Friday, January 22, 2010

Free Speech, moderately priced


(fm the BC thread "The First Amendment")

The question of public and private morality and freedom of expression is where the slipperiest thing to judge, intent, comes into play. Courts and administrative apparatuses are very bad a evaluating intent and we generally prefer to draw up regulations that deal with specific conduct. That is why everybody has to take off their shoes in the airport. We do not want to empower the questionably educated government clerk to make a value judgment on who should or should not have their shoes inspected. Similarly we do not want to government clerk deciding who should or should not get to uncover their bodies or cover their faces in public.

Periodically hostile groups or ideologies seek to threaten society. We must craft means of identifying such threats and frustrating their efforts without doing ourselves irreperable harm. Those who seek to do us harm will always look for other interest groups within our larger communities that they can ally or identify with. They will do this both for tactical support and for cover as it complicates efforts to isolate the alien and respond to an attack. For example Soviet Communism expended considerable resources on building an alliance with black Americans. While the physical threat from the Soviets is gone, and the threat posed by global Socialism is real but not as existential in the military sense as it was 30 years ago, the effects of the corruption of a significant portion of the American community are enduring and difficult for all of us to deal with.

My suspician is that the concerns of homosexuals regarding constraints on their ability to openly ackowledge their sexuality would meet with more active sympathy in the majority commubnity if that community felt less threatened. That community feels threatened in part by some radical homosexuals but that is not what generates the bulk of the social conservative backlash. It is true that some members of the homosexual community are dishonest when they claim that they only want to have the right to live their own lives in private, like everyone else does. Clearly for some significant portion of that community their behavior is in fact driven by an animus that motivates them to attack and deconstruct the majority culture. Whatever the source of their anger, perhaps some homosexuals are simply born with a comfortable sense of self and some others are reacting to a childhood trauma or abuse, and some may be expressing anger and guilt caused by youthful repression and denial, they are clearly seeking to attack the social structures, such as marriage, that the majority find nurturing. The dishonesty that is evident in those motivated by hostility to the majority rather than a concern for their own privacy drives the majority to wall off all homosexuals, even those who they would otherwise agree with on most issues. This is an example of classic revolutionary agitation on the part of the vanguard radicals who identify a minority community with a grievance and then isolate it and drive a wedge between it and the majority.

The more serious and immediate threat to the security of the majority society is no longer from Soviet Communism it is now from the Salafist and Khomienist branches of Islam. They compete to challenge and undermine Western Civilization. The majority in America knows that the muslim woman wearing a burqa here is not expressing her private sense of modesty and morality. She is expressing a very public challenge to public order and the liberties of the majority. The French are right about this. The dishonesty of claims to the contrary is palpable and it is that dishonesty and the hypocrisy of efforts to accommodate those who challenge and threaten due to fear that generates anger. The laws against face covering that were developed to suppress the challenge from the Ku Klux Klan were targeted restrictions on speech that worked and they should be extended and enforced. If members of other minority groups, homosexual or black or pacifist Quaker or even Libertarian, recognized the need to support the greater community in responding to genuine threats then they would find more sympathy for their local concerns.

-------
wws,
No one loses their freedom of speech rights in this country because of citizenship.

That is an assertion. Clearly the SCOTUS are making a distinction as your quote from Justice Kennedy in the decision makes clear, my emphasis.
“it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.”

Non-citizens have rights, including the right to publish and to peacefully assemble to petition for the redress of grievances. They should not have the right to contribute to a political candidate at the Federal level either in cash or in kind. If they participate in the vote then they are subject to deportation and a permanent bar on reentry. It is no great stretch to me to say that engaging in electioneering on behalf of a candidate to a voter is functionally the same as attempting to enter the voting booth with that voter. This is not a call for a ban on all expressions of opinion by non-citizens. It is a call for them to barred from specific advocacy on behalf of a candidate that is directed at American voters. For example I would defend the right of a self identified Palestinian who was not a US citizen and legally present to peacefully demonstrate on behalf of their cause, as long as they did not endorse or call for the rejection of any specific candidate. Also I would defend the right of al-Jazeera reporters to deliver their partisan opinions to their overseas audience.

-------
wws,
(who asserts that all persons have political speech rights)
The Constitution is not a suicide pact. Libertarians constantly insist on protection for extreme and irrational cases. In so doing they erode the reasonable standard that protects the rights we all need. The First Amendment protects citizens, the passage in the decision you cited makes that clear. Non-citizens are here under sufferance. Subject to due process they can be removed from the country. They do not have the right to vote in a Federal election and Congress can regulate their participation in the political market. Intervention by a foreign Prince in another nations internal politics is a hostile act and foreign nationals who are potentially de jure agents of a foreign interest may not engage in hostile acts. They may not keep and bear arms either. Your assertions are simply not proof. When you have some more meaningful proof then we may take this up again. Until then we are engaged in hand waving and I see no benefit in that.

Teresita,
(who is concerned about the suppression of a particular minority)
There is a difference between unpopular speech and hostile speech directed to threaten or harm something of value to others. If members of the homosexual community were more forthright about confronting those who are only calling for the right to enter into a marriage contract not in order to attain the same status as held by the majority but in order to attack the institution itself then their arguments would be met with more sympathy. Unfortunately the loudest voices are those engaged in heterophobia and while you may defend their right to speak you can not insist that others listen to them.

For all of us who engage in political activity it is often true that we know that the person who has shown up to ostensibly support our cause is acting for their own purposes. Often those include agendas that will offend many of those we wish to reach with the campaigns message. While campaigning for McCain or at a Tea Party rally I soon got to recognize the people who were just itching to start screaming about Castro or abortion, with no consideration of the interests of the candidate. Those in the homosexual community who are advancing their own agenda of liberation from patriarchal heterosexual capitalist white civilization are rightly perceived as threatening. They hurt the causes of those who they purport to speak for. When people equate arguments for legal rights to inheritance and hospital visitation or power of attorney decision making with the Safe Schools Czar campaigning for pederasty then the prior argument loses.

It is no more the responsibility of members of the majority to pick winners and assure members of the sexual minority that we know that the hostile voices do not speak for them then it is for us to tell Moslems that we know that al-Qeada does not speak for them and they really do not believe in passages in the Hadith and Koran that appear threatening. It is hard for any community to confront the fringe that generates friction, especially when they had confronted earlier injustices. When it happens that is a sign of maturity and bodes well for future progress.

-------
(1st para already in the comments on this blog)
We have to draw a line between "unpopular speech" that may offend adults but which should be protected and "hostile speech" that causes or threatens damage to others. My argument is that attacking the institution of marriage is an assault and that those who do so under the cover of advocating it for others are dishonest and hurt those who ally with them. Those who direct their attention towards children, like the "Safe Schools Czar," are rightly seen as threatening. Members of the homosexual community do themselves a favor if they loudly and publicly reject such people.

What worries me the most here is that concern over these other issues impedes our ability to respond effectively to a clear and present danger. It never occurred to Noel Coward or thousands of others that their private sexuality was more important than the strength of the majority community and its success in defeating a totalitarian threat. It is unfortunate now that the loudest and most selfish voices in many of our minority communities, especially among prominent homosexuals in the arts and media, are focused on attacking our community and blocking efforts to effectively detect, deter and destroy genuine threats to all of us.

-------
wws,
(who dug up another link on foreign entities under the decision)
Thank you. Not saying I am convinced at this point but you have definitely given me something to study. At first glance it does look like serious legislators should stop playing tail chasing games for Obama and instead spend their time going over this and plugging any holes in the dike.

Jan 25, 2010 - 6:30 pm

3 comments:

Teresita said...

The dishonesty that is evident in those motivated by hostility to the majority rather than a concern for their own privacy drives the majority to wall off all homosexuals, even those who they would otherwise agree with on most issues.

It is precisely to protect to minority from the majority that we have (and Conservatives ostensibly defend) the Bill of Rights. Popular speech doesn't need to be defended. Popular groups don't need the Constitution to embrace their right to assemble.

LifeoftheMind said...

We have to draw a line between "unpopular speech" that may offend adults but which should be protected and "hostile speech" that causes or threatens damage to others. My argument is that attacking the institution of marriage is an assault and that those who do so under the cover of advocating it for others are dishonest and hurt those who ally with them. Those who direct their attention towards children, like the "Safe Schools Czar", are rightly seen as threatening. Members of the homosexual community do themselves a favor if the loudly and publicly reject such people.

Thank you for commenting.

Teresita said...

The dishonesty that is evident in those motivated by hostility to the majority rather than a concern for their own privacy drives the majority to wall off all homosexuals, even those who they would otherwise agree with on most issues.

It is precisely to protect to minority from the majority that we have (and Conservatives ostensibly defend) the Bill of Rights. Popular speech doesn't need to be defended. Popular groups don't need the Constitution to embrace their right to assemble.