Below is my column today in the Washington Post on the decline of free speech in Western countries. Speech is being balkanized into prohibited and permitted areas by redefining speech in terms of its social impact. Increasingly, it seems that the West is re-discovering the tranquility that comes with forced silence. What is fascinating is that this trend is based on principles of tolerance and pluralism — once viewed as the values underlying free speech.

* * *

The Death of Free Speech In The West

Free speech is dying in the Western world. While most people still enjoy considerable freedom of expression, this right, once a near-absolute, has become less defined and less dependable for those espousing controversial social, political or religious views. The decline of free speech has come not from any single blow but rather from thousands of paper cuts of well-intentioned exceptions designed to maintain social harmony.

In the face of the violence that frequently results from anti-religious expression, some world leaders seem to be losing their patience with free speech. After a video called “Innocence of Muslims” appeared on YouTube and sparked violent protests in several Muslim nations last month, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that “when some people use this freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs, then this cannot be protected.”

It appears that the one thing modern society can no longer tolerate is intolerance. As Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard put it in her recent speech before the United Nations, “Our tolerance must never extend to tolerating religious hatred.”

A willingness to confine free speech in the name of social pluralism can be seen at various levels of authority and government. In February, for instance, Pennsylvania Judge Mark Martin heard a case in which a Muslim man was charged with attacking an atheist marching in a Halloween parade as a “zombie Muhammed.” Martin castigated not the defendant but the victim, Ernie Perce, lecturing him that “our forefathers intended to use the First Amendment so we can speak with our mind, not to piss off other people and cultures — which is what you did.”

Of course, free speech is often precisely about pissing off other people — challenging social taboos or political values.

This was evident in recent days when courts in Washington and New York ruled that transit authorities could not prevent or delay the posting of a controversial ad that says: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad.”

When U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer said the government could not bar the ad simply because it could upset some Metro riders, the ruling prompted calls for new limits on such speech. And in New York, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority responded by unanimously passing a new regulation banning any message that it considers likely to “incite” others or cause some “other immediate breach of the peace.”

Such efforts focus not on the right to speak but on the possible reaction to speech — a fundamental change in the treatment of free speech in the West. The much-misconstrued statement of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes that free speech does not give you the right to shout fire in a crowded theater is now being used to curtail speech that might provoke a violence-prone minority. Our entire society is being treated as a crowded theater, and talking about whole subjects is now akin to shouting “fire!”

The new restrictions are forcing people to meet the demands of the lowest common denominator of accepted speech, usually using one of four rationales.

Speech is blasphemous

This is the oldest threat to free speech, but it has experienced something of a comeback in the 21st century. After protests erupted throughout the Muslim world in 2005 over Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad, Western countries publicly professed fealty to free speech, yet quietly cracked down on anti-religious expression. Religious critics in France, Britain, Italy and other countries have found themselves under criminal investigation as threats to public safety. In France, actress and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot has been fined several times for comments about how Muslims are undermining French culture. And just last month, a Greek atheist was arrested for insulting a famous monk by making his name sound like that of a pasta dish.

Some Western countries have classic blasphemy laws — such as Ireland, which in 2009 criminalized the “publication or utterance of blasphemous matter” deemed “grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion.” The Russian Duma recently proposed a law against “insulting religious beliefs.” Other countries allow the arrest of people who threaten strife by criticizing religions or religious leaders. In Britain, for instance, a 15-year-old girl was arrested two years ago for burning a Koran.

Western governments seem to be sending the message that free speech rights will not protect you — as shown clearly last month by the images of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the YouTube filmmaker, being carted away in California on suspicion of probation violations. Dutch politician Geert Wilders went through years of litigation before he was acquitted last year on charges of insulting Islam by voicing anti-Islamic views. In the Netherlandsand Italy, cartoonists and comedians have been charged with insulting religion through caricatures or jokes.

Even the Obama administration supported the passage of a resolution in the U.N. Human Rights Council to create an international standard restricting some anti-religious speech (its full name: “Combating Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatization of, and Discrimination, Incitement to Violence and Violence Against, Persons Based on Religion or Belief”). Egypt’s U.N. ambassador heralded the resolution as exposing the “true nature” of free speech and recognizing that “freedom of expression has been sometimes misused” to insult religion.

At a Washington conference last year to implement the resolution, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton declared that it would protect both “the right to practice one’s religion freely and the right to express one’s opinion without fear.” But it isn’t clear how speech can be protected if the yardstick is how people react to speech — particularly in countries where people riot over a single cartoon. Clinton suggested that free speech resulting in “sectarian clashes” or “the destruction or the defacement or the vandalization of religious sites” was not, as she put it, “fair game.” Many winced when she invited countries to work on the implementation of the standard “to build those muscles” needed “to avoid a return to the old patterns of division.”

Given this initiative, President Obama’s U.N. address last month declaring America’s support for free speech, while laudable, seemed confused — even at odds with his administration’s efforts.

Speech is hateful

In the United States, hate speech is presumably protected under the First Amendment. However, hate-crime laws often redefine hateful expression as a criminal act. Thus, in 2003, the Supreme Court addressed the conviction of a Virginia Ku Klux Klan member who burned a cross on private land. The court allowed for criminal penalties so long as the government could show that the act was “intended to intimidate” others. While the conviction was vacated, the intention factor was a distinction without meaning, since the state can simply cite the intimidating history of that symbol.

Other Western nations routinely bar forms of speech considered hateful. Britain prohibits any “abusive or insulting words” meant “to stir up racial hatred.” Canada outlaws “any writing, sign or visible representation” that “incites hatred against any identifiable group.” These laws ban speech based not only on its content but on the reaction of others. Speakers are often called to answer for their divisive or insulting speech before bodies like the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

This month, a Canadian court ruled that Marc Lemire, the webmaster of a far-right political site, could be punished for allowing third parties to leave insulting comments about homosexuals and blacks on the site. Echoing the logic behind blasphemy laws, Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley ruled that “the minimal harm caused . . . to freedom of expression is far outweighed by the benefit it provides to vulnerable groups and to the promotion of equality.”

Speech is discriminatory

Perhaps the most rapidly expanding limitation on speech is found in anti-discrimination laws. Many Western countries have extended such laws to public statements deemed insulting or derogatory to any group, race or gender.

For example, in a closely watched case last year, a French court found fashion designer John Galliano guilty of making discriminatory comments in a Paris bar, where he got into a cursing match with a couple using sexist and anti-Semitic terms. Judge Anne-Marie Sauteraud read a list of the bad words Galliano had used, adding that she found (rather implausibly) he had said “dirty whore” at least 1,000 times. Though he faced up to six months in jail, he was fined.

In Canada, comedian Guy Earle was charged with violating the human rights of a lesbian couple after he got into a trash-talking session with a group of women during an open-mike night at a nightclub. Lorna Pardysaid she suffered post-traumatic stress because of Earle’s profane language and derogatory terms for lesbians. The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal ruled last year that since this was a matter of discrimination, free speech was not a defense, and awarded about $23,000 to the couple.

Ironically, while some religious organizations are pushing blasphemy laws, religious individuals are increasingly targeted under anti-discrimination laws for their criticism of homosexuals and other groups. In 2008, a minister in Canada was not only forced to pay fines for uttering anti-gay sentiments but was also enjoined from expressing such views in the future.
Speech is deceitful

In the United States, where speech is given the most protection among Western countries, there has been a recent effort to carve out a potentially large category to which the First Amendment would not apply. While we have always prosecuted people who lie to achieve financial or other benefits, some argue that the government can outlaw any lie, regardless of whether the liar secured any economic gain.

One such law was the Stolen Valor Act, signed by President George W. Bush in 2006, which made it a crime for people to lie about receiving military honors. The Supreme Court struck it down this year, but at least two liberal justices, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, proposed that such laws should have less of a burden to be upheld as constitutional. The House responded with new legislation that would criminalize lies told with the intent to obtain any undefined “tangible benefit.”

The dangers are obvious. Government officials have long labeled whistleblowers, reporters and critics as “liars” who distort their actions or words. If the government can define what is a lie, it can define what is the truth.

For example, in February the French Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a law that made it a crime to deny the 1915 Armenian genocide by Turkey — a characterization that Turkey steadfastly rejects. Despite the ruling, various French leaders pledged to pass new measures punishing those who deny the Armenians’ historical claims.

The impact of government limits on speech has been magnified by even greater forms of private censorship. For example, most news organizations have stopped showing images of Muhammad, though they seem to have no misgivings about caricatures of other religious figures. The most extreme such example was supplied by Yale University Press, which in 2009 published a book about the Danish cartoons titled “The Cartoons That Shook the World” — but cut all of the cartoons so as not to insult anyone.

The very right that laid the foundation for Western civilization is increasingly viewed as a nuisance, if not a threat. Whether speech is deemed inflammatory or hateful or discriminatory or simply false, society is denying speech rights in the name of tolerance, enforcing mutual respect through categorical censorship.

As in a troubled marriage, the West seems to be falling out of love with free speech. Unable to divorce ourselves from this defining right, we take refuge instead in an awkward and forced silence.

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

Washington Post (Sunday) October 14, 2012

128 thoughts on “THE DEATH OF FREE SPEECH

  1. Very informative JT … so … I hope readers of that column let it sink in.

    There is an area that not too many are aware of, “conspiracy theories”, where a Harvard Law Professor with some Obama Administration position now, advocated an attack on free speech that takes the form of what the media has popularized as “conspiracy theory” speech:

    What can government do about conspiracy theories? Among the things it can do, what should it do? We can readily imagine a series of possible responses. (1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might itself engage in counterspeech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counterspeech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help. Each instrument has a distinctive set of potential effects, or costs and benefits, and each will have a place under imaginable conditions. However, our main policy idea is that government should engage in cognitive infiltration of the groups that produce conspiracy theories, which involves a mix of (3), (4) and (5).

    (The Empire Strikes Back, quoting Cass R. Sunstein, emphasis added). A tax on free speech is Orwellian, as are Susstein’s other suggestions of suppression, especially when the government regularly and professionally presents official conspiracy theories as a matter of course:

    The concept of criminal conspiracy has its earliest roots in fourteenth century English common law. At that time, it saw limited use as a legal theory. It became more broadly applied in the United States in the nineteenth century, though still the scope of prosecutions was not wide. Today, however, conspiracy is a far-reaching legal principle, embracing antitrust actions, an enormous number of more traditional criminal cases, and even tort lawsuits. It is the basis of prosecutions dealing with, among other crimes, drug violations, securities fraud, murder for hire, bank robbery, and extortion.

    … Conspiracy is an agreement by two or more people to commit a crime.

    …[the federal statute:]

    If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

    If, however, the offense, the commission of which is the object of the conspiracy, is a misdemeanor only, the punishment for such conspiracy shall not exceed the maximum punishment provided for such misdemeanor.

    (Dept. of Justice Conspiracy Theories). The government does the business of asserting conspiracy theories, but won’t allow the public to engage in speculation that the government might be up to something naughty?

    That’s rich.

  2. The suppression of free speech has been controlled by the information media of the day. A person could yell fire in a theater with only one other person in it and be granted his free speech rights. With the advent of the Information age the powers that control how we think will be in the process of redefining free speech . Frank Sanfilippo

  3. Any suppression of speech, except for and within certain context is a death nail to liberties as we know them…… It starts in the classroom….. Certain topics are tolerated….some areas are not…..

    Excellent post Jonathan…..

    Dredd, you’re looking good…

  4. Many of these laws or rulings are based on good intent (with which the road to hell is paved). I would like to live in a world where I didn’t have to hear the repetition of “The Protocols Of the Elders of Zion” or its modern anti-Muslim slime fests. There may be some valid reasons to prevent the spread of filth like that. The problem is the net is to course and not particularly well suited for the purpose. It catches “too few tuna and too many dolphins”, if I may paint a metaphor.

  5. So anyone who wants can feign indignance at another’s speech about a religion and the indignance trumps. It’s disturbing to see that judges like the one in the zombie Mohammed case have lost any measure of objectivity when religion is involved. Dogma is what turned me off of organized religion. Would the zM judge be sympathetic to the Taliban for shooting a 14-year old girl who blogged?

  6. I would not mind laws making conspiracy a crime if I never wanted to engage in a conspiracy. By the same token, our government would have no real problem with “conspiracy speech” if…uh oh! Well, anyway, I just wanted to say that I would not mind laws making conspiracy a crime if I never wanted to engage in a conspiracy. I also don’t mind “NO SMOKING” signs.

  7. The memo that most people have not gotten is that the answer to hate or inappropriate speech, is more speech. If a religionist is offended, then take the offending speech to the woodshed with more reasoned counterargument.

    If one thinks their omnipotent god, the one who created a universe of unimaginable size and energy, is offended by a miniscule carbon unit on a miniscule planet on the outer edge of a vast galaxy, then your god ain’t much of a god. Most fundamentalist religions seem to think their god has the temperament of a spoiled, narcissistic, petulant, and somewhat sadistic twelve-year-old.

  8. It appears that the one thing modern society can no longer tolerate is intolerance. As Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard put it in her recent speech before the United Nations, “Our tolerance must never extend to tolerating religious hatred.”

    Word Origin
    of Aramaic origin bar and Abba
    “son of Abba,”
    There is no English word that adequately conveys the meaning of the Aramaic word, “Abba.” The word conveys a close intimacy that is reserved for parents and children.


    Barabbas was a notorious criminal who Pilate proposed to execute instead of Jesus. To Pilate’s credit, he genuinely tried to get The Lord released, knowing full well that He was not guilty of anything. But, to his discredit, some would say disgrace, he still gave in to the mob in the end –

    “Now it was the governor’s custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.
    While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of Him.”

    But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

    “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.

    “Barabbas,” they answered.

    “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked.

    They all answered, “Crucify Him!”

    “Why? What crime has He committed?” asked Pilate.

    But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify Him!”

    When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”

    All the people answered, “Let His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed Him over to be crucified.
    (Matthew 27:15-26)

  9. Great description, OS. I’d like to see that God’s profile on the MMPI-2-RF, the PAI, and a few projective tests, wouldn’t YOU?

  10. To paraphrase Voltaire’s attitudes, under the pseudonym of Stephen G. Tallentyre in The Friends of Voltaire, Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote:

    ‘I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it’

    That was 1906 in support of a man who lived in the 1700’s.

    Today’s version of wisdom is U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who views criticisms against many of his own official actions as racist?

    I’ll stick with Hall and Voltaire.

  11. We are not going to cede our First Amendment rights. To combat this, we are creating meshnets. They are in early development now, and they will complete the transformation from the age of news papers into the digital age.

    Most elected pols were raised in the age of newspapers and still think the flow of information can be controlled. It cannot, buy they act as though it can, causing our nation to become more stupid by the hour at the exact moment it needs reasons to go in the other direction.


    One: the internet was never designed to be a hierarchy. This has been imposed on the ‘net by strategic location of key infrastructure components. The internet is a mesh.

    Two: any Android-based device with 4G can create a 4G hub. The number of other 4G devices that can connect is typically throttled way down by the carrier to something like 4 – 6 devices per contract. The actual number is limited only by the phone’s ability to process network connections. 10s of thousands. Most “phones” are now super-computers.

    Three: the toilet is about to become a network device, as it makes a useful reading platform of Premium Content during moments of deliverance. I shit you not! With this comes a growing, amorphous 4G cloud where devices come and go, but the cloud remains, and not just in the bathroom. You hop-scotch across this net to get your content. ISPs and their collusion with warrantless data mining will become obsolete,

    Four: The gub’ment does not yet control the flow of electrons through the air, nor do they possess the ability to crack 128 bit encryption. Quantum computers can make virtually iron-clad encryption. The gub’ment does not like the phrase “peer to peer” and it CERTAINLY wants NOTHING to do with civilian strong encryption. Isn’t it odd that in late 2012 there is NO easy way to encrypt your communications, even though the tech has been around since WWII?

    Five: The reaction is to create decentralized meshnets around common protocols, and this work has begun. They are secure and free to all.

  12. It is time to yell FIRE! in this crowded blog. No one will get hurt or trampled on the blog. We are not in a crowd in a theatre. The son of an illegitimate relationship is a name that gets censored on this blog. The daughter of a dog couple is a name that gets censored on this blog. Thus one has to resort to pig latin or iglatinPay. So stop your itchinBay about foreigners prohibiting free speech and get your own theatre in order JT. If I want to itchBay about free speech I have to consider other options.

  13. Let me ask some questions about “identifiable groups” that might be offended and demand the government punish those that speak out against them:

    Is the “1%” an indentifiable group?
    Are “corporate CEOs” an identifiable group?
    Are “the Koch Brothers” an identifiable group?
    Are “Lobbyists” an identifiable group?
    How about “Congressmen?”
    How about “televangelists?”
    How about “pro-life” advocates?
    How about “Born Again Christians,” or “Tea Party” members?

    Should we let these groups be entitled to demanding legal punishment for those that criticize them?

  14. In defense on our country, use our only weapon, “VOTE”. We must get these socialist politicians out of office before the give the government so much power that the direction this country is headed in cannot be reversed.
    Hurting someones feelings was not a crime but has become one. What comes next, attempting to incite people to vote against the government in power?

  15. Three: the toilet is about to become a network device, as it makes a useful reading platform of Premium Content during moments of deliverance. I shit you not! With this comes a growing, amorphous 4G cloud where devices come and go, but the cloud remains, and not just in the bathroom. You hop-scotch across this net to get your content. ISPs and their collusion with warrantless data mining will become obsolete,~James inLA
    I can’t stop laughing….I know I know….but I always knew you had to wade through pure sh*t to get to truth but I didn’t think it would manifest quite so literally…..

  16. In my opinion killing, maiming or jailing someone because you don’t agree with what they say or are “offended” is the most extreme form of intolerance. Allowing those who would engage in such activities to redefine “free speach” as only that speach that will not “offend” is rewarding intolerance.

    The standard of “offence” is so totally subjective and elastic that is is a standard for oppression. Some are offended by just the suggestion that women should be educated; some by satirical cartoons; others by the suggestion that their religion is hypocritical and scandalous;others are offended because someone wishes to practice another religion openly. The US should be on the front lines fighting such laws and certain groups who voice sympathy for them should be very careful because if the get what they wish for because they will very likely be the victims of their own device.
    Freedom of speach, speach not money, should not be abridged to guarantee silence it should be encouraged. Unfortunately, even in this country freedom of speach is being penned and punished in ways the founders would have recognized and to which they would have loudly objected.

  17. “I can’t stop laughing….I know I know….but I always knew you had to wade through pure sh*t to get to truth but I didn’t think it would manifest quite so literally…..”

    Me too! It sort of writes itself. The future, and now much sooner thanks to articles like this, will contain a synthesis of meshnets and apparel. By simply putting on your hat and coat, you have joined a secure peer 2 peer network, becoming yourself an ISP for whoever happens to be nearby.

  18. FairlyBalanced 1, October 14, 2012 at 10:44 am

    … iglatinPay …
    I think the proper translation is igpay attinlay …😉

  19. To test the limits of free speech in America, try criticizing the ideology of Zionism in Washington, DC. For extra credit, question if we really need to be “Israel’s best friend” 24/7.

  20. We are a country that plays “pretend”. Just as after the 1964 passage of the Civil Rights Act America was acclaimed to be “Post Racial”, when in fact it remained prejudiced against Blacks, “Hate speech” was banned to cover the truth. Code was developed that seemed to follow non-racist guidelines, but was in fact every bit as damning as using the “N” word. This is just an example of what the suppression of free speech does for the Establishment, it covers the truths about what is really going on. Ann Coulter has just written a book where she calls those who would talk out on racial injustice the real racists. Suppression of what is called “hate speech” is thus really a means to cover up inherent societal problems ad not really to soothe sensibilities, or to calm troubled waters.

    We see this today in Europe with the movement of governments to ban what they call “hate speech”. In truth anti- Islamic and anti-Jewish feelings towards those of those faiths living there is drastically on the rise. Right Wing hate parties analogous to our “skin heads” and to the NAZI movement, have grown. By preventing these people from expression they are merely allowing them to use “code” in their public speaking and not dealing with the problems they cause by silencing the debate.

  21. Of the article proper, I can add nothing but to note it is concise, accurate, sound in its reasoning and thought provoking about what constitutes free speech. My stand on the issue is well known: the Carlin Doctrine. “There are no bad words. Bad thoughts. Bad intentions, and wooooords.” Within that context, I submit that attempts to limit speech based on blaspemy, hatered, discrimination and deciet is a two edged sword. The only way to counter blaspemy, hatered, discrimination and deciet is by making the case for your particular religion (or lack thereof), make the case against hatred or discrimination and by exposing deciet using the tools of reason, evidence and exposition. As OS noted, most people haven’t gotten the memo that the answer to the problem is more free speech.

    ‘If any man is able to convince me and show me that I do not think or act right, I will gladly change; for I seek the truth by which no man was ever injured. But he is injured who abides in his error and ignorance.” – Marcus Aurelius

    “One cannot find the truth about something one cannot openly discuss.” – Gene Howington

    Also what OS, Blouise, James in LA, Justice Holmes and mespo said.

    Now I must return to beating my compter until it decides to behave properly. (Bad computer! Bad! Get under the house!)

  22. What Missed Piggy, Grover, Grouch, and Big Bird said.

    This old hippie might not agree:

    ‘It’s all over,” says TC Boyle. “This planet is doomed. In a very short time, we’re probably not even going to have culture or art. We’re going to be living like we’re in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.”

    (T.C. Boyle). One upmanship … gotta lub it.

  23. Dear Prof. Turley,
    Thank you very much for your warning in today’s Washington Post. I am sure the Good Progressives of Cambridge will not like it at all. All the more reason to publish.
    Bharani Padmanabhan MD PhD

  24. What OS said. Great article. Free Speech is messy and it is supposed to be messy. This attempt by governments to curtail free speech is not new. It is used every time a police department attacks and arrests non-violent protestors. It happened during the Civil Rights era, the Vietnam anti-war era and it happened during the protests against the Iraq War and even now. So-called Free Speech zones are are actually an attempt to restrict speech and prevent it from being a nuisance to those in power.

  25. After readind this clarion call our professor has heralded for us I have this overriding thought of a speech of Neville Chamberlain outside #10

    It resonates with me in how governments are appeasing certain groups by killing the speech rights of all persons, and it WILL lead to a decline of liberty and in some ways could embolden enemies of liberty.

    Having returned from Germany, PM Chamberlain talked of appeasing the Nazis and allowing them license to invade Czechoslovakia thereby commencing the second world war…

    “My good friends, this is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. And now I recommend you to go home and sleep quietly in your beds”

    Earlier that day at the the airport, he had so famously held aloft a piece of paper singed by he and Hitler, convinced that a sheet of paper would stop the war. I believe today, the destruction of free speech by gov’t is that paper.

  26. This is a natural result of having jails calling it good.That concept is, and has been outside of jails for a long time. I can’t talk about how to sexuyaly please your dog avoiding altering to people who have dogs at a dog park or people will sic a park ranger or police man on you. That is ungodly thing to do. We are in an ungodly world.

  27. It would seem that the real problem is with “unregulated” free speech. Somehow, if you have money, you can paste your message all over buses, litter the landscape with billboards, pollute the airwaves with all sorts of messages… but a street artist doing the same thing with a spray can is a criminal, a college student protesting is restricted to a free speech zone, a man handing out fliers about jury nullification is arrested… I guess there’s only a free press if you can afford one.

  28. Even older quote “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me” from a nursery rhyme is a lost maxim.

    Now it is ” words caused such massive psychological and religious belief offense that I fear I will never recover, oh boo hoo, woe is me”

    Now pay up or face some violence in retaliation.

  29. Gene H, when my kid was little, I taught him that there were “taboo words” and I taught him what the word “taboo” meant — in language he could understand but not “childish” language. I simply pointed out that people really did not like to hear those words, even if it sometimes felt really good to say them, and that he could say whatever he wanted WITHOUT them just as well, although perhaps not as easily at times. He got it. Then one day I overheard him instructing one of his little friends on the issue, and he said, “So these are the taboo words: [whereupon he listed a good many more than I had commonly known and a few that I still think were his own inventions!]” :mrgreen:

  30. Western society believes firmly that people have certain rights as individuals, and that is all well and good until the rights of two individuals conflict. Yes, we value free speech, but what about the right to feel secure? We don’t allow acts of violence, nor do we allow threats of violence combined with an immediate show of force. However, you don’t have to assault someone to intimidate them and make them feel insecure. Credible threats of violence can be subtle and tempered; inciting others to violence may leave you a step removed from action, but is it far enough away to erase culpability?

    We value freedom of religion, but we place limits on it. The bible says I should kill my child if he disrespects me or commits blasphemy, but citing religious expression would not keep me from jail if I murdered my son. We place limits on what the free expression and practice of religion entails, why is it so inappropriate to place similar limits on speech?

    Of course, there is a slippery slope to suppressing free speech, and so there need to be clear standard on what counts as unacceptable speech. Nobody has the right to never be offended, and so speech which is merely offensive or tasteless should still be preserved. Someone can blaspheme all they want without it meaningfully impacting my ability to practice religion, and so blasphemy alone should not be outlawed. But speech meant to intimidate or threaten, speech meant to incite others to violence (whether towards you or your enemies), speech that predictably brings about disastrous consequences; there are grounds to think these do not deserve absolute protection. The consequences of any law against speech should be very carefully weighed (not something I trust the legislature to do), but my right to speak should not infringe upon your right to not live in constant fear. As with all things, a proper balance should be found.

  31. Most of the bloggers here, with due respect, cry out about the fear of “death of free speech ” don’t fear death – ” you might hate something that is actually GOOD for you “.
    Free speech was fine and welcomed, as long as it stayed clean and within the ” invisible lines ” . As when the human race knew what respectable speech and acts REALLY was.
    Now the mass media and individuals take pride in foul language and despicable actions; and use their power of free speech to abuse that very same thing that they have so dear. I’m sorry, you can’t have the two, when you continuously keep abusing that same right, it needs an updated version to keep humanity in harmony.
    United Nations are not doing the objective of its existence, and therefore ought to be dissolved or highly modified as it has been abused, and cannot exist in its present form.
    USA has become a Globalist and strife for World unity known as N.W.O; how can the this happen when the players use bad cards, such as Racism anti-religious outburst and unwelcoming roars ? Respect, tolerance and good old manners should be the leading thread.

  32. I tried six times to get this blog to post a comment on the itchBay word. I think the censor has now censored even the igBy atinLaw version. If you Google the dictionary definition of the B word you will find it not worth censoring, even in Tehran.

  33. Re the rights of those insulted: the newest bit on FB is the right to characterize someone else’s post as abusive, etc. These reports are used by FB to freeze one’s ability to post or reply. There is no recourse and you may not be notified as to the reasoning behind the freeze. For me, this is ripe for abuse and the quelling free speech.

  34. @Lona: The whole point is that speech isn’t free if you are prohibited from calling corruption what it is, if you are prohibited from calling stupidity what it is, if you are prohibited from calling lies what they are, if you are prohibited from accusing the self-serving of doing what they are doing.

    The whole point of free speech is to be free to disrespect, disdain, and ridicule that which (or those whom) you personally feel does not deserve respect.

    I cannot imagine ever thinking that “respect” is worth more than the truth; even the small truth that somebody else thinks I am a fool or hates me.

  35. Glenn Greenwald likes JT’s post:

    In Sunday’s Washington Post, law professor Jonathan Turley has a superb Op-Ed on the gradual death of free speech in the west, and he places the blame squarely where it belongs: on the veneration of “sensitivities” over the free flow of ideas, and relatedly, the adolescent need on the part of many adults to plead with authority figures to shield them from views they find offensive. His essay is well worth reading in full …


  36. Horseshit, Lona.

    You don’t have a right not to be offended.

    Your offense at something is your reaction. It is entirely under your control and simply because you can’t control yourself doesn’t give you the right to shove your personal responsiblity for your reactions off on to others. We (as in everyone) are not your babysitter. If something offends you? Make a rebuttal. Try to offend back if you like it. But we (as in everyone) owe no duty to you to moderate our speech to suit your sensibilities.

  37. ZL, I have always said that I am the only person in America with REAL free speech because I own nothing and have a negligible income; thus, anybody who sues me for saying something they don’t like can take a long hike and it will be good for their cardiac health. :-)

  38. Gene

    You have your right to be offended by my blog. I don’t get offended by your
    comments as I’m old enough and used to handle your kind of mentality. I’m raised in Denmark by freedom fighters and i live by their wise upbringing of proud and rightful personalities, who know when enough is enough.
    We have welcomed many ethnic groups into Denmark, from Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Egypt, Pakistan, India etc etc. We have about 300.000 from Muslim countries the largest group. We granted them the right to build their mosques, but not to use the microphones for prayer times. That’s called tolerance and respect. We also gave them the infamous cartoons, that’s called dis-respect. Not freedom of speech. We are only 5 million people in Denmark, when you live that close you got to give and take.

  39. Lona,

    I’m not offended by you being wrong about the nature of free speech. And I’m also old enough and used to handle [sic] your kind of mentality. Bootlicker.

    “We granted them the right to build their mosques, but not to use the microphones for prayer times. That’s called tolerance and respect.”

    No. That’s called reasonable restriction based on valid governmental interest in enforcing noise restrictions. Much like the restrictions on inciting violence or panic or voter intimidation.

    “We also gave them the infamous cartoons, that’s called dis-respect. Not freedom of speech. ”

    No. That’s called freedom of speech whether you like it or not. Again, “disrespect” is a form of offense. You don’t have any right to not be offended. Your offense is your reaction. Again – we are not your babysitter.

  40. Seems suspicious that ‘religion’ is a factor in so many of these cases. I do not see the rabidly fierce mac/windows factions killing each other over disrespectful speech.

    Religion kills, man. No doubt about it.

  41. What Gene said about there being no right protecting one from being offended. Bravo! That’s the battlefront forged by the left, that and university speech codes.

  42. shano,
    you are right that millions of people over the centuries have been killed and murdered because God declared it the right thing to do according to the followers of religion.

  43. Lona, this is the United States of America, not Denmark, and we will not be ceding our First Amendment, certainly not because Lona MAY be offended, a choice Lona freely makes. That sort of thralldom belongs to mullahs and congressmen with deer head fetishes.

  44. James.
    I’m not offended. Disappointed maybe. I know this is not USA, and free speech is all over and should be. I’m not asking us to give up First Amendment, I’m saying its been abused, not to MY sensitivity but to most of the involved and concerned people who get slashed with New World free speech.

    I don’t ask for your agreement, after all you are not the Law, I’m leaving that up to the decision makers. I’m sorry to have offended you. I as in everyone, wants peace and harmony among each others.

  45. Ooo. Creeping crud.

    “A U.S. military judge is considering broad security rules for the war crimes tribunal of five Guantanamo prisoners charged in the Sept. 11 attacks, including measures to prevent the accused from publicly revealing what happened to them in the CIA’s secret network of overseas prisons.

    Prosecutors have asked the judge at a pretrial hearing starting Monday to approve what is known as a protective order that is intended to prevent the release of classified information during the eventual trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has portrayed himself as the mastermind of the terror attacks, and four co-defendants.

    Lawyers for the defendants say the rules, as proposed, will hobble their defense. The American Civil Liberties Union, which has filed a challenge to the protective order, says the restrictions will prevent the public from learning what happened to Mohammed and his co-defendants during several years of CIA confinement and interrogation.

    The protective order requires the court to use a 40-second delay during court proceedings so that spectators, who watch behind sound-proof glass, can be prevented from hearing – from officials, lawyers or the defendants themselves – the still-classified details of the CIA’s rendition and detention program.

    “What we are challenging is the censorship of the defendant’s testimony based on their personal knowledge of the government’s torture and detention of them,” said Hina Shamsi, an ACLU attorney who will be arguing against the protective order during the pretrial hearing at the U.S. base in Cuba.

    The protective order, which is also being challenged by a coalition of media organizations that includes The Associated Press, is overly broad because it would “classify the defendants own knowledge, thoughts and experience,” Shamsi said in an interview.

    “It’s a truly extraordinary and chilling proposal that the government is asking the court to accept,” she said.

    Protective orders are standard method in civilian and military trials to set rules for handling evidence for the prosecution and defense. Military prosecutors argue in court papers that the Sept. 11 trial requires additional security because the accused have personal knowledge of classified information such as interrogation techniques and knowledge about which other countries provided assistance in their capture.

    “Each of the accused is in the unique position of having had access to classified intelligence sources and methods,” the prosecution says in court papers. “The government, like the defense, must protect that classified information from disclosure.”

    The U.S. government has acknowledged that before the defendants were taken to Guantanamo in September 2006 they were subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques” such as the simulated drowning method known as water-boarding. Defense attorneys say the treatment will be used to form the basis of their defense but the proposed protective order limits their ability to make that case in court and in public advocacy on behalf of their clients.

    “It’s a way in which the government can hide what it did to these men during the period of detention by the CIA,” said Army Capt. Jason Wright, a Pentagon-appointed attorney for Mohammed. “I think we need to bring the truth to the light of day on these issues.”

    The judge’s approval of the protective order, which may not happen this week, must occur before the Sept. 11 case can move forward. Defense lawyers cannot begin to review classified evidence against their clients until it is in place.

    The protective order is the most contentious of about two dozen preliminary motions scheduled to be heard during a pretrial hearing expected to run through Friday. Other matters include whether the defendants can be required to attend court sessions, what clothing they are allowed to wear and defense requests for additional resources for what is considered one of the most significant terrorism prosecutions in U.S. history.

    The families of people killed in the Sept. 11 attacks have been invited to military installations in the U.S. states of New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland and New York City to watch the pretrial hearings, which are closed to the general public. An earlier round of hearings in May was also transmitted to viewing locations for relatives of the victims, survivors of the attacks, and emergency personnel who responded to the disaster.”

    Read the rest here.

  46. Lona,

    “I don’t ask for your agreement, after all you are not the Law,”

    No you didn’t but your speech invites me to respond to it by being introduced into the commons and at my discretion, not yours. Also, I am not the law, but I do know what the law says and is as a matter of professional training.

    “I’m leaving that up to the decision makers.”

    In a democracy, that’s supposed to ultimately be the People. What we actually have going on here in the though is a changing form of government (an evolving corporatist fascist oligarchy with theocratic undertones) that will become ever increasingly hostile to democracy unless We the People get off our asses and fight for it and our civil rights, including free speech. But I digress.

    “I’m sorry to have offended you.”

    You haven’t offended me other than I find ignorance of the law offensive in a general way and ignorant statements in general. If this offends you – that I consider your statements not only factually incorrect, but ignorant – I really don’t give a damn if you’re offended or not so long as no one else gets the bad idea you might know what you’re talking about when you don’t. Misinformation and lies have a way of luring the susceptable into thinking they are truths if they are heard unchallenged.

    “I as in everyone, wants peace and harmony among each others.”

    Really? I’m going to call bullshit on that. That’s what you want. You’re not empowered to speak for everyone. Constrast your statement using the collective “we” with mine using the collective “we”. Mine are statements of legal prinicple: we are not your babysitter and you own your own reactions just as you own your own actions. This is a fact. Your statement, on the other hand, is a presumption you know what you are talking about in re free speech and jurisprudence and that you are empowered to make that decision for everyone. And that is manifestly not the case. I want the fullest possible free speech and that does not involve me censoring myself to protect your delicate sensitivies.

    If you’re offended by any of this?

    I really don’t care.

    You still have no (none, zero, nada, zip) right to not be offended.

    You do have free speech, however. This means you’re free to respond verbally however you like (short of threatening me or enticing others to harm me). I don’t have to like it.

    But rest assured, if I don’t?

    I’m going to say whatever the Hell I please about it (within the reasonable restrictions I know exist as a matter of law).


    Because that’s free speech.

  47. Increasingly, it seems that the West is re-discovering the tranquility that comes with forced silence. What is fascinating is that this trend is based on principles of tolerance and pluralism — once viewed as the values underlying free speech.
    Salem witch trials? History repeats itself, even if it takes a few hundred years. Resistance is futile.

  48. “What is fascinating is that this trend is based on principles of tolerance and pluralism ” Up is down black is white, right is wrong.

  49. First Amendment protections do not depend on the speaker’s “financial ability to engage in public discussion.” …Laws burdening such speech are subject to strict scrutiny, which requires the Government to prove that the restriction “furthers a compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest… The First Amendment prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for engaging in political speech…. Content-based prohibitions, enforced by severe criminal penalties, have the constant potential to be a repressive force in the lives and thoughts of a free people. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

  50. Lona,
    Remember the DNSAP (mirrored by today’s National Socialist Movement of Denmark). Frits Clausen would welcome your words. Ah, Denmark until 1943, your Danish hinterland was known as the “Model Protectorate.” You happy Danes actively discouraged active resistance to your Nazi overseers. Yes, my Nordic sister, Denmark finally woke up, but please Lona do not instruct the United States about the Bill of Rights. Over and out.

  51. I read that article with wonderment without ever thinking who had written it, and I kept thinking “This is the stuff Turley is always writing about”. But then my phone died after I finished but before I could scroll back up. I completely forgot to check and I came here and … Duh … No wonder the topic seemed so familiar!

    Good stuff, and very informative. I hope people read it and take heed.

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

    If we must outlaw anything, then let us outlaw offense, not speech. That ought to take care of the legal end of things quite nicely.

    I once read a science-fiction novel about a man who journeyed to the future and then came back to his own time. Upon his return, people asked him to describe the future society he had encountered. Said he: “They have only two laws. The first law says that you should not annoy other people. The second law said that you should not allow yourself to become annoyed too easily.” The moral of the story, according to the author, taught that you could give people a lot of freedom if you knew they wouldn’t abuse it. I always thought that this story involved one-too-many laws — the first — since if everyone obeyed the second law, the first would prove unnecessary.

    So, again, I say outlaw offense and not speech.

    One can always laugh at, or simply ignore, anything that anyone else says. Speech causes nothing, any more than does remaining silent. The onus of violent, oppressive behavior rests exclusively with those who demand to hear only what they wish to hear and who will not tolerate not hearing what they wish to hear when and where they demand to hear it If you doubt this, just see what happens when a United States Congressional Representative remains silent or catches a breath rather than enunciate two words in a single prepositional phrase during the so-called “Pledge of Allegiance.” When even silence or breathing become “offensive,” you can rest assured that taking offense will always happen because those taking it desire to exert power over the behavior of others yet do not have the intellectual or moral courage to recognize their own totalitarian motives.

    Outlaw offense, not speech.

  53. If you think what someone has said about your religion, your position etc is wrong you should counter with more free speech. The idea that an offended party has the right to criminalize criticism or offensive speech so that everything will be “beautiful” Simply means that the rest of us will have to keep our mouths shut lest we offend and get thrown In jail or worse. I don’t know about others but I find that kind of silence neither beautiful nor civil . What is really happening here is that some people who are willing to react to speech with violence are being given the upper hand because people are afraid. I believe there is a word for that. I will let you all fill in the blank…….

  54. Lona,
    The key to FoS has been put forth a few times but here it is again : You can say what you wish but I don’t have to like it. It may stimulate my neurons and my amygdala which may result in a number of reactions. But causing physical harm is illegal. Period. It doesn’t matter that I’m offended. So my religion or race or sex has been smeared. So I get emotional about it. So what? Making someone angry through speech is not a crime. Criminalizing disrespect will not solve anything. If my enemies say what they want then at least I know who they are.

  55. Many years ago, I saw a sign on the newsstand in a drugstore I frequented. The sign said something to the effect that if customers saw something offensive on the newsstand, to report it to the manager so it could be removed. So I reported Reader’s Digest because it had several articles that were thinly veiled Republican talking points, and also some overly simplistic (and wrong) stories about science. The manager was polite, but could tell he did not take me seriously. I guess it depends on what you find offensive that will result in action.

  56. Apropos of what I posted above about offending by not even speaking::

    “It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself — anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.” — George Orwell, 1984

    I can remember a few years ago when candidate-for-President, Barack Obama, did not wear a tiny American flag pin on the lapel of his suit. He caught instantaneous and virulent flak for that “unpatriotic” failure to do what some “offended” others — namely, Republicans — demanded of him. I suppose that in Newspeak that infraction would come under the heading of lapelcrime.

    And the list of “offenses” (whether of speech or silence) only continues to grow….

  57. A comment that mentioned COINTELPRO was posted to the Washington Post column. I had one foot out the door when I saw it earlier. I can’t seem to find it. Anyone else?

  58. Michael Murry: People offended by Obama not having a flag on his Lapel are people with a devil in their soul worshiping that flag like people worshiping clothing. Had Obama go on stage naked would still be Obama, but devils would still try to say he was bad if not worse because he stripped another idol off of his body..

  59. “An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice,”Let me tell you a story: I have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times.”

    He continued, “It is as if there are two wolves inside me; one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.

    But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will send him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing. Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”

    The boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?”

    The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.” ”
    ~ cherokee parable

  60. I couldn’t help but notice that “Report an offensive comment” is one of the Post’s options.

    Free speech is but an illusion from where I’m sitting, but we keep pretending.

  61. I agree Roger, I think we are slaves to the government and the president because we are supposed to have freedom of speech and not only do we not have freedom of speech people are actually afraid to speak up and this is why we are in trouble

  62. I can not describe my female dog by the word set forth in the dictionary but y’all can say things like Prophet which offends me. It offends me that a person gets granted some higher status than the rest of us by being called a Prophet. Particularly when he was a pedohile. Perhaps he was a precursor to the pedophile priests in the Catolic religion. Now if you said “Prophet the Pedophile” I might be pleased but it would offend most of you. Word Press censors the itchBay word off this blog. I tried to get a list off the Word Press website of words they censor but they are not forthcoming. You have driven one commentor off this blog by refusing to print her name.
    As to Denmark. You are having trouble reconciling your tolerance for Muslims with their intolerance of your tolerance. The utube on the pedophile Prophet needs to be played there early and often.

    The right to speak freely is not predicated on the right to offend. The right to be offended is reserved to those who are truly offended by a physical dart thrown at their body and stuck in their craw. Not a verbal dart. Even if the utube about the pedophile Prophet was intended to offend, it was only an image, only voice. Now, if they dug up the pedophile Prophets body and made fun of it on utube then that would be another matter. Perhaps that is next. Coming to a computer near you. All the world is a stage. Be fair. Be balanced. Be a fox.

  63. Professor Turley,

    Perhaps the Washington Post will give you access to the comments which were deleted. The one in which I’m interested mentioned COINTELPRO. I had one foot out the door when I saw it. I read the first paragraph, saw nothing offensive in it, and decided to read it later. I’ve skimmed the comments section twice now and can’t find it.

  64. The crux of the previous Peter van Buren article “On the run from America’s Stasi” — the title sums it up perfectly:

    “My case also illustrates the crude use of “national security” as a tool within government to silence dissent. TheState Department’s Diplomatic Security office, its internal Stasi, monitored my home e-mail and web usage for months, used computer forensics to spelunk for something naughty in my online world, placed me on a Secret Service Threat Watch list, examined my finances, and used hacker tools to vacuum up my droppings around the web – all, by the way, at an unknown cost to the taxpayers.

    Diplomatic Security even sent an agent around to interview my neighbors, fishing for something to use against me in a full-spectrum deep dive into my life, using the new tools and power available to government not to stop terrorists, but to stop me.

    As our government accumulates ever more of what it thinks the American people have no right to know about, there will only be increasing persecutions as prosecutions. Many of the illegal things president Richard Nixon did to the famous Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg are now both legal (under the Patriot Act) and far easier to accomplish with new technologies.

    There is no need, for instance, to break into my psychiatrist’s office looking for dirt, as happened to Ellsberg; after all, the National Security Agency can break into my doctor’s electronic records as easily as you can read this page.

    With its aggressive and sadly careless use of the draconian Espionage Act to imprison whistleblowers, the Barack Obama administration has, in many cases, moved beyond harassment and intimidation into actually wielding the beautiful tools of justice in a perverse way to silence dissent.

    More benign in practice, in theory this is little different than the Soviets executing dissidents as spies after show trials or the Chinese using their courts to legally confine thinkers they disapprove of in mental institutions. They are all just following regulations. Turn the volume up from six to ten and you’ve jumped from vengeance to totalitarianism. We’re becoming East Germany.”

  65. Latest from the Koch Wars front. Seems the billionaire brothers have sent out a memo to all their employees telling them how to vote, and what they can and cannot put on their own Facebook or blog pages. Jesse LaGreca, who writes under the username “Ministry of Truth” has the gory and dirty details. Surely the Koch crime family ought to have known there would be at least a few whistleblowers in their vast financial empire who would release the confidential memo to reporters.

  66. Professor Turley’s fourth category seems to include a recent case in New York, where prosecutors brought “identity theft,” “criminal impersonation,” “forgery,” and “harassment” charges against the author of a batch of “Gmail confessions” in which an NYU department chairman (who has since left NYU) was portrayed as crudely admitting to the university’s dean that he had plagiarized another scholar so that he could be “invited to lecture around the world.” The emails contained links to blogs accusing the department chairman of plagiarism, and delicately explained that “someone seems to be intent on exposing me for a minor failing of mine dating back fifteen years.”

    Apparently, the legal ground for the “criminal impersonation” and “forgery” charges was that the actual author of the satirical confessions had sought an unspecified “benefit,” which according to the judge means “any gain or advantage.” The grounds for the identity theft charges were far more specific: the author had sought to “falsify NYU’s business records” with the fake confessions, and to gain the tangible benefit of $1,000 by attaching a “smear” to the reputation of the NYU department chairman, in the hope that the chairman would be dropped from the academic lecture circuit and replaced by the allegedly plagiarized scholar, who would thereby earn at least 1,000 dollars.

    For further information on this astonishing case which is awaiting appellate review in the New York criminal court system, see:

  67. OS that is it iin a nutshell, what is offencsive to you may not be to me so therefore everyone ends up being afraid to say anything.

  68. First off, thanks Professor for this post. To me, this issue is at the base of our freedoms and liberties, and it is with great dismay that I see these hard-won liberties being destroyed by those we have entrusted to guard them.
    We are all familiar with Voltare’s comment on free speech as well as Franklin’s statement about security and freedom. I spent a lot of time last weekend mulling over this article, mostly because I see what I perceive a dangerous trend among some of the people who post here.
    JT> “The much-misconstrued statement of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes that free speech does not give you the right to shout fire in a crowded theater is now being used to curtail speech that might provoke a violence-prone minority.” <
    I am very glad to see someone finally state the obvious…that the usual interpretation of this bon mot is to take the statement out of context. When the FF chose to put the First Amendment into the Constitution, it is my belief that, given what they had seen in Europe as far as speech/journalistic suppression in the various monarchies with which they were familiar, they saw this freedom, not only as the bedrock (hence it’s place as the FIRST amendment), but I notice that there was no LIMIT placed on what might be said. To me, the FF intended the First amendment to be absolute. Now, as I understand history, the first ten amendments ‘granted’ nothing. These were considered inalienable rights granted by “Nature, and Natures God”. Since we are in the midst of a Presidential election, think back to what you have read about the campaign between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Historians say it was probably the dirtiest and most libelous campaign ever waged. Both sides slung the mud with equal ferocity. However, no one began clamoring to limit speech on the grounds that it was ‘offensive’. As has been noted here by people much smarter than I, there IS no right not to be offended. Does anyone really think that, without free speech, incendiary though it might be, we would have ever forged a Revolution? During the run-up to the Civil War, there was an incident where one Senator physically attacked another Senator with his walking stick on the floor of the Senate and very nearly killed him over something he had said in debate. However, there was no outcry to limit free speech. It is true that absolute free speech can be offensive and even dangerous. In the 60s, when China began to have internal problems, Mao Zedong began what became known as the ‘Hundred Flowers’ campaign; “Let a hundred flowers bloom, let 100 thoughts contend”. People in China began to use this new-found freedom of speech and, in due course, Mao saw what a danger it was. Millions were arrested and sent to forced labor, imprisoned and even executed. The reason? They were told that they had not ‘bloomed correctly’.
    We started years ago down this slippery slope of censorship and loss of free speech, (which as I see it, is essentially the same idea) years ago. For some reason, people in this country got the idea that free speech is fine, in the first person, but not in the third. We seem to have become a nation full of people with such delicate sensibilities that we need to give up some of our rights (free speech being one of them) in order to placate those who wear their collective feelings on their proverbial sleeves. Try and make a joke at the airport and see what happens. Tell a TSA screener that they are acting like Nazis. Try to make a political statement at a political convention and you get pushed into a ‘free speech area’ or you get tear-gassed by a militarized police force (shades of Kent State!).
    Speech is blasphemous. Speech is hateful. Speech is discriminatory. Free speech is ALL those things. And the moment we surrender that most important of rights, we are lost as a nation. IMHO.

  69. And of course we have ‘secret’ trials now:

    When Army lawyer Capt. Chad Fisher said that the court wasn’t constitutionally required to provide public access to documents like prosecution briefs, transcripts, and rulings, Judge Margaret Ryan interrupted him to ask what she called a “common sense” question.

    “Why can’t you just give it to them? Instead of making this a constitutional case, why can’t you just be reasonable?”

    Fisher was unable to directly answer the question. Instead, he gave an array of responses that circumvented the basic issue: he repeated his belief that the court wasn’t obliged to make these records public, he said the fact that the public could attend the hearings meant they were “open,” he complained that the defense wasn’t asking the proper authority, and he reiterated the government’s position that the availability of FOIA provided sufficient public and press access.

    The five judges repeatedly questioned and challenged each of Fisher’s points, particularly the idea that FOIA requests, to which the government frequently takes weeks, months, or even years to respond, provided sufficient and contemporaneous access, especially considering the fact that FOIA requests in this case have already been denied. They also pushed back on Fisher’s claim that “Nothing has been withheld” from the public and the press, based on the idea that attending the hearings amounts to fully accessing the proceedings.

    “How is oral argument sufficient if you can’t read the briefs?” one judge asked.

    “It’s not as if they’re speaking a foreign language,” Fisher responded.

  70. MM – “It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself — anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.” — George Orwell, 1984

    Now we call this “Stop & Frisk”. Everyone wonders if they will be arrested this time or beaten up or both-or just cursed at by the cops. It keeps crime down according to King Bloomers

  71. As an addendum to my previous comment on the New York “criminal satire” case, a commentator on the Telegraph site has stated:

    “I’m not impressed by that case. The defendant didn’t just employ speech, he took several actions including creating email accounts in the names of other people, and then using those accounts to impersonate them, and spread lies and disinformation about them. When he got caught, then suddenly he says it was ‘parody.’ Nonsense.”

    To which I replied:

    “On what grounds to you believe the defendant spread ‘lies and disinformation’? He ‘created email accounts in the names of other people’ for the purpose of mockery, which is a form of expression. Satire and parody consist precisely in putting false statements in the mouths of others, to expose certain truths. Yet the judge in this case ruled that ‘good faith and the truth are not defenses.’ If you start distinguishing between cases you’re ‘impressed’ by and expressive ‘actions’ that you find offensive, then you’ve already gone down the road towards criminalizing speech.”

    I would add here that we appear to be strangely ignorant in this country of the varieties of satirical expression. The prosecutors in New York distinguished between “maliciousness” and parody; apparently they believe that parody is “just for fun,” and that “malicious” satirical speech can be criminalized regardless of the principle of free expression.

    See the case documentation at:

    and see the Telegraph exchange at:

  72. freedom of speech is still available to those on, ‘chat about god’, and ‘chat about jesus’ websites. so they impersonate ME legally. the antichrist says that it is fine as long as they get the word out that you go to hell for not following ME. you sit and watch it on your television sets. listen to them lie to you.
    freedom of speech is not dead. but the church still wants ME silent.


    I’ve been meaning to ask you, what’s up with avocado pits? A lot of wasted real estate there. And while we’re at it, diamorphic sex causes a lot of friction both actual and societal. Is there anything you could do about that? And pi. Why can’t you just make it end? Everyone cuts it off at 3.14 anyway.

    Thanks for your non-existent (or at least non-applicable) time.

    I’m a big fan of much of your alleged work.

  74. blame the clergy for lying to you, I did not. therefore you have no idea what happened.

    the avocado pit is bigger so that I don’t cut my fingers on the small pits when making guacamole. and when your having sex I try not to watch. but a circle never ends.

  75. I love that little film clip called “The Innocence of Muslims”! It’s hilarious!

    I have plans for several little clips now, low budget and kind of easy to write. For starters, “The Innocence of Helen Fahey” and “The Innocence of James Stratoudakis” and “The Innocence of Gilbert K. Davis” — yay!!!!😛

  76. ‘…if you’re not in the “club”…’

    “Why You Don’t Even Know That A Presidential Candidate Was Arrested Last Night” – MOC #179

    It’s a two part dictatorship.
    And if you’re not in the “club”, you get clubbed.

    In what can only be described as an absolute smack
    in the face of this once free country,
    Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein
    and her running mate have been arrested
    while attempting to gain access to tonight’s debate.

    Stein was attempting to gain access
    and protesting not just her parties exclusion from the debates
    but the fact that NO third party,
    including Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson,
    is being allowed inside the “corporate” debate…
    — Alex Thomas,
    Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein Arrested
    Trying to Gain Access to Presidential Debate

  77. anonymously posted. It was against German law and taken down only in Germany. If I posted on twitter I was going to say like Romney kid, injure the president, it could be seen as a threat to the president which is illegal. Could twitter force the removal of that?

  78. This piece is completely biased. T uses cases where homosexuals and Muslims are the victims of hateful words and tasteless jokes seemingly to imply that Western freedom is being undermined by protecting these minority classes. So by allowing any majority citizen to harass minorities by any speech is the state sanctioning such acts? If the kkk is allowed to burn crosses and pass out hateful leaflets and the case come to court, and the court says “sorry black people but cross burning is protected speech” it would seem the state is protecting the haters. It sends the signal that others can do so as well. I’m not sure free speech is not just a fig leaf in the West for minority harassement to teach them their place in society? Also why is it that white people’s freedom has to be bore on the backs of Muslims and other minorities. If the intention of free speech is to protect political discourse I have no problem with it but in majority of the times it is used to humiliate, intimidate certain voiceless people. Besides speech already has limits under tort laws

  79. Canada outlaws “any writing, sign or visible representation” that “incites hatred against any identifiable group.”

    Does that mean that Muhammad’s Hadith (recordings of deeds and sayings attributed to Muhammad) are outlawed in Canada?

    “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews , when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.”

    This hadith has been quoted countless times, and it has become a part of the charter of Hamas.[53]

  80. There has never been free speech. It is a lie even as saying this is a free country. Had it be police would not be around arresting people. People are believing a word in a song nothing more nothing less.

  81. artiewhitefox 1, May 26, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    There has never been free speech. It is a lie even as saying this is a free country. Had it be police would not be around arresting people. People are believing a word in a song nothing more nothing less.
    The balance of power is power. It’s human nature. Applies to women as well as men. It’s in our DNA.

    The banksters think greed is good. Who is letting them get away with it? Are they letting them get away with it because they’re afraid or because they’re getting away with it too?

    Maybe both.

  82. The power you see is the power of men. The power of men is apposed to the power of God. The power of men destroys what the power of God created and makes laws against the sight of it to the young namely human or animated nude, and sexual images of all kinds. When people fell DNA came to be. God will never let anyone get away with anything. Charity as in 1 Corinthians 13,4, KJV is not describing a person that would give an unfair balance. Jesus was not dishonest for a reason. Why don’t people figure that out? Why don’t people see that an unfair balance is what is abominable? Jesus did not do what was abominable. Proverbs 20 :10Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD. People do what they do not being taught what the KJV really teaches.

  83. […] July 16, 2013 “Information Clearing House –  In a disappointing concession by Twitter, the company has  agreed to hand over the details of people who post racist and anti-Semitic abuse anonymously on its site.  We previously discussed the effort of Jewish students to strip anonymity from posters and punish people for using language that they consider anti-Semitic.  It is in my view another major attack on free speech – part of a worldwide reduction of free speech rights. […]

  84. Govt always fails and so never want to face the possible outcomes (such as communal riyots etc) of free speech. this is much more truer in the 3rd world countries. very brave and articulate article, inspiring as well as. by the way can i translate it in my language in BENGLE?

Comments are closed.