Free Speech or Hate Speech?

Here in Bushitler’s Amerikka, free speech is only a right if you’re…. a leftist???

The above-linked page is a interesting account of one high school student’s attempt to excercise his freedom of speech at school. Even if you don’t agree with his politics – and if you’re reading this, you probably don’t – the behaviour of his philosophical opponents should give you pause. In particular, the branding of an offensive political message as “hate speech” – a tactic that seems to be particularly favored by today’s Left. The threats and insults can be dismissed as the output of the inevitable rude minority which blights any political group of sufficient size. But the efforts to avoid “offensiveness” at all costs is one of the most disturbing trends away from freedom in academia and in society at large. As long as there is freedom of expression there will always be somebody offended by it.

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  1. and if you’re reading this, you probably don’t

    Why do you say that?

    1. Unless I have a large contingent of silent right-wing stalkers, my readership skews to the Left, with a few Libertarians here and there, as a result of the circles I tend to associate with.

  2. Those ‘Protest Warrior’ signs are beyond precious.

  3. Sorry if I am missing something here. I see no signs this guy is being repressed. He has offered no evidence that ANY inflammatory ‘leftist’ material is displayed in the fashion of his own. He claims he showed the principal pictures of such signs but somehow failed to offer them on this site? Therefore, I have no reason to believe he was asked to remove them based on his stance. He compares a spoken private comment from a teacher to a publically displayed sign “she can use the word reneck but i cant post a sign that says arab” – the two are NOT equivalent arenas. The signs are based entirely on being derogatory and using violent imagery.

    Were this my student, I’d have removed them as well. And then advised him on some ways he could display his views more productively such that other people might take his points seriously. But I doubt he’d be able to get past his own ego enough to benefit from it; it is clearly already significant to his identity that he IS being repressed and that its a sign of his rightness and conviction.

  4. and

    in regards to the teacher not wanting to inflame anti-arab sentiment, i also think she did the right thing. I have had bloody crying kids come to me because people beat the crap out of them because they were arab, and in some cases simply because they were confused for being arab, or were oriental and muslim. if my choices are to agitate more violence against other students, or have someone put in the effort to express themselves more sedtaely, i’ll take the latter. many of those kids are terrified every single day, thats a hell of a lot more repressive IMO.

  5. How much learning happened while this kid was grandstanding? I’d wager, not as much as there should’ve been. If he wants to form a Young Conservatives club and meet at lunch time, absolutely, he should have at it. If he wants to research and write a paper about the PLO and Israel, go for it. But his right to speak doesn’t obligate others to listen. He expressed his opinion; other students expressed theirs as well, by getting upset, yelling at him, telling him they were offended, tearing down his posters, etc. That’s the breaks; unpopular speech may not get you a date to the prom. His right to free speech doesn’t mean everyone has to like what he says, pat him on the head and tell him what a good boy he is; they can tell him he’s an obstreperous little shit if they like. Because they have the same rights he does.

  6. A question or two.. Sir Avdi…

    One concrete and particular question about this incident.. and a more general question towards you…

    In any case..
    1) In terms of this kid.. All we have here is his particular viewpoint… We have his claims that there is only one particular “political ” viewpoint espoused in the school.. but as I look through his pictures.. not once did I find any particular “leftist” signs printed out and stuck to any of the walls. Thus, all we have evidence of is that this person, who was unhappy with the political orientation of his teachers decided to start posting his viewpoints up on the walls all around the school.
    This is problematic for a couple of reasons… Just because this is public property doesn’t mean you can do just whatever you want with it. We have no idea of whether there are rules as to whether you can post stuff up on the walls in this school. They might have rules about this for the very banal reasons that it increases cleaning costs, is disruptive to the learning environment–Something that IS a serious concern–seeing how many people also go bitch about how bad public schools learning environments are–or other things that I can’t think of at the moment..

    Thus.. before we get all worked up about this.. I would want to know a bit more.. hear a few other people’s perspectives on the incident..

    2) More general.. perhaps this is due to my own haphazard reading.. but I have only ever noticed that you complain about when what you perceive as “leftists” are inhibiting free speech.. When Rightists inhibit free speech or impinge upon our civil liberties.. I haven’t noticed you getting as upset about it…

    As I note above.. this might just be due to my haphazard reading..

    On the other hand, as a libertarian, I would figure that you would be equally upset when any group tried to reduce civil liberties…

    While I will grant that authoritarian leftists are quite obnoxious… I do not believe that they are nearly as powerful in our country as authoritarian rightists.. Compared to the media power of the right at the moment.. ( Fox News Network and Clear Channel, for example ), there really isn’t any supremely large “leftist” media outlet in this country of the same size… Yes, the New York Times is rather liberal.. but it doesnt’ reach nearly as many people as Fox News… and CNN–I once thought that they were somewhat left wing, but if you try to find serious criticisms of right wing groups in their news.. it is hard..

    so.. I ask you.. is it just leftists that bother you or am I missing something?

    1. Re: A question or two.. Sir Avdi…

      I ask myself about this from time to time. For some reason I can’t quite pin down, leftists have a way of setting me off much more easily than those on the right. It could be that I was raised among essentially right-wing people, and despite changing my views I remain used to them. So despite disagreeing just as strongly with the Right, I find myself just shaking my head in bemusement at their antics. Whereas the Left is more likely to drive me straight up the pole. I would say that I see a combination of shrillness, smugness, and pugnacious ignorance on the Left that is less pronounced on the Right, but I’m afraid this may just be my perception rather than an objective fact.

      There’s also the fact that while the few views I share in common with the Right are still ostensibly espoused by American conservatives – free markets, small government, the importance of gun rights and national security – today’s left seems as often as not to be attacking the very values I’d normally agree have in common with them, such as freedom of speech and of religion.

      Then there’s this: just about every other person on my LJ friends list posts stories periodically about how evil the Right is. I feel I have nothing to add. Back in my real blogging days I did my share of “stupid conservative” stories, but now on the rare occasion I decide to post something politically (a decision I invariably regret) I post something about the Left simply to stand out from the crowd.

      1. Re: A question or two.. Sir Avdi…

        just about every other person on my LJ friends list posts stories periodically about how evil the Right is

        if, and i do mean if ;), you have included me in that list, you have leapt to a number of erroneous conclusions.

        as for the story, you dont exactly have dissenters leaping up and screaming how foul this kids views are. you have people making valid points about the fact that he simply didnt, and likely couldnt, make his case.

        1. Re: A question or two.. Sir Avdi…

          if, and i do mean if ;), you have included me in that list, you have leapt to a number of erroneous conclusions.

          I have to wonder what erroneous conclusions you think I’ve jumped to. You do sometimes post stories about things the Bush administration has done (which I am usually equally outraged by). I’ve said nothing to indicate any conclusions I’ve come to about you because of that fact, nor should you assume that I have drawn any conclusions at all from it.

          as for the story, you dont exactly have dissenters leaping up and screaming how foul this kids views are

          Where above have I made any claim otherwise? Are you making an assumption about why I said I invariably regret posting political entries?

      2. Re: A question or two.. Sir Avdi…

        Cool.. that sounds about right…
        I was generally raised “liberal”–although not overly so.. liberal catholic, if you can believe such a thing exists…

        In any case.. you keep it up.. we need to have people watching both ends of the spectrum if we are going to keep the extremists from taking over..

  7. i am just amused that what’s his name cursing made the news. like congressppl and senators are above cursing. *rolls eyes*

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