February 19, 2015

"Freedom is only meaningful if it includes all speech, no matter who is offended by it."

"It would be a hazardous undertaking for anyone to start separating the permissible speech from the impermissible, using the standard of offensiveness. The freedom guaranteed in the First Amendment is indivisible. You can’t take it away from Larry Flynt and keep it for yourself. The real issue of this case is: Are we afraid to be free?"

Said Herald Price Fahringer who represented Larry Flynt at trial — and also Al Goldstein and Claus von Bülow and Jean S. Harris. The quote appears in his NYT obituary, which has a nice picture of him sitting in his law office and reading Screw. He was 87.

67 comments:

Greg Hlatky said...

"Freedom is only meaningful if it includes all speech, no matter who is offended by it."

How quaint.

dreams said...

I think our founding fathers wanted to protect political speech but that is the kind of speech that is currently being denied or surpressed.

mr said...

The words of just another dead white male.

Anonymous said...

dreams has it right.

Not all speech is protected. Plagiarism isn't protected speech, for example. Lot's of speech shouldn't be protected.

What should be protected is political speech and religious speech.

Tibore said...

That statement resonates with everyone. Problem is, there are far too many who'll nod and cheer it on, then turn right around, go back to their campus or workplace, and practice the opposite.

There are far too many who'll talk this talk, but not walk it.

traditionalguy said...

He was a Herald for sure.

Sebastian said...

Very old-fashioned. We've progressed beyond that.

In the White House or at universities like Brandeis, we know not to attack Islam.

On the other hand, nude dancing clearly is just the form of speech the founding generation had in mind.

rhhardin said...

Blanchot took the option of suicide to be the test of freedom. ("The Space of Literature") You can always opt out.

Jabes took obligation as necessary for freedom. It makes you the entity that is able to take up freedom. A contravariant insight.

Hustler on the other hand is just handy for getting through puberty.

richard mcenroe said...

Of course that was then and Larry Flynt, publisher of pornographic cartoons of Republicans and women, this is now, when you better not piss off the campus diversity administrator or violate the universityh speech code if you want that diploma, kid...

richard mcenroe said...

dreams, ALL speech is political if it offends the politically minded...

SMGalbraith said...

"Freedom is only meaningful if it includes all speech, no matter who is offended by it."

That's nice but it's not true.

Defamation, copyright infringement, patents, grand jury testimony, national security secrets, financial information, private information of individuals (SS#, et cetera), fighting words....

I'll stop at nine.

Robert Cook said...

"Not all speech is protected. Plagiarism isn't protected speech, for example. Lot's of speech shouldn't be protected."

Really? So, you don't believe in freedom of speech.

By the way, don't be literal: "speech" means "the expression of ideas." Plagiarism is not speech, but theft of another's words and ideas. And, last I heard, plagiarism is not considered acceptable and usually gets one fired or otherwise sanctioned.

"What should be protected is political speech and religious speech."

Nice of you to allow us that.

Robert Cook said...

SCREW Magazine is out of business now, but I've been in their editorial offices. I knew people who worked there. Seemed like a fun place to work. (Al Goldstein's office was not on the same floor.)

prairie wind said...

Plagiarism isn't verboten because of what you mean but because you are stealing someone's intellectual property. Plagiarism is not a freedom of speech issue, is it? After all, I can quote what you said all day long with no problem as long as I give you credit for wordi)ng it in exactly that way.

Freedom of speech doesn't work unless we use it (I might be quoting someone there...not sure) so hurray for Larry Flynt using it. When we all go polite and circumspect by leaving out the problematic words (Islamic, Christian), we diminish the understanding of freedom of speech.

At least once a day, we should try to piss off someone by saying something indecorous.

garage mahal said...

I'm all for free speech for conservatives. AFTER they're in the camps.

Revenant said...

That's nice but it's not true.

Defamation, copyright infringement, patents, grand jury testimony, national security secrets, financial information, private information of individuals (SS#, et cetera), fighting words....

I'll stop at nine.

If you'd kept going, you might have actually gotten to an example of him being wrong. None of the above are restricted because they "offend".

AustinRoth said...

That is a real problem with the Left these days - as with all good "Reformists", i.e., Stalinists, Maoists, etc, they know that true freedom of speech, open debate and criticism of ideas, is their greatest enemy.

SMGalbraith said...

"'speech' means "the expression of ideas.

Defamatory ideas are not protected.



SMGalbraith said...

"If you'd kept going, you might have actually gotten to an example of him being wrong. None of the above are restricted because they "offend"."

If you read what he said you wouldn't be wrong.

He said: "[A]ll speech...no matter who is offended by it."

All means all. As is, all of your comment was wrong.

He didn't limit it to offensive speech as in "All offensive speech" he said, again, all speech.

SMGalbraith said...

And to add: as I understand it, the dispute in Flynt vs. Falwell wasn't about offensive speech. It was about libel and speech that caused emotional distress.

A lower court ruled in Falwell's favor but the Supreme Court said the ad was clearly parody - therefor it wasn't true and not libelous or injurious.

Perhaps the professor could step in.

If it wasn't deemed a parody, it would have not been protected.

geokstr said...

garage mahal said...
I'm all for free speech for conservatives. AFTER they're in the camps.


Finally, a bit of honesty from a leftling. Don't bother claiming it was just a joke, either.

Obama joked about auditing his enemies just before the IRS began stifling the Tea Parties, auditing their donors and founders and subjecting them to harassment by the EPA, the FBI, OSHA and other governmental bodies Obama has politicized.

Next comes the camps.

Robert Cook said...

"Defamatory ideas are not protected."

What do you mean by "defamatory ideas?"

damikesc said...

It's cute remember when Progressives pretended to believe that.

Now, it's speech codes that would make Orwell blush.

Tank said...

SMGalbraith said...

"'speech' means "the expression of ideas.

Defamatory ideas are not protected.


Defamation involves statements of fact about others.

EMD said...

I'm all for free speech for conservatives. AFTER they're in the camps.

You know that's how uprisings start, so you'd better squelch it in the gulags as well.

EMD said...


Defamatory ideas are not protected.


I think we're in hair-splitting territory here.

Tom said...

I like that - if you're offended by speech, you're afraid be to free.

richard mcenroe said...

Ann, your peers are solving this problem for you...

http://youtu.be/HwF9SFaKy6U

JHapp said...

The executive and legislative branches of our government should not have freedom of speech.

Anonymous said...

"Blogger Robert Cook said...
"Not all speech is protected. Plagiarism isn't protected speech, for example. Lot's of speech shouldn't be protected."

Really? So, you don't believe in freedom of speech.

By the way, don't be literal: "speech" means "the expression of ideas." Plagiarism is not speech, but theft of another's words and ideas. And, last I heard, plagiarism is not considered acceptable and usually gets one fired or otherwise sanctioned.

"What should be protected is political speech and religious speech."

Nice of you to allow us that.


Sometimes, you just want to argue.

Why don't I believe in freedom of speech?

Is it because I said plagiarism isn't protected, or because I said Religious and Political speech is?

Should "fighting words" be protected? How about yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater? What about libel?

Franklin said...

Amazing that Democrats/The Left now want to ban speech...and just think in 1994 or whenever that Woody Harrelson movie came out they were worried about the Religious Right.

El, oh, el.

dreams said...

My point was that the founding fathers wanted people to be free to express their opinions. Its obvious to me that no one is trying to stop us from saying shit-piss-fuck-damn.

tim in vermont said...

The problem with reserving freedom to religious and political speech is that everybody has to agree on a definition of those terms. *Everybody.* That's why maximum free speech must be allowed. I know that lefties believe that free speech is one of the "master's tools" and you are never going to tear down the "master's house with the master's tools." Tough, we can't give into them, not an inch.

tim in vermont said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simon said...

dreams said...
"My point was that the founding fathers wanted people to be free to express their opinions. Its obvious to me that no one is trying to stop us from saying shit-piss-fuck-damn."

No, but there are plenty of people who are trying to stop anyone from saying "kill all the niggers and deport all the Jews." Those are ghastly ideas, but they are ideas, and they are precisely the ideas that the Supreme Court deemed protected speech in Brandenburg v. Ohio. What do you suppose would happen if a college student expressed such an idea today? (Don't think that it matters whether the student said so on-campus or whether (s)he ruffled feathers liberal or conservative.) Career-ending consequences would follow, and not because "nigger" is deemed an offensive word. (The same response would attend the idea "kill all the blacks"). The idea itself is deemed too offensive for anyone to hold, and while the government may not be able to attach consequences to expressing that idea, private actors (especially not not exclusively educational institutions) are falling over themselves to pick up the slack, attaching deterrent consequences. Are they wrong to do so?

dreams said...

"The idea itself is deemed too offensive for anyone to hold, and while the government may not be able to attach consequences to expressing that idea, private actors (especially not not exclusively educational institutions) are falling over themselves to pick up the slack, attaching deterrent consequences. Are they wrong to do so?"

I'm for freedom of speech.

Robert Cook said...

"Should 'fighting words' be protected? How about yelling 'Fire' in a crowded theater? What about libel?"

What are "fighting words?" Assuming there can be common agreement on what they are, why shouldn't they be allowed? If anything, this is what "freedom of speech" is meant to protect.

I've never understood the "shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater" metaphor. I think it's a poor hypothetical. After all, if there really is a fire in a crowded theater, shouldn't an alarm be raised? Shouldn't one shout "fire!" to alert people to the danger? If there is not a fire and someone shouts "fire!" and a panic ensues in which people are injured or property is damaged, one can find other means to sanction the one who shouted "fire!" falsely, (e.g, cite them for inciting a riot, disturbing the peace, etc.). This seems to come down to whether one is telling a lie or telling the truth. Justice Holmes formulated this metaphor to explain why speaking in opposition to the draft (during WWI) was not protected speech. Well, he was wrong; it should be protected speech. He made a bad metaphor to justify a bad ruling. (He did, however, say, "falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater," which is more understandable and perhaps more justified.)

Libel, again, comes down to telling a lie, or telling a truth. If one tells an unflattering truth about someone, "truth" should be the defense, and the unwelcome remark is not libel; if the remark is not true, but a lie, then sanctioning the libel is not a question of prohibiting "speech" as speech, but against telling a harmful lie, damaging another's reputation.

Anonymous said...

Libel, again, comes down to telling a lie, or telling a truth. If one tells an unflattering truth about someone, "truth" should be the defense, and the unwelcome remark is not libel; if the remark is not true, but a lie, then sanctioning the libel is not a question of prohibiting "speech" as speech, but against telling a harmful lie, damaging another's reputation.

To sum up, the speech you believe should be protected, should be protected. The speech you believe shouldn't be protected, shouldn't be protected.

Noted.

Robert Cook said...

"To sum up, the speech you believe should be protected, should be protected. The speech you believe shouldn't be protected, shouldn't be protected.

"Noted."


No; your "summing up" is a willful misinterpretation and misrepresentation of my meaning...as you are well aware.

"Libel" is telling a lie about someone, a lie that damages the libeled person (or institution). To sanction libel is not sanctioning "free speech," it is sanctioning the damage that results from making false speech. One may freely tell a lie, but one may also rightly be punished for the damage that results.

Anonymous said...

To sanction libel is not sanctioning "free speech," it is sanctioning the damage that results from making false speech.

Exactly right. Free speech is free speech. Anything not free speech, isn't.

You may want to look up circulus in probando.

Alex said...

Based on being banned at certain video game sites, there is no freedom of speech whenever a leftist gets power.

Alex said...

Don't make any mistake, most people do not want freedom of ideas. They would shut down all opposing viewpoints if given the POWER.

Anonymous said...

Another win for the First Amendment in Wisconsin today:

The Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) will not appeal a January 29 court ruling that found it was unconstitutional for the agency to require a permit for the daily solidarity singalong held at the State Capitol.

The unanimous decision from a three-judge Wisconsin Fourth District Appeals Court panel upheld a lower court ruling from Dane County, which meant the more than 300 citations handed out to singers and other protesters by Capitol Police are null and void.


http://www.wkow.com/story/28149175/2015/02/19/doa-wont-appeal-court-ruling-in-favor-of-capitol-singers

The Walker Administration originally wanted a permit to be required if as few as THREE people wanted to gather in the Capitol. He obviously doesn't understand the concept of free speech at all.

tim in vermont said...

So madisonfella, you guys planning to shut down the duly elected Wisconsin legislature next time they try to carry out the will of the people, but you disagree?

Is that what you call "democracy" shouting down elections? Because that's how it looks from here.

Shouting down elections, abusing prosecutoral disgression, secret gmail accounts, whatever it takes to try to win, right?

Anonymous said...

Wow. Tim sure gave up that whole "maximum free speech must be allowed" idea really really fast.

And despite the false impression he has received from reading this blog, everyone else should be aware that no elections were shouted down by the Solidarity Sing A Long.

tim in vermont said...

Right, whatever. Maximum does not mean complete. If your idea of free speech is to shout down the legislature, that's fine. Just don't be surprised if you get called on it and your credibility suffers and it makes for lousy PR for your side.

Laslo Spatula said...

I have yelled "anal sex" in a crowded theatre.

Does the movie playing really matter?


I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

What if the movie was "Selma"?

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

"Selma and Louise": which gave up the anal?

I am Laslo.

Anonymous said...

If your idea of free speech is to shout down the legislature

Much like your statement about the elections being "shouted down" (exactly which elections do you think were overturned due to people yelling?) this new claim of yours is also incorrect. The legislative branch of Wisconsin is still standing and functioning, having never been "shouted down" by the Solidarity Sing A Long.

It should also be mentioned, in case you didn't already know, there are no palm trees around our state Capitol either.

Anonymous said...

Tim's disgust towards those engage in speech he personally disagrees with shows that it isn't just lefties who believe that free speech is one of the "master's tools" that shouldn't be used by the common citizen. His own words (along with the actions of the Walker Administration) shows that righties also believe the same thing.

Which is why we can't give into the extremists on either side of the political spectrum, not even an inch.

tim in vermont said...

[Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau] is a frequent target of protesters. They follow him during parades and videotape him in an effort to catch something controversial. Once, a protester even chased him into a bank, blasting a horn in Fitzgerald's ear the whole way.

"I think they're trying to get a lawmaker to take a swing at them," he said. "And it's really hard to not take a swing at someone when they're blowing a horn in your ear."


Is chasing somebody and blowing a horn in their ear "free speech"?

tim in vermont said...

You guys can bang on your pathetic drum circles and parade around with Walker is Hitler signs all you want. It is when you start physically harassing elected officials and interfering with their ability to do their job that you are crossing over from "speech" to something different.

Interesting that you can't tell the difference.

tim in vermont said...

Democratic officials are second-guessing the party’s obsession with attacking the Koch brothers, saying it bears some of the blame for last year’s devastating election losses as the focus on the conservative billionaires diluted a party message already struggling for clarity. Doubts about the relentless attacks on the Koch brothers surfaced as the Democratic National Committee held its annual meeting Thursday in Washington

Ha ha ha! We tried to tell you but you wouldn't lissseennnnn! You guys never listen.

Anonymous said...

Is chasing somebody and blowing a horn in their ear "free speech"?

Is THAT what you think the case I mentioned was about? Because it wasn't and you have been horribly misguided into thinking it was. The court case was about the unconstitutional rules the Walker Administration enacted and enforced against people participating in the Solidarity Sing A Long. If Sen. Fitzgerald is actually being assaulted then he should press charges. Two totally different things.

Small correction to my earlier comment: The Governor attempted to impose permit requirements on groups of four or more people (not three - my bad). Do you Stand With Walker on that one?

jr565 said...

""It would be a hazardous undertaking for anyone to start separating the permissible speech from the impermissible, using the standard of offensiveness. The freedom guaranteed in the First Amendment is indivisible. You can’t take it away from Larry Flynt and keep it for yourself. The real issue of this case is: Are we afraid to be free?"

Said Herald Price Fahringer who represented Larry Flynt at trial — and also Al Goldstein and Claus von Bülow and Jean S. Harris. The quote appears in his NYT obituary, which has a nice picture of him sitting in his law office and reading Screw. He was 87"


The movie, at any rate, was a diatribe against the right wing prudes who hate freedom of speech according to the movie. Falwell, upon reading thst he had sex with his mother in an outhouse, was naturally outraged and sued. Only he was anti freedom of speech.

But look at college campus speech codes these days. Those are all from the left. Are they pushing the idea thst you should be able to say anything? Hell no.
So you can accuse Falwell of incest, but you can't call someone a fag.

It's worse. In addition to the usual epithets like n*gger, or fag, you can't use the words ghetto or crazy even on some colleges.
But what if you think someone has a ghetto mentality or is crazy?
Note, all the insults of crazy tea Partiers are allowed.

jr565 said...

If you can't call someone crazy, then maybe you shouldn't be able to call someone hitter.

sean said...

Wow, Prof. Althouse's lawprof colleagues would hate him. Or, more precisely, they would pretend to like what he said, then trample the principles he espoused under a host of special rules designed to promote "diversity," while Prof. Althouse wrung her hands. What a disgusting bunch of hypocrites lawprofs are.

tim in vermont said...

Is THAT what you think the case I mentioned was about?

Well, those are the kinds of antics your "protesters" engaged in. Disrupting meetings, interfering with elected officials in their attempts to carry out the people's business. I have zero problem with "Solidarity Singers" that don't attempt to interfere with the business of the Capitol.

Anonymous said...

You guys can bang on your pathetic drum circles and parade around with Walker is Hitler signs all you want.

You're a lot more lenient than the Governor Walker, because under his original rules it would require a government permit if more than three people were in that circle. With or without drums.

(And btw, there really weren't thousands of people carrying Walker is Hitler signs. It just seems that way to you because Ann has re-posted the same picture so many times.)

It is when you start physically harassing elected officials and interfering with their ability to do their job that you are crossing over from "speech" to something different

Physically attacking an elected official is not acceptable and I don't condone it. Miles Kristan should have been charged with assault and Rep. Voss should have filed a civil case against him. At least for the cost of dry cleaning.

But the court case I mentioned earlier has nothing to do with anything like that nor with what you brought up. What leads you to think that Michael Crute had prevented any elected officials from doing their job?

Anonymous said...

Well, those are the kinds of antics your "protesters" engaged in.

"Your" "protesters" engage in all kinds of "antics" as well. So what is your point? And what does it have to do with the court case I mentioned?

I have zero problem with "Solidarity Singers" that don't attempt to interfere with the business of the Capitol

That is what this case was about, so why you've been trying to kick me in the balls over it?

richard mcenroe said...


"Your" "protesters" engage in all kinds of "antics" as well.

Like?

Rusty said...


Is chasing somebody and blowing a horn in their ear "free speech"?


Your free speech ends at the precise point when you deprive some one else of exercising theirs.

Anonymous said...

Looks like even the hardcore Scott Walker supporters find his previous plan to require four or more people to have a permit in order to gather at the State Capitol to be indefensible, even if they can't bring themselves to admit it.

If nobody had stood up to Walker's bullying ways then his unconstitutional requirements and regulations would be the law of our land. That is why we can't give into them, not even an inch.

Rusty said...

madisonfella said...
Looks like even the hardcore Scott Walker supporters find his previous plan to require four or more people to have a permit in order to gather at the State Capitol to be indefensible, even if they can't bring themselves to admit it.


Perhaps if the protesters acted as if other people had rights to this wouldn't be necessary.

damikesc said...

Looks like even the hardcore Scott Walker supporters find his previous plan to require four or more people to have a permit in order to gather at the State Capitol to be indefensible, even if they can't bring themselves to admit it.

Given the basic occupation of the Capitol by lunatic groups during Act 10 --- it makes perfect sense. I'd make the requirement harsher, personally.

Based on being banned at certain video game sites, there is no freedom of speech whenever a leftist gets power.

Did you speak in support of Gamergate? Because most sites really, REALLY hate people who notice corruption.

The Walker Administration originally wanted a permit to be required if as few as THREE people wanted to gather in the Capitol. He obviously doesn't understand the concept of free speech at all.

So if I want to go there and not hear bullshit protest songs --- MY rights need to be ignored?

Tell me MORE, please.

Is THAT what you think the case I mentioned was about? Because it wasn't and you have been horribly misguided into thinking it was. The court case was about the unconstitutional rules the Walker Administration enacted and enforced against people participating in the Solidarity Sing A Long. If Sen. Fitzgerald is actually being assaulted then he should press charges. Two totally different things.

How about a law where people are allowed to blow air horns to drown out terrible singing?

That cool with you?

(And btw, there really weren't thousands of people carrying Walker is Hitler signs. It just seems that way to you because Ann has re-posted the same picture so many times.)

More of the Scott = Hitler idiots than racists at tea party rallies.

With much larger crowds at the tea party rallies.

Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

I'd make the requirement harsher, personally.

Of course YOU would.

"Maximum free speech must be allowed, unless it goes against what I want to hear. Then it must be cracked down on." - Joe Conservative