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September 27, 2012

Unclear on the Concept....

... of free speech:

The First Amendment forbids Congress (and the states by incorporation) from making laws that abridge freedom of speech whether that speech is transmitted orally, in writing, or via media (posters, movies, the Internet, etc.).

The First Amendment does not guarantee you the right to express yourself anywhere, at any place or time. You may not, for instance, come onto my property without my permission and harangue me in my kitchen because your freedom of speech then conflicts with other rights guaranteed by our federal Constitution and by the laws of the state or local municipality in which I live and pay taxes. You may not stand in the street with a bullhorn at midnight and harangue the neighbors with your opinions with the volume cranked up to eleven because freedom of speech is not some kind of Constitutional trump card that supercedes all other rights. It is one of many rights protected by our system of government.

It's important to note that the First Amendment is not enforceable against other citizens, but rather against the government. It is government which is prohibited from passing laws that restrict speech in an unreasonable manner. The Constitution does not obligate private citizens to listen to your speech or to facilitate or subsidize it in any way.

The First Amendment does not guarantee you the right to shout down a speaker at an assembly because if you do so, you are asserting free speech right superior to that of the speaker (who, unlike you, has been invited to speak by the group) and the audience, who are there expressly to hear his speech (not yours).

It does not give you the right to deface a poster paid for by other citizens who possess the same free speech rights you do. If you do so anyway, you are committing a form of theft: in essence, stealing resources created and owned by someone else and appropriating them for your own use without compensating the rightful owners. You have the right to purchase space for your own poster, though not to force the rightful owners to accept your business, but not to destroy or steal resources that do not belong to you.

So many of our rights, when it comes right down to it, depend upon property rights. And public support for property rights is precisely what the Obama administration is doing its level best to erode, more by continual sly suggestion and innuendo than anything else. It's not really "your" money (though you and no one else earned it), so long as someone else, somewhere has less than you do or needs it more. If you have managed to earn more than others, this is evidence that the system is rigged.

Fortunately, government exists to set these fundamental inequities right. By force, if necessary.

As the wise and percipicacious secretary general of the United Nations recently reminded us, the rights of the many outweigh the rights of the few. Or the one:

Freedom of expression should be and must be guaranteed and protected, when they are used for common justice, common purpose. When some people use this freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs, then this cannot be protected in such a way.

And who will decide what serves the common justice and purpose? Why, government of course.

One world. One planet. One common purpose. Put that way, it's all so very simple. Almost inevitable, really.

Posted by Cassandra at September 27, 2012 07:10 AM

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Comments

I agree with most of what you say here, except that there's a complication:

...though not to force the rightful owners to accept your business...

Apparently in this case the rightful owners actually were forced to accept the posters. The rightful owners of the subway is the city of New York, and a First Amendment claim was brought against them to compel them to accept this particular speech.

In spite of the mockery she deserves for this incident, Ms. Eltahawy is due a certain level of respect. She had her hand broken by police in Egypt during the recent protests there, as well as being subject to sexual assault by the Egyptian police. I assume the NYPD were better hosts.

But that leads me to the question... what's her problem with the idea of supporting civilization against barbarity? Clearly, as a protester, she directly benefits from a more civilized enforcement of the rules. She's had the opportunity to see first hand that this way is better, even for her.

"Defeat Jihad" may be a troubling slogan for a Muslim, but the topline sentiment she ought to approve.

Posted by: Grim at September 27, 2012 08:16 AM

I have little or no sympathy for thin-skinned Muslims or their supporters. They do not tolerate differing religious views or expressions in most of the Muslim world, but demand that we walk on eggshells around them. If you want tolerance and special treatment, then practice tolerance and respect to non-Muslims. If you won't, then kiss my big white heinie you pack of whiners.

Posted by: a former european at September 27, 2012 08:34 AM

My freedom of speech. Your freedom to heed my speech and otherwise to shut up.

The rightful owners of the subway is the city of New York....

A couple of things: first, no, the rightful owners, at the end of the chain, are the people of New York, who hired city of New York government to help them enforce their rights. As with money, government has nothing of its own.

Second, being a government, the city could not abridge the freedom of (political) speech by barring the posters' emplacement, unless they could show, for instance, that the poster itself was vandalism and not speech.

It would be an interesting question to consider whether the spray painter's...vandalism...constitutes, in this context, political speech. Especially in light of the Supreme Court's ruling that the vandalism of our flag--the symbol of our free speech, among other things--by burning it is in certain contexts political speech.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at September 27, 2012 09:49 AM

If a man burns his own flag, I can accept that as protected speech, though he's going to have to live with my shunning him. If he burns my flag, that's criminal. Nor does he get to express his speech in the form of graffiti spray-painted on my house.

Posted by: Texan99 at September 27, 2012 10:42 AM

Apparently in this case the rightful owners actually were forced to accept the posters. The rightful owners of the subway is the city of New York, and a First Amendment claim was brought against them to compel them to accept this particular speech.

I think that may actually strengthen the case against Ms. Eltahawy.

If the space were purchased from an individual, she could be refused if she tried to get them to post her opposing speech. Since the space was rented from the government, however, she had just as good a chance as the next person ... and even less excuse for defacing a message someone paid for (and thus trying to block someone else's free speech).

Posted by: Cassandra at September 27, 2012 05:21 PM

If a man burns his own flag, I can accept that as protected speech, though he's going to have to live with my shunning him. If he burns my flag, that's criminal. Nor does he get to express his speech in the form of graffiti spray-painted on my house.

Exactly.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 27, 2012 05:22 PM

...Nor does he get to express his speech in the form of graffiti spray-painted on my house. --Texan99

That there seems incredibly narrow minded. Why, some graffiti person could actually INCREASE the value of your home by tagging it in a particularly insightful way. Free speech is whatever some court says it is. This illusion that some people have about "precedent" and that "Constitution" are really quaint. Why, we have the most brilliantist Constitutional scholar in HISTORY as President of these United States, and if he disagrees with you, well, it looks like you are probably wrong.

Besides, you didn't build that house, and you probably don't even have a clear title to the land it sits on. Someone in government did that. Yup.

Now, you peasants and kulaks form a line here for your chocolate ration, which has been increased from 20 gm to 10 gm this week. And you should be thanking President Obama.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at September 27, 2012 05:22 PM

That there seems incredibly narrow minded. Why, some graffiti person could actually INCREASE the value of your home by tagging it in a particularly insightful way. Free speech is whatever some court says it is. This illusion that some people have about "precedent" and that "Constitution" are really quaint. Why, we have the most brilliantist Constitutional scholar in HISTORY as President of these United States, and if he disagrees with you, well, it looks like you are probably wrong.

Mr. Brouhaha, I will ask that you not post comments that cause me to laugh out loud, thus causing my co-workers to peer into my office to see why I am making so much noise :p

Posted by: Cassandra at September 27, 2012 05:26 PM

"...by continual sly suggestion and innuendo..."

Hey! Don't drag me into this!!
I didn't do it. And you have no proof I did.
heh

Although, I still have my pix.....
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at September 27, 2012 06:03 PM

"Chocolate ration", Cass? I see you lived pampered life of Party member! Was BEET ration only. One slice per seven member family. Extra slice for denouncing capitalist thought criminals in immediate family. That was how we lost cousin Tibor. Was mandatory volunteer for gulag. Family was so hungry, decide Tibor enemy of state. Much fairness and social justice, though. All equally stalked by pale spectre of death from hunger and malnutrition.

Okay, what was topic? Caloric rush from beet slice fragment wearing off, now woozy again.

Posted by: a former european at September 27, 2012 07:44 PM

"Chocolate ration", Cass? I see you lived pampered life of Party member! Was BEET ration only. One slice per seven member family. Extra slice for denouncing capitalist thought criminals in immediate family. That was how we lost cousin Tibor.

Tovarich Oleg!!! Is that you? :)

Posted by: Cassandra at September 27, 2012 08:15 PM

Comrade Cassandrova, please to not be blowing covers! Am incognitos. Long arm of Obamanomics reached out even to Novy Sverdlovsk, and Oleg was offlaid from broadcasting job. All 5 loyal listeners heartbroken were! But having worries am not! Oleg hears from vine of grape that are many broadcasting jobs in US of A! Oleg's experience as voice of Pravda in Novy Sverdlovsk is perfect for american mainriver media!

Is frenzy of bidding for Oleg! Is no training needed. Oleg much experience has in getting script of talking points from Most Beloved Leader, denouncing enemies of Revolution, and speaking Party-approved Truth with straight face. Just like in America! Oleg is for media perfect dream coming true. Oleg has crazy dreams too, like having whole beet for my own! Soon will be riding on train of gravy! Will potatoes also be provided on train? I must learn these american customs. I go now to join fellow Bolsheviks on evening news, comrades, chanting name of Great Leader. Obama! Obama!

Posted by: a former european at September 28, 2012 05:47 AM

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