The Supreme Court, Hate Speech, and the Washington Redskins

The United States Supreme Court just ruled that the government cannot stop someone from getting a trademark on a name that the government considers “hate speech.”

This is an important win for freedom of speech. As I’ve said here many times, the 1st Amendment is meaningless if it only protects speech we all agree with. As the Court held:

[The idea that the government may restrict] speech expressing ideas that offend. . .strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate.”

The case involved an Asian-American rock band called “The Slants.” They wanted to trademark their name, but the government said no, you can’t, because it’s hate speech.

This case basically puts an end to the lawsuits against the sports teams with insulting names, such as the Washington Redskins.

Should the Redskins change their name? Absolutely. Should they be forced to do so by the government, making the determination as to what speech is acceptable for us to use? Absolutely not.

Speech we all agree with doesn’t need a 1st Amendment.

The Slants

The Slants

 

Remembering my Father

It’s Father’s Day

Dad influenced us in many ways without sitting us down and giving us lessons. I can’t remember him ever saying “Now, don’t be a racist” or “It’s important for you to be a responsible person” but we learned by example.

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My family around 1977, but with my girlfriend (now wife) Heidi standing next me.

Dad quit his job at Channel 12 to start his own business, and painted signs in the basement of our home, so he was always there. Each of us later went on to start our own businesses, and while we’ve each had our ups and downs, we’ve all become pretty successful at it.

He was also fiercely loyal to Mom, and loved her tremendously and treated her with respect, and that taught us something, too.

He hardly ever drank, except maybe wine on holidays, and none of us grew up thinking we had to drink to have fun. And he always made us laugh.

When Heidi and I started dating, one time we went on a picnic with my family and as we walked through the park, she was astounded to see Mom and Dad holding hands, obviously still in love with each other. “I didn’t know parents did that sort of thing,” she said. Later, my friend Mark Waid said something similar: “The reason kids come over to your house every weekend to hang out is because everyone wants to be a Ventrella. You don’t realize how unusual your family is.”

And that was true — on TV, the family sitcoms all had families basically getting along. But in real life, most of the kids I knew were from broken homes or unhappy homes. I never realized that when I was young.

So here’s to Dad: You did a good job.

Shooters, Background checks, and hypocrites

by guest blogger Mark Waid

First: like everyone with a soul, I condemn the shooting of the Congressmen in Alexandria. It is horrible, it is unacceptable, I wish those wounded the best. I am genuinely sympathetic towards them. Let’s get that out of the way right off the bat.

That said: Mo Brooks.

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cartoon by Dan Martin

The victims were, to a one, among the very same representatives who fight tooth and nail against even the slightest, most basic common-sense gun control measures or closing of loopholes, who serve the NRA more faithfully than they do their own constituents, and who throw up their hands (“What’re you gonna do, amirite?”) every time someone dares suggest that maybe, just maybe, an entire nation of reasonably intelligent people might be able to figure out some way to help stop the murders of Sandy Hook children besides, or even simply in addition to, insisting that every civilian be armed at all times. At least one of the Congressmen who was there, Rep. Tom Garrett of Virginia, present on the field, eyewitness to the horror, has since told us that if they’d only been allowed to bring their own guns, they’d have been safer, because everyone knows that the first and most natural thing you do when you take to the diamond is strap on your gun holster. Just remember not to slide.

Yet as incomprehensible as I find these Congressmen’s priorities to be, let’s give them the enormous benefit of the doubt that they really, sincerely do believe that arming everyone regardless of whether or not they’ve had the slightest bit of firearms training truly is the best and only way to fight the problem and not just what the NRA pays them to say. Let’s go wide and assume they’re voting 100% with their conscience. All of them. Except for the one totally devoid of a conscience when it comes to you and your children.

Let’s turn our attention to Alabama representative Mo Brooks.

Of the men on that field, Mo Brooks is a uniquely vomitous waste of carbon. A representative who has repeatedly campaigned against any sort of stricter background checks at all — any — at all — in any form — had this to say about the shootings right after he doubled down on his absolute, unwavering conviction that our founding fathers were talking about SKS 7.62 assault rifles when they drafted the Second Amendment:

“With respect to this particular shooter, I’d really like to know more about him — whether he was an ex-felon, by way of example, who should not have had possession of a firearm — I’d like to know other things about his background before I pass judgment.”

You know what, Mo? WE ALL WOULD. Gee, IF ONLY THERE’D BEEN SOME SORT OF PROCESS IN PLACE THAT WOULD HAVE PROVIDED THAT SORT OF INFORMATION BEFORE SOMEONE GOT SHOT. THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN HELPFUL.

Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe there’s some way I’ve overlooked that Mo Brooks didn’t suddenly get around to changing his mind about the usefulness of background checks until someone pointed a gun at him. But it wouldn’t seem so.

Absolutely nothing I’m saying here is a call for Second Amendment repeal. Not my point. And background checks would not have stopped the shooting. Hodgkinson apparently purchased his assault rifle legally. We know this. Likewise not relevant to what I’m saying unless you want to deliberately and willfully miss my point.

My point is about naked, “I deserve better than you because I’m a Congressman” hypocrisy.

My point is that Mo Brooks, who steadfastly opposes more informative background checks at every turn, just told us that he wants a more informative background check on the shooter. Not on any of the shooters involved in any of the 152 other 2017 mass shootings thus far, mind you. Just this guy. The one who was an immediate threat to Mo Brooks, not the others who threaten you or me. Because for Mo Brooks, when it comes to the ones who shoot at us and our kids because he won’t tighten background checks or do anything to make obtaining guns the slightest bit more difficult for those who we know after the fact should not have had them because of various mental health problems or histories of violence … well, y’know, who could have known?

Mark Waid is an Eisner Award-winning American comic book writer, known for his work on titles for DC Comics such as The Flash, Kingdom Come and Superman: Birthright, and for his work on Captain America, Fantastic Four, and Daredevil for Marvel Comics