Free Speech Under Fire

Below is today’s column in The Los Angeles Times exploring the growing attacks on free speech in the West and the recent controversy of the “Zombie Mohammad” case.

The recent exchange between an atheist and a judge in a small courtroom in rural Pennsylvania could have come out of a Dickens novel. Magisterial District Judge Mark Martin was hearing a case in which an irate Muslim stood accused of attacking an atheist, Ernest Perce, because he was wearing a “Zombie Mohammed” costume on Halloween. Although the judge had “no doubt that the incident occurred,” he dismissed the charge of criminal harassment against the Muslim and proceeded to browbeat Perce. Martin explained that such a costume would have led to Perce’s execution in many countries under sharia, or Islamic law, and added that Perce’s conduct fell “way outside your bounds of 1st Amendment rights.”

The case has caused a national outcry, with many claiming that Martin was applying sharia law over the Constitution — a baseless and unfair claim. But while the ruling certainly doesn’t suggest that an American caliphate has gained a foothold in American courts, it was nevertheless part of a disturbing trend. The conflict in Cumberland County between free speech and religious rights is being played out in courts around the world, and free speech is losing.

Perce was marching in a parade with a fellow atheist dressed as a “Zombie Pope” when he encountered Talaag Elbayomy, who was outraged by the insult to the prophet. The confrontation was captured on Perce’s cellphone. Nevertheless, Martin dismissed the charge against Elbayomy. Then he turned to Perce, accusing him of acting like a “doofus.” Martin said: “It’s unfortunate that some people use the 1st Amendment to deliberately provoke others. I don’t think that’s what our forefathers intended.”

For many, the case confirmed long-standing fears that sharia law is coming to this country. The alarmists note that in January, a federal court struck down an Oklahoma law that would have barred citing sharia law in state courts. But there is no threat of that, and certainly not in Oklahoma, which has fewer than 6,000 Muslims in the entire state. Rather, the campaign against sharia law has distracted the public from the very real threat to free speech growing throughout the West.

To put it simply, Western nations appear to have fallen out of love with free speech and are criminalizing more and more kinds of speech through the passage of laws banning hate speech, blasphemy and discriminatory language. Ironically, these laws are defended as fighting for tolerance and pluralism.

After the lethal riots over Dutch cartoons in 2005 satirizing Muhammad, various Western countries have joined Middle Eastern countries in charging people with insulting religion. And prosecutions are now moving beyond anti-religious speech to anti-homosexual or even anti-historical statements. In Canada last year, comedian Guy Earle was found to have violated the human rights of a lesbian couple by making insulting comments at a nightclub. In Britain, Dale Mcalpine was charged in 2010 with causing “harassment, alarm or distress” after a gay community police officer overheard him stating that he viewed homosexuality as a sin. The charges were later dropped.

Western countries are on a slippery slope where more and more speech is cited by citizens as insulting and thus criminal. Last year, on the Isle of Wight, musician Simon Ledger was arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated harassment after a passing person of Chinese descent was offended by Ledger’s singing “Kung Fu Fighting.” Although the charges were eventually dropped, the arrest sends a chilling message that such songs are voiced at one’s own risk.

Some historical debates have now become hate speech. After World War II, Germany criminalized not just Nazi symbols but questioning the Holocaust. Although many have objected that the laws only force such ignorance and intolerance underground, the police have continued the quixotic fight to prevent barred utterances, such as the arrest in 2010 of a man in Hamburg caught using a Hitler speech as a ring tone.

In January, the French parliament passed a law making it a crime to question the Armenian genocide. The law was struck down by the Constitutional Council, but supporters have vowed to introduce a new law to punish deniers. When accused of pandering to Armenian voters, the bill’s author responded, “That’s democracy.”

Perhaps, but it is not liberty. Most democratic constitutions strive not to allow the majority to simply dictate conditions and speech for everyone — the very definition of what the framers of the U.S. Constitution called tyranny of the majority. It was this tendency that led John Adams to warn: “Democracy … soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

Legislators in the United States have shown the same taste for speech prosecutions. In June, Tennessee legislators passed a law making it a crime to “transmit or display an image” online that is likely to “frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress” to someone who sees it. The law leaves free speech dependent not only on the changing attitudes of what constitutes a disturbing image but whether others believe it was sent for a “legitimate purpose.” This applies even to postings on Facebook or social media.

Judge Martin’s comments are disturbing because they reflect the same emerging view of the purpose and, more important, the perils of free speech. Martin told Perce that “our forefathers” did not intend the 1st Amendment “to piss off other people and cultures.” Putting aside the fact that you could throw a stick on any colonial corner and hit three people “pissed off” at Thomas Paine or John Adams, the 1st Amendment was designed to protect unpopular speech. We do not need a 1st Amendment to protect popular speech.

The exchange between the judge and the atheist in Mechanicsburg captures the struggle that has existed between free speech and religion for ages. What is different is that it is now a struggle being waged on different terms. Where governments once punished to achieve obedience, they now punish to achieve tolerance. As free speech recedes in the West, it is not sharia but silence that is following in its wake.

Jonathan Turley is a professor of public interest law at George Washington University.

Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2012

68 thoughts on “Free Speech Under Fire

  1. Perce can appeal, right? This country has definitely gone over the edge. Elbayomy gets away with assault because he was “offended”?!?

    I guess I should be careful lest the irate morons who don’t like the fact that I do the speed limit assault me and then claim they were offended, or better yet, I made them “late’ to church by my reckless adherence to the law.

  2. Excellent article. You can’t make this stuff up and the more it is exposed the better. Thank you.

  3. “The exchange between the judge and the atheist in Mechanicsburg captures the struggle that has existed between free speech and religion for ages. What is different is that it is now a struggle being waged on different terms. Where governments once punished to achieve obedience, they now punish to achieve tolerance. As free speech recedes in the West, it is not sharia but silence that is following in its wake.”

    A most excellent closing, JT. Most notable for its total lack of silence. Bravo! Well played, indeed.

  4. Free speech is a precious thing.

    Regulating speech in any way is indeed a slippery slope
    At the same time, unfettered speech is another slippery slope. The problem lies in what can happen to the standard of discourse that becomes ‘normal’. It can be a race to the bottom.

    The Limbaugh thing is interesting. His free speech is vile unthinking hatred – but apparently hugely popular. His prominence gives comfort to the worst elements of society. It’s a spiritual virus.

    But – wondrous to relate – it seems society has the potential to be self-healing without the need for imperfect laws.

    From http://www.salon.com/2012/03/09/the_hidden_meaning_of_rushs_apology/
    Limbaugh’s mea culpa — however insincere — is significant because it is proof that America may be both setting some basic standards for political discourse and rejecting the right-wing shrieks about “censorship” and “political correctness.”

    The price of free speech can be Westboro Baptist Church turning up at a funeral. One’s perception of the justification of that price may depend on whether the funeral in question is that of some guy somewhere – or the funeral of one’s husband.

  5. Re JT’s point,

    He is concerned by the loss of free speech due to laws.
    I am concerned by the chilling effect that surveillance has on us.
    I exemplify by asking how many dare to write on the net or utter on the phone “terrorist connnected words”?
    One can rightly ask if anyone has been harassed, had their homes turned upside down as one LOE opined the SS would do, prosecuted for use of these or other violence connected words. At least many more than we read about, I believe.
    Does anyone dare say them now. The PC profile changes from day to day.

  6. It seems America is hell bent for self-destruction. Why are our legislators doing this for? Is it the cool-aid? We the people need to do some serious thinking about whats happening to our rights. Barack Hitler is leading the charge to dictatorship.

  7. There are several prongs of the First Amendment. The other day on this blog there was reference to the right of the Church, Catholic Church at that, to freedom of religion when they discriminated against their employees in the choice of medical care and items of treatment afforded by the health policy. The freedom of religion of the individual must trump the freedom of religion of the church as a whole. No one told the Church they could not proselytise when they told the Church employer to provide a product to an employee. Chirp all you want. Here we have an issue that legislators and judicial officials seek to protect the image of a religion over the rights of an individual to exercise his/her free speech either against that religion as a whole or against certain persons in stereotype from that religtion. By mocking John Paul we do not deny his right to preach pedophilia or any other nostrum of religion. Let us keep our prongs in order here.

  8. The whole point of freedom of speech is the freedom to express something others will not like hearing, or may even view as dangerous thinking. For example, slave owners did not like abolitionist talk, it was financially and culturally threatening to them and their way of life. Many thought the same about women’s suffrage, or prohibition, or civil rights, or the war in Vietnam.

    The whole point of freedom of speech is to be able to say things that threaten the belief systems of others, to be able to support such statements, no matter how much it offends somebody else’s belief system.

    Prohibited speech is prohibited because it is endangerment or causing somebody to risk injury or take risks trying to get to safety. Shouting “fire!” in a theatre is not protected for that reason, inciting a riot is not protected for that reason.

    But “offense” or moral outrage is not either of those, offense is not protected and never should be. That is why the KKK can march, and the gays can have a parade celebrating homosexuality, and the Tea Party can march on Washington. There are citizens that take great offense to all of these things, and we don’t care. There is no Constitutional right to be unoffended, in fact the opposite is true: Freedom of speech is the freedom to offend others without being punished by the state.

  9. Great job Professor. It is indeed scary to think how much our freedom to speak our minds is being limited. The internet could be our saving institution if the corporations aren’t allowed to limit it.

  10. We have enough free speech that Chris Matthews, CIA agent Baer, NY Times journalist Eric Lichtblau, Senator Kerrey of the 9/11 Commission, and Senator Graham, chairman of the congressional 9/11 investigation, can say:

    The U.S. Government covered up the murder of 3,000 citizens because of OIL ADDICTION …

    (Hardball Video, 2-1-12). But not enough freedom of speech for you to feel comfortable about it?

  11. @Dredd: I do not understand your point.

    Are you saying they should not have been allowed to say that?

    Or are you saying that freedom of speech by celebrities and the politically powerful should be enough to satisfy us, and freedom of speech by common citizens without power is too much freedom of speech?

  12. Speech is secondary to action….. If you hit someone because of their speech….who is capable depends on what the speech was… If a threat…did they have the apparent ability to carry it out….. If not then…. Walk away…. Sometimes when you argue with an idiot… The idiot may well be arguing…….

    Thanks for the article….

  13. @1zb1: I do not believe there is any conspiracy to do anything but whatever the hell they want. Since 9/11 politicians of all stripes have realized they can do whatever they want, lie all they want, cut backroom deals all they want, and just do whatever the hell they want without retribution of any kind.

    That is all that is going on; the judge feels free to let loose and screw a guy with a legitimate complaint because the judge viscerally dislikes the guy; he thinks he is a doofus. So he indulges that sentiment without having to pay a price for it. Public outrage be damned, as long as nobody actually threatens his job, he will do whatever the hell he wants.

    That is the attitude of all elected and appointed officials now; they are just like the career criminals: Right and wrong no longer matter, how much we whine or protest or cry doesn’t matter, all that matters is whether anybody has the guts to punish them.

  14. Tony C. 1, March 9, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    @Dredd: I do not understand your point.

    Are you saying they should not have been allowed to say that?

    Or are you saying that freedom of speech by celebrities and the politically powerful should be enough to satisfy us, and freedom of speech by common citizens without power is too much freedom of speech?
    ====================================================
    Thank you for asking.

    Are you saying they should not have been allowed to say that?”

    No, I think they should have been allowed to say that.

    Or are you saying that freedom of speech by celebrities and the politically powerful should be enough to satisfy us

    Nothing should satisfy us but the truth. In our culture for thousands of years “the truth” has been determined by, in criminal cases, 1) a grand jury, and 2) a petite jury of peers should the grand jury return a true bill.

    In the video I link to various experts, including one commissioner of the 9/11 Commission, say Saudi Arabia partook of 9/11. Did you get that? Saudi Arabia helped kill 3,000 Americans.

    Yet we cut them slack because they have oil.

    DO YOU GET IT YET?

    The U.S. government went after Afghanistan and Iraq but it was oil kings in Saudi Arabia who conspired to kill Americans, and we let them of totally, because they have oil.

    The CIA agent, when asked why scores of Saudi Arabian officials were allowed to fly home on 9/11 (when all American civilian aircraft were grounded) by Hardball’s Chris Matthews, he said “because we needed Saudi Arabia to help with the war against Iraq” (paraphrased).

    WHAT? The war against Iraq came years later in 2003, after Bush II said over and over he had not yet decided to invade Iraq.

    The stink reaches to high heaven, but no one cares that we invaded the wrong countries and let the real perpetrators go?

    THAT IS INSANE.

    “… freedom of speech by common citizens without power is too much freedom of speech?”

    No.

    Here is a link to the video: http://video.msnbc.msn.com/hardball/46596274#46596274

  15. Tony C.,

    Not to say that 1bz1 is correct in assigning this instance to a conspiracy to “Christianize” our government (this episode smells more like Heinlein’s Razor than conspiracy), don’t be too quick to write of a conspiracy to do just that. There is a concerted element within the government (see members C Street and the Family) and from institutions like Regents, Oral Roberts and Bob Jones Universities to inject conservative and often fundamentalist Christian dogma into our secular government by attempting to influence both legislation and foreign policy. Many of these people are dangerous zealots and theocrats of the worst sort. They are a threat to our Constitution and our nation as a whole with their dogmatic agendas (and pursuit of the End of Days in some cases). However, in this case, I haven’t discounted malice, but the evidence really seems to me simply to point to an idiot somebody put a black robe on and exercised the poor discretion to allow him to be called a judge.

  16. gene: i don’t get it. first you say its not part of a conspiracy to ““Christianize” our government ” (“conspiracy” is not the term I used) and then you essentially describe a concerted effort to ““Christianize” our government “.

    Here we have all of the Republican Candidates running on a platform of imposing more of their religious based ideas on government and every other aspect of society and you don’t think there is a concerted effort. From the School boards in Texas wanting to impose their insanity into school books (and succeeding) to the whole business of using religion to deny woman medical services, we have a vast section of the population that wants to impose their lunacy on our country.

    We may not know for sure what was the inner motive of this particular judge, but we do know that in the Arab world if you say or do anything that offends their religion it is okay to kill you. Apparently, in our nation its okay to attack someone for the same thing, or ignore the law in the case of providing healthcare for woman, or deny people equal rights based on their sexual preferences as long as you wrap it in the name of religion.

    If you can look around you and not see a massive effort to impose Christianity on America then you are living in a delusion.

  17. 1zb1,

    Actually conspiracy was the word Tony used and what I said about this case in particular still stands. I didn’t disagree with you in general, just the specific, but if you simply want to rant about it? Be my guest. More people should be more alarmed about attempts to inject religion into government. It’s inherently dangerous and part and parcel of the reasoning behind the 1st Amendment’s Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses working in concert to create the Separation of Church and State doctrine. Neither Jefferson nor Madison had kind things to say about theocracy and for good reason.

  18. If the USA was to Christianize the government all the institutions that are in place thinking they are protecting us would be no more, but they are the darling the the US government The legal system that condemns, and the military army and all of the sub groups of the military would be no more. Heath care as we know it would not have a strangle hold on humans ether.U,C,S, care for all of all ages. would be encouraged for all with classes to teach how to find a good U,C,S, only chiropractic practitioner. Nudity would no longer be indecent. The sexualities would not be persecuted with Humans working out their own salivation with fear, and trembling. If a human does not carefully consider what they do now will tremble when the Lord shines his light. Money would be Phased out with humans giving to whoever asked for whatever. That is giving to God what is Gods. The human has to know that their is an eternal consequence for what they do. Do good get good do bad knowing you are doing bad, and the bad will be the opposite to getting eternal life getting eternal death.

  19. “You cannot give offense to anyone unwilling to take it.” — Buddha

    Or, for the self-deluded infants wailing for the Invisible Sky Wizard Parent to come and change their soiled diapers for them:

    The concept of the single gawd
    Leaves little more to mock
    Yet charlatans consider it
    Their tawdry trade and stock
    No worse idea ever crawled
    From underneath a rock

    Michael Murry, The Misfortune Teller

    And, anyway, the First Amendment to the Constitution says that “The Congress shall make no law respecting an institution of religion.” So I don’t have to respect any institution of religion — meaning organized infantile dependency — and no one can make me. I really have no use for medieval stupidity or clerical authoritarianism — i.e., religion — and neither did the authors of the American Constitution.

    As my late mother used to admonish me: “Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can never hurt you.” Words and pictures cannot hurt me because I refuse to let them — and I expect the same degree of intellectual and emotional self-possession from all adult citizens of the United States of America.

    I think the Buddha and my mom had it right.

  20. I think this is another reason my appeal on the subjective view on Free Speech you right about must not be forgotten here in America.

    http://jonathanturley.org/2011/04/01/army-sergeant-convicted-of-threatening-a-judge-due-to-one-line-in-a-song/

    I think even this Article about my case is what made you write about my case.

    http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/jun/03/iraq-war-dale-jeffries-michael-moyers/

    Thank you again for an interesting Free Speech Attach that must be explained to new people in our country! Our Founding Fathers did not bring Free Speech about because of other countries views.

    Please see SoldiersRights.com website on article on:

    “MOST IMPOTENT FREEDOM OF SPEECH CASE IN AMERICAN HISTORY!”

    You will see the Subjective and Objective View our Founding Fathers first believed! It’s about Forgiveness!

  21. . . . that mine doesn’t attribute to malice what is more likely attributable to simple stupidity. Not every bad act done under the color of religiosity is part of a conspiracy. Sometimes it’s just coincidence.

  22. Ariticle VI of the U.S. Constitution specifically admonishes: “… no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” And yet, one seldom, if ever, sees a candidate for public office who does not abjectly behave as if such a test does indeed exist. So Dog Bless (or Curse) America and let us hear it once again for:

    “Boobie Unconscioius Projection”
    (from Fernando Po, U.S.A. — America’s post-linguistic retreat to Plato’s Cave)

    The Boobie Grand Ventriloquist
    Put on a sight to see
    He showed just how projection works
    And did it all for free
    (Except for a “donation” that
    He called “gratuity”)

    A giant statue sat on stage
    As huge as any tree
    A little man then sat upon
    A giant wooden knee
    And threw a voice out of himself
    Like it had come from “HE”

    In normal tones of voice this man
    Impressed no one at all
    But when he shouted “GAWD IZ GRATE!”
    A hush consumed the hall
    And into Boobie minds there seeped
    A sick miasmic pall

    The statue never moved an inch
    As wooden things don’t do
    But on its knee the little man
    Had started turning blue
    (It seemed that he had held his breath
    And counted up to two)

    “Don’t let him die!” the crowd beseeched
    In rapt insanity
    Then color came back to his face;
    He breathed more easily
    (It seemed that he had exhaled once
    He’d counted up to three)

    “HE heard your prayers!” the man rejoiced
    “As you can clearly see!
    And what is more, you’d best believe
    That HE looks out for me.
    I’m just HIS trusted messenger
    Who brings HIS plans for thee.”

    “I cannot move but by HIS will.
    I serve at HIS command.
    This BIG GUY that you see right here
    Would rather not demand;
    But if HE has to, then HE will;
    So here’s what HE’s got planned …”

    The little man brought down the house
    And as the curtain fell
    The Boobies clapped and danced and sang
    Enchanted by the spell
    They’d all heard GAWD HIMSELF dispense
    Commands that went down well

    In Boobie red-state USA
    The trick works quite the same
    Where Boobie George has jury-rigged
    A “GAWD” that “hears” its name
    Invoked each time that Boobie George
    Desires to light a flame

    But out in “heartland” USA
    Where trees and acres live
    A different symbol scheme requires
    The Boobies to forgive
    The Boobie George’s brain that leaks
    Much like a mental sieve

    You see, with all the things gone wrong
    At home and overseas
    The sacrilegious thought might grow
    That GAWD had heard no pleas
    From wounded, dying soldiers or
    Those looted Iraqis

    So bumbling Boobie George ginned up
    A Rube Goldberg machine
    That cranked out TV symbols of
    A patriotic scene
    Implying GAWD had exercised
    HIS choice to intervene

    One symbol looked just like a flag
    The old Red-White-and-Blue
    But blown up to gigantic size
    So none would miss the cue
    That GAWD and FLAG had just conspired
    To make one thing from two

    The GAWD-FLAG that George had designed
    Contained no flaws or blights
    Its crude associations let no
    No mind elude its slights
    As Boobies found their simple thoughts
    Compressed to rude sound-bites

    The image of the little man
    In GAWD-FLAG’s awesome lights
    Consumed the Boobie targets who
    Could not escape its sights
    It hit them, like the sailors say,
    Between the running lights

    And Boobie sailors in the crowd
    Went psycho — lewd and hushed:
    They spent like drunken Reagans and
    At Cheney’s language blushed
    They didn’t know to go hog-wild
    Or just feel simply crushed

    And Boobie soldiers looking on
    In groups of two’s and three’s
    Morphed suddenly in Photoshop
    To number as the bees
    That swarm about a honey comb
    Adoring queens who tease

    And Boobie airmen out on leave
    From their academy
    Felt suddenly compelled to stop
    Harassing property
    Preferring to assault fellow
    Cadets, both he and she

    And Guardsmen working at the jails
    Saw all of this and more
    They took it in and then commenced
    To beat their charges sore
    Why not, when all their leadership
    Had gone to sleep to snore

    Associating little man
    With GAWD-FLAG has its price
    Convincing fearful Boobies that
    They needn’t act so nice
    Combining fright and power to
    Turn humans into lice

    Michael Murry, The Misfortune Teller, Copyright 2005

  23. Professor Turley writes:

    “Where governments once punished to achieve obedience, they now punish to achieve tolerance.”

    Actually, governments always punish to achieve tolerance of their authority. In other words, governments always punish to achieve obedience, under whatever synonym they wish to cloak their depredations upon the intolerable freedoms of citizenry.

  24. Personally, I find genital mutilation, as well as eating the flesh and drinking the blood of a jew who died two thousand years ago disgusting, if not savage. I refuse to let these primitive and cannibalistic practices offend me, however, although I do choose to find them amusing. In other words:

    “Boobie Political Science”
    (from Fernando Po, U.S.A. — America’s Post-Linguistic Retreat to Plato’s Cave)

    Like Abram prostrate on the ground
    In Jewish tribal lore
    George fell down flat upon his face
    Thus promising to score
    Some skin from off his penis tip
    So “GAWD” would not get sore

    The Boobies couldn’t get enough
    They cheered and stomped and grinned
    And held their bloody penises
    (Appropriately skinned)
    So “GAWD” and George could see at once
    That none of them had “sinned”

    Thus did the Church and State combine
    In prehistoric days
    And soon the Boobies learned to stage
    Those awful Passion plays
    Which featured killing Boobies in
    Excruciating ways

    And Cicero in Roman times
    Inquired of something odd,
    “Is there a man so mad who thinks
    He drinks and eats a god?”
    The mack’rel-snapping Boobies blushed
    And answered with a nod

    Michael Murry, The Misfortune Teller, Copyright 2005

    On the other hand, if I complained that such barbaric religious practices “offended” me (whether they actually did so or not) would the courts in America make other people stop behaving like Neolithic troglodytes? All in the interests of “tolerance,” of course.

  25. Do the good works of him being a peace maker showing mercy forgiving humans of whatever\, and he will be flesh, and blood in you without having to eat him at all.That is because we are flesh, and blood. Humans Somehow don’t think about that.

  26. The left always wants to shut down free speech one way or another.

    Al Gore there will be no more debate the science is settled.

    Gloria Alred arrest Rush for what he said.

    David Suzuki deny deniers right to deny

    The list goes on and on.

    Guard, silence that man

  27. gene, first you inject a word tc used and i didn’t and now you inject another word i didn’t use – “malice” as the basis to draw a distinction between our rants.

    you also said: “More people should be more alarmed about attempts to inject religion into government.”, which is essentially agreeing with me again.

    in other words, you apparently have nothing better to do then play word games which makes your rant just plain silly.

    as for malice, indeed, it is malice (your word) when in the name of religion people and organizations try to impose their religious beliefs on others in a government system which specifically calls for the seperation of the two, and which we know from about 10,000 years of the history of civilization usually leads to great harm imposed upon nonbelievers or anyone who deviates from the ‘established religious order.

  28. as for malice, indeed, it is malice (your word) when in the name of religion people and organizations try to impose their religious beliefs on others in a government system which specifically calls for the seperation of the two, and which we know from about 10,000 years of the history of civilization usually leads to great harm imposed upon nonbelievers or anyone who deviates from the ‘established religious order.

    Which is why they say Global Warming is a religion.

  29. bd: my standard response for anyone who doubts humans impact on the environment is to suggest they go outside, look at the brown haze that probably hangs over their city, then lock themself in their garage with the engine running and call me in an hour and tell me again humans don’t impact on the environment.

  30. Dredd Gene calls me out all the time on this. What exactly does your link to new information on OBL last days have to deal with in this thread. Use the corrections page if you would like suggest a topic for discussion.

    On a side note seeing how you are trying to derail the thread and it is your right to post what ever you want because of free speech.

    Did you hear :)

    Reports that Osama bin Laden’s body was flown to the US – not buried at sea, as the official account said – have been denied by a senior US State Department official.

    The Pentagon considers ”false and fairly ridiculous” the information contained in a leaked email from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, the acting assistant secretary for public affairs, Mike Hammer, said in a press briefing.

    http://www.smh.com.au/world/pentagon-bin-ladens-body-wasnt-flown-to-us-20120310-1ur0z.html

  31. MM: so we pollute the air, water, and land but none of that impacts on the weather? AND even if that were true (it isn’t) I guess by your way of thinking polluting the air, water, and land is okay as long as it doesn’t impact on the weather (just our health).

    Maybe you need to visit China and get an idea of what your world is all about:

    http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=pollution+china&view=detail&id=600572DA8FE03C24550E887A20D0D61B0A786B87&first=121&FORM=IDFRIR

  32. 1zb1,

    “gene, first you inject a word tc used and i didn’t and now you inject another word i didn’t use – “malice” as the basis to draw a distinction between our rants.”

    First, I was responding to Tony, not you.

    Second, it’s not my fault you don’t know what Heinlein’s Razor is, but if you did, you’d know where the word malice came from.

    Third, I said I agreed with you in general but not in the specific instance already which would make you the one playing silly word games. Or simply the one who can’t read.

    Fourth, if you’re going to play silly word games, don’t bring your booger picking finger to a particle beam weapons fight.

    *************

    Bdaman,

    Once again, you’re free to say whatever you like. You’re also free to have it challenged. That we tolerate your constant monotonous ridiculous AGW denier threadjacking nonsense around here simply illustrates the commitment to free speech. Most websites and blogs would have banned you years ago because of your nuisance value alone. However, if you have a problem with having your nonsense challenged around here? That would be entirely your problem.

  33. gene: you said –

    “booger picking finger to a particle beam weapons fight”

    it is a sure sign of a looser when they have to resort to name calling in place of facts and reason… you have managed to prove that time and again.

    p.s. judge martin is a lt. col. in the army reserve. the religious right jumped all over his decision but in the perverse way of promoting the imposition of their own religion.

  34. We ? what do you got, a rat in your pocket or a mouse. You don’t own this blog, your just a guest with special privileges.

  35. China, yep, the worst polluters on the planet. Well at least they measures in place to control their population.

  36. 1zb1,

    Lose? You keep using that word, yet you don’t know what it means apparently. Also, I didn’t say you picked your boogers. I implied that you had all of your fingers including the one some people would use for that function. Personally, I don’t care where you stick your fingers as long as it’s on your own body or with consent of another.

    *********

    Bdaman,

    We is the proper term. Because if I’d said I? We’re the decision mine alone, I would have banned you long ago for being a nuisance. However, as you point out, I don’t own this space, I just work here part time. Lucky thing for you, isn’t it?

  37. Religion that had the King James Version never told you the truth .There are 8 places I can find old,and new combined where the KJV says the heart figuratively is to be circumcised,and the not the penis tip at all. Deuteronomy 30:6, Deuteronomy 10:16 ;Jeremiah 4:4 , Jeremiah 9:26; Colossians 2:11-15;Acts 7:51;Leviticus 26:41;Romans 2:29,Thar’s why we have genital mutilation, And why humans hiding of all kinds of nude art from young eyes too. That’s why what is called Yiffing art is to only bee seen by 18,and older humans. Yiff has other meanings other than sex too.
    That is why we have the indecency laws, and laws against zoosexuality (sex with another species), past a name Pedo on a human to justify stone throwing too. Wanting to kill a human is connected to war which is freely done, and the death penalty which humans that die feel fully justified in killing another human. They are all connected.

  38. We means you speak for everyone else. Something you can not do with out the express consent of whom ever you consider we to be. Please give me a list who has said I’ll let Gene speak for me.

  39. We’re the decision mine alone, I would have banned you long ago for being a nuisance.

    Funny you say that in a thread about free speech.

  40. Allow me to repeat what I said earlier,

    The left always wants to shut down free speech one way or another.

    Al Gore there will be no more debate the science is settled.

    Gloria Alred arrest Rush for what he said.

    David Suzuki deny deniers right to deny

    Gene Howington wants to ban people whom he thinks are a nuisance

    The list goes on and on.

    Guard, silence that man

  41. Bdaman,

    Not funny at all. Not even ironic. Simply the truth. We is still the correct usage. Why? Because even though I don’t set policy, I am part of the We that are responsible for it. I did not at any time tell you that you could not attack Dredd here. I said it was inappropriate and would net you nothing. The rest was simply me speaking the truth about my personal preferences concerning you which have nothing to do with the blog policy. And while we’re on the topic, my preference has nothing to do with what you say but rather everything to do with your apparent sole purpose in life which seems to be to act as a distraction from whatever topic is being discussed by repeatedly flooding threads with your agenda even on threads that have no bearing whatsoever to your agenda(s).

    Why does a person do something like that, Bdaman? When that question is asked, none of the answers show your actions in a favorable light. At best they show you as an annoyance, at worst they show you to be a political operative intent on reducing the quality of this blog. Again, what I prefer is irrelevant here. Just as irrelevant as most of your bullshit. The only relevant fact here is that the policy of this blog is you are free to say what you like, which also means I’m free to criticize what you say however I like – including telling you that I think you’re such a pest that if I were the one setting policy here (just like Dredd is setting policy at his blog), I’d kick you out because you post like a troll. If you don’t like that I’ve said this? No one is paying you to come here. Or are they? Feel free to leave any time you like. No one is forcing you to address me. Or are they? Again – you are free to say whatever you like and I’m free to respond however I like. That is unless there something or someone compelling your actions. Those are factors under your control. How I respond to your pablum isn’t under your control.

    If you’ve got a problem with that, it is entirely your problem.

  42. Again – you are free to say whatever you like and I’m free to respond however I like. That is unless there something or someone compelling your actions. Those are factors under your control. How I respond to your pablum isn’t under your control.

    If you’ve got a problem with that, it is entirely your problem.

    and don’t you forget it.

  43. GeneH
    Fun to watch. Was wondering what value they offer in the long run.
    I know now that I didn’t have a chance. They will never understand.
    Could they be successfully silenced by ignoring all ploys? Or has that already been tried?

  44. Bdaman,

    As long as you’re willing to post lies, distractions and propaganda? I’m willing to point it out. As are others.

    I’m not the one who forgot that rule in the first place, Mr. The Left Is Always Trying to Silence Me. No one here has tried to silence you. Hoped for your silence, sure. Some may have even prayed for your silence. Many probably would prefer your silence much like they’d prefer that dog down the street who barks at nothing for hours upon end to shut up. But no one here has tried to silence you. Sell your persecution complex to somebody who might believe it. Say people with a propensity to believe whatever they’re told that confirms to their preconceptions. Like AGW deniers or birthers.

    *****************

    id707,

    I’m certain it has been tried to varying degrees of success. However, some infections are more persistent than others.

  45. Gene Again – you are free to say whatever you like and I’m free to respond however I like. That is unless there something or someone compelling your actions. Those are factors under your control. How I respond to your pablum isn’t under your control.

    If you’ve got a problem with that, it is entirely your problem.

    and don’t you forget it.

  46. gene; you really are too pathetic for words…. you and bd are the flip side of the same wooden nickel. both of you manage to bring nothing of value to every discussion.

    feel free to take whatever last pointless quip you like to demonstrate just how empty you are.

  47. Here’s a story for you:

    Michael Meehan, Berkeley Police Chief, Sent Armed Cop To Reporter’s Home At Midnight, Potentially Violated First Amendment
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/10/michael-meehan-berkeley-police_n_1336992.html

    Excerpt;
    Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan has come under fire after sending an armed sergeant to Oakland Tribune reporter Doug Oakley’s home in the middle of the night to push for changes to a story.

    According to the Oakland Tribune, Meehan claimed that Oakley misquoted him in a story. Minutes after reading the article, Meehan ordered Sgt. Mary Kusmiss to visit the reporter’s home and request that he correct the article — at 12:45 a.m.

    “At first I thought something really bad was happening or they were coming for me, like I was going to be arrested,” said Oakley to Berkeleyside. “It was really intimidating.”

    Oakley had reported on Meehan’s comments at a community meeting regarding the murder of Berkeley resident Peter Cukor — an incident that garnered significant media attention after it was reported that the police may not have responded immediately since they were busy with an Occupy protest.

    According to Berkeleyside, Oakley originally wrote that Meehan had apologized for the police department’s response during the incident. However, Meehan had actually apologized for the department’s failure to communicate with the public about the incident, not for the police action.

    “I would say it was an overzealous attempt to make sure that accurate information is put out,” said Meehan in a statement apologizing for the late-night visit. “I could have done better.”

    However, some have argued that Meehan violated the First Amendment, using intimidation and censorship by sending an armed officer to Oakley’s home at night.

  48. Elaine,

    Thank goodness that it was not a federal cover up….. You’d probably only find about a reporter is missing…. Nothing else….. Unless…… Endless speculation….

  49. Actually, I was saying what I meant, I did not think any conspiracy was needed for this particular judge to act as he did, or for many of the other acts of judges and elected officials.

    That is consistent with the fact of actual conspiracies (like The Family) trying to get America to encode religious obedience (or deference, or obeisance) into law.

    But in this case, I think it is an example of elected officials learning that far too many of their supposed boundaries and codes of conduct are not written anywhere at all. Or they have learned that their superiors are extremely reluctant to use them, for whatever reason.

    As a result, there does not have to be any grand plan to undermine the rule of law, personal pique is sufficient when personal pique will not be reprimanded, overturned, or otherwise censured or punished.

    I am not a lawyer, but in the half dozen or so cases I have had to bring to the court, I see a court riddled with personal biases and pique by court officers that skew “justice” to whatever they felt like at the time. Where there is unimpeachable discretion in the application of the law, there will corruption in the application of the law.

    Even in these little things, absolute power corrupts absolutely. That does not just apply to judges, but to District Attorneys as well, when they decide not to prosecute a cop for killing a civilian without cause, and cops, when they are free to exercise their “discretion” with racial or cultural prejudice.

    There doesn’t have to be a conspiracy. Once people become accustomed to making decisions that are not questioned, they naturally revert to non-thinking decisions based on their gut emotional reactions. It is why cops tase people for talking back, because in their gut, they have absolute authority and dissent is illegal. Fuck the law and freedom of speech, because they won’t be punished. Same thing with this judge. Fuck the law and freedom of speech, because in his gut, he is the law, and won’t be punished.

    Wherever there is discretion in the application of the rules, laws or bylaws, especially unimpeachable discretion, you will find it being used with personal bias. I have found that true in laws, corporations, charities, and at every level of business from line managers to CEOs. People forget why they were given discretion, and the line between professional discretion and personal pique or prejudice is eventually blurred into non-existence.

  50. Tony C.,

    Exactly. “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don’t rule out malice.” Or simple arrogant malfeasance for that matter.

  51. Decent article. I do feel I need to point out that it wasn’t cartoons in Dutch papers but in Danish papers that caused outrage in certain parts of the world.

  52. […] Since then there have been some further events and so this post is another update. The original story came to me from Turley’s Feb 24 post. The LA Times picked up his story on March 9th publishing Turley’s op-ed “Free speech under fire” which claims to be about “laws banning hate speech, blasphemy and discriminatory language” but jumps first to Judge Martin’s dicta in the Zombie Mohammed ruling. Turley also posted this on his blog to cross-promote his LA Times Op-Ed. […]

  53. When there are people loving whoever as themselves with no militarily or jails the thought of free speech will not be have to be thought of because we will truly have free speech with people giving blessings not cursings.

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