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Friday, November 30, 2012

Free Speech Revisited

For John, BLUFThe US Supreme Court, after the terrible Schenck v United States decision, has tended toward protection of speech.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Law Professor Ann Althouse blogs about Free Speech and Due Process, here.

The post refers to a 1940 US Supreme Court ruling, Cantwell v Connecticut.  (I think there is a typo in the report.)

Professor Althouse highlights:

In the realm of religious faith, and in that of political belief, sharp differences arise.  In both fields the tenets of one man may seem the rankest error to his neighbor.  To persuade others to his own point of view, the pleader, as we know, at times resorts to exaggeration, to vilification of men who have been, or are, prominent in church or state, and even to false statement.  But the people of this nation have ordained, in the light of history, that, in spite of the probability of excesses and abuses, these liberties are, in the long view, essential to enlightened opinion and right conduct on the part of the citizens of a democracy.
The Bold is the Professor's.

Free Speech.  It is a wonderful thing and needs to be preserved.  Everywhere.

NOTE for Gerry:It isn't about politics, it is about the US Constitution.

Regards  —  Cliff


Jack Mitchell said...

"Everywhere." Really? How so?

I think our ideals go with us, everywhere. Specifically, when we venture abroad in an official way. May that be "soft power" or it's nasty sibling.

But, we don't not impose our Constitutional principals on other sovereignties.

We can tug at others with "free market forces," as we do with Iran. We certainly can wail and moan if another sovereignty falls short. That's better than looking the other way, e.g. South America for the latter half of last century.

Point being, our founding writs were not hand crafted by the Divine. So, let's stay clear of crusading.

Craig H said...

I'm thinking "everywhere" is pretty much and clearly implied to mean "everywhere governed by our Constitution". (Don't let me put words in your mouth, Cliff, but I'm thinking I'm on the right track here).

Which is to say, I'm not sure the applicability of the sovereignty tangent to the discussion.

My beef would be with the pendulum swinging all the way towards Constitutional protection for non-citizens, i.e. corporations. We cheapen our liberties by squandering them on entities without full civil and legal responsibilities in other areas.

But I am only too happy to think that the SCOTUS is coming back around to regard my and your Bill of Rights as worthy of adequate legal protection.

C R Krieger said...

We don't even impose our Constitutional principals outside certain geographic boundaries—e.g., GITMO.

But, the idealism should be expected everywhere.  We owe it to others to expect the best of them and that includes expecting that they will support Free Speech everywhere.  When a 15 Year Old girl (and she is a girl and not a woman at 15) is killed for refusing marriage, do we not feel it is an abuse of her rights?

Re SCOTUS, I am not so upset by Citizens United because I have not seen a proposal for how to rework the system, but, like Kad, I applaud any action to strengthen our Civil Rights.

Regards  —  Cliff

Jack Mitchell said...

So, Cliff supports, at least, a "Soft Crusade." While Jim Morrison preferred a "Soft Parade."

C R Krieger said...

I don't think Cliff is supporting any Crusades.  But, he is trying to avoid the soft prejudice of assuming that others can only entertain standards that exclude personal freedom and only go with what is good for the clan as a whole.  Like the 15 year old Afghan girl whose throat was slit, recently, because her family wouldn't offer her up in marriage because of some reason, but articulated as she was too young.  Marrying young is a cultural thing and who is to say they are wrong?  Slitting the throat of someone who has somehow offended you is over the edge.  It isn't acceptable for drug cartels and it isn't acceptable for those rejected regarding marriage.  I hope if it happened here we would send the perps up river for a long time and with no apologies.

Do your thing, but don't ask me if you don't want to hear my answer.  And, don't parade your restrictions on individual freedoms in front of me and expect me to applaud.

Regards  —  Cliff

Jack Mitchell said...

Oddly, I believe in certain fundamental human rights, like the right to enjoy good health. How can we rely on the gov't to provide us defense from WMD's, or Polio, but not other forms of harms/ills?

It's one thing to think such matters should be handled at the lowest form of gov't. It is another to create policy that neccesitates that I crawl to a "job creator" to provide 'health security.'

So, until I can provide certain basics for our own peoples and focus our own gov't on fulfilling the writ of our founding documents, I sure as hell won't buy a gross of Hellfire missles to launch at Taliban.

Let's lead by example. Imposing our "exceptionalism" upon the unwashed is arrogant, as we don't have our act straight ourselves.

This holiday season, watch the averice only be matched by envy.

C R Krieger said...

I think of rights as being against Government, not against nature or nature's God.  There is no right to not develop Type II Diabetes.  On the other hand, the Government has a responsibility to help with the Homeless, through appropriate laws and the distribution of taxpayer money.

As for Afghanistan vs the home front, I sort of agree.  It is one thing for our Ambassador to say we think it is a bad thing and another to spend billions fighting their war for them.  Especially when they are the ones who are going to win or lose it, not us.

I think we have been around this rock before, but of the "Four Freedoms" only two are rights.  The other two are aspirations.

Regards  —  Cliff

Jack Mitchell said...

Well, Cliff, our Founders disagree with you.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, ..."

So, "Rights" are not ONLY our shield from from Tyranny, they are to be "secured" for us by the consent of the governed.

As always, we find ourselves back to the social compact, Cliff. Liberty is bartered. I want some socialized health care in return for mine. Since you already got yours, don't you think you should get out of my way?

Renee said...

"that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights"

Who is that Creator guy? What is up with him?

Jack Mitchell said...

That is the exact question, Renee. As the Founders were keen, not to pick a brand.

Unfortunately, too many folks are not as keen as our the collective wisdom of our Founders.

Masonic tradition is hinged to the recognition of a Divine, The "Great Architect," I think they call it. Leaving the Divine generic allowed for a variety on spiritual sects to assemble with little quarrel.

The notable exception being the Catholics, as Rome hates competition, and the Southern Baptists, who seem to just hate all who don't belong to their congregation. I think the Southern Baptist bend could be a recent trend, since saving souls became such a lucrative industry.

Renee said...

All religious beliefs "hate" competition, including atheism.

Strong term there, geesh you've been definitely grumpier then usually lately.

Jack Mitchell said...

Not "all." That word is postured to create an equivalence that doesn't exist. Though, if it does exist, there is a broad range of orders of magnitude.

Some cultures, since recorded history, have effectively waged world war. Even if that world was merely the "old world." That aside, not many have thrust out based on a faith system. Those that do tend to stem out of the the Judeo-Christian brands.

It the damned Patriarchy.

C R Krieger said...

I am not sure we should be saying "stem out of the Judeo-Chrstian branks".

As for the Israelites coming out of Egypt, they were about claiming (reclaiming) their promised homeland.  They didn't seem all that interested in imposing their religion on others or in expanding past the land given them by The Lord.

But, there were a lot of others who wanted to conquer the world, including the Persians and Greeks, under Alexander the Great, who made it all the way to Afghanistan before he got sick and died.  Before going East, Alexander sent his forces down the coast, through Israel, to Egypt.

Then there were Carthaginians and after them the Romans.  The Christians had their time, when they went into Russia.  There was Genghis Khan.  Not of the Judeo-Christian line.

The real conquerers for God is the Muslims, whose empire ran from the Pyrenees to the Philippines at one point, and later reached the Gates of Vienna in 1683.  The Poles showed up and drove them off.  As for the Crusades, were they not about regaining lost territories?  There was Byzantium, but Constantinople fell in 1453, about 40 years before the Spanish pushed the Moors back out of Spain and into North Africa.  Sure, Queen Isabella sent her troops to South America, but she didn't know how to demobilize them after beating the Moors.

So, Christians can, for various epochs, be tagged with rack and ruin, but they are really not amongst the great conquers.  And today they are pretty slack in the conquer role.

Regards  —  Cliff