Me? A Nazi sympathizer?

Yeah, it’s the first time I think I have ever been called that on social media, and it was because I had the gall to say that the nazis have the right to speak and march.

I stand by my statement. I believe in defending all political speech, and especially speech we hate. Speech we all agree with doesn’t need protecting.

“But all nazis are bad guys” is the general response, although usually cloaked in better words than that. But who but who gets to decide that? The government? This government? The one whose current leader thinks there are nazis who are “good people”?

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Once you open that door, it will be next to impossible to close it again. You give the government the power to declare that all nazis are bad guys and therefore their 1st Amendment rights are null and void, and you know that the next step will be Muslims, and then gays, and then atheists, and then liberals…

Now, don’t get confused: Actual, real, immediate threats can always be stopped whether they come from the right or the left. Inciting a riot is a crime no matter what you may be saying. That is not the same thing as prior restraint on the speech. If nazis are causing violence, you arrest their sorry asses and punish them according to the law just like you should do with anyone like that, because you’re punishing their actions and not their speech.

But the 1st Amendment is meaningless if we only apply it to speech we all agree with.

The difference between the bar and the bakery

What’s the difference between that bar that was allowed to kick out someone wearing a Trump hat and a baker not baking a cake for a gay couple?

Well, for one thing, the bar isn’t just selling items like a baker is. A bar is a place where you stay and drink and possibly cause arguments and fights. It’s more like a club, where they can have a doorman who decides who gets in (as long as it doesn’t violate protected classes like race and sex).hate hat

This guy went there looking for a fight, according to witnesses. It was just after the election and out of the thousands of places to go in Manhattan, he went to a gay bar where he knew he would be unwelcome and sure enough, caused a scene. In other words, it’s less about the hat and more about whether a bar can kick out someone who will clearly be disruptive.

A store or a bakery is completely different. There’s no reason to stop someone wearing a Trump hat from going into a Target. However, if you go into a cake store and start arguing with the people there and causing a scene, they can ask you to leave, too.

Further, the baker who refused to bake a cake for the gay couple was not discriminating against the gay couple for anything political the couple had said. The couple was not causing a scene. The couple simply wanted the same product that the baker would sell to a straight couple. That’s the very definition of prohibited discrimination, and is the same thing as saying to a black person that you won’t serve them at the lunch counter.

Discriminating on the basis of political speech is not the same as discriminating on the basis of prohibited categories such as race or sex or sexual orientation. You chose to have that speech and to do it publicly.

And “symbolic speech” is treated the same as actual speech. Think of it this way:

If someone walks into a gay bar and loudly say “I am against everything gay people stand for and want to take away all your rights, you terrible people” would you have the right to kick that person out?

If they’re wearing a t-shirt that says it, how about then?

What about a hat that pretty much says the same thing?

Just because you’re not speaking it out loud doesn’t mean you’re not conveying your hate. A hat like that in a bar like that is pretty much the same as going to a women’s rights meeting wearing a shirt that says “Bitch, make my sandwich.” You’re there to antagonize.

This guy was there to cause a scene, make a name for himself, file a lawsuit, and get popular on Fox News.  And it worked! He’s suddenly a hero to those people who think it’s perfectly fine to be an asshole to others and face no consequences.

 

When it’s okay to discriminate

There are times when it is perfectly fine to discriminate. If you’re casting a movie about Abraham Lincoln, you have every right to not hire a short Asian woman for the part (unless you want to for some artistic reason). If you’re looking for someone to teach the Bible to students at a private religious school, you have every right to demand that person believe in the same religion as you. If you have started a private club for “Children of Italian-American immigrants” then you have every right to keep out anyone else. It’s not really discrimination when it’s a required qualification.

The preference of your customer base is not a “qualification.” Years ago, airlines only hired women to be flight attendants, pointing to surveys that showed their customers preferred to be served by women than by men. No, the court ruled, that’s not a “qualification.” Customer preference to be served only by women (or by white people or by Christians) doesn’t matter because rights are not voted on. A majority of Americans didn’t want schools integrated either when the courts ruled that they must, but that doesn’t mean the majority was right.cee2630f696668c25134c32dfabd4c73

You can’t create qualifications that are simply there to discriminate and don’t have a rational relationship to the position. For instance, groups like the Jaycees and the Rotary Club used to exclude women from joining. Why? No real reason. The Supreme Court saw through that, pointing out that the goals of the club had absolutely nothing to do with things that only applied to men.

While you have the right to start your own private club (Freedom of Association. It’s there in the 1st Amendment), you don’t have the right to discriminate in public accommodations. Hotels, clubs, stores, and restaurants and other places are not allowed to discriminate and that means your club meeting in these places can’t discriminate when there isn’t a qualification.  Having these groups meet on your own personal property? Probably fine.

Yeah, that’s a gray area, but in general, you can’t create a group that discriminates for no reason. “The Christian Men’s Group” could discriminate if indeed they are doing things that are applicable only to Christian men, but if they’re just a front for an organization whose real purpose is to provide business networking while keeping out non-Christians and women, then probably not.

What about private clubs that discriminate by having a bodyguard stand outside and decide who gets in? Perfectly fine so long as the reason for denying entrance isn’t based on race or sex or anything prohibited by the 14th Amendment. You technically don’t have a “right” to visit a club or shop in a store, which is why these places can deny service if you’re disruptive or don’t meet their dress code (no shoes, no shirt, no service) or have some other reasonable reason not related to things prohibited by the law.

Recently, a member of a group called the “Sad Puppies” — butthurt snowflake selfish white male Trumpites who whine about things like the 1% of female leads in science fiction — was barred from attending a major science fiction convention after he stated that he planned to take disruptive action at the convention, having done similar things in the past. So of course, he claimed he was being “discriminated against” because of his political views. But no, it’s not “discrimination.” A private organization has the right to deny entry to anyone they think will disrupt their group, including for political disruptions.

There’s also been a group of men who claim that they are being discriminated against by women who refuse to have sex with them. I am not making this up. These entitled jerks call themselves “incels” for “involuntarily celibate.”  (I know, sounds like an Onion satire, doesn’t it?) As if women owe them sex simply because they’re men. These guys have their own web pages and everything where they whine about how terrible it is that nobody wants to have sex with them. These idiots are not being discriminated against.

And just a few days ago, a judge ruled that it wasn’t discrimination for a bar to throw out a guy wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, especially because they didn’t want to have to deal with fights and arguments in their establishment.

Remember, you have every right to hold whatever terrible political viewpoints you want. That is guaranteed to you under the Constitution. You don’t have the right to demand that anyone else provide you with a place or a forum for you to express those opinions, nor do you have the right to demand that someone let you into their group when they believe you don’t meet their standards. No shirt no shoes no service.

If you choose to be the kind of guy people can’t stand to be around and they say they don’t want you near them, that’s not discrimination. You chose to be that person.

As Frank Zappa said, “It’s okay to discriminate against assholes, because nobody was born an asshole.”

Take a knee protests are not anti-veteran

If you think these protests are against veterans, you’re either (a) willfully misinformed or (b) aware that they’re not but are claiming they are so you can dismiss them.

Neither option is admirable.

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Against Protests? Why do you hate America so?

Football players are taking a knee today to protest the way Trump calls one of their own a “son of a bitch” for protesting.

And I’m very sad that some of my friends apparently think these protests are unAmerican. “Love it or leave it!” they scream.

Protesting is one of the things that we can do in America. It’s so American, it’s guaranteed to us in the very first Amendment.9e1fc035aa6110f48ac4e380d92a7adf

Disagreeing with the point of the protest — that’s fine. That’s your right under that same 1st Amendment. But saying they shouldn’t protest at all (or they should protest somewhere else, where we can’t see it and where it has no affect)? Why do you hate America so?

Look, I disagreed completely with the Charlottesville protesters, but I never said they should not have the right to do so.

These protests make people mad. But protests are supposed to make you upset and uncomfortable. They’re meaningless otherwise.

The whole point of a protest is to make people uncomfortable and to make them think. People complained when blacks sat at the white lunch counters, too or when Americans dressed as Indians and threw tea in the harbor.

Also, I can’t help but notice that these very same people didn’t say a word about nazis protesting in Charlottesville. “Very fine people,” according to Trump.

Disagree with what they are protesting, sure — but to say they shouldn’t? That’s unAmerican.

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You can support the nazis’ rights without supporting nazis

A Facebook pal angrily defriended me this past weekend because I said it was possible to defend the rights of nazis while still being against them.

We have to protect speech we hate. Speech we all agree with doesn’t need protection. the 1st Amendment is meaningless if we decide speech limitations based on the content of that speech.alt evil

Now let me clarify: I am talking about speech, not action. Clearly, you do not have the right to speech that causes a “clear and present danger” for instance. (This is the old Supreme Court example about yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater and causing a stampede and a riot.)

This is why I have absolutely no problem with laws restricting guns at rallies. While it is true that some states allow open carry, you don’t have that right under the Constitution (which is why many states don’t allow open carry). You don’t have the right to take a gun anywhere you please any more than you have the right to speak wherever you please. I see no problem with a state saying that anyone who brings a weapon to a rally can be arrested. That’s not speech.

Yes, of course, their speech is hateful, but do you trust our government to make that distinction — to decide what speech is considered hateful and what isn’t? Especially this current administration? If they had their way, they’d make speech against Trump illegal.

Once the government decides “This speech is prohibited but this speech is not” they are opening a door that will be used against our speech next.

I am not taking the side of these nazis. Anyone who reads this blog should be well aware of that. I am taking the patriotic side of Freedom of Speech.

Mind you, this freedom doesn’t mean these nazis should not face counter-protests, should be listened to, should be given any respect whatsoever. I am completely in favor of these people being outed, losing their jobs, and being harassed for their hate. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from the consequences of that speech.

Can the President pardon himself?

No.

That was easy!

I mean, come on — you don’t have to be a Constitutional scholar to figure that one out. A President who has the power to pardon himself is a king, a dictator, a tyrant. A President could murder his enemies and then pardon himself afterwards if that were the case.trump evil

The Constitution mentions the pardon power in Article II, Section 2. The president “shall have the Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for offenses against the United States.”

“Offenses against the United States” means for federal criminals, not state ones. So if, say, the state of New York brings charges against Trump, it doesn’t appear that he would have the power to pardon himself of those charges.

But even so, it’s a long-standing tradition in both English and American law that a person cannot judge themselves. A judge who commits a crime in his or her jurisdiction must have another judge appointed to rule over that trial. Clearly, a pardon is a type of judging and therefore a person cannot pardon themselves.

Usually no one gets pardoned until after they have been convicted and have served some time — the President may pardon them so they can have a clean record.  However, Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon before Nixon had been convicted or even charged (even though those charges were clearly coming). This set a bad precedent, was highly criticized by many legal scholars, and surely played a part in Ford’s failure to win re-election. Since Nixon accepted the pardon, it also means that he agreed he was guilty, doesn’t it?

But there’s more to Section 2 as well — “except in Cases of Impeachment.” So a President cannot pardon anyone who has been Impeached (which would include himself). Impeachment, of course, is separate from criminal proceedings. Bill Clinton was impeached even though he had not committed any crime.

So can a President pardon himself? While the Constitution does not explicitly say, all precedent and logic state that he cannot.

Can I mention in passing how absolutely ridiculous this past year has been? If I had pitched this as a fantasy novel to follow Bloodsuckers, my agent would have said it was too outrageous and unbelievable. And now this lunatic President is talking about pardoning himself?