Saturday, April 29, 2006

More Free Speech Thoughts

Today I want to explore some issues on free speech from a variety of incidents.
The first comes from Michelle Malkin. I don't know how she does it. She writes books and lectures and blogs quite extensively with a detail for facts. Her post is THEY SCREAMED: "GET WHITEY!"
If John Hehman, may he rest in peace, had been black and his assailants had been white, you'd know his story by now. But the races were reversed and his murder has been relegated to a footnote by the p.c. New York Times and the rest of the national MSM. (Compare the NYTimes' coverage of Hehman with this NYTimes story of a local white-on-black attack last year.)

Her basic point is that hate crimes are discriminatory. Even though this clearly shows signs of this type of crime, I still don't know how you can judge what is in a persons heart. Was the racial slur just as way of identifing the victim or was it hate at that person or group that the victim comes from?

But I want to bring this up as a perfect example of when free speech should not be allowed. Just like yelling fire in crowded theatre this action directly causes pain or loss from intended or unintended victims.

Odds and Ends:
University Librarian Recommends Conservative Books To Students, Then Gets Hit With Sexual Harrassment Rap shows how suggesting a book titles can instead of being a free speech right but a harrassment situation. Or in the writers words:" Given the fact that these charges come from adult XXXXXX women claiming to feel "unsafe" based on book recommendations, I retract all skepticism. This is unbelievable."

A Paris court fined the terrorist known as "Carlos the Jackal" more than $6,000 Tuesday for saying in a French television interview that terror attacks sometimes were "necessary."
The court did not convict him for expressing pleasure that "the Great Satan" - the United States - suffered the Sept. 11 attacks, saying those comments were his personal reaction.

And the writers suggestion:"The fight against terrorism is probably better served if former terrorists that are serving their sentence are barred from giving any interviews for the duration of their incarceration."
Yes, I agree that hate speech and hate crime legislature is non-productive except as noted above in speech leads to direct actions.

And along with hate speech crimes: We didn't start the fire: should Holocaust Denial be criminalized?
This is a fairly complex issue and a through investigation would take at least one full post but for now background is here at Wiki.
And from the first link in the paragraph:
The first thing I noticed is that Holocaust Denial itself is not a crime; it's the public pronouncement of it that is penalized. The speech itself is allowed; what is not allowed is to say it publicly in front of groups--that is, to preach it. It may seem a small distinction, but it's an interesting one.

In this article it treats the subject in very even handed way. And while I would still think that all speech should be free of most regulations, I understand at least some more reasons why they have them.
To Germans and Austrians the danger of public promulgation of Holocaust denial may indeed (especially when the laws were first passed) have seemed like the danger of yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater. Likewise--although to a lesser extant--to countries such as Poland, who have reason to know the Holocaust in a way that countries such as Britain and the US never can, Holocaust denial may seem a particular affront and a special danger. "He jests at scars that never felt a wound;" and so it is much easier for countries who have not experienced such a cataclysmic upheaval to be absolutist about protecting freedom of speech.

We didn't start the fire: should Holocaust Denial be criminalized?
University Librarian Recommends Conservative Books To Students, Then Gets Hit With Sexual Harrassment Rap


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