Days Black People Not Re-Enslaved By Trump

Friday, May 08, 2009

RE: The End of Free Speech?

Paul Craig Roberts asks a very relevant question in his latest featured in Counterpunch. This topic was also broached in the video The Obama Deception, which I highlighted previously and highlights an issue that has been bothering me for a while now. Writes Roberts:

Rahm Israel Emanuel hasn’t been mopping floors at the White House.
As soon as he gets the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 passed, it will become a crime for any American to tell the truth about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and theft of their lands.

While Roberts is concerning himself with Israel, the fact of the matter is that it goes a lot further than that. Last week Feministing posted a piece in which it was proposed that hate crimes be treated as terrorism. The logic went that since the supposed legal definition of terrorism was any coercive acts that have as their ends a political aim, and since those who commit crimes against GLBAQT apparently have some political axe to grind, those who commit such crimes ought to be tried for terrorism. Shockingly, well, actually not so shockingly, a great deal of the commentators on that piece didn't have a problem with the proposal. Worse though, IMHO was the complete acceptance of the state prosecuting for crimes people based on what they think (or say).

I am against hate crimes legislation of all forms. A free, democratic society does not police peoples thoughts or mete out punishment based on what a person may or may not have been thinking at the time of committing a crime. The biggest problem I have with hate crimes legislation is that there are often laws already on the books for the actual act being done. I always use the example of Klansmen and other white supremacist types of groups. I could care less whether in the commission of a beat down they claim to hate niggers. From a law enforcement perspective: I. Could. Care. Less. The beat down is either felony assault or attempted murder. Both of these are prosecutable regardless of the motives. The problem back in the 1920's on up, when lynching, firebombing and other forms of illegal activity was being perpetuated against black people, was that the laws against these things weren't enforced. No way no how could the Klan have gotten away with violence against the black community had the law enforcement bodies actually enforced the law. The Klan grew and prospered specifically because it was given space to operate by the state.

The test of someone's commitment to freedom of speech and thought is not whether they protect the speech they agree with but whether they protect the speech of those they disagree with even to the point of being offended. Unfortunately a great deal of people on the "left" have turned into thought police and it is very disturbing how some of them will abuse their power. Let me give an example:

At William Paterson University a professor of women's studies had a campus announcement sent out on the daily "announcements" e-mail. The announcement was for a play about two lesbian women. As a part of the e-mail, there is a note that says to contact the author of the announcement. Another employee who was also a student responded to the email stating that he objected to getting an announcement about "lesbianism" believed in "Adam and Eve" and did not want to receive any more announcements such as the one that dropped into his inbox.

The professor objected to the e-mail and decided to make a formal complaint to HR. Her claim was that the e-mail was harassment and that his message was threatening and such talk "leads to violence." The employee/student faced discipline including loss of pay. Even the NJ AG got into the act making claims about protected groups which apparently he neglected to note included the employee who was a member of both a racial and religious minority group.

With the intervention of various third parties, the university settled on charging the employee for the misuse of university computer resources. That is he was charged with using a university computer to do personal, non-work related "stuff" which was responding to an e-mail that only goes out to students and employees and encourages feedback directly to the departments who submit announcements.

Clearly had the women's studies professor respected the concept of freedom of speech (particularly in an institution of higher learning) then she simply would have deleted the e-mail or stored it for future reference. No instead she used her position as a protected group higher on the totem pole than that of the employee/student to threaten his employment when he did nothing that supported such actions. Furthermore, the state which ought not have been involved unless there was an actual threat made, threw it's weight behind the favored protected class in complete disregard to the facts on the ground.

Herein lies the dangers of legislating so called "hate speech" and "hate crimes". It quickly becomes a murky cesspool of opinions of the monied and favored class of people against those whom those people deem to be threats and these people often see threats everywhere.

I don't have a problem with keeping statistics on the motivations for particular crimes. No doubt that information is useful for research and pattern recognition, but to make up new laws specifically to punish particular points of view is completely anti-democratic.,

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