Sunday, January 23, 2005

"Free speech", Republican style.


Just another perspective on an earlier posting, in which ProtestWarrior Gil Kobrin defended his confrontation of peace activists in Northwest Washington by stating, "We're expressing our freedom of speech just as they are expressing theirs."


Oh, right, you mean this kind of liberal freedom of speech, which involved arresting people for having the wrong kind of t-shirt at a Bush rally? Or maybe even this generic freedom of speech, which involved evicting three schoolteachers who simply thought protecting civil liberties was a good thing?

One suspects that, when it comes to free speech, the right-wing Kobrin should be the last person trying to equate the treatment on both sides of the ideological spectrum until he, you know, gets a freaking clue.

FURTHER RELATED MUSINGS, Monday, Jan. 24

It's worth pointing out that suppressing someone's freedom of speech doesn't always have to be a violent, confrontational thing. You can be just as successful in a subtle, more genteel way by simply preventing them from participating in the political process as even a spectator.

Recall the infamous Bush "loyalty oath", described here and written up in numerous other places, which required people who simply wanted to listen to campaign speeches by Bush or Cheney to promise that they already supported those candidates. The official justifications of those oaths were hilariously inept and irrelevant.

As you can read in that initial article, rally organizers claimed that they were trying to prevent disruption of the rallies by a sinister but nameless "known Democrat operative group." But how they could do this with the use of a loyalty oath is a bit of a puzzle. Did the organizers imagine that the hypothetical troublemakers were going to show up incognito, rubbing their hands with glee, thinking, "OK, we're here, let's get ready, we're going to cause all kinds of trouble and mayhem, just have to get inside and ... whoa, what's this, we need to sign this piece of paper? Hey, I can't pledge allegiance to Bush, that would be just ... well, wrong and unethical. Darn, I guess we'll just have to all go home." I'm pretty sure even Republicans aren't dense enough to imagine that happening.

But it's doubly absurd to have required that loyalty oath, since some of the people who wanted to attend were not registered Democrats; they were, in fact, undecided voters:

"I'm outraged at this. I'm being closed off by my own government. It's crazy," said East Mountains resident Pamela Random, who added that she is an unaffiliated voter.

As most sentient beings realize, one of the first rules of marketing is that you don't waste your time and money marketing to people who are already your loyal and committed customers -- you go after new clients to grow your customer base. From the political perspective, undecided and unaffiliated voters are precisely who you should be trying to attract. And yet, here we have the Republicans, dismissing exactly those people. There's little political sense in that, until you realize that the Republicans had no interest in attracting new voters. Rather, they were more interested in showing a united front with absolutely no possibility of even the slightest hint of dissension or questioning. In short, if you weren't already totally on board, you had no value to the Bush campaign, and they really didn't give a crap about what you might have to say.

In any event, you can see the pattern here. Unless you were a confirmed, committed Bush-backer, prepared to swear absolute fealty in writing, you just didn't matter. You might technically have had freedom of speech, but not in any way that allowed you to be heard. Is anyone surprised?

ONE MORE MUSING

Kos has an excerpt from an interview in which one medical corpsman tells the story of soldiers in Iraq having to sign a loyalty oath to participate in Bush's sleazy, opportunistic photo-op involving a turkey that troops never got to eat. Apparently, Democratic soldiers are good enough to die for BushCo, but not good enough to be treated like human beings by their snivelling, cowardly Chimp-in-Chief.

Does this even remotely surprise anyone anymore?

6 comments:

Jason said...

"Oh, right, you mean this kind of liberal freedom of speech, which involved arresting people for having the wrong kind of t-shirt at a Bush rally? Or maybe even this generic freedom of speech, which involved evicting three schoolteachers who simply thought protecting civil liberties was a good thing?"

Considering the actions of disruptive protesters during the last 4 years - sneaking into events et al - the precautions security people took are sensible. If you think about it, it's a win-win situation with Bush-haters. If they disrupt President Bush, great. If they get kicked out, even better.

But hey, we can always use your kind of rationalization, CC. The Bush supporters and security people might just be thinking, "I mean, all we did was spend the last four years questioning their patriotism, calling them stupid, clueless, lunatic wingnuts, freedom-haters, misusing our freedom of speech to disrupt Republicans - often violently. Man, it's like they're taking it personally or something."

Gazetteer said...

Personally, I believe that it's time to invoke the Gilliard Doctrine in matters such as these.

Specifically, I do not want to rationally discuss things with folks like Kobrin or the poster above.

Instead, I just want to demonstrate that they are wrong.

To wit....the US Constitution states that Free Speech is a given. Therefore, to suppress it is wrong.

There is nothing more to declare.

Jason said...

"Specifically, I do not want to rationally discuss things with folks like Kobrin or the poster above."

Oh, of course not, because you know you'd lose.

"Instead, I just want to demonstrate that they are wrong."

If the following is your demonstration that we are wrong, it falls well short of your goal.

"To wit....the US Constitution states that Free Speech is a given. Therefore, to suppress it is wrong."

Freedom of speech is not absolute. You cannot enter my home and say anything you want. You cannot say anything you want over a school P.A. system. You cannot lie under oath (well, you can, but you'll get in deep trouble for it... unless you're Bill Clinton). You cannot engage in protest activities in private or semi-private places where others don't want it, and usually you can't protest in public without special permission and licenses.

CC said...

From CC:

It's hard to know whether Mr. McHue is really as dumb as he plays, but let's humour him for a moment, shall we? He writes:

"Freedom of speech is not absolute. You cannot enter my home and say anything you want. You cannot say anything you want over a school P.A. system ...."

And no one was claiming that free speech was absolute and unlimited. This is known as a "strawman argument" -- misrepresent your opponent to refute a position they never took. Between McHue and Gatsby, you've seen pretty much every illogical and irrational argument imaginable. One could teach a course in rhetoric just off of their examples.

But, as I said, let's humour Mr. McHue. I'm not sure what he's suggesting here -- that there's no such thing as a right to free speech? Surely that can't be it. But let's use his own logic, not on the First Amendment, but on the Second.

Many conservatives would claim that the Second Amendment gives them the right to bear arms. Using McHue's own logic (which he cannot now disavow), we can similarly say that the right to bear arms is not absolute. You can't bring weapons to schools. You can't take them on airplanes, and so on, and so on. So what would we conclude from this? Apparently, according to McHue, there is no right to bear arms. And I trust we can all see just how absurd Mr. McHue's position is.

As if we needed any help.

Cue: Mr. McHue scrambling frantically to change the subject so as to not admit that he just made a fool of himself. Again.

Jason said...

CC: And no one was claiming that free speech was absolute and unlimited.Oh, really?

"To wit....the US Constitution states that Free Speech is a given. Therefore, to suppress it is wrong. There is nothing more to declare."

Sure sounds to me like Gaz is saying the freedom of speech is absolute. "Free speech is a given, therefore, to suppress it is wrong." If someone cannot say whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want, that is suppressing free speech. If you come into my home and I say you can't swear or blaspheme my religion, that is suppressing your free speech. If a school prevents students from saying whatever they want over the P.A. system, that is suppressing free speech.

CC: This is known as a "strawman argument" -- misrepresent your opponent to refute a position they never took.Yes, it is. Glad to know you recognize your own argument for what it is.

CC: But, as I said, let's humour Mr. McHue. I'm not sure what he's suggesting here -- that there's no such thing as a right to free speech? Surely that can't be it.No, it's not. We have a right to free speech, but that right is not absolute. I'm not even suggesting that. I'm asserting that because it's true.

CC: But let's use his own logic, not on the First Amendment, but on the Second. Many conservatives would claim that the Second Amendment gives them the right to bear arms. Yes, we do, but again, that right is not absolute.

CC: Using McHue's own logic (which he cannot now disavow), I don't disavow my own logic, but I do disavow your false portrayl of my logic, hypocrite.

CC: we can similarly say that the right to bear arms is not absolute. Of course it's not! Geez, man. What was it you said above? "And no one was claiming that free speech was absolute and unlimited." Despite the fact that someone actually did do that, apply that statement to your argument, if you can. "And no one was claiming that the right to bear arms was absolute and unlimited." Contrary to the statement about free speech, this statement is actually true. I never said anything at all about the right to bear arms before this post.

CC: You can't bring weapons to schools. You can't take them on airplanes, and so on, and so on. So what would we conclude from this? Apparently, according to McHue, there is no right to bear arms. And I trust we can all see just how absurd Mr. McHue's position is.ROFLMBO!!! No, but we can see just how absurd your false portrayl of my position is. I never said anything even close to the effect that since freedom of speech is not absolute, that means there is no freedom of speech. THAT ARGUMENT IS ENTIRELY YOUR OWN LYING FABRICATION.

CC: As if we needed any help.You need all the help you can get, my friend. Desperately.

CC: Cue: Mr. McHue scrambling frantically to change the subject so as to not admit that he just made a fool of himself. Again.lol!!! Who's fabricating false arguments I am supposedly making? Who's babbling on about the Second Amendment? YOU are the one scrambling frantically to change the subject, CC. It is YOU who cannot admit being wrong and a fool.

Again and again and again and again.

Jason said...

Hmm... Blogger dropped my page breaks after the italicized text.