On Hate Speech

There is no such thing as unprotected speech. Period. Full stop.

That means there is no “hate speech” that is not protected by the Constitution (albeit the USSC has whiffled this from time to time, as they are occasionally wont to do). Not to straw man here, but there are folks who will quote Oliver Wendell Holmes and claim that, because there is no right to shout “fire” in a crowded theater, entire classes of speech can be deemed as outside of constitutional protection. Let’s unpack that a bit:

In Schenck v. United States (1919), Holmes wrote an opinion (for a unanimous court) finding that Charles Schenck, an opponent of the US’s participation in World War I, could be prosecuted for a violation of the Espionage Act of 1917. Schenck’s crime? Urging citizens to resist the draft via both oral speech and flyers. The Court deemed that undermining the war effort was beyond the protection offered by the First Amendment. The most famous passage is Holmes quote:

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic. It does not even protect a man from an injunction against uttering words that may have all the effect of force.  Gompers v. Bucks Stove & Range Co., 221 U.S. 418, 439. The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. It is a question of proximity and degree. When a nation is at war, many things that might be said in time of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight, and that no Court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right.” * ^ (Emphasis mine.)

But, Schenck is no longer the law of the land, and anyone quoting Holmes today is either cherrypicking their history or is an idiot. In Brandenburg v Ohio (1969), the Court completely overturned Holmes’s reasoning in Schenck. In that case, the Court found speech could only be punished when it might result in “imminent unlawful action”** and even the Court’s thinking  in Brandenburg has been subsequently attacked on numerous occasions.

Further, Holmes himself came to regret the Schenck decision as an attack on the necessity of robust speech protections (see Zechariah Chafee).

But, set aside what the Court has said for a moment (after all, the Court’s history of being flat out wrong is long and storied–and before you disagree, be prepared to defend Dred Scott v Sanford). Free speech protections must be absolute, save one highly singular exception–one should not enjoy the protections of the Constitution for a known falsehood. This isn’t a moral judgement, but a practical one: how long can society function if e.g. a corporation can lie about using horse meat in their hamburgers, then claim Constitutional protection as their defense of the lie?

But speech we just don’t like? Speech that offends us? Triggers us? Sends the pusillanimous among us in search of a “safe space?” The First Amendment was designed especially to protect political speech from the encroachment of government. And virtually all speech can be construed as political speech. So, all due respect to the President-elect (or “PEON” as Kevin Williamson has humorously suggested), you cannot punish people for burning a flag. Moreover, sir, you must not try. Period. Full stop.

On the other hand, for all of you student activists, university deans, department chairs, and presidents who keep campaigning for “free speech zones,”safe spaces,” and “hate speech codes”: pull your goddamned heads out of your asses. There is no “but that offends me” exception to free speech. The best cure for a wrong opinion is–and shall remain–more speech.

You insufferable jackasses drawing those munificent salaries at Harvard, Yale, and (sadly) UNLV need to remember your job is to teach, not coddle. It would be great if you’d start teaching your students that they are going to run into things they disagree with. In real life, they will not be permitted to claim that they are “afraid” of a contrary opinion and retreat to a “safe space”–at least not if they want to keep their jobs. Your collective failure to teach them that is prima facie evidence that you should be fired for cause.

And, Mr. Trump? How about you get busy learning how to govern the country via the office which you swindled just enough people into voting you into? Don’t make the mistake that so many of your predecessors have (especially you, Mr. Obama), and start thinking it’s your job to tell people which opinions are right and wrong. That is never your job. Period. Full stop.

I am a veteran, Mr. Trump, unlike yourself. Seeing someone set the flag on fire offends me deeply. So deeply, in fact, that were such a person to accidentally set themselves on fire while doing so, I would take the opportunity to roast a marshmallow over his blazing corpse. But I will never support, argue for, or endorse any encroachment by the government on some jackass’s right to do so.

Here’s a tip, folks: if you aren’t free to be an ass, you aren’t really free.

*Holmes, Oliver Wendell. “Schenck v. United States 249 U.S. 47”Opinion. Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 29 November 2016

^ Wikipedia has a decent right up on this if the cited entry is too much for you to wade through

**per curium opinion. “Bradenburg v. Ohio 395 U.S. 444”  Justia U.S. Supreme Court Center. Retrieved 29 November 2016

Whiskey of the Week

I tell folks all the time: I’m not an alcoholic, I’m a drunk. “Alcoholics” go to meetings.

The whiskey of the week is Maker’s Mark. A damned fine bourbon, MM is one of the few whiskeys that has little trouble seducing me away from my beloved Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7. In fact, as I’m writing this post, I am enjoying a tumbler of this magical Kentucky brew.

Served neat, over ice, or with your favorite soda (I’m a Coca-Cola man myself), you’ll not go far wrong with a bottle of MM on your shelf.

But a word of warning: if you’re coming over to my place, bring your own. This bottle’s mine.

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Cigar of the Week

The cigar of the week is the Carlos Torano Exodus 1959 Torpedo. The Exodus 50 Years cigar is wrapped with a Brazilian sungrown leaf, and has a premium Nicaraguan filler. The Exodus 50 Years is an amazing cigar.

You can pick up a box of twenty for for around $110 from Thompson. I usually keep some in my humidor. Great cigars for either an evening on the patio, or cruising down the road with the wind in your hair.

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Ohio State Shooter

So, it’s been an interesting day…

Looks like a young fellow named Abdul Razak Ali Artan, after quoting Anwar al-Awlaki, drove his car into a crowd of fellow students, then bailed out and started attacking them with a knife.

Many media outlets were, apparently, reporting this as an “active shooter” incident. And, of course, the usual suspects began calling for yet more gun control legislation. (I guess they weren’t aware that Ohio State bans carrying firearms but, hey, never let a crisis go to waste, right?)

I have no idea if this was a lone wolf attack, inspired by Islamist terrorism, or yet another violent overreaction to losing an election. What I do know is that the media never gets the story right first time up at bat, so I’ll hold my water for a few days and wait to see what competent investigators turn up.

But, for the record, every time I see the gun grabbers race to exploit a tragedy for their pet agenda, it makes me less willing to listen to any argument they make, no matter how well reasoned. Collectively, you’re all vultures. Even if I agreed with you in principal, I would oppose you in practice. You disgust me that much.

Of course, since I oppose you in principal, too…

Ding dong, the bastard’s dead!

So, Fidel Castro finally kicked. Days like this, I sincerely wish I believed in an afterlife. I have no doubt that this vile, murderous, son of a bitch would roast in the flames of hell for all eternity.

So, what happens now? Raul is as bad as his brother was, and gulag Cuba is still under the iron hand of the communists. Moreover, none of Raul’s likely successors look to be any real improvement either.

As always, we’ll just have to wait and see. My hope is that Raul shuffles off after his dear brother in short order. Maybe–maybe–the next warden of Stalag Cuba will decide that ending the decades of political oppression is a good idea.

But, for today, I’m raising a glass to the memory of all the innocents Fidel and his minions (looking at you, Che, you sociopathic bastard) imprisoned, killed, and exiled over the last 57 years. It isn’t justice by any stretch, but at least the days of Fidel enjoying his spoils are finally over.

Cigar of the Week

The cigar of the week is the Gurkha Beauty.  A mild-medium stick with a Dominican Binder and Nicaraguan filler.  They have a well-earned 93 rating on Cigars International, where you can pick up a box of 20 for $153.

There are those who swear by Cubanos, but don’t listen to them!  In my travels, I’ve sampled many Cuban cigars, and in my estimation, they are simply proof that there is nothing the never-to-be-sufficently-damned commies can’t screw up.

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