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.

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

 

Kathy Griffin, Hypocrites, and the First Amendment

Comedian Kathy Griffin recently posted a picture of herself holding a severed bloody Trump head.

In comparison to all the crap conservatives posted about Obama — including actual death threats — it was mild, but still provocative. screen_shot_2017-05-30_at_1.47.48_pm_-_h_2017

Of course, that was the point, wasn’t it? Provocative? Isn’t that what comedians sometimes are like?

Immediately, GOP members without any sense of irony screamed about how inappropriate it was. “But the children may see it!” they yelled. Griffin lost some jobs, was criticized all over the internet, and many said she should be arrested for this.

Because, you know, if there’s one thing conservatives love, it’s America. They just hate what it stands for — you know, like that damned First Amendment, which is meaningless if it only protects speech we all agree with.

Then — and here is where you roll your eyes — GOP members who complained that the photo would harm children are now running that photo in campaign ads on prime time TV.

Why, it’s almost as if they really don’t care about the children at all and are merely blatant hypocrites!

Thin-skinned babies want to punish flag burners

Freedom of Speech is meaningless if it only protects speech we all like.

Trump, soon to be known as “the Tweeting President,” has declared that people should be jailed for burning the American flagflagburning.jpg

People who claim to be patriots (but who don’t quite grasp the concept) are cheering him on, pointing out that burning the flag is an insult to America and the veterans who have fought for what the flag stands for.

Well, duh. Of course burning a flag is insulting. So is standing on a corner with a sign saying “God Hates Fags.” They know it’s insulting when they do it. That’s why they do it.

But America has thicker skin than Trump, who spends more time thinking about how much he can’t stand Saturday Night Live than he does going to necessary intelligence briefings.* America knows that we can take the insults, because we’re better than that.

And we know that if we start banning speech we don’t like, then it may be our speech they come after next. The Founding Fathers knew that when they wrote the 1st Amendment. The Supreme Court knows that, as they have ruled many times. You have to protect speech we hate. Speech we all agree with doesn’t need protecting.

So if you really believe in freedom, if you really are a patriot, then mean it. Stand for what the Constitution guarantees. Don’t make exceptions.

Don’t be a thin-skinned baby who can’t take an insult — you know, like the immature child that a minority of us chose to lead us.

*I am not making that up

Why someone might not stand for the National Anthem

I’ve never heard of this Colin Kaepernick guy before today, but apparently people are mad at him because he used his Constitutional right to protest our National Anthem by not standing for it when it was played.

Of course, he’s now being attacked left and right (okay, mostly right) by people who think he should be punished for not standing up for the Anthem that represents the country that allows people to not be punished for not standing up for the Anthem. Funny, that.

And all of the attacks on him go after him as the messenger of something that they don’t like. Why? Because they can’t attack the message itself, which is this: The National Anthem supports slavery.

Seriously. You don’t hear it in the first verse that everyone knows, but later on the lyrics say this:

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

What’s that about? Simple. The British were attacking us in 1812 and they promised to free the slaves when they won. They accepted escaped slaves, who fought with the British. Francis Scott Key was proud of the fact that the Americans were able to stop this, putting into the lyrics that we should feel patriotic that the slaves met “the gloom of the grave” for daring to rebel against the United States.

After the war, the US demanded the return of the escaped slaves who lived, but the British refused. So there’s at least that.

But yeah, I can see why someone would say that we shouldn’t have a National Anthem that glorifies war and slavery.

And protesting is more patriotic than blindly accepting something wrong any day.

 

Why I hate hate crimes

A recent trend in law has been to punish people for thinking in ways we don’t like.

The way it usually works is this: People who get into fights or threaten others because of their race or sex or religion or sexual orientation can be charged with crimes usually called “ethnic intimidation” and the like. hate crimes

So if you beat up someone, you can be charged with assault. But if your reason for beating them up is because of their race, you can be charged with assault and more.

See the distinction? We’re now making it a crime to have views we don’t like. This seems to me to be a clear violation of the 1st Amendment’s Freedom of Speech clause — and as I’ve said many times, that clause means nothing if we don’t protect speech we hate. Speech we all agree with doesn’t need protection.

I think it is perfectly fine for the criminal’s views to come into play at sentencing. A judge should be able to take into consideration the motives and reasons for the attack when deciding a proper punishment. We do that now, even in cases that don’t involve “hate crimes.” Giving someone a harsher sentence and/or requiring other sanctions when their motives are based on hatred and intolerance is justifiable.

But the crime itself punishes people for saying things we disagree with, and that’s where it goes too far.

I had a case once where a man was arguing with a woman who butt in front of him in line at the supermarket, and as they yelled at each other, he ended up calling her a “stupid nigger.” He was arrested and charged with Ethnic Intimidation. He told me he was so angry at her that he just said the thing he knew would hurt her the most, but that his anger was not based on her race — it was because she had butted in front of him in line. “If she had been overweight, I would have called her fat,” he said.

That’s not an admirable thing for the man to do, but it shouldn’t be illegal. Our current laws against harassment could have covered this situation just fine and still punished him (and, chances are, had he not said this, they probably both would have been charged).

I was ready to use this case to challenge our state’s Ethnic Intimidation law, but as it turned out we worked out a deal to a much lesser charge, he paid a fine, and it went away — which was the best result for my client.

There is a big difference between laws prohibiting discrimination and criminal laws that punish you for being a bigot. I think everyone has the right to be a bigot. Why, without bigots, how would Fox News stay in business?