Monday, August 14, 2017

And Voltaire wept

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"
~ Evelyn Beatrice Hall, in "The Friends of Voltaire".

As a man of fifty-plus years on this little green dirtball -- and a significant portion of that life outside of the United States -- I'm accustomed to thinking that if I haven't seen it all, I've seen enough to be able to handle the rest.

That was until recently, when the sheer number of folks calling for outright bans on the right to free speech -- and especially folks who should bloody well know better -- hit epidemic proportions.

Gentle Readers, free speech is messy.  It is ugly, precisely because free speech that everyone agrees with does not require protections.  Why would you protect speech that upsets no-one?  Why would you need to?

Even worse is the call for the government to declare that certain speech is "hate speech" -- because getting the government involved always works out so well -- and to give the government (and the flawed, flawed humans who make up that government) the power to declare bans on certain speech.

To put it in simple language even a college student can understand:

Do you really want President Mike Pence deciding what is protected speech, and what speech should be banned?

Because that is what you're going to get in the future.

How about President Greg Abbott after Mission Creep gets into the mix?

 How would you feel about President Ted Cruz deciding what speech you should go to jail for?

That, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what you're setting yourself up for when you start yick-yacking about the government banning speech.

"But, LawDog," I hear you snivelling, "Some speech is an incitement to violence, and should be against the law."

You know what?  Let's look at that.

I have heard folks chanting, "What do we want?  Dead cops!  When do we want it?  Now!" rather recently.  About me, and those like me.

Is that not an incitement to violence?  Ask Dallas PD, and their dead brothers.  Should it not be "against the law"?

No.  It is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

I can show any number of YouTube videos of imams calling for jihad, for the slaughter of Westerners, for the genocide of an entire people.

Is this not an incitement to violence?  Ask the dead in San Bernadino, at Ft Hood, at Orlando, at the Boston Marathon.  Should it not be "against the law"?

No.  It is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

"But, LawDog, Nazi-related speech is banned in Germany!"

I don't give two hoots in hell about how they do things in Germany.  You like their restriction on free speech -- move.  Delta is ready when you are. Scram.

So.  To break it down Barney-style:  your calls to ban speech -- even Nazi speech -- is un-American.  And once you've begged government to pass that first law banning speech, it's a simple amendment to expand those bans.  Think about the absolute worst politician you can think of in the White House.  Worse than Trump -- because they're out there, and they've got as good a chance at the Oval Office as Donald J. Trump had -- think about that politician being able to amend a law banning speech.

The wearing of the burqa is a free speech issue.  Think there isn't a politician out there somewhere that would love to ban the wearing of the burqa?  Just one little quiet midnight amendment to an already existing law you're trying to give to government.

Pro-choice?  How's that work out when free speech regarding the issue is banned?  Anyone reading this think there isn't a politician who wouldn't dot their cupcakes at the ability to ban speech about abortion?  You really want to let their nose under the tent?

Think about whatever hot-button issue you have that gets people into a tizzy, and realise that somewhere there is a politician who thinks your hot-button issue is an affront to their Dear and Fuzzy God; or your hot-button issue is a Danger to the Morals Of The Children -- and then think about that politician with their paw on a Ban-Button you already handed to the government.

If you get your little ban passed -- for all the right reasons -- and  a future President and/or Congress expands those bans -- for all the right reasons (and they will) -- and you come crying to me and those like me to fix the issue you demanded ...

... No.

I'm warning you now:  your proposed ban on Nazi speech will be expanded in the future to ban speech you don't think should be banned.

And when that happens -- you called down the lightning, you deal with it; you take your casualties, and your lumps.



Miguel GFZ said...

It will come to figuring that banning people who spouts "Hate Speech" will also be required. It is then that the train cars start to get used for one-way tours eastbound.

mac said...

I remember reading an explanation about the American system of lawmaking that went something like:
You can make any law you want, but it will be enforced by your worst enemy.

Crucis said...

You nailed it.

Anonymous said...

Dog for President!

spiphywarfare said...

Several key life issues the dog and I are on opposite ends of the teeter-totter on. But others I can only say he's spot on. This is definitely one of them.

Too many whiners can't defend their position and/or the heat they take for expressing it.

Ben at 7:51? Ditto!


Suz said...

I totally agree!! If you don't like the "hate speech" you are listening to...DON'T listen!! Duh! Change the channel, turn off the TV/radio/Youtube/Facebook whatever.
Because some day we, each one of us, will say something that someone else wont agree with. Just agree to disagree with whoever.

Chris said...

Exactly, perfectly correct, LawDog.

I've heard it said - and I agree - that if you make a statement along the lines of "I believe in the Right to Freedom of Speech, but ..." that you really don't believe in Free Speech. You just want to pretend-signal that you do so that your "reasonable restriction" that comes after the "but" seems to convince people that you know better. You don't.

I turn those statements around: "I don't believe in mocking religions or the people who believe in them, but ..." and "I don't believe in hate and bigotry, but ..."

What that means is that though I really DO NOT believe in mocking religion or the religious, and I really DO NOT endorse hate, bigotry and chauvinism, when you think that you can shut down the bad thoughts by preventing the speech, then you make me explicitly support the people whose beliefs are so antithetical to yours. Please don't make me do that.

I much prefer to mock the rude, the unkind, the hateful and awful people among us. But if you want to pass laws to prevent their rude, unkind, hateful and awful speech ... then I have to be on their side, as much as that displeases me.

Holly said...

I am old enough to remember being outraged by the ACLU defending the American Nazi Party's right to march in Skokie. Then it dawned on me their mandate is to defend CIVIL LIBERTIES and that even abhorrent speech is free. For now.

KBCraig said...

Alt-right are identity politics collectivists. So are their alleged opponents, Antifa.

What we have here is Bolsheviks versus Mensheviks, two groups of socialists struggling to control the brand identity.

And yes, it is history repeating itself.

c-90 said...

Amen, bro lawdog.

Aesop said...

I always figured anyone attempting to revoke the First Amendment pretty much triggered the Second, with the inevitability of Wile E. Coyote making a dustball in the valley below after he runs right off that cliff.

And that anyone trying to agitate for such a ban, or enforce one once enacted, well-intentioned or not, elected or not, badged and sworn or not, is entitled to the same welcoming faceful of lead last visited on certain redcoated crossers of Concord Bridge, come that day.

But I'm a sentimental traditionalist like that.

Some folks only learn about hot stoves by grabbing them with both hands.
Fair enough, I suppose, but the screaming and sniveling after is always indescribable.

Anonymous said...

Sorry there are many limits on speech. Whether it is banned in the public or private spheres we have all sorts of restrictions. Free speech? Where does it exist today? Not on college campuses. Not in Congress. Still less in the media. Those calling for restrictions are really trying to censor their opposition.

But should we tolerate those who call to riot? To murder? Call for jihad? There is a difference between free speech and incitement to violence. It reflects badly on our society that this differentiation cannot be made readily today.

Gaffer said...

I wish I could write as beautifully as you. And I agree with your prediction.

Anonymous said...

Do you agree that Theodore Beale is the "Pope of the alt-right"?

Anonymous said...

Well said, Lawdog!

Modern politicians and leftist off all stripes generally hate free speech when it comes to allowing the public to run ads against them...

See the overturned "McCain–Feingold Act" as a perfect example.

Monkeywrangler said...

Lawdog, you should repost this on FB. Share it around. It is far more worthy of FB bandwidth than 99.99999999% of the crap people do post there!

LawDog said...

Anonymous said...
Do you agree that Theodore Beale is the "Pope of the alt-right"?

7:54 AM"

And just what -- exactly -- does that have to do with free speech, or the banning of same?

Matter-of-fact, what does it have to do with the article it's attached to, at all?


Anonymous said...

A long time ago you wrote in a very self-satisfied tone about harassing a young man that flipped you off while driving by citing him for improper signaling. Was that not using law to suppress speech you found offensive?

Any one can claim tolerance of the speech they cannot directly control like hateful comments in the media but that example is much more indicative to me of your character because it illustrates your motives when you have the power to act.

LawDog said...

Ah. And you'll also remember that I said I was going to hell for doing it, and sighed. Take that as you will.

Ad hominem attacks regarding an incredible screw-up I did twenty years ago as a young officer have no bearing on the fact that banning speech is a mistake.


Antibubba said...

I don't want the government to ban their speech, but I'll do everything else in my power to shut these SOBs down. I will implore the private sector to shun them. I will ask banks to cancel their accounts. I will see them lose their jobs. I will see them hounded into hiding, to crawl back under the rocks from which they emerged.

They are the antithesis of everything American.

Andrew Jones said...


If you wish to pursue those tactics, you should accept others doing the same. When you start talking about getting ordinary people fired for non-work behavior, it doesn't seem like a road I'd want to travel. Think twice before inviting a world where people get fired for how they vote.

Old NFO said...

Well said. I spent 22 years defending that right, and all the rest. I note that 'Anon' is alive, well, and trolling, yet again...

Will said...


Ah! the exact same tactics that are currently being used by the SJW's in their attempt to make us all Politically Correct. The end result of that sort of mindset can easily become the Balkans. You really want to go there? The way our country is going, that could be a really fast, ugly trip to a world of hurt. Care to drag your family and friends to that lovely vista?

Currently, one side is playing that game, although not quite as openly as they could. They're working on it. When both sides get going on it, the end result is that ugly trip. Guaranteed. Work to stop it, not expedite it.

Nohbody said...

@Antibubba: In addition to what others have posted about your suggested tactics, I suggest you consider the reactions of people who find themselves with their backs put to the wall and having everything taken away from them.

And then think that a lot of those who would be so targeted are arned (by pure statistical chance if nothing else), many of them with prior military training including guerilla warfare learned the hard way, courtesy of the extended stays in Iraq and Afghanistan by Coalition military forces.

This is regardless of whether you're talking about targeting "Nazis" and "fascists" or targeting the Antifa types and their Fellow Travelers.

(You didn't specify which "these SOBs" to which you were referring, but in the interests of discussion I'm not going to assume which flavor of a-hole you're talking about targeting.)

Antibubba said...

Will, I am open to methods to "work to stop it". I'm not seeing a lot of suggestions.

What's interesting, and sad, is everyone here is going on about the threat by Leftists and SJWs. They've gotten a lot of attention because so much of what they've said and done is mind-bogglingly stupid. Peter posted a link to one of their "libraries" a few days ago; see if you can read it without laughing or retching:

Sure, there are a few Antifa cells that have actual organization. but the SJW/PC crowd is largely powerless and pathetic. They can wait. Whereas the homegrown Nazis and supremacists are extremely well organized. As Nohbody points out, they have a lot of veterans with military and counter-insurgency training, and are way better armed than most. They are a threat right now.

Ideologically, they are a greater threat to American conservatives and libertarians than to liberals, because there are issues and points where we do have common cause, like gun ownership and free speech. They are a greater threat because we have given them leeway. They are our neighbors and coworkers, we've traded Chuck Schumer jokes with them online,, and we've defended their right to their repugnant beliefs. I've done so because I have to, as someone who believes in the Constitution and this country, and not for any other reason.

What I posted before was difficult for me to say, but I needed to say it. My people have literally had their backs to the wall, or been herded into boxcars so they could be dispatched out of sight. My people have borne the brunt of two millennia of denial of their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. So I will not deny them the right to exist, or speak, or march. But I'm not going to make it easy for them. Are you?

Andrew Jones said...


They're both pathetic and looser philosophies, but in terms of social power and size of movement, the "SJW/PC" crowd completely outstrips white supremacists. I don't know of a single university or corporation that has mandatory white supremacy training. I'm unaware of anyone denied tenure or a movie role because they failed to pay lip service to the white power creed. Sure the ANP probably has more guns, but I don't see anyone lining up to do a Nazi themed Waco. Hell, the Masons probably have more guns than the Nazis just due to numbers. That doesn't mean Communist Socialists are worse than National Socialists, just that they have more power. They're both envy peddling trash.

I'd also dispute the ANP and white power movements are an ideological threat to conservatives and libertarians because they share some of the same talking points. The ANP shares many points with leftists as it comes to control of speech and corporate governance, but rest assured National Socialists are (yet another in a long line of) "not real socialists". The threat from neo-Nazis and white power movements aren't ideological, but public relations. There's little doubt that these movements want to wrap themselves in popular issues shared by conservatives, but they're not the only ones who want to make this association. The left wants this association as well. Not because Nazis are popular, but because they are universally derided, and associating conservatives and libertarians with them benefits the left.

What's desired, by both the neo-Nazi/white power and communist/SJW/antifa movements, is to cast the debate as a rivalry between the two. They BOTH want that. They both want people thinking that "if you're against SJW you must be a Nazi" and "if you're against our white power thing, you must be a commie". It's a means to legitimize themselves and gin up support. It's a trick to get you to defend them by saying "not as bad as". Do that enough, and you've accidentally picked a side.

They both want you to pick a side, and they both get stronger, if you do.

Da Curly Wolf said...

Sigh...what the hell ever happened to "I disagree with what you say, but I'll fight to the death to defend your right to say it" Seriously the gross willful stupidity is making me both sad...and pissed off. smh...I weep for the future

Unknown said...

Said the anonymous user: "Sorry there are many limits on speech. Whether it is banned in the public or private spheres we have all sorts of restrictions. Free speech? Where does it exist today? Not on college campuses. Not in Congress. Still less in the media. Those calling for restrictions are really trying to censor their opposition.

But should we tolerate those who call to riot? To murder? Call for jihad? There is a difference between free speech and incitement to violence. It reflects badly on our society that this differentiation cannot be made readily today."

I'm going to address those points in turn:
"...[M]any limits on free speech..."
Not really. You can shout "fire" in a crowded public space. That's "protected speech", insofar as you can't be arrested immediately afterwards for simply having done so. That protection doesn't shield you from the result of your doing so, insofar as you can be charged with manslaughter and sued until the plaintiff OWNS you when they're trampled in the ensuing panic.

"...Where does it exist today? College Campuses..."
Here, too. Forex: You're a fascist and a twatwaffle.

See? I'm just waiting for the party van to take me to the jail. It'll be here aaaaany minute now. Note, too, that you're commenting anonymously. The right to comment anonymously over/on the Internet to/about public officials and candidates was upheld in Doe v. Cahill (884 A.2d 451) and others. Because of this ruling, it's often easier to allow anonymous comment than explicitly deny it.

I would prefer speech were unquestionably free on all campi, yet leftist, fascist twatwaffles (one each, though I repeat myself) are acting unconstitutionally and few have the testicular fortitude and funding to call them on it. Even though the SCOTUS has remained fairly consistent in their rulings (Sweezy v. New Hampshire, (354 U.S. 234, 250) Keyishian v. Board of Regents, State Univ. of N.Y., (385 U.S. 589) Healy v. James, (408 U.S. 169, 180) Papish v. Board of Curators of University of Missouri, (410 U.S. 667) Widmar v. Vincent, (454 U.S. 26) and others.) in regards to public institutions, private institutions are somewhat different, as "By what right does the federal government seek to control how and what private individuals and entities may say or not say?". Doing that is the textbook definition of censorship, and SCOTUS has consistently stayed out from the arguments, save for exceedingly narrow cases of implied or explicit contracts between the student and the school. In the cases where a contract (implied or explicit) existed between the two, the court dropped the hammer on the school. In the cases there were no contract, the court told the student "So sorry, but that's their right to free speech. Suck it up and drive on."

"...Not in Congress..."
Watkins v. United States, (9354 U.S. 178) for one.

Unknown said...

"...Still less in the media..."
Que, what? If that were the case, Bob Woodward would never have been allowed to expose Nixon's misdeeds. Or the New York Slimes would never have been allowed to bash on Trump.

"...Those calling for restrictions are really trying to censor their opposition..."
Oh, so you've got the idea.

And now you've lost it. Your fascism is showing. You might want to see to that.

"...should we tolerate those who call to riot? ..."
Yes. until the very nanosecond someone *does* commit a felony. Then we drop the hammer on them. Not one Planck time interval before.

"...To murder? ..."
Yep. Until they pose an immediate and imminent (having the ability and proximity) threat to the subject. Forex, even if I were to say "I'll give you the ol' Pinochet Helicopter ride" the fact that you're anonymous, more than likely hundreds of miles away from me, and I don't have a helicopter to throw you out of means I can say it to my heart's content. Again, the same rule for rioting applies: The nanosecond I do it is the nanosecond I become liable to be punished. That goes for me saying something like "Who will give this turbulent, anonymous, fascist a Pinochet Helicopter Ride?": The nanosecond you get shoved out of a helicopter at altitude without a parachute is the nanosecond the shover, crew, and I become liable for murder. (The vexatious twunt isn't worth it: Please don't.)

"...Call for jihad? ..."
Absolutely. Same rule as inciting a riot. Only AFTER a felony is committed. SCOTUS has been infinitely and consistently clear on prior restraint: It's unconstitutional.

"...It reflects badly on our society that this differentiation cannot be made readily today."
It reflects worse on our society that leftist, fascist, twatwaffles (Who "can't understand normal thinking", but again, I repeat myself...) don't understand that the distinction has been made but ignore its existence in an extremely obtuse fashion in order to damn it by faint praise.

What's so hard to understand about "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble..."?

Let me break it down for you Barney-the-dinosaur-style: So long as you aren't physically harming another, (No, your "feels" matter about as much as my dog's come bathtime. Learn to argue and return in kind or walk away. It only matters after a specific, "quantifiable" damage occurs. As in "That's viciously untrue AND because of it I got fired from my six-figure-salary job" or "Because of his comment, I was thrown from a flying helicopter without a parachute and broke every bone in my body upon hitting the ground.") anyone can say what they want.

So, not only are you wrong, but you're fractally wrong. And a fascist. But you have the right to say it. (Though you don't have the right to escape comments about it.)

And I'll defend your right to say fascist and ignorant things, to the death if necessary, until such a time as your fascist, ignorant speech starts to break the law. Understood?

Kristophr said...

>Anonymous said...
>Do you agree that Theodore Beale is the "Pope of the alt-right"?
>7:54 AM"
>And just what -- exactly -- does that have to do with free speech, or the banning of same?
>Matter-of-fact, what does it have to do with the article it's attached to, at all?

Just some SJW trying to get a howling monkey mob together.

He is apparently unaware ( or doesn't care ) that your publisher has nothing but ridicule for the NAZILarpers, and contempt for his fellow socialists like the National Socialist German Workers Party.

LawMom said...

We are destroying our heritage, both black and white. Now, I have ancestors who fought on both sides of the Civil War. My question is, how long will it be before those tombstones of the soldiers who fought bravely and with honor for the South are destroyed because they offend a small, but loud and threatening minority? So then will it be ok if I go up North and kick over a few Union tombstones and dig up some graves of people whose color doesn't match mine?
That's what you people are advocating, whether you care to admit it or not.
As to the limitations on free speech, Caesar destroyed the Alexandria Library because it belonged to a conquered people. The Spanish destroyed the books of the Aztecs because they weren't Christian. The Nazis burned books because they disagreed with them. Countless art and wisdoms were lost in this mad destruction.
And we've started it all over again, knuckling under to those who threaten desecration if we don't do their will.

C. S. P. Schofield said...

"No Free Speech for Fascists!"

Fine. You're under arrest. Fascist.

A century - a whole 100 years - of experience with what happens when you give the State that kind of power. Stalin. Mao. Pol Pot. Countless lesser vermin. All of them thugs and psychos. All of them seizing the reins of would-be revolution from the chattering class nitwits that supported it, and then liquidating them as obvious troublemakers. And these imbeciles STILL DON'T GET IT.


Speech that is uncontroversial needs no protection. Somebody's speech offends you? Suck it up, whippo. Because censorious self-important fools like you are why the First Amendment was written in the first place.

May all your body piercings go gangrenous, you pestilential pustules.

Feather Blade said...

Sure, there are a few Antifa cells that have actual organization. but the SJW/PC crowd is largely powerless and pathetic. They can wait. Whereas the homegrown Nazis and supremacists are extremely well organized.

Those "homegrown Nazis" may be extremely well-organized, as is only appropriate given their antecedents, but they are also so small in number that the most common joke about them has the punchline "Alright, raise your hand if you aren't a government agent."

SJWs (the homegrown Communists) are far more numerous, have the support of their professors and universities, and can do no wrong in the eyes of the mainstream news media, even when they are literally burning things down on camera.

Societal intolerance of all things Nazi is very well established.

Societal intolerance of all things Communist gets you called a racist and McCarthyite.

So, say again which one can wait?

Jeff Gauch said...

"Do you really want President Mike Pence deciding what is protected speech, and what speech should be banned?"

All they have to do is declare "Mike Pence For President!" hate speech and the don't have to worry about that. Of course, they don't realize that history has show us, time and time and time again, that it's not the declared opponents who put the first wave of revolutionaries against the wall, it's the vicious little clerks who manipulate themselves into positions of power. The first thing those clerks do with that power is eliminate any possible rival.

Tyrfing said...

I want the government to keep its nose and all other portions of its anatomy out of my business as much as possible. That means that it must do the same for everyone else. One thing I learned as a C/O was that what you do for one, you must do for all. Yes, that means I will have to tolerate a certain amount of rudeness and crap from obnoxious idiots. At least I know who they are that way. The trouble with banning anything is definition of terms. Some things can be fairly clearly defined (murder, theft, burglary, robbery, embezzlement, rape, arson for example), most other things are not so easy (hate speech springs rapidly to mind). Vague terms mean worse mission creep. And regardless how I feel, the constitution is quite clear. Our founding fathers were some very smart guys. I need more than feelings to make me question their wisdom.
LawDog is dead on on this one (and pretty much all the other ones I can think of). He would be a good president, though that would seriously crimp his writing career.

CDH said...

The problem isn't free speech. The problem is lack of accountability for free speech. You can say it, but now you gotta live with the bitter end...i.e. if your 'counter protest' arrives armed for battle, you are not a (protected) protester but a (liable) criminal in the making.

Antibubba said...

Feather Blade, I take your point. There are shades of social intolerance, though, and while everyone is intolerant of Nazis and the KKK, I hear "but..." too often to marginalize them or their beliefs. The current far Left is far more prone to self-defeat, and as is so often pointed out, less likely to present a credible united armed threat.

The Confederacy is a much more complicated issue: how do we recognize and commemorate those events without celebrating them? When someone says, "The South will rise again", how many ways can that be interpreted?

Bayushi Midori said...

SJW here: I agree with everything LD said above. Our constitution is the only guarantee we have for a just society and it must be upheld to the letter of the law. Because my right to defend my fellow man is just as important as some homophobic/racist/sexist bigot's right to call me a 'carpet eater' and tell me to get back in the kitchen.

JimB said...

If you want "hate speech" defined move to Canada. They're already prosecuting people. Me.. I find both "hate Speech" and "hate crimes" both stupid and unnecessary.

Cybrludite said...

To expand on Law Dog's theme here, this theoretical law to restrict speech would by written by a Republican House, which a short while back saw one of it's members shot by a deranged leftist, and by a Republican Senate. It would be signed by Donald J. Satan Himself, and enforced by his Executive Branch. Cases involving this would eventually end up in front of a Supreme Court that currently has a slight Republican tilt at the moment, and by the time these cases come to them, the actuarial tables will likely have made that tilt even more pronounced. What of any of this struck them as a good idea?

Bruce Krafft said...

Well said Sir!
I have just discovered your blog by way of your book "The LawDog Files." Great book, great blog, *great* advice for those who think "just a little" government regulation of speech would be a good idea.

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