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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Holy (Batshit Crazy) Western Empire

So, the latest news pandemic is on the guy who shot the guard at the D.C. Holocaust Museum. His website is closed now with the investigation going, but it was called Holy Western Empire. We don't need to go into my feelings on this. My topic of discussion here is actually free speech. The link is to a video debate on the matter as it relates to recent events. Like most Americans I was born believing that freedom of speech was sacrosanct. However, like most liberals, I was indoctrinated in the idea that hate mongering is a dangerous and disgusting pastime. Now, we all remember Voltaire's famous phrase, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," and it's celebrated as being one of the pillars of democracy, but I have a bone to pick with free speech.

Ok, first of all, the freedom to speak the way you want is just one of many freedoms, many rights. And there are rights that trump the freedom of speech. Such as the freedom to live free from fear. The right to live free from harm. This is the problem with hate speech: conflicting rights. If I'm a neo-nazi, I'm going to defend my right to free speech. And logically, I'd be right. But if I'm the guy who happens to be near that guy, and his invective is aimed at me, or someone I know, then suddenly, my freedom has been violated. So go somewhere else, the argument goes. Sure. That happens. But that infringes on yet another of my freedoms. The freedom to be/live where I want. I remember, a few years ago, a Jewish family was living down south, and after many members of their community made anti-semitic statements, they felt compelled to leave the community. That's not right.

In someways this blog could be considered hate speech. After all, I've been complaining for years about Republicans and other conservatives. But then again, my own invective, though tainted by "passion and party spirit" (another Voltairism) does not threaten anyone's rights. After all, no one reads this blog anyway. And though I think Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly are assholes, I've never threatened them. And even though I think they are both dickweeds. I've never said anything like "Neoconservatives should be dragged out into the street and shot." or "we should put all the neocons on an island together with one nuclear warhead and let them blow themselves up." In fact, I used to condemn people who spoke that way on DailyKos, back when I was a regular poster. That sort of stuff is really awful. And as much as I personally dislike these men--I've never met them. I can't really even comment on them personally. I saw O'Reilly on Jon Stewart once. He was great, smart as a whip and very funny. One of the reasons I dislike Rush, and this is shallow, is I think he looks like a pig. And that's an insult to pigs more than it is to Rush. But again, I want the guy off the radio, not dead.

So here's the rub: Free speech is not sacrosanct. Like everything else there are shades of grey in all measures. When free speech infringes on more integral freedoms, then it is fair game to be called into question, regulated, and in very specific circumstances, banned.

On another matter, I wrote this two years ago.

Things you can be called that are food:

1) I am a ham.
2) Attorney's who aren't lavish with their praise are cold fish.
3) During the Christmas holidays most of us will be on the lamb.
4) Never call your coworkers cows.
5) Or chickens.
6) No one is ever called a swordfish. Unless they are in B-Movies.
7) After hours of making binders, we all become vegetables.
8) But not carrots. No one will ever call you a carrot. And if they did, what would it mean? That you're long and orange. I guess some people can be called carrots afterall: models who have been in the sun too long.
9) Maybe yams. Popeye once said, I yam what yam.
10) Call me crazy, but has anyone else ever been called a lettuce head? Just checking.
11) You sometimes call your boss, the Big Cheese. You might be from Ohio, in which case you are a Cheese Head. You should never call someone a stinky cheese unless you are out of swinging range. I think I'll stop there.
12) I have often been called a turkey.
13) But not a pheasant.
14) If the guy in the teller line ahead of you is really skinny, you might whisper to your comrade, "Ahoy mate, look at yonder beanpole."
15) You might call your significant other, your honey.
17) Or your sweet pea
18) Or the apple of your eye.
19) Or if she's Scandinavian, your Danish.
20) Or your love muffin. I think I'll stop there.
21) When she brings you coffee in the morning, you might say, "You're a peach."
22) Do not call her a pumpkin. But you may someday address your children as pumpkins. But not if they have weight issues.
23) You and your buddies might talk about canteloups at the bar, but that would be rude.
24) Same goes for watermelons. Hello sensitivity training!
25) If you go to the circus you might see people who resemble pretzels. You may call them that. Pretzels are salty, and everyone loves old salts.
26) If you know a spice girl, you might call her Ginger.
27) If you're in China you may eat a four legged friend, if you eat it here, they'll call you a dog.
28) Or if you're a girl, a bi%&*.
29) And here's an iffy one, if you've sent out an irritating email such as this one, to your entire work group, someone might call you (and they would be right) a cad. Err. Cod.


HammClov said...

I've expressed this in past blog entries as well, but let me reiterate. Where would I be without the Michele Bachmanns, Rush Limbaughs, and Glen Becks of the world. There is a very symbiotic relationship there. To be honest, I can't really stomach these people. I mostly get there invective filtered through other media and comment venues. Even so, the mutual dependency here is interesting on all levels.

HammClov said...

Let me correct a few things, "past blog entries" I mean, "more recent blog entries".

Also, mostly get "their" invective