I keep hearing about a supposed “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment, or statements such as, “This isn’t free speech, it’s hate speech,” or “When does free speech stop and hate speech begin?” But there is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment. Hateful ideas (whatever exactly that might mean) are just as protected under the First Amendment as other ideas. One is as free to condemn Islam — or Muslims, or Jews, or blacks, or whites, or illegal aliens, or native-born citizens — as one is to condemn capitalism or Socialism or Democrats or Republicans.
To be sure, there are some kinds of speech that are unprotected by the First Amendment. But those narrow exceptions have nothing to do with “hate speech” in any conventionally used sense of the term. For instance, there is an exception for “fighting words” — face-to-face personal insults addressed to a specific person, of the sort that are likely to start an immediate fight. But this exception isn’t limited to racial or religious insults, nor does it cover all racially or religiously offensive statements.
…the disaster of inner cities isn’t primarily about race at all. It’s about the consequences of 50 years of progressive misrule—which on race has proved an equal-opportunity failure.
Baltimore is but the latest liberal-blue city where government has failed to do the one thing it ought—i.e., put the cops on the side of the vulnerable and law-abiding—while pursuing “solutions” that in practice enfeeble families and social institutions and local economies.
These supposed solutions do this by substituting federal transfers for fathers and families. They do it by favoring community organizing and government projects over private investment. And they do it by propping up failing public-school systems that operate as jobs programs for the teachers unions instead of centers of learning.
If our inner-city African-American communities suffer disproportionately from crippling social pathologies that make upward mobility difficult—and they do—it is in large part because they have disproportionately been on the receiving end of this five-decade-long progressive experiment in government beneficence.
How do we know? Because when we look at a slice of white America that was showered with the same Great Society good intentions—Appalachia—we find the same dysfunctions: greater dependency, more single-parent families and the absence of the good, private-sector jobs that only a growing economy can create.
There is no question that images ridiculing religion, however offensive they may be to believers, qualify as protected free speech in the United States and most Western democracies. There is also no question that however offensive the images, they do not justify murder, and that it is incumbent on leaders of all religious faiths to make this clear to their followers.
But it is equally clear that the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Tex., was not really about free speech. It was an exercise in bigotry and hatred posing as a blow for freedom.
Here is the cartoon that the NY Times has written such hateful and disparaging things about — you decide.
Comments Steve Simpson at Voices for Reason – Attacks on Free Speech Come to the U.S. | The Ayn Rand Institute:
As I wrote last week, many intellectuals in America and elsewhere have taken an attitude of appeasement toward the terrorists and their sympathizers, thus ensuring that their attacks will continue. Of course, violence is not justified, they say, but should we really go out of our way to celebrate those who offend others or humiliate “marginalized” groups? (In this case, the answer is “yes.”)
Already, we are seeing that attitude toward the organizers of the event in Garland, who are being called “Islamophobes” and purveyors of “hate speech,” always with the caveat that of course violence is not justified.
But this attitude is a form of justifying violence, in the same way that criticizing a rape victim for dressing provocatively is a justification of rape. It says, you brought this on yourself, or you provoked your assailant, or you are the type of person who deserved this. In all events, the message is that your actions, not the actions of your assailants, are the relevant cause of the attack.
There are many circumstances in which it’s appropriate not to take sides in a debate or to criticize one side or the other or both. But that applies only when there actually is a debate to take sides in or to ignore. It seems too obvious to point out, but a debate does not exist when one side is trying to kill the other.
The moment someone resorts to violence in response to speech is the moment that the issue is no longer about the merits of any side’s position or the character of the speakers but about whether we are going to have the freedom to take positions — that is, to think for ourselves — at all. If we fail to support those who are trying to speak, we necessarily end up condoning, and therefore supporting, those who are willing to resort to violence. There’s no middle ground in a dispute like this, because there’s no middle ground between speech and force. Free speech cannot exist when some people are willing to resort to force.
Whatever one thinks about Charlie Hebdo and the organizers of the Garland event or of any of the arguments or positions they take or support, there is no question that Islamists who threaten and use violence want to shut down all debate, all discussion, all thought, and all criticism of their religion. That is why they resort to violence.
It’s so commonly reported that Islam forbids Muhammad’s portraiture that it seems almost a waste of space to repeat it. After all, isn’t that why some Muslims were so outraged in 2006 when the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten depicted Muhammad in an unflattering light? Isn’t that why the Metropolitan Museum of Art pulled three paintings of the prophet? Isn’t that why the TV show South Park had to censor all mentions of Muhammad in a 2010 episode? “Islam forbids images of Muhammad,” CNN boomed in a headline last week.
But the reality is substantially more complicated. The Koran, in fact, does not directly forbid the portrayal of Muhammad. And the second most important Islamic text, the Hadith, “presents us with an ambiguous picture at best,” wrote Christine Gruber of the University of Michigan. “At turns we read of artists who dared to breathe life into their figures and, at others, of pillows ornamented with figural imagery.” The most explicit fatwa banning the portrayal of Muhammad, she notes, isn’t tucked into some ancient text. It arrived in 2001. And its creator was the Taliban. The ban is a very modern construct.
I don’t think the Onion cannot make this stuff up!
THE ABC has questioned whether parents should read to their children before bedtime, claiming it could give your kids an “unfair advantage” over less fortunate children.
“Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?” asks a story on the ABC’s website.
“Should parents snuggling up for one last story before lights out be even a little concerned about the advantage they might be conferring?”
The story was followed by a broadcast on the ABC’s Radio National that also tackled the apparently divisive issue of bedtime reading.
“Evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t — the difference in their life chances — is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t,” British academic Adam Swift told ABC presenter Joe Gelonesi.
Gelonesi responded online: “This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion that perhaps — in the interests of levelling the playing field — bedtime stories should also be restricted.”
Contacted by The Daily Telegraph, Gelonesi said the bedtime stories angle was highlighted by the ABC “as a way of getting attention”.
Asked if it might be just as easy to level the playing field by encouraging other parents to read bedtime stories, Gelonesi said: “We didn’t discuss that.”
That would be “blaming” the parent who does not read to their kids. Perish the thought. As one reader notes, “The fact that people like this are given a respectful hearing, rather than being run out of polite company, is a sad commentary on our cultural decline.”
The right to think, to speak, and to write in freedom and without fear is ultimately a more sacred thing than any religion.
There is no “but” in the First Amendment.
Today is May Day. Since 2007, I have advocated using this date as an international Victims of Communism Day. I outlined the rationale for this idea (which I did not originate) in my very first post on the subject:
May Day began as a holiday for socialists and labor union activists, not just communists. But over time, the date was taken over by the Soviet Union and other communist regimes and used as a propaganda tool to prop up their regimes. I suggest that we instead use it as a day to commemorate those regimes’ millions of victims. The authoritative Black Book of Communism estimates the total at 80 to 100 million dead, greater than that caused by all other twentieth century tyrannies combined. We appropriately have a Holocaust Memorial Day. It is equally appropriate to commemorate the victims of the twentieth century’s other great totalitarian tyranny. And May Day is the most fitting day to do so….
The main alternative to May 1 is November 7, the anniversary of the communist coup in Russia. However, choosing that date might be interpreted as focusing exclusively on the Soviet Union, while ignoring the equally horrendous communist mass murders in China, Cambodia, and elsewhere. So May 1 is the best choice.
Our relative neglect of communist crimes carries a real cost. Victims of Communism Day can serve the dual purpose of appropriately commemorating the millions of victims, and diminishing the likelihood that such atrocities will recur. Just as Holocaust Memorial Day and other similar events have helped sensitize us to the dangers of racism, anti-Semitism, and radical nationalism, so Victims of Communism Day can increase awareness of the dangers of extreme government control of the economy and civil society.
“Every year on Earth Day we learn how bad humanity’s economic development is for the health of the planet. But maybe this is the wrong message. Maybe we should instead reflect on how human progress, even use of fossil fuels, has made our environment cleaner and healthier. Alex Epstein of the Center for Industrial Progress explains.”
Over at Breitbart, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer unveiled the contenders for the People’s Choice award in their Muhammad Cartoon Contest and I made the cut. I sent in 6 Mohammad drawings, and the one below can be voted on by you for the People’s Choice Award in the comments section of the following posts atBreitbart, Jihad WatchandPamela Geller. For some reason, my drawing is not being shown in large format on at least two of the sites, so I’m displaying it here so you can get a better look. I really appreciate your support.
[Press] Judicial Watch accused the Obama administration of stalling and withholding information from a federal court in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and top aide’s emails. Last week, Judicial Watch attorneys sought a status conference over the issue of the Hillary Clinton’s and other secret email accounts in order to “avoid further undue delays, prejudice and potential spoliation.” In response, the Justice Department, on behalf of the State Department, told the federal court handling the matter (U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth) that there was no need for a hearing until at least late April and that, contrary to statements by Mrs. Clinton and various administration spokesmen, it was not aware of the secret email issue until recently. In its response (Reply in Support of a Motion for a Status Conference), Judicial Watch cited Mrs. Clinton’s press statement:
Secretary Clinton was the head of the agency and the State Department cannot claim it was unaware of the State Department’s failure to records-manage agency emails from the Office of the Secretary. In fact, the “Statement from the Office of Former Secretary Clinton” states that “[h]er usage [of non-“state.gov” email for State Department business] was widely known to the over 100 Department and U.S. government colleagues she emailed.”
Judicial Watch also accused the Obama administration of continuing to thwart the FOIA:
The State Department has yet to demonstrate how it is satisfying its obligations under FOIA in light of recent revelations that Secretary Clinton’s emails were not being properly managed, retained and produced. This also applies to emails received or sent by other officials or employees within the Secretary’s office to conduct government business who used non-“state.gov” email addresses. To determine the adequacy of the State Department’s search, both Judicial Watch and the Court should be informed by the Department directly of the details surrounding the retention of agency emails within the Office of the Secretary and the extent of the Department’s ability to search, request and retrieve those records …
Had Judicial Watch not challenged the State Department’s search, this case would most likely have been dismissed before any public revelations were made about the unlawful arrangement relating to the State Department’s handling of agency emails during Secretary Clinton’s tenure at the State Department …
[T]he State Department has still not responded to Judicial Watch’s request to confirm whether its supplemental search includes all non-“state.gov” email addresses used by other officials or employees within the Secretary’s office for government business …
To the extent that Secretary Clinton used her non-“state.gov” email address to communicate with State Department employees outside her office who used “state.gov” email addresses, the State Department would also have to conduct agency wide searches to respond properly to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request.
Judicial Watch also is concerned that documents might be lost because of the State Department’s misconduct:
Time is of the essence in this case. The statement by former Secretary Clinton during a press conference that she did not preserve approximately 30,000 emails she sent or received through her non-“state.gov” email address she used exclusively to conduct government business is a matter of public record – not [as the State Department alleged] “conjecture.” Only last week, the State Department publically disclosed that it was unable to automatically archive the emails of most of its senior officials until last month. This is also a matter of public record – not conjecture. The State Department has still not informed the Court or Judicial Watch whether it has undertaken any efforts to retrieve agency emails from non-“state.gov” email addresses used by other officials or employees within the Office of the Secretary during the relevant time period or from other employees within the agency. The State Department needs to request these agency records immediately in light of the Department’s history of poor records-management and preservation of agency records.
Judicial Watch also shoots down the contention that Hillary Clinton’s alleged removal of the records would prevent them from being subject to FOIA. There is no precedent for the head of an agency “purposefully rout[ing] a document out of agency possession in order to circumvent a FOIA request.” In fact, there is precedent for a court allowing discovery into the circumventing of FOIA, as happened in Judicial Watch’s historic FOIA lawsuit against the Clinton Commerce Department. In that case, Judge Lamberth “already found that discovery was appropriate where it was ‘designed to explore the extent to which [the Department of Commerce (“DOC”)]…illegally destroyed and discarded responsive information, and possible methods for recovering whatever responsive information still exists outside of the DOC’s possession.’”
“The Obama administration’s fraud, misconduct and misrepresentation on the Hillary Clinton email scandal continues in federal court,” stated Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. “Our independent litigation exposed the email scandal and just forced, for the first time, the Obama administration to admit accountability for at least some of the records Hillary Clinton concealed from the American people.”
BBC has a pretty creative cartoon sketch on Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, which is pretty good and well-meaning for the most part in the dialogue, though it gets a few things wrong (and some of the artistic interpretations are reprehensible, i.e., equating the dollar sign with a snake). Overall it is worth a watch. Below are some comments on the bolded parts of the dialogue.
Is it good to be selfish?
Morality and selfishness sound like opposites – but not according to the Russian-American novelist of the 1950s, Ayn Rand. She thought it was obvious that behaving rationally meant putting your own interests first: you actually have a duty to be selfish. Altruism or self-sacrifice are immoral, she claimed, as is asking for help from others.
What Rand actually said was that one had no DUTY to help others — she was perfectly fine with (private) charity, and yes asking for help. She also would not call selfishness a duty, but a virtue that must be chosen.
Here is Ayn Rand on the difference:
One of the most destructive anti-concepts in the history of moral philosophy is the term “duty.”
An anti-concept is an artificial, unnecessary and rationally unusable term designed to replace and obliterate some legitimate concept. The term “duty” obliterates more than single concepts; it is a metaphysical and psychological killer: it negates all the essentials of a rational view of life and makes them inapplicable to man’s actions . . . .
The meaning of the term “duty” is: the moral necessity to perform certain actions for no reason other than obedience to some higher authority, without regard to any personal goal, motive, desire or interest.
It is obvious that that anti-concept is a product of mysticism, not an abstraction derived from reality. In a mystic theory of ethics, “duty” stands for the notion that man must obey the dictates of a supernatural authority. Even though the anti-concept has been secularized, and the authority of God’s will has been ascribed to earthly entities, such as parents, country, State, mankind, etc., their alleged supremacy still rests on nothing but a mystic edict. Who in hell can have the right to claim that sort of submission or obedience? This is the only proper form—and locality—for the question, because nothing and no one can have such a right or claim here on earth.
The arch-advocate of “duty” is Immanuel Kant; he went so much farther than other theorists that they seem innocently benevolent by comparison. “Duty,” he holds, is the only standard of virtue; but virtue is not its own reward: if a reward is involved, it is no longer virtue. The only moral motivation, he holds, is devotion to duty for duty’s sake; only an action motivated exclusively by such devotion is a moral action . . . .
If one were to accept it, the anti-concept “duty” destroys the concept of reality: an unaccountable, supernatural power takes precedence over facts and dictates one’s actions regardless of context or consequences.
“Duty” destroys reason: it supersedes one’s knowledge and judgment, making the process of thinking and judging irrelevant to one’s actions.
“Duty” destroys values: it demands that one betray or sacrifice one’s highest values for the sake of an inexplicable command—and it transforms values into a threat to one’s moral worth, since the experience of pleasure or desire casts doubt on the moral purity of one’s motives.
“Duty” destroys love: who could want to be loved not from “inclination,” but from “duty”?
“Duty” destroys self-esteem: it leaves no self to be esteemed.
If one accepts that nightmare in the name of morality, the infernal irony is that “duty” destroys morality. A deontological (duty-centered) theory of ethics confines moral principles to a list of prescribed “duties” and leaves the rest of man’s life without any moral guidance, cutting morality off from any application to the actual problems and concerns of man’s existence. Such matters as work, career, ambition, love, friendship, pleasure, happiness, values (insofar as they are not pursued as duties) are regarded by these theories as amoral, i.e., outside the province of morality. If so, then by what standard is a man to make his daily choices, or direct the course of his life?
In a deontological theory, all personal desires are banished from the realm of morality; a personal desire has no moral significance, be it a desire to create or a desire to kill. For example, if a man is not supporting his life from duty, such a morality makes no distinction between supporting it by honest labor or by robbery. If a man wants to be honest, he deserves no moral credit; as Kant would put it, such honesty is “praiseworthy,” but without “moral import.” Only a vicious represser, who feels a profound desire to lie, cheat and steal, but forces himself to act honestly for the sake of “duty,” would receive a recognition of moral worth from Kant and his ilk.
This is the sort of theory that gives morality a bad name. [“Causality Versus Duty,” Philosophy: Who Needs It, 95]
Rand’s approach, which she labelled ‘Objectivism’, starts from the claim that there is an objective reality out there and that human beings understand it through reason not emotion. There is no God. We survive by pursuing our own rational self-interest. She thought it followed from this that the highest moral purpose was for each of us to pursue his or her own happiness. The weak shouldn’t expect any help from the strong.
Here is what Rand actually said on the issue on the relationship between the weak and strong:
In proportion to the mental energy he spent, the man who creates a new invention receives but a small percentage of his value in terms of material payment, no matter what fortune he makes, no matter what millions he earns. But the man who works as a janitor in the factory producing that invention, receives an enormous payment in proportion to the mental effort that his job requires of him. And the same is true of all men between, on all levels of ambition and ability. The man at the top of the intellectual pyramid contributes the most to all those below him, but gets nothing except his material payment, receiving no intellectual bonus from others to add to the value of his time. The man at the bottom who, left to himself, would starve in his hopeless ineptitude, contributes nothing to those above him, but receives the bonus of all of their brains. Such is the nature of the “competition” between the strong and the weak of the intellect. Such is the pattern of “exploitation” for which you have damned the strong. [Galt’s Speech, For the New Intellectual, 186]
All forms of collectivism were evil in her eyes. The role of government was nothing more than to protect individual rights of ownership and to let the powerful flourish.
Yes collectivism (the subjugation of the individual to a group) is evil. However, under capitalism everyone flourishes as power is decentralized amongst the smallest minority on earth — the individual — as opposed to centralizing all power with the state as collectivists advocate. Quoting Rand:
A disastrous intellectual package-deal, put over on us by the theoreticians of statism, is the equation of economic power with political power. You have heard it expressed in such bromides as: “A hungry man is not free,” or “It makes no difference to a worker whether he takes orders from a businessman or from a bureaucrat.” Most people accept these equivocations—and yet they know that the poorest laborer in America is freer and more secure than the richest commissar in Soviet Russia. What is the basic, the essential, the crucial principle that differentiates freedom from slavery? It is the principle of voluntary action versus physical coercion or compulsion.
The difference between political power and any other kind of social “power,” between a government and any private organization, is the fact that a government holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force.
Returning to the BBC description:
In her bestselling novels Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead she portrayed uncompromising characters who relentlessly pursue their own visions. In Atlas Shrugged her hero John Galt declares “I swear—by my life and my love of it—that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”
You can learn more about Ayn Rand — in her own words — by visiting AynRand.org
Research in recent years has encouraged those of us who question the popular alarm over allegedly man-made global warming. Actually, the move from “global warming” to “climate change” indicated the silliness of this issue. The climate has been changing since the Earth was formed. This normal course is now taken to be evidence of doom.
Individuals and organizations highly vested in disaster scenarios have relentlessly attacked scientists and others who do not share their beliefs. The attacks have taken a threatening turn.
Billions of dollars have been poured into studies supporting climate alarm, and trillions of dollars have been involved in overthrowing the energy economy. So it is unsurprising that great efforts have been made to ramp up hysteria, even as the case for climate alarm is disintegrating.
Mr. Grijalva’s letters convey an unstated but perfectly clear threat: Research disputing alarm over the climate should cease lest universities that employ such individuals incur massive inconvenience and expense—and scientists holding such views should not offer testimony to Congress.
So much for the myth that research by private funds is tainted by influence and corrupted, and by research paid for by politicians, non-profit groups and climate hysteria organizations is “neutral” and objective.
Facts are facts no matter who paid to research them. To quote blogger, H. Larson:
“Science requires freedom. Government intimidation has no place in science–nor does the unfounded assumption that private funding corrupts, while public funding guarantees objectivity.”