Does the Friendly Atheist approve of censoring hate speech?

I generally have no beefs with Hemant Mehta, who’s famous as “The Friendly Atheist”, repeatedly calling out the foibles of the faithful. But I was made a little bit queasy by his February 6 website piece, “Christian Hate-Pastor celebrates getting banned in Jamaica since it’s ‘Biblical’.” In his gloss on the news, Hemant seems to come close to advocating censorship of “hate speech.”

Steven Anderson, of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, really is a “hate pastor” in the sense that he’s not just a homophobe, but favors the killing of gays. As Hemant reported in an earlier post:

[Anderson said] “The good news [about the massacre] is that there’s 50 less pedophiles in this world.” He also said the U.S. government should execute homosexuals by way of a firing squad because that’s what the Bible commands.

The guy is odious, and I suppose countries have the right to determine who visits. But in the U.S., such speech doesn’t pose a “clear and present danger” (that is, gays won’t be executed on the spot after hearing Anderson talk), and of course Anderson’s sentiments are based on religion, though of course there were no firing squads in the old Testament! Still, the Bible does contain the command he cites—Leviticus 20:13:

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Clearly Anderson is a fundamentalist who takes the Old Testament literally, and for that he’s being censored. Of course I think this view, like so much in the Old Testament, is horrific, even if it was practiced in the old days (and still is in some Muslim lands), but it gives Anderson a religious reason for his homophobia.

In Hemant’s latest post, as the title notes, Anderson was banned from entering Jamaica, as he has been from entering Botswana, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Canada. (Seriously? The UK and Canada too?)  Making a virtue of necessity, Anderson invoked the Streisand Effect by asserting that his banning gave him extra publicity:

But here’s Hemant’s take on Anderson’s banning:

Anderson thinks the very fact that he was banned means he was being persecuted. He’s confusing his bigotry, which had no redeeming value, with genuinely interesting authors and artists whose works are banned because they might encourage people to think about taboo topics.

Jamaica had every right to prevent someone from preaching vitriol against already marginalized groups of people.

Well, maybe it did (I don’t know Jamaican law vis-à-vis free speech, and how that relates to immigration), but this comes perilously close to saying that Anderson’s speech isn’t free speech because it’s “preaching vitriol against already marginalized groups of people.”  Would it be okay if the people weren’t marginalized—say if he were calling for the execution of white males?  As pretty much of a free-speech absolutist, I don’t agree with the implicit sentiment of Hemant’s editorializing. The airing of bigotry does in fact have redeeming value: its preaching enables others to question and contradict it, making the bigot look bad. Historically, allowing racists and other bigots  to speak freely exposed them for the odious people they were: people like George Wallace, Lester Maddox, and, recently, neo-Nazis. In that sense, even the most blatant “hate speech” has redeeming value.

Given that Anderson’s speech doesn’t violate the First Amendment, I wouldn’t try to censor it or shut it down in the U.S. I surely wouldn’t invite him to speak on my campus, but if someone did and he accepted, I wouldn’t call for his banning (though I’d be out there demonstrating against him). In the end, hate-mongers like Anderson should be allowed their First Amendment rights, for suppressing their speech just drives it underground. You don’t expunge this kind of hatred by censoring it: you do it by airing it and showing how ridiculous it is.

I’ll call this post to Hemant’s attention, as he’s a friend, and let him respond if he wishes.

103 Comments

  1. Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    … he has been from entering Botswana, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Canada. (Seriously? The UK and Canada too?)

    The attitude of the UK is to be more restrictive in deciding whether to issue a visa than in what one would accept from a citizen already here.

    Thus, a citizen can condemn homosexuality, but in deciding whether to issue a visa to a non-citizen there is also a “public interest” test as to whether it is considered beneficial to the UK to have him visit.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      He seems to have been banned from even transiting the UK (on his way to S Africa and Botswana in 2016). A Home Office spokesman was quoted as saying at the time:

      ‘The Home Secretary has the power to exclude an individual if she considers that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good or if their exclusion is justified on public policy grounds. Coming here is a privilege that we refuse to extend to those who seek to subvert our shared values.’

      Refusing him a visa to stay in the UK: fair enough (maybe). Stopping him transiting: going a bit far?

    • chris moffatt
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Yeah. Right.

      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/oct/10/hatespeechvfreespeech

      Fact is freespeech is dead in the UK and in Canada (Bill C16 anybody?).

      • Posted February 8, 2018 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        “Yeah right” what? Are you claiming that Coel’s post is false?

        To me, as a UK citizen, it seems like a fair summary of the situation as it stands. Several purveyors of “hate speech” have been refused entry into the UK for exactly the reasons stated.

        Whether you agree with the policy or not or you agree with Peter Tatchell on the issue is not relevant to the facts.

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted February 8, 2018 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        Why do you quote an article from over 10 years ago? A lot has happened since then. If you think that free speech is dead in the UK, then come over here and join in!

    • Posted February 8, 2018 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      I think most countries have similar policies, and this makes sense.

  2. mpromptu
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    I’ll chime in briefly.

    My post was less about whether the laws in those countries are reasonable (which is a separate discussion that I need to think more about), and more of a response to his claim that they were persecuting him for preaching the “truth.” They weren’t.

    Those other countries’ free speech rights aren’t quite as robust as they are in the U.S., and they allow banning people based on how extreme they are and who they’re targeting. If that’s permitted, then I can see why Anderson falls in those crosshairs.

    Jerry raises a fair question of whether those nations should be doing that at all. I think that’s a valid point. But under the rules they have in those countries, they weren’t selectively targeting Anderson because of his faith, and that’s the only point I was trying to make. I definitely wasn’t thinking about it in free speech terms, so apologies if I inadvertently suggested speech should be restricted. I’m not in favor of that. I’ve never said Anderson should be arrested (or stopped or whatever) for the awful things he preaches in the U.S. He has a right to be a bigot here.

    — Hemant

    • Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the clarification, Hemant!

    • glen1davidson
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      I’ve never said Anderson should be arrested (or stopped or whatever) for the awful things he preaches in the U.S. He has a right to be a bigot here.

      Why?

      I’m certainly glad that Mehta makes the distinction, but unfortunately the arguments are the typical social justice excuses for deplatforming and censoring.

      I do think it’s not as bad keeping some foreign bigot like Anderson out as shutting up one’s own citizens, but adopting the “reasons” that Mehta has for doing so in Anderson’s case would appear to apply across the board, nor did the post suggest that they did not.

      If one is going to make a case for keeping someone like Anderson from speaking in Jamaica, rather than shutting him up altogether, it would behoove one not to use “arguments” that apply as readily to domestic censorship as to keeping out bigots and/or dissidents.

      Glen Davidson

    • Tim Harris
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      Questions that never seem to be raised in the discussions of free speech are questions about power and the situation in which certain kinds of assertions are being made. Having Steve Bannon engage in a formal debate at the University of Chicago is one thing, allowing Steve Bannon and his pals to poison political debate by spreading lies via various media, as well as through Russian bots, is a slightly different matter. One notices that the splendid ‘airing of bigotry’ against, for example, the Rohingyas of Burma does not seem to have had much redeeming value, for the Rohingyas at least.

      Jamaica, from which Steven Anderson has now been banned, is unfortunately well-known for high levels of violence against gay and trans people. If Anderson was planning to go there, he surely wasn’t planning to engage in nice civil debates with proponents of gay rights before educated audiences, but to stir a stinking pot. The university debate is certainly a model for civilised argument (though abused by such as that anti-evolution theologian whose name I can’t remember and who often seemed to win debates with opponents who knew better than him through his deployment of questionable debating devices, such as the ‘Gish Gallop’ – to the extent that evolutionists stopped debating him because it merely gave exposure to bad arguments and made them look good; I don’t know what that says for ‘free speech’.)

      ‘Would it be okay if the people weren’t marginalized—say if he were calling for the execution of white males?’ asks Jerry. This surely misses the point, in the way that absolutism often does.

    • phil
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      Curiously our Attorney General expressed a similar view in parliament wrt Australians, but the law suggests otherwise. There has been some noise about changing the racial discrimination laws recently, but no legislative change has come of it yet.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted February 8, 2018 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

        This is from Tatchell’s god and thoughtful article mentioned above, with which I am largely in agreement:

        ‘My real gripe is that inciting violence is much more serious than inciting hatred. Yet the laws prohibiting the advocacy and encouragement of homophobic violence are often not enforced.

        ‘For nearly two decades, despite repeated appeals from the gay community, the government, police and prosecution service have allowed record stores and radio stations to promote “murder music” songs inciting the killing of queers. Jamaican artists such as Buju Banton, Beenie Man and Bounty Killa have released CDs that openly encourage and glorify the shooting, burning, hanging and drowning of gay and lesbian people.

        ‘Inciting murder is a criminal offence under long-standing laws. Yet these songs have been given airplay on mainstream radio stations such as the BBC, as well as on local black pirate stations. The tracks are sold openly in many record stores and via online websites such as Amazon. The police have made no attempt to take action against the record companies and distributors, the record stores and websites, and the radio stations and deejays.

        ‘Likewise, some fundamentalist Muslim clerics, on the extremist wing of Islam, openly urge the killing of gay people, unchaste women and Muslims who turn away from their faith. In east London in 2005, hate preacher Abdul Muhid of the pro-jihad Saviour Sect, urged the murder of homosexuals. Despite witnesses willing to go to court, the Crown Prosecution Service refused to prosecute him…’

        I really do not see that Anderson’s advocacy of the execution of homosexuals is much different from incitement to murder – particularly when you look at the influence Evangelical American Christian bigots have had in such African countries as Uganda, where the incendiary workshops they have conducted have led to laws targeting homosexuals and to a number of murders of advocates of gay rights and gay people.

  3. Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    I think their is a difference between listening to and not suppressing citizens of your own country versus inviting idiots from other countries in. They might be looking to the example of Africa where people like this came in and not just not gained a foothold but are now the dominant morality.

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Selectively targeting people because of their faith? Leave that one to us. Free speech or not we now specifically keep people out by country and faith unless you can find a people there of another religion. In fact, removing the religious aspect and we are kicking people out regardless of religion, all they have to be is anything other than a legit citizen. It is very likely that Anderson would be allowed into the states, as long as he is not from a country on the Trump list. Welcome with open arms…

    • mikeyc
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      You’re confusing immigration with visas.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

        No, I think you are wrong. The list of countries not allowed are for travel into the U.S. Not Immigration.

        • mikeyc
          Posted February 8, 2018 at 10:05 am | Permalink

          Oh, yes, you’re right. My bad. I forgot that Trump’s ban is in place (it was repeatedly stayed and I lost track there for a minute).

          But your point is also true of immigration (which is why I thought that’s what you were talking about*); there are well known biases in US immigration policies. If Trump has his way they will become law.

          *note to self – coffee THEN comment. Not the other way around.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted February 8, 2018 at 10:11 am | Permalink

            Yes, and this is where our legal system has failed. They at first ruled against much of what Trump was doing and later caved. He now has 8 countries on the ban and no more 90 days stuff, it is now until further notice.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted February 8, 2018 at 10:48 am | Permalink

              Trump’s Muslim travel ban hasn’t finished playing out in SCOTUS yet, though the lifting of the temporary stay doesn’t bode well for the ultimate outcome.

              • Randall Schenck
                Posted February 8, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

                Ah, good to know there is still some hope. Putting North Korea on the list, that’s clever. See, we are not just banning Muslims, we also ban people who have no choice of ever getting on an airplane. We could ban Russia and China because they only come to visit Trump anyway. And they can do all their hacking from over there.

    • Posted February 8, 2018 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      Not guaranteed. My country is not on Trump’s list, and nevertheless almost 20 per cent of visa applicants get refusals. Usually because they are considered poor.

  5. glen1davidson
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Anderson thinks the very fact that he was banned means he was being persecuted. He’s confusing his bigotry, which had no redeeming value, with genuinely interesting authors and artists whose works are banned because they might encourage people to think about taboo topics.

    He can’t keep anything straight, can he?

    Anderson clearly was banned because he encourages people to think about taboo topices.

    His bigotry has no redeeming value? OK, why don’t you show how that’s so, rather than just applauding those who would shut him up? Does shutting up people have redeeming value? Who is to decide that anything has no redeeming value in any theoretically democratic/egalitarian society? Hemant? Other establishment figures?

    “Genuinely interesting authors”? Is that Hemant Mehta? If not, well, maybe it’s time for his blog to go. I think if “genuinely interesting” is the standard, we should ban a whole lot of SJW nonsense–and writings favoring censorship.

    Mehta is pushing a whole lot of hazy concepts as reasons for censorship that could be used against almost anybody, depending on who is in charge.

    Glen Davidson

    • yiamcross
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      I think calling for gays to be executed is far from hazy or ambiguous and I have completely failed to find any redeeming value in it as a philosophy or call to action. Maybe you can point out the silver lining in that otherwise black cloud? Thanks.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted February 8, 2018 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

        Very well said, yiamcross.

        Incidentally, I have always thought that one of the best answers to a noble-sounding moral absolutism, or one makes its possessor feel nicely noble and heroic, (and in this case an answer that has a bearing on ‘free speech’) is presented in Act 3, scene 2 of Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’, when having delivered his well-judged and civilised speech, Brutus gives the floor to Mark Antony… Cassius had it right twice. Mark Antony should have been assassinated with Caesar, and having been allowed to live, should not have been allowed to address the Roman crowd. But Brutus… he gets everything wrong throughout the play because of his moral nobility, and destroys his own cause and all that are part of it.

        And I am sorry, but I must take issue with this remark of Jerry’s: ‘Historically, allowing racists and other bigots to speak freely exposed them for the odious people they were: people like George Wallace, Lester Maddox, and, recently, neo-Nazis.’ It exposed them as the odious people they were because fortunately there was a sufficiently large percentage of the population at the time who disagreed with the positions and sentiments they espoused. That is to say, power in this case was on the side of the right. But this certainly is not always the case, as any unprejudiced ring of history shows (or a good, cold look at what is happening in many hitherto more or less democratic societies at the present time will show.)

        • Tim Harris
          Posted February 8, 2018 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

          unprejudiced reading…

      • Tim Harris
        Posted February 9, 2018 at 1:47 am | Permalink

        And to suggest that Anderson is ‘encouraging people to think about taboo topics’ is the sheerest nonsense.

  6. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Hate speech laws in various countries have a wide range of legal definitions of hate speech.

    For example, Canada says something IS hate speech if:
    “incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace”

    But Canada says it is NOT hate speech if:
    ” (b) if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text; (c) if the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit, and if on reasonable grounds he believed them to be true; or (d) if, in good faith, he intended to point out, for the purpose of removal, matters producing or tending to produce feelings of hatred toward an identifiable group in Canada.”

    I’m pretty sure speech advocating strict segregation a la George Wallace would not be considered hate speech in Canadian Law.

    But Australia’s laws are far, far broader than Canada, which classifies as hate speech that which attempts to (emphasis added) “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate”.

    In essence, only something that is a direct incitement to violence is hate speech in Canada, while speech that offends (a much more subjective criterion) in hate speech in Australia.

    • mikeyc
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Wow. I didn’t know that about Australia. You can’t offend people? Based on the limited sample of Aussie blokes I’ve met, I wonder does anyone even talk down there?

      🙂

    • phoffman56
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      You know more about Canada’s laws in this respect than I do, despite me being a Canadian. Thanks for that info.

      Presumably ‘every’ country bans speech which advocates unlawful and immediate violence against individuals or groups. My point below is about that, independently of which country.

      First a question: is there any data on whether advocating some kind of governmental violence against, say, gays actually leads to an increase in (presumably) illegal private violence against them? For example, suppose one publicly advocated a ‘law’ which told some people they could quite legally toss certain other people to their deaths off the roofs of buildings. It may be that this is not illegal speech in US, since it is not that different from what the ‘good’ reverend is advocating based on his ‘holy’ (near wholly crap) book.

      In any case, the dividing line between speech which advocates direct immediate violence against members of some group, and speech which doesn’t quite do that, is not so easy to decide. And where that line is in lots of instances seems to be the main difference between USian free speech laws and those of other ‘western’ countries.

      • slandermonkey
        Posted February 8, 2018 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

        As he is advocating killing people this certainly crosses the line in Canada regarding speech that is suppressed. I knew the USA had much broader free speech laws, but I wasn’t aware they allowed advocating killing identifiable groups of people.

        Personally, I think it reasonable to suppress speech that advocates killing people. This is not some kind of unpopular or vile opinion, but a flat out call to commit crimes.

      • phil
        Posted February 8, 2018 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        As an indirect answer to your first question: during the lead up to Oz’ (completely unnecessary) plebivotasurvey thingy it was reported in the press that mental health support groups noticed an up-tick in business from LGBTQI people. Maybe there was not actual violence but it seems there was something causing concern from a public health perspective.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted February 9, 2018 at 12:16 am | Permalink

        ‘… is there any data on whether advocating some kind of governmental violence against, say, gays actually leads to an increase in (presumably) illegal private violence against them?’
        Such advocacy on the part of American Evangelicals has certainly led to a great deal of public and private violence in some African countries sgainst gay people. And I should look at the history of violence against gay people in Jamaica. Whether or not such advocacy in the States leads to ‘illegal (private) violence against gay people’, it certainly helps towards creating an atmosphere in which violence becomes more likely.

    • phil
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      I, for one Strayan, think “offend” is going too far, and I feel uneasy about “insult” too. I am regularly offended by what many religious representatives say, and politicians too. And Alan Jones is an offence to intelligence.

  7. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I, of course, as the pastor says, am always interested in unpopular and/or banned ideas.

    But I keep in mind that usually banned ideas are either profound challenges to the status quo or they are utter lunacy.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      And we should leave it to the free marketplace of ideas to differentiate the two.

  8. Richard Sanderson
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Hemant’s place is not particularly important anymore.

    He churns out 4-5 articles daily about some local (US) religious nut saying something silly, while ignoring important stuff that impacts atheism and skeptism.

    One recent example is how he completely ignored the faux-controversy over Steven Pinker.

    Plus, another big problem with his site, is that a lot of really regressive trolls from Pharyngula have taken up residence in the comments there.

    • Barney
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Surely a “faux-controversy” ought to be ignored?

  9. DW
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    “preaching vitriol against already marginalized groups of people.”

    Am I the only one that is very irked about this construction? It seems to be very common among the censors. It implies that preaching vitriol against groups of people who aren’t “already marginalized” is just fine. It’s not that he has a problem with preaching vitriol; he has a problem because it involves “already marginalized groups”, creating a system where different groups get different rights.

    • Posted February 8, 2018 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      I can see your point, but if you grant the idea about hate speech to begin with, it seems to me that there are always degrees of crimes – that’s why we distinguish manslaughter from (various degrees of) murder.

    • phil
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

      “It implies that preaching vitriol against groups of people who aren’t “already marginalized” is just fine.”

      Well there’s your problem. It might imply that to you but your interpretation is not the only one. I’d suggest it obviously implies that preaching vitriol against anyone is bad, but that preaching vitriol against already marginalized groups of people is worse.

      You are using the same (poor) reasoning that allows some people to think that being an atheist means you believe no go exists, as if it is a simple binary situation.

  10. JohnE
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Although I’m loathe to step into the “I believe in free speech, but . . .” territory, I’m wondering if it would really be that bad to move the needle here in the U.S. By that I mean that while the current test for restricting speech in the U.S. is whether there is an imminent incitement to violence, I’m wondering if it would really undermine our notion of free speech to simply prohibit people from advocating physical harm to other human beings. Would the notion of free speech really suffer if the rule was that you simply can’t advocate exterminating Jews or raping women — even if you’re merely advocating it next week or “someday” instead of right now? Does allowing people to openly advocate such things really serve any beneficial social purpose?

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      It is a can of worms, a slippery slope. Once you open it up to examples you mention, where is the line? It becomes a definition of who is offended and that is just too bad.

      • JohnE
        Posted February 8, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        The slippery slope argument is a non-starter. ALL of our laws draw lines. You’re ignoring the fact that we currently have a line: the imminent incitement of violence. That’s the line, and it was drawn by the Supreme Court. It wasn’t handed down from heaven.

        A wise man once said that the problem with accepting the slippery slope argument is that it’s a slippery slope, and may lead to the acceptance of other flawed arguments.

        • glen1davidson
          Posted February 8, 2018 at 10:32 am | Permalink

          Incitement to imminent violence is not free speech because it is not merely a matter of speech at that time. Conspiracy to commit murder, say, is also not legal, since it’s also not merely speech at that time, it’s preparation to do violence. Many crimes start with speech, and just because matters haven’t proceeded to violence, theft, or some other illegal act, doesn’t give protection to conspiracy, or to incitement to violence.

          That’s a line, but it’s one that ends where it’s no longer just a matter of speech.

          Glen Davidson

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted February 8, 2018 at 11:05 am | Permalink

            The distinction in the case of conspiracy laws is that what is being prohibited is not simple speech, but an agreement. Under US free-speech standards, you can advocate to your heart’s content, for example, that the people should rise up and liberate money from banks. What you can’t do is come to agreement with another to actually bring about that end.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted February 8, 2018 at 10:40 am | Permalink

          Apparently you do not understand the slippery slope idea. Not a non-starter if you just think, one item has been thrown in by the court on free speech. That is incitement of violence or harm that is current/eminent. That is pretty simple and easy to understand most of the time. Now you say, what is the harm in also including something from the bible or then something else that sounds really lousy to you because you happen to be gay or are of a certain religion. You said, can’t advocate killing Jews or raping women. What about killing other animals or people but not right now. Next week, next month or next year? So what happened to Free speech, I am slipping all over the place….

          • JohnE
            Posted February 8, 2018 at 10:51 am | Permalink

            I’m suggesting that the line should be drawn at advocating physical violence against another human being. As I mentioned in a comment below, I think that’s a very bright line — at least as bright as the existing line of “inciting or producing imminent lawless action.” Brandenburg v. Ohio (S.Ct. 1969). All lines have exactly the same problem as you have raised, in that someone may argue that the line should be drawn somewhere else. That can’t be helped. It also doesn’t change the facts that we already have a line and that lines are inherent every law we have, nor is it an effective argument against having “lines.” That’s the problem with the slippery slope argument. (And I apologize if my passionate arguments sound snippy. I appreciate the dialogue. 🙂 )

            • Randall Schenck
              Posted February 8, 2018 at 11:12 am | Permalink

              I have to say, I think you are making my argument with the case Brandenburg. The court struck down Ohio’s criminal syndicalism statute that broadly prohibited mere advocacy. This is classic stretching the idea of offensive speech. We believe all of the blacks should be killed – what the KKK says all the time. Threats to kill someone is not a crime unless you are in the process of doing it.

              • phoffman56
                Posted February 8, 2018 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

                So, are you saying that: if I lived in the US, and if my neighbour spoke to me over the back fence while I videoed him, and if he said: “One of these nights, but not imminently, I am going to put a ladder up against your house, climb up there with my AK47, and shoot you dead in your bed”, then the police would tell me, when I played the video for them, that he was just exercising free speech, and they had nothing to do?

                Actually, maybe he should do it, if I insist on writing sentences that long!!

              • JohnE
                Posted February 8, 2018 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

                It seems to me that we’re talking past one another. The Supreme Court created the “imminent lawless action” standard. They could just as easily have created a different standard, by saying that neither inciting imminent lawless action NOR advocating threats of physical violence are protected by the First Amendment. Do you disagree that they could have done that? Do you disagree that it is not any more difficult to determine when someone has incited imminent lawless action than it is to determine if someone has advocated threats of physical violence? The “imminent lawless action” standard was not expressly stated in the First Amendment; it was merely a standard established by the Supreme Court, based upon its interpretation of what the First Amendment was and was not intended to protect. Again, they could just as easily concluded that my proposed standard was the appropriate standard. I’m interpreting your argument as suggesting that there is something logically mandated or divinely ordained about the “imminent lawless action” standard. That’s not at all the case, and I’m simply attempting to debate whether my proposed standard might be more beneficial and would do more good than harm. Again, I appreciate the dialogue, but I’m not sure there’s much more I can add.

      • phil
        Posted February 8, 2018 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

        Oh no! Not a SLIPPERY SLOPE!!

        “Once you open it up to examples you mention, where is the line?”

        The line would be a bit further in that it is now, from incitement to imminent violence to incitement to violence.

        That’s what I don’t get about “free-speech absolutists”, there are already boundaries to free speech (apart from inside your bathrooms), set by people who think that is an acceptable limit, but a limit to free speech nonetheless. What we are discussing is whether the line is currently at the best place for society.

    • glen1davidson
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      What if someone advocates killing ISIS leaders in Iraq?

      Of course one problem with saying that advocating genocide or free rape is that it would take almost no time for someone to notice that it really makes no difference, since such BS never had any traction here anyway. So pretty soon it’s about micro-aggression, because that’s something that makes a difference, if hardly a positive difference, overall.

      Glen Davidson

      • glen1davidson
        Posted February 8, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        Oh for an edit button. Let me change part of that:

        Of course one problem with criminalizing the advocacy of genocide or free rape is that it would take almost no time for someone to notice that it really makes no difference…

      • JohnE
        Posted February 8, 2018 at 10:46 am | Permalink

        I think that advocating physical violence against another human being, now or in the future, is a pretty bright line — at least as bright as the existing line of “inciting or producing imminent lawless action.” Brandenburg v. Ohio (S.Ct. 1969). All lines have exactly the same problem as you have raised, in that someone may want to move them. That can’t be helped. It also doesn’t change the facts that we already have a line, and that lines are inherent ever every law we have, nor is it an effective argument against having “lines.”

        • glen1davidson
          Posted February 8, 2018 at 11:08 am | Permalink

          Forget the stupid slippery slope issue, I was discussing the fact that we don’t need laws against advocating genocide or rape because it’s a non-issue.

          What you want to do is to possibly instate censorship that would have no effect. Since that’s pointless, it invites the slippery slope. Deal with the issue, not your canards about slippery slopes that ignore what I wrote.

          Then you try to shift the line from the speech that is part of an actual crime to a moral line, claiming that they’re both bright lines. Yes they are, but they’re very different in the principle that you’re trying to ignore. The principle is that political speech that is not actually causing crime is needed for democracy and for freedom at large. You want to erase the importance of the actual crime to claim that what matters is your moral outrage.

          Glen DAvidson

          • JohnE
            Posted February 8, 2018 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

            Glen: I regret that you seem to believe that “moral outrage” should play no role in any discussion of the applicable free speech standard, and that you see no justifiable distinction for that purpose between moral outrage directed at someone advocating for the extermination of Jews versus someone complaining about Asian fusion dishes. I disagree. I likewise see no merit to your unwarranted assumption that since the advocacy of genocide has “never had any traction here,” there is no need for laws against it. In other words, we shouldn’t worry about genocide until it happens? The problem with that approach is that, as I recall, the advocacy of genocide has had no traction in many other places until it actually happened.

            You might also be interested to know that the mere threat to kill a specific person(without specificity as to when or where) IS already the crime of “assault.” Thus, it seems to require no great stretch to conclude that advocating for OTHERS to kill someone should also be criminalized and unprotected by the First Amendment.

            • glen1davidson
              Posted February 8, 2018 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

              Glen: I regret that you seem to believe that “moral outrage” should play no role in any discussion of the applicable free speech standard, and that you see no justifiable distinction for that purpose between moral outrage directed at someone advocating for the extermination of Jews versus someone complaining about Asian fusion dishes.

              WTF?

              I regret that you make up so much in your attempt to make your moral outrage the standard for free speech. Why shouldn’t I try to censor so much outrageous nonsense from you, if I were to adopt your “standards”?

              Obviously I’m not the one who is out to prevent any sort of discussion of the applicable free speech standard, you’re the one who would prohibit free discussion of speech standards.

              I likewise see no merit to your unwarranted assumption that since the advocacy of genocide has “never had any traction here,” there is no need for laws against it.

              Oh I see, you’re in the mental mold of creationists. You think I have to disprove your evidence-free assertions, while you have no responsibility to show that there is a problem. Well the burden’s on you, no matter how much you want to shift it away.

              In other words, we shouldn’t worry about genocide until it happens? The problem with that approach is that, as I recall, the advocacy of genocide has had no traction in many other places until it actually happened.

              Really, no government-sanctioned genocide speech had any traction in Cambodia prior to the point at which the slaughter began? Could you be less reasonable?

              While in Nazi Germany, public pro-genocide speech never occurred, except in the most oblique manner, because it would have been disturbing to many even after years of Nazi propaganda. Genocide in Germany certainly didn’t happen because pro-genocide speech was allowed, if it was legal to do so.

              You might also be interested to know that the mere threat to kill a specific person(without specificity as to when or where) IS already the crime of “assault.”

              Why would I be interested in a dull fact that I’ve long known, even discussed in this area prior to your comment?

              Of course it’s illegal. You’re already in the process of an act that goes beyond speech to intimidation.

              Thus, it seems to require no great stretch to conclude that advocating for OTHERS to kill someone should also be criminalized and unprotected by the First Amendment.

              That’s just it, you’re unable to stick to the line where speech becomes part of an illegal act without presuming that we suggest that these or those people might best be killed. These might be criminals, terrorists, what-not.

              Maybe you don’t mean those, though. Who cares? You’re the one who would prevent discussion of why certain people might be killed under your blanket (or if it’s not blanket, what could it be?) prohibition of advocating killing people.

        • darrelle
          Posted February 8, 2018 at 11:17 am | Permalink

          I tend to agree that the slippery slope argument is not valid because, as you say, it applies to every existing law, including current US free speech laws.

          Better arguments, to my mind, are those put forth by Christopher Hitchens in his famous free speech address.

        • Paul S
          Posted February 8, 2018 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

          So if I say I’m going to kill JohnE if he fucks me over again, I’ve now committed a crime?

          • JohnE
            Posted February 8, 2018 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

            Actually, threatening to kill someone is a crime. https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/assault

            • glen1davidson
              Posted February 8, 2018 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

              It’s unlikely that just saying something like “I’ll kill you if you fuck me over again,” would be considered an actionable threat.

              “You fucked me over so I’ll kill you in your sleep,” would probably count as an illegal threat. It depends on context, of course, but if you’re really getting across the idea that you’re planning to really kill the person, that’s a threat that can get you in trouble.

              Glen Davidson

    • Taz
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      You’ve just criminalized advocation of the death penalty. I’m not in favor of it myself, but I don’t want to arrest people who are.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      The US approach is certainly not the only rational means of approaching matters of free speech; other societies function quite well under more restrictive systems. But we are convinced here that it is the best system, in that it allows the most breathingspace for the exchange of ideas. And I’m unaware of any concrete harm that’s ever come about from permitting too much speech in a society that allows the free exchange of ideas.

      • glen1davidson
        Posted February 8, 2018 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        In an established democracy with developed institutions.

        I agree with Carl Schmitt (he had his baggage, but was generally quite good at political theory) that Weimar Germany shouldn’t act the same as, say, the UK. They needed to curb Hitler, because Germany then had a strong-man culture, with a lot of strange conspiracies and ideas from the occult, in which a demagogue could win out with full free speech. Post-war Germany, after over a decade of intense propaganda, was hardly the place for complete free speech either.

        I don’t think free speech is everything. But it’s certainly hard to see a downside in modern America, save to those who need to prevent freedom so that their agenda can take control.

        Glen DAvidson

        • Posted February 8, 2018 at 11:44 am | Permalink

          But the way to curb Hitler included arresting brownshirts when they beat people and that sort of thing. No “speech restrictions” needed if the rest had been done, in all likelihood.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted February 8, 2018 at 11:48 am | Permalink

          “In an established democracy with developed institutions.”

          Can’t wait till be get one of those here. 🙂

          But, more seriously, the First Amendment was adopted in this democracy’s infancy — although current free-speech doctrine did not arrive fully formed, as if delivered by a stork, but developed over a century and a half, apace with many of our other customs and traditions and institutions.

          • glen1davidson
            Posted February 8, 2018 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

            Yes, but the institutions and democracy had also been developing well before the Republic was established. Both in America and in the UK.

            I think there was a fairly strong free political speech culture (not so much free artistic speech, or whatever), at least in the North (I’m just not too clear about the South). To be sure, the First Amendment didn’t prevent censorship in antebellum America at all, but a lot of the reason for it was so that relatively free speech could exist in the many states that favored at least free political speech, without the feds interfering.

            Free political speech was part of American culture well before the American Revolution.

            Glen Davidson

        • phil
          Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

          “I don’t think free speech is everything. But it’s certainly hard to see a downside in modern America, save to those who need to prevent freedom so that their agenda can take control.”

          I can’t tell if you mean that to include Trump, fake news, and Russian meddling in the election.

        • Tim Harris
          Posted February 9, 2018 at 4:30 am | Permalink

          I would like Glen Davidson to explain more fully his remarks about Carl Schmitt, his political theory, and the need ‘to curb Hitler’, which Davidson suggests he advocated, because Schmitt, at one point a card-carrying Nazi and aways appallingly anti-Semitic, is a thinker I have read and for some of whose work I have a degree of admiration.

      • phoffman56
        Posted February 8, 2018 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        Referring to my reply above about the neighbour with his AK47, and to your “..unaware of any concrete harm..”, you likely wouldn’t be aware of my several years of living in fear followed by finally selling my house to try to sleep peacefully again somewhere else.

        I am a strong free speech advocate, but there are certain things about US, e.g. gun control non-laws, which make it a rather undesirable place for many people, imagining threatening situations which may or may not be just imagination. In this case, it would be a combination of your form of free speech, and lack of decent gun control, which would keep authorities from removing his weapon.

        And I do realize my phrase above: “I am a strong free speech advocate, but …” is, in a very different context, a definitely harmful attitude, as said often here.

        • glen1davidson
          Posted February 8, 2018 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

          First of all, if the threat to shoot you in your bed were considered credible, it would be illegal, and his guns likely would be confiscated. He could get more, likely, but not legally.

          Secondly, guns aren’t the only way to kill. Especially if you’re planning an execution, you might prefer something other than a gun. Knives, poison, whatever. I hardly see where bringing in guns clarifies anything, whatever one thinks of America’s gun laws.

          Glen Davidson

          • phoffman56
            Posted February 8, 2018 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

            If his anger had a half-life of about 10 minutes, then his gun would be a vastly more serious threat than any of your other suggestions for executing me.
            I don’t know how likely “credible” would be the decision, but would he merely need to say “Just joking, hahaha”?
            And which law would be enforced, immune from the free speech amendment, if a prosecutor decided it was credible?

            • glen1davidson
              Posted February 8, 2018 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

              If his anger had a half-life of about 10 minutes, then his gun would be a vastly more serious threat than any of your other suggestions for executing me.

              Way to shift the scenario away from your original. You had him bringing a ladder over, positioning it against the house, climbing the ladder, taking whatever time is required to open a window which may be latched, climbing through it, then shooting the guy in his bed.

              Presumably it’s at night in the hope that you’re asleep. If you are, why would a knife be worse than a gun? Quieter, certainly. A silencer could make a difference, but he’d have to make one or acquire it (also) illegally.

              I don’t know how likely “credible” would be the decision, but would he merely need to say “Just joking, hahaha”?

              Yeah, judges (et al.) can’t see through that.

              And which law would be enforced, immune from the free speech amendment, if a prosecutor decided it was credible?

              Not a coherent sentence, and hard to even guess what you meant by it. If you mean whether the First Amendment would be enforced vs. laws against threats, it’s simply not the case that the First Amendment protects threats.

              Glen Davidson

              • phoffman56
                Posted February 8, 2018 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

                My supposedly non-coherent sentence was a grammatically flawless request for some law that he would be charged with violating.

                The rest needs no reply–many gun advocates like to bring alternative objects usable in perpetrating violence into their shallow analyses.

                Actually, reading some other more recent stuff in this thread, a possible answer to my question is that any threat to kill someone is a crime of assault, no imminence needed. I have no idea whether this is true, and if so, whether it is a federal law. If yes is the correct answer to both, then much of what I said related to the AK47-toting neighbour is beside the point. That is rather a peculiar thing to call assault, but so is tossing a drink in someone’s face.

                It’s also peculiar since apparently advocating the killing of some unspecified members of your favourite hatable group is not a crime. Could my neighbour’s partner get away with advocating that he kill me, by use of the free speech amendment? In this case, the group has minimal membership.

              • glen1davidson
                Posted February 8, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

                My supposedly non-coherent sentence was a grammatically flawless request for some law that he would be charged with violating.

                No, it’s pathetic, and uninformed:

                And which law would be enforced, immune from the free speech amendment, if a prosecutor decided it was credible?

                Laws aren’t “immune from the free speech amendment, they’re either subject to it or not. And as I noted, threats aren’t covered by it.

                The rest needs no reply–many gun advocates like to bring alternative objects usable in perpetrating violence into their shallow analyses.

                Well nothing’s more shallow than some dullard like you cramming your hatred of the gun laws into a discussion of free speech. I just noted that it’s beside the point, and you failed to recognize that obvious fact again, merely to resort to your unimaginative attacks on gun supporters.

                Try to deal with one issue at a time, rather than blustering on with your incoherent confusion of guns and free speech.

                Actually, reading some other more recent stuff in this thread, a possible answer to my question is that any threat to kill someone is a crime of assault,

                If you were able to calm down, you would have noticed that I wrote that here, and you just ranted on regardless. I had already told you that threats weren’t covered by the First Amendment, and you didn’t catch on at all. You’re doing very badly.

                Glen Davidson

              • phil
                Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

                Funny how gun deaths per head of population are way way way bigger in the US than any other country in the world.

                Just an observation.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted February 8, 2018 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

          In your hypothetical, your neighbor’s conduct would constitute “aggravated assault” — defined in nearly all jurisdictions as “use of a weapon to put another person in reasonable apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact.”

          It matters not that the perpetrator is saying he will commit the harm at some later date, if the victim is being reasonably put in immediate fear of the harm, particularly by the present brandishing of a weapon. The perp is liable for the crime in such a case not for the expression of ideas, but for the act — whether verbal or physical — of making the threat. Such a threat is no more an expression of an idea than is (to borrow O.W. Holmes’s old saw) shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

          • phoffman56
            Posted February 8, 2018 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

            As I indicated just above, several had, in replies to other posts, indicated that there is in most (not all? not federal?) jurisdictions a form of criminal assault which relates to a threat to use a weapon. And I’ll not quarrel with the truth of that, as I said. But it certainly did not apply to the gun toting “fine people” neo-nazis in Charlottesville, but perhaps no one felt any threat. I’m quite sure at least a few threats were uttered there.

            I think it is quite likely that the situations with guns and their control are different enough in most ‘western’ countries outside the US that prosecuting successfully that sort of thing is much harder in US.

            In particular, if I really didn’t know for sure whether my mythical neighbour even owned a gun (much less an AK47 which I imagine wouldn’t require him to break a window and crawl in) and if the threat was, as I said, just a slow insidious one, not so-called imminent (or if one were in one of those exceptional places where it’s not assault– nobody mentioned anything explicit here, but is Texas an example?), then I think I’d be in a situation which is not legally tolerated in more civilized countries, even though their free speech laws are more draconian and perhaps inferior to those in US.

          • phil
            Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

            I’m curious, why do you say “Such a threat is no more an expression of an idea than is (to borrow O.W. Holmes’s old saw) shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater”? Is that a legal concept, because I think of the many things it is, they are both expressions of an ideas.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted February 8, 2018 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

              Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they are not ideas alone, and that their ideational content is de minimis, What is being prohibited in both instances is conduct — in an agg assault, the act of menacing with a weapon; in the theater example, the act of shouting a false alarm in a manner likely to foment panic in a crowded place (no different than falsely setting off a mechanical fire alarm, which involves no speech at all).

              • phil
                Posted February 9, 2018 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

                Ok.

                “Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they are not ideas alone…” The original concept used was “expression” which is a bit different, although I’m not saying this is fatal to your idea.

                The point of discomfort for me is that some people seem to be arguing for unfettered free expression, but when it comes to agg assault suddenly it isn’t expression, and somehow that removes the protections of free speech.

                It is undeniably speech, or expression, but it is not free, so you have the peculiar circumstance where your constitution apparently grants a right that a law denies. Which gets back to the argument about why it should (or not) be included in the right in the first place, to clarify the issue. As it stands it would seem that all that is required to change the standing of verbal assault is a reinterpretation by SCOTUS (not a simple thing I grant).

                To me the reality appears to be that in the US, as with most other developed democracies, people have mostly free speech, with some restrictions imposed by law. I don’t have a problem with that, but with the way it is being characterised by some.

                I fully understand that laws and such are not perfect things. They require interpretation, refinement and modernisation, and sometimes can be very difficult to change (as in the case of constitutions and bills of rights).

      • phil
        Posted February 8, 2018 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

        “And I’m unaware of any concrete harm that’s ever come about from permitting too much speech in a society that allows the free exchange of ideas.”

        New York in the early 1870s. See my comment further down.

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    … should execute homosexuals by way of a firing squad because that’s what the Bible commands.

    Seeing as how gunpowder wasn’t invented until the 9th century CE Tang dynasty, that doesn’t sound quite kosher.

    Stoning was more in keeping with the Biblical ethos.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      Maybe it was firing rocks?

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    I hold with Peter Tosh on this one: Legalize it.

    The hate speech in Jamaica, I mean.

  13. Posted February 8, 2018 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    It makes sense for a country to place the “entry” bar higher than the “speech” bar. And many who are denied something claim “persecution”.

    • Curtis
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      I agree even though I am an ardent 1st Amendment supporter. Citizens (and visa holders) have rights but there is no right to admittance into the country.

      As an American, I can see denying someone entry because he/she is actively anti-American (e.g. a non-violent ISIS propagandist) while I would do nothing to an American spouting similar views.

  14. Posted February 8, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    I imagine if he were claiming in a serious way to commit another crime while in Canada he would be banned from here too, for the same reason.

  15. Posted February 8, 2018 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    It seems we’re reacting to a type of false dilemma fallacy based on either/or scenario of Free Speech v Censorship and then veering off into side issues of immigration policies and other slippery slopes. ( all perfectly valid, but nevertheless a distraction).

    I am not that familiar with the specific policies of other countries, although I appreciate those of the U.K. where someone as odious as Michael Savage was banned from entry. But that’s just a personal opinion. I also enjoyed both sides of the rigorous debate in Parliament about whether to extend an invitation for Donald Trump to visit. The lively debate offered compelling arguments on both sides, and (seemingly) never degraded or catered to the more hysterical elements.

    My own political biases aside, the debate showed a vibrantly informed awareness by government leaders genuinely motivated by their national concerns. All very healthy.

    Having lived in Jamaica, West Indies, I personally experienced the highly volatile sentiments of their political system (JLP v PNP) If you remember Bob Marley’s near assassination you can get an idea of how incendiary the situation is on that tiny island.

    Our First Amendment guarantees Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion, but with certain caveats. When Mormonism and their practice of polygamy threatened the national electorate or degraded into a faith-condoned pedophilia, the government correctly intervened. SO, neither Freedom of Speech nor religion are absolute.

    Freedom of Speech has its limits as argued in the “Supreme Court’s 1919 decision in the case Schenck v. United States. The Court ruled unanimously that the First Amendment, though it protects freedom of expression, does not protect dangerous speech. In the decision, Oliver Wendell Holmes famously wrote that no free speech safeguard would cover someone “falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.”

    This “clear and present danger” standard stood for half a century. Further rulings even expanded it, criminalizing additional speech. But the Supreme Court then heard a case involving a new example of questionable speech.

    Charles Brandenburg, a Ku Klux Klan leader, had spoken to group members at a televised Ohio rally. He’d used inflammatory language and racial slurs. He’d called for “revengeance,” which Ohio prosecutors interpreted as a call to violence. This meant, said the prosecutors, that Charles Brandenburg had broken the law.

    A statute, which the state had enacted the same year as the Schenck decision, criminalized the advocacy of crime or violence. The victims of any possible crime this speech incited would face even clearer danger than patrons fleeing a crowded theater.

    Yet Brandenburg claimed the First Amendment protected his speech. His appeal reached the Supreme Court, and the Court agreed with him, in contrast with the earlier Schenck decision. Advocacy, even when it encourages law-breaking, helps the marketplace of ideas, ruled the Court. Had Brandenburg instructed followers to commit a specific crime, he’d have committed a number of offenses himself. But the First Amendment protects speech that merely advocates general, indefinite illegal action.

    With that ruling, the Court overturned the Schenck decision that had introduced “shouting fire in a crowded theater.” No longer was “clear and present danger” a sufficient standard for criminalizing speech. To break the law, speech now had to incite “imminent lawless action.”

    So if a court can prove that you incite imminent lawlessness by falsely shouting “fire” in a crowded theater, it can convict you. If you incite an unlawful riot, your speech is “brigaded” with illegal action, and you will have broken the law. But merely falsely shouting “fire” does not break the law, even if it risks others’ safety.”

    (Courtesy of Civil Liberties expert Ryan)

    In the case of the Christian pastor advocating for the “Biblically-sanctioned” (ugh) death of homosexual men and women, we have a fairly evident incitement to violence even though he speciously couches it by saying “the government should execute them”. It is clear he is condoning violence as an illegal action against homosexuals.

    In context, it seems both reasonable and legal for any country to ban such an individual from entry without an implied abrogation of Free Speech guarantees.

  16. nicky
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    In South Africa, the killing of homosexuals or lesbians because of their being G or L, is not unheard of (in case of Lesbians it is more often rape -to teach them, of course- than murder). In that context I think that the RSA govt. was justified in throwing him out, even more so since he was involved in a violent brawl about the subject (‘punching a ‘gay’, who wasn’t even gay, but the latter is irrelevant).
    Botswana’s refusal was weirder. Unbelievable for such a developed nation, homosexuality is still illegal there! But they did not want Mr Anderson.
    The UK is another kettle of fish: “The home secretary has the power to exclude an individual if she considers that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good or if their exclusion is justified on public policy grounds,”.
    Unless the Home Secretary is as blind as a cave fish or as powerful as a slime mould, she should throw out about half of the Muslim population of the UK then. (The ‘death to those who mock the prophet’ crowd, the authentic ‘deplorables’).

    • Barney
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      Such an action in the UK as you suggest would, of course, require gross ignorance of the attitude of “half of the Muslims”, plus ignorance of the difference between the “population” and visitors seeking a visa. That would imply someone who hasn’t bothered to think for a moment about the topic of this post, ie a country banning entry from another country, rather than banning its own citizens (fro either speaking, or, in your mind, living in their homes).

  17. Posted February 8, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    If there is an agreement for free movement between two nations, let the hateful speakers take advantage of it. But if visas are required and often refused because the applicant looks too poor, or has relatives in the other country and “may decide to overstay”, or the clerk at the embassy has a bad day… – then I cannot see why exactly the hateful bigots should enjoy zero refusal rate.

  18. phil
    Posted February 8, 2018 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    At the risk of being roasted…

    While I am in favour of freedom of speech I am not convinced that free-speech absolutism is the best approach. Maybe it is but I haven’t been convinced of that. It certainly avoids the issue of deciding what speech would be banned, but we live in a sophisticated society and we make nuanced decisions every day. It is generally not accepted that anyone has the freedom to disseminate state secrets of matter deemed “commercial in confidence”. There are exceptions already, and really we are arguing about where to draw the line.

    “You don’t expunge this kind of hatred by censoring it: you do it by airing it and showing how ridiculous it is.”

    What evidence can you present for either of those assertions? I can’t see how “airing it and showing how ridiculous it is” actually “expunge[s] this kind of hatred”. That is how the Streisand effect usually works, by airing details someone wanted hidden.

    Here is an example from Australia’s early history when suppressing freedom of speech and expression seems to have been beneficial:

    “Melbourne’s burgeoning Irish community comprised both Protestants and Catholics. On one mad winter’s afternoon in 1846 they almost broke the half-century-long truce between Protestant and Catholic in Australia. Significantly, the resolution of their dispute, imposed by the colonial government in Sydney, extended the policy of egalitarianism to the religions themselves.”

    On the 13th of July there was a ruckus between Orangemen and Catholics. Shots were fired but fortunately nobody was very seriously wounded.

    “The importance of this encounter was in the response of the New South Wales authorities(1), who immediately introduced legislation banning any further gatherings that might incite religious hatred. This effectively enshrined equal treatment of Protestant and Catholic across the colonies… The Party Processions Bill banned street parades and all other gatherings that celebrated or commemorated ‘any festival, anniversary, or political event, relating to or connected withany religion or other distinctions or differences between any class of Her Majesty’s subjects’. No one could carry firearms or other offensive weapons, or publicly display ‘any banner, emblem, flag, or symbol’ which might ‘provoke animosity between her (sic) Majesty’s subjects of different religios persuasions’. The playing in public of religious music was also prohibited.

    “It is impossible to imagine a similar piece of legislation being contemplated in the United States, where religious freedom in every sense is a (sic) considered a birth right. In later decades, the Americans would witness their own Orange Riots, with much deadlier consequences. In New York in 1870 and again in 1871 more than seventy people were killed in clashes between Irish Protestants and Catholics.

    “In Australia, it was the absence of mass killings that vindicated the ban on processions…”

    Megalogenis, George, “Australia’s Second Chance” Ch4 “Cracking the Code: the settlement of Melbourne”

    (1) NSW at this time would have included what is now NSW, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, the Northern Territory and New Zealand.

    • phil
      Posted February 8, 2018 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      Bugger

      “state secrets or matters deemed “commercial in confidence”.”

    • Tim Harris
      Posted February 9, 2018 at 5:38 am | Permalink

      +2

      • Tim Harris
        Posted February 9, 2018 at 5:38 am | Permalink

        And no roasting.

    • Posted February 9, 2018 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      I think the “deciding what will be banned” is precisely the hard part. Also who will decide.

      • phil
        Posted February 9, 2018 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        Oh sure, but aren’t we clever enough? It’s precisely the reason we have independent judiciary and various avenues of appeal, because we know that things are nuanced and can be manipulated. Do we always get it right? No, but we can get better at it, and I think we are.

  19. Jonathan Dore
    Posted February 9, 2018 at 3:04 am | Permalink

    Banning from entering a country is distinct from free speech issues — no one in those countries is being stopped from reading what this guy is saying online, watching his videos etc. But it’s quite likely that what he said in person, in public, if he were to go to those countries would fall under the heading of incitement to immediate violence, the only legitimate restriction that the US also recognizes. So it becomes a public order issue.

  20. Tim Harris
    Posted February 9, 2018 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    I notice that the principle of ‘free speech’ is now being used, in an attempt to break the public unions, as a ground for denying the requirement to pay dues to the unions.

  21. phoffman56
    Posted February 9, 2018 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    The point of much I wrote above, quite relevant to both Jerry’s essay and to what others discussed, but not related to the distinction between a country’s free speech laws and its ‘right’ to keep outsiders out, is just this:

    When it comes to a person threatening another one with death, apparently in at least parts of the US, the free speech amendment fortunately does not protect the person from criminal prosecution. And so, perhaps the same should apply to persons similarly threatening identifiable groups, but it does not seem to in US and in a few other uncivilized places. I realize that advocating the government kill them is not quite the same, and perhaps the ‘good’ reverend slithers out of trouble, at the same time as encouraging others to be violent, using that language.

    The neighbour’s mythical threat to me with his supposed AK47 did bring in gun control non-laws in US. It is perfectly relevant to the matter of “imminent threat”. So being characterized as “..some dullard like you..” by Glen1Anderson would be more appropriate on those (definitely happening) occasions when I do say something stupid, rather than here.

  22. phil
    Posted February 9, 2018 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Of course there’s another angle to this that I haven’t seen addressed. Anderson isn’t being completely censored, he is only being denied a voice in some countries. And when I write “a voice” I mean it in the singular: with the wonders of modern communications his vile message can still be disseminated in those countries through radio, tv, and the internet of course.

    I’ll go further. His circumstances vis a vis entry to several countries are very similar to the the aggravated assault case. It is not his speech that is primarily being prohibited, it is his entry into various countries, and that trumps his freedom to speak in those countries, in the same way the crime of assault trumps a person’s free speech in the USA.

    The real issue is whether the countries in question have any legal or moral duty to provide Anderson with a forum to spread his rubbish, and in my view they do not.

    But is Anderson’s restriction on speech such a bad thing? Would it be acceptable for him to indoctrinate young children? He should be prevented by law from speaking at a public school, but judging by a lot of Hermant’s posts that might not be an effective restriction.


Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
*
*

%d bloggers like this: