Montana Moves To Criminalize Speech Deemed Insulting To Religious or Racial Groups

100px-Montanastatesealnicubunu_open_mouthWe have been discussing the crackdown on free speech in the West, particularly in England, France, and Canada. It is a rising concern that seems to be lost on Montana legislators and prosecutors who want to follow the path of speech criminalization. The Montana criminal defamation statute criminalizes speech that exposes religious, racial, and other groups — “to hatred, contempt, ridicule, degradation, or disgrace” — an absurdly broad standard that would make a Sharia judge blush.

I have long been a critic of the criminalization of symbols and gestures, even deeply offensive symbols like Nazi gestures. Europe has plunged into speech regulation and criminalization – showing that such laws create a slippery slope for the criminalization of unpopular speech. This course inevitably leads to increasing — and increasingly absurd — speech crimes. For example, I fail to see how arresting a man for a Hitler ringtone is achieving a meaningful level of deterrence, even if you ignore the free speech implications.

The problem is trying to draw such lines rather than embracing free speech as protecting not just popular but unpopular and even hateful speech. Once you start as a government to criminalize speech, you end up on a slippery slope of censorship. What constitutes hate speech remains a highly subjective matter and we have seen a steady expansion of prohibited terms and words and gestures. We have been following (here and here and and and here and and here and here) the worsening situation in England concerning free speech. As noted in a recent column, free speech appears to be dying in the West with the increasing criminalization of speech under discrimination, hate, and blasphemy laws.

My friend Eugene Volokh has a good piece on the Montana law. It includes a type of group libel claim that has always been problematic in torts. Criminal defamation and hate crime cases have presented the greatest threat to free speech. Indeed, Muslim countries that have long fought for an international blasphemy standard has latched on to the same approach as Montana to criminalize anti-Islamic speech. Unputting aside the questions constitutionality of such laws, Montana seems utterly unconcerned about the implications of this criminalization effort.

Source: Washington Post

121 thoughts on “Montana Moves To Criminalize Speech Deemed Insulting To Religious or Racial Groups”

  1. FNN,

    The only thing anyone needs to know about FDR is in “Witness” by Whitaker Chambers about the proven and convicted communist and communist agent, Alger Hiss, who simultaneously served FDR in the State Department and conducted his full relationship with “covert” communists in America, as only the “tip of the iceberg.”

    FDR was a communist.

    Social Security, Medicare, welfare, affirmative action, etc. are unconstitutional and shall be repealed.

    “Checks and balances” should have stopped FDR and his unconstitutional programs of communism.

    This charade of a “constitutional republic” must be exposed along with the communists behind the fiction that is America.

    The singular American failure is the SCOTUS.

    Metaphorical “guillotines” must be presented with long lines of clients for subversion, insurrection and treason since Lincoln.

    Impeachment is the enforcement tool of the founding documents.

    It’s time to save them.

  2. Meanwhile, in this weeks episode of Those Tolerant Queers,

    In this week’s episode, brought to you by the manufacturers of Fleet Fine Enemas, always all latex-free/gluten-free, and manufactured with the utmost of care and quality control right here in the U.S., we find the evil Mati Weiderpass, enjoying his meal of Baby Snow Seal Italiano at Fire Island Pines’ Sip-n-Twirl :

    Weiderpass was kicked out of Fire Island Pines venue Sip-n-Twirl on Sunday after he was confronted by furious patrons over his affiliation with Cruz.

    Customer Evan Lobel said, “One guy got up and asked him what the rationale was to have dinner with Cruz. They got kind of heated and before you knew it, there was a lot of people yelling.” We’re told owner P.J. McAteer asked them to leave the bar and threatened to call police.

    “Upon their departure, the crowd cheered,” Lobel posted on Facebook.

    Hmmm. I wonder if Mati can sue these restaurant owners the same way the lezzies sued the baker who didn’t want to make them a cake???

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  3. Political repression under FDR: See From “Brown Scare” to Red Scare” by David Beito and J. Edgar Hoover and the Anti-interventionists: FBI Political Surveillance and the Rise of the Domestic Security State, 1939-45 by Douglas M. Charles.

  4. Those Grenadians got what was coming to them, with a little bit of whipped cream and a cherry on top. Should’ve known better than to mess with Righteous Ronnie RayGun. (or was that George The Elder?)

    My conservative christian friends think I’m a pinko devil. My liberal friends think I’m an insensitive, unsophisticated, but dangerously educated lout. I come to this blog and sit on a bench, like a pervert in the park, just to watch. And to pretend I’m a reasonable man. Beats therapy–and it’s way cheaper– so thanks for that. The comments today are particularly entertaining and not a little bit self-affirming.

    This law is ridiculous, by the way. I’m with that dog fellow re: pejoratives against all sort of methodists, baptists, and hey–let’s toss in those LDS folks. Maybe they’re litigious. I’ll be a co-defendant. I’m forced to wonder, however, if these cowboys have considered the possible implications: wait until one of these hopped up rednecks start throwing around terms like “raghead” and “dune coon” (terms I both heard for the first time in Montana) in the company of some testy adjunct professor from Missoula. The resulting legal kerfuffle should keep us all entertained for months.

  5. It looks like the Montana law is a lame attempt to criminalize destructive lies. But since destructive lies are the coin of television and internet realms (“Hands up, don’t shoot” for example), the Montana law shall not stand. Not to mention that name calling (“you Nazi”) is so much easier than logical debate.

    The law should not stand anyway, because it’s such a can of worms that it almost sounds like they decided the police and courts needed more work.

    It’s delightful and at the same time irritating to read about “micro-aggressions.” Delightful that it can be so easy to annoy someone you feel deserves it, but irritating that something much like former East Germany’s Stasi is progressing apace among certain young adults.

  6. Well, add California to the PC List, again:

    Under the rule of Uncle Mort, you must not say the following:

    • “America is the land of opportunity.”

    This politically incorrect statement implies that even sacred persons of color bear responsibility for their own lack of achievement, which according to liberal dogma can only be caused by racism.

    By the same token, the following sentiments are explicitly forbidden:

    • “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.”
    • “Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough.”

    The traditional concept of merit undermines official ideology. Only nonwhites have merit in a sense that is meaningful to progressives.

    It is also racist to observe actual racism. This statement is proscribed:

    • “Affirmative action is racist.”

    Microaggressions can also be sexist/heterosexist. UC’s microaggression list warns against using the pronoun “he” in an offensive manner.

    More at this link:

    Here is the full pdf from California, if you are interested:

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter.

  7. do you EVER play nice?

    It’s your OPINION I’m looking for.

    Do you need help in expressing your opinion?

  8. ahhhh. but pcs….

    why DID we invade grenada – a little spec of a country that no one had ever heard of?

    This is the perfect pcs question ’cause it was just the kind theactrical production that appeals to you.

  9. pcs

    where are you going with lbj and vietnam?

    Dulles was waaay before lbj, but did want the french to be able to keep vietnam.

    vietnam is not in the Americas – sorta the geographical focus of the discussion. however, vietnam is somewhat close to the phillippines but nowhere near grenada. Is that your point?

    another really interesting thing about grenada was WHEN it happened. Two days after the Marines were blown up in Beirut.

    But, sure, I’ll give lbj vietnam. But it was more of a ‘save you from the commies – cold war’ kind of bloodbath. Not exactly for American corporate imperialism. I would guess any corporation interest would have been French. Hard to see us giving a damn about that.

    1. we didn’t want grenada and we didn’t want vietnam. Both took Presidents to order men into the countries.

  10. PCS, it was metaphorical. But you can be right if that’s your intention. Those in Montana who usurp power and nullify the founding documents shall be prosecuted for insurrection. Or not.


    Quite a few posts back someone said the Hitler was not popular, I may be paraphrasing. Let me take a wild guess and say that when you’re Time’s Man of the Year, you have some basis in popularity. Hitler was phenomenal until he went rogue and murderous. Many Americans supported Hitler. They supported law and order, efficiency and self-reliance. People adapted to and lived with the consequences of freedom.

    America was comprised of aggressive men who wanted to expand the American Empire. You rabid collectivist liberals will morph an aggressive America into a sick lame and lazy, “worker’s paradise” like France. That sounds good,

    until all countries become Frances and there’s no “America” left to defend all the effeminate milquetoast parasitic “Frances.”

    The “Paper Tiger” will turn into a cream puff.

    P.S. Sorry. It already has.

  11. Dog

    The governor of Montana is a Democrat.

    Democrats in Montana are often conservative.

    It will be interesting to see how they intend to apply the law.

    Oughta be good.

  12. Ah yes. Thanks for the reminder of the remarkable Dulles brothers. They were quite a pair – and guess who the president was who enabled them?

    (Well, I guess Truman was in there as well, but I’m thinking old lovable Ike.)

  13. randyjet

    The Brits were not conflicted about why they were in the business of imperialism.

  14. 11:33 is in response to a comment at 11{13.

    I’m sorry about your friends and relations for whom the medical advances didn’t come soon enough.

  15. Oh yeah Schulte. I am well aware of that.

    No doubt you are aware of the interest the government takes in its corporations.

    And its pineapples. And its rubber. And its sugar. And its bananas. And its rum. And its weed. And its canal.

    Hell. Remember Reagan? He invaded a country to rescue 20 medical students that were in danger of living in a democracy. Or something.

    Oh Yeah. The United States has been very very good to its corporations..

  16. Karen

    I was mocking you for calling AIDS treatment a total failure. You called it a total failure. That’s simply crazy talk.

    I call the long term survival of hundreds of thousands of victims something of a success. I call the saving of all those HIV children a success. I’ve a couple of friends who are living today, that would have been dead twenty years ago. They’re pretty damn happy about that. And you never even mentioned another apparent ‘failure’ in fighting this disease – the pre-exposure prophylaxis. You were too busy being shocked by anecdotes of gay conversion parties.

    Color me unimpressed with your scientific assessments.

    1. Sadly I have attended the funerals of three people who died of AIDS.

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