutional because it was directed at conduct, and the motivation for that conduct (hate based on protected characteristics). There may not be a difference in layman's terms, but expression and conduct are consistently parsed and distinguished in first amendment jurisprudence. Additionally, things such as cross burning, etc. can be protected as political speech and not be a hate crime (think the KKK holding a rally) but not when specifically used to intimidate others (case of two white men that had but a 4ft. high burning cross in the yard of a black family to let them know they were not welcome in the neighborhood). The Supreme Court DOES make these distinctions.

Second, Jason directed at me the following statement: "Wow. So since we have anti-sodomy laws on the books, then we could enact laws that punish homosexual conduct, but specifically the motivation to commit homosexual conduct. And there's no constitutional problem with that." If you read the well-known case Lawrence v. Texas (I'm not even going to give a full citation, it's that popular, Google it), you'll notice that in 2003 the Supreme Court struck down a Texas sodomy statute that criminalized same-sex sodomy but not different-sex sodomy, under substantive due process. In fact, the concurrence by Justice O'Connor, she said she would have decided the case under Equal Protection, noting that the law treated homosexual couples and heterosexual couples differently under the statute. The majority rejected this, not only because it concluded that every adult, gay or straight, has a constitutional right to intimate association within the privacy of their own homes, but also that deciding a case on equal protection grounds opens up the inference that an anti-sodomy law that applied equally to homosexuals and heterosexuals would ignore the substance behind that law (in this case, demeaning homosexual sex) and would not remove the stigma associated with the law. So no, we haven't had sodomy laws in this country for nearly six years.

bagoh20 said...

Is a person who punches you in the face for no reason whatsoever somehow less dangerous? Not to me. That's one of many stupid assumptions of hate crime laws.
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In fact, serial criminals (arguably the most dangerous) are, I think, motivated by enjoyment of the crime itself rather than hatred for the victim.
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If someone attacks someone because they are a minority, doesn't that mean that at least the majority is safe. They therefore are less dangerous than the random attacker, who we all must fear.

If we could just designate a small enough minority so that most of us could feel safe and allow them to be attacked, that would be an improvement.

Any suggestions?

gaywrites said...

This discussion is out of control. The more I read it the more frustrated I become. Hate crimes ARE NOT independent from other crimes. If you punch a black person but the prosecution cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime was motivated by hatred for black people, then it's not a hate crime. It's a regular crime, but there will be no penalty enhancer or change in degree of the crime charged.

So this talk about "is someone that punches you for no reason less dangerous?" is missing the forest for the trees. If someone punches you for no reason, they still punched you, and they will be charged accordingly. But the theory behind hate crimes is that there are statistics about people that commit crimes against certain groups of people for the sole reason of committing the crime against that person. That is, if there is a white victim and a black victim, and the attacker punches the white person because they are white, but would not have punched either person if they were both black, and that can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury, then they have committed a hate crime. That's why there are penalty enhancers for hate crimes, because it is meant to punish/deter (argue which some other time) people that commit a crime they would not have otherwise committed but for the hatred. Additionally, hate crimes affect communities. They make entire groups of people feel less safe because they feel like they are targets. This can have all sorts of negative effects, effects that are arguably worth mitigating.

Freeman Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin said...

So what does the hate legislation do other than present opportunities for politicians to pat themselves on the back in public and vilify those of their opponents who don't prove they're on the right side of things by passing whatever law presented to them that will show they "care"?

It removes the judge's discretion, i.e., it requires a mandatory rather than discretionary enhancement. Other examples include the ubiquitous "three strikes" laws. Legislators have decided that judges should not be afforded discretion at sentencing where these factors are present. More likely than not, governors have refrained from vetoing such legislation. Prime examples, in many states, of elected officials removing or diminishing the discretion of unelected officials. Isn't that a good thing? Or is it a good thing only when you agree?

I do agree with you that political back-patting motivates these laws, and that those who disagree are vilified. But isn't that true of many other actions taken by legislatures that have only fringe opposition?

Synova said...

"Isn't that a good thing?"

I don't think so, if it only applies in some cases and not all cases of hate motivated crimes. That seems to me to be a simple matter of equal treatment.

"Or is it a good thing only when you agree?"

Heh. ;-)

I don't generally agree with three-strikes laws, but I do understand why people favor them.

The problem is that, just as taking away opportunities for discretion and forcing judges to impose harsher sentences for "hate" crimes *even* if it applied equally to all crimes no matter who hates who... is that the goal may be to stop judges from excusing the white boys and thus stopping injustice, is that *other* injustice occurs.

With "three-strikes" a judge no longer gets to consider that not all felonies are equal and not all felons were the intended subjects of the "three-strikes" laws.

"I do agree with you that political back-patting motivates these laws, and that those who disagree are vilified. But isn't that true of many other actions taken by legislatures that have only fringe opposition?"

Oh, certainly it's TRUE. We'd all be far better off and far more free if our elected officials cared less about proving how much they care.

Oligonicella said...

Jeremy --

"What if the theater is on fire?"

Still a bad idea. Stand, inform and help direct to exits. No sense at all in inciting panic. People actually get out faster without panic.

LilyBart said...

People can say what they want - but they don't have the right to be free from the consequences of their speech.

traditionalguy said...

Right after Patrick Henry proclaimed. "Give me liberty or give me death," the Torys and the King's Army and the King's Navy went into action to give him his death wish. No wonder the Bill of Rights had to be agreed to include the Second Amendment rights before any states would become bound under a Strong Executive government again. That must have been a Wise White Men's decision taken while Florida had no part to play since the King of Spain owned Florida along with Puerto Rico then.