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Thought for the day

A sign seen at the recent Berkeley riots:

Hate speech IS Free speech

My thoughts on the above:

The Left tries to criminalize “hate speech” because, as Milo likes to point out, the Left wants to justify their own physical violence. Defining offensive speech as a crime will blur the line between speech and actions. Then lefties can claim that their many crimes of physical assault, vandalism, robbery, murder, etc., are self-defense, or justified by the victim’s beliefs/speech that are so offensive. Muslims try to pull the same trick.

I believe in keeping a strong line between speech and actions. For example, I believe that someone’s taunting (words) or alleged political-social beliefs or drawings of Mohammed can never justify your throwing the first punch at them.

The world does have some hateful people in it and genuine occurrences of “hate speech” – and I don’t like them. But that’s what my own right of free speech is for: to refute others’ dumb/wrong speech. And my right to free association, also: so that I may avoid people I don’t like, kick them out of my own house at least, and so on.

In this dim and confused world, any truthful speech will offend somebody, somewhere. The right to speak your conscience freely is the same as the right to say things that will offend others and hurt their feelings. The two are inseparable.

From the comments: A pointer to the Neal Boortz quote,

Free speech is meant to protect unpopular speech. Popular speech, by definition, needs no protection.

UPDATE: On April 20 and as if on cue, Howard Dean said “Hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment.” Wrong, Mr. Dean. Threats and “fighting words” may not be protected, but Ann Coulter’s political speech (what you choose to call “hate speech”) is protected. And should be.



  1. Like that mess you had about a week ago with one of your commenters. He got nasty.

    Comment by Pawfurbehr — April 18, 2017 @ 12:39 pm - April 18, 2017

  2. I believe in keeping a strong line between speech and actions. For example, someone’s taunting (words) or alleged political or social beliefs can never justify your throwing the first punch at them.

    At times, I’m not sure that soft, squishy political-correctness and liberal turning-the-other-cheek has improved things much. Short of the Code Deullo, there used to be “deadly words” and “unforgivable insults” that reflected on Honor and Masculinity that required an answer.

    “An armed society is a polite society.” – Robert A. Heinlein

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — April 18, 2017 @ 12:46 pm - April 18, 2017

  3. Someone once said:

    Popular opinion protect popular speech. The First Amendment protects unpopular speech.

    Comment by Julie the Jarhead — April 18, 2017 @ 12:50 pm - April 18, 2017

  4. Hi Julie! I googled around for the “someone” and found something close to it, from Neal Boortz. Added to the post.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — April 18, 2017 @ 1:53 pm - April 18, 2017

  5. Here’s another gem:

    “If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”

    —Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989)

    Comment by Julie the Jarhead — April 18, 2017 @ 2:09 pm - April 18, 2017

  6. I decided to spend some time looking up the term “fighting words”, that is, words or phrases specifically intended to incite anger or violence.

    I worried that the left may attempt to use the court to silence opposition based on it.

    I would not put it past them.

    Comment by Craig E Smith — April 18, 2017 @ 4:03 pm - April 18, 2017

  7. I couldn’t agree more with the point your post and commenters make.

    In my dealings with disagreeable people I have always found it helpful to employ as my touchstone the wisdom of the line from the Robert Bolt play: “A Man for all Seasons”, (later so beautifully filmed by Zinnemann), that: “I would give the devil himself benefit of law – for my own safety’s sake.”

    Comment by Stephen Ippolito — April 18, 2017 @ 5:44 pm - April 18, 2017

  8. The rebuttal from the “Woke” left is that Free Speech is just a tool of the White Supremacist Patriarchy to silence marginalized populations.

    Comment by V the K — April 18, 2017 @ 7:42 pm - April 18, 2017

  9. re: fighting words / Craig – the only morally/logically valid example that I can come up with is if I say “I’m going to kill you” or somebody – and then I immediately advance, or point a gun, etc. Then, you would be justified in throwing the first punch at me.

    But wait. The key to that is my *action*. (Advancing, pointing the gun, etc.) Not my mere words. Sorry. Still no valid examples.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — April 18, 2017 @ 7:56 pm - April 18, 2017

  10. I believe that all speech deserves protection, including what is considered popular. There are a great many cultural traditions that are unable to withstand sustained attack simply because they are defined in the abstract as being exclusive by those with cultural antipathy as well as a lack of defense from those for whom those traditions are taken for granted.

    Comment by Ignatius — April 18, 2017 @ 8:01 pm - April 18, 2017

  11. Even if laws against “hate speech” could be justified, there would still be the problem of defining it. Of course, the Left would want the definition to be so broad and so vague that it could be interpreted any way that they chose.

    Saying, “I’m not against gay marriage, but I don’t think that a bakery should be forced to prepare a customized cake for a same-sex wedding” would be hate speech. Saying, “Kill the infidels (i.e., non-Muslims) wherever you find them” would not.

    To the liberals, people who voted for Trump (and British voters who opted out of a centralized, authoritarian, German-dominated hegemony) are “Nazis.” While people who are rioting in the streets and literally using Sturmabteilung tactics are “anti-fascists” and “peaceful protesters.”

    Comment by Tom — April 18, 2017 @ 8:22 pm - April 18, 2017

  12. Our colleges are producing expensively credentialed morons (and dangerous morons, too).

    Some days I think the accumulation of stupidity is approaching critical mass… just a b

    Comment by KCRob — April 18, 2017 @ 8:29 pm - April 18, 2017

  13. Stephen Ippolito: “A Man For All Seasons” is one of my favorite movies, primarily for that very scene! A full reading of it gives deeper meaning.

    Richard Rich has just left the house of Sir Thomas Moore after revealing that Cromwell is asking questions and Rich begs Moore to employ him. Thomas refuses and Rich leaves, leaving him with his wife, daughter, and son-in-law (who is very much like the SJWs today).

    wife: Arrest him!
    Moore: On what charge?
    daughter: Father, that man is bad!
    Moore: Well, there’s no law against that!
    son-in-law: There is so! God’s law!
    Moore: Then God can arrest him!
    son-in-law: So, while we stand here arguing a evil man goes free!
    Moore: And so he should if he were the Devil Himself until he broke the law!
    son-in-law: So, now you give the Devil benefit of law.
    Moore: Yes, what would you do? Cut through the law to get to the Devil?
    son-in-law: Yes! I would level every law in England to do that!
    Moore: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned around on you, where would you hide all the laws being flat? This land is laid thick with laws, from coast to coast–Man’s laws, not God’s–and when you know those down, do you really think you could stand in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I give the Devil benefit of law: for my own safety’s sake!

    Yes, I have that scene memorized, and trot it out again and again when people try to claim that they should ignore the law to do what is right and good.

    Comment by Craig Smith — April 19, 2017 @ 7:20 am - April 19, 2017

  14. ILoveCapitalism:

    I would refer you to this:

    When we have judges who ignore the clear intent of the Supreme Court cases which leave the decision of immigration policy in the hands of the Executive Branch, simply because the judge THINKS what the real intent of an Executive Order is, despite there being no such wording in the order itself…

    I can easily see leftist judges defining fighting words to include anything which offends leftists.

    Which is why originalists like Gorsuch are needed on the court. But two such justices (Gorsuch and Thomas) are not enough.

    Comment by Craig Smith — April 19, 2017 @ 7:34 am - April 19, 2017

  15. Craig – Right. It’s a legal doctrine. And a bad one – that is, not morally or logically valid, and subject to future misuse.

    From wiki

    In 1942, the U.S. Supreme Court established the doctrine by a 9–0 decision in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire… Chaplinsky, a Jehovah’s Witness, had purportedly told a New Hampshire town marshal who was attempting to prevent him from preaching that he was “a God-damned racketeer” and “a damned fascist” and was arrested. The court upheld the arrest…

    Whether the marshal was a good guy doing his job, or a genuine racketeer-fascist oppressing a citizen: Either way, the citizen should be able to criticize (and even insult) the government official. “Should.”

    And in a protest situation, people call each other names all the time. That’s sort of the point. In a sane world: whatever you’re called, it would not justify your throwing the first punch (crime of assault).

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — April 19, 2017 @ 1:21 pm - April 19, 2017

  16. Hey Craig,
    Kudos on your wisdom – and your excellent taste in literature and film.
    (I know your taste to be flawless because it coincides exactly with my own).

    Although not precisely on topic, I am willing to bet that you also share my love for that other great observation made by Sir Thomas in the same play – this time to Richard Rich rather than about him.

    It is the scene where the morally hollow (and rather Hillary-esque) Rich asks Sir Thomas to obtain a place for him on the Duke of Norfolk’s staff.

    Sir Thomas urges him not to seek fame and to instead become a teacher. Rich responds: “If I was, who would know it?”

    Sir Thomas replies with words that all men and women of learning and character and substance ought to hold close to their hearts:
    “You; your pupils; your friends;God. Not a bad public, that”

    Comment by Stephen Ippolito — April 20, 2017 @ 6:35 pm - April 20, 2017

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