NY Times, Winner Of A Key 1st Amendment Case, Suddenly Seems Upset That 1st Amendment Protects Conservatives Too

from the what-the-actual... dept

Over the weekend, the NY Times' Adam Liptak, who usually does quite an excellent job covering the Supreme Court for the NY Times, published an absolutely bizarre long feature piece, claiming that conservatives had "weaponized" free speech, and that liberals who had been the leading champions of free speech for decades were now sometimes regretting their positions on free speech, because conservatives were now using it also. The whole piece is mind-bogglingly stupid for a whole variety of reasons, though Rob Beschizza probably put it best by noting:

If you can't read that, Rob notes:

This NYTimes op ed about "weaponized" free speech somehow manages to crudely misrepresent every opinion on free speech held by every faction in play in American politics. It is a diamond of failure glinting horribly from every perspective

That's about right. I'd also argue that it's a masterclass in confirmation bias and cherry-picking. It starts with the thesis of conservatives weaponizing free speech, and then tries to build a structure around that, ignoring any and all evidence to the contrary. I should also note that just about any argument that tries to lump a giant group of the population together as "conservatives" or "liberals" or "right wing" or "left wing" is generally going to be nonsense and cherry picking, rather than anything useful. And this article is no exception.

The key -- incredibly stupid -- underlying argument is that everything went downhill for "liberal" free speech when corporations started winning First Amendment cases. This is a really bad take -- and just to point out why, I'll point you to the New York Times v. Sullivan, one of the most important defamation cases ever decided by the courts, which used the First Amendment to make sure that the press had very strong protections in printing what they wanted without allowing angry litigants to take them down with defamation lawsuits. That case is only won by the NY Times -- the same publication that published this latest silly article -- because a corporation (the NY Times Company) is able to have First Amendment rights. Without corporations getting First Amendment rights, defamation cases would sink any publication doing serious reporting.

That this same NY Times is now publishing this tripe is a travesty and spits on that legacy.

Besides, if you're actually interested in the same issues about corporations using the First Amendment, a much better take on this topic was done just a couple months ago in an episode called How Corporations Got Rights. It takes a much more reasonable look at this issue and highlights why we shouldn't be so quick to complain about corporations having fundamental rights.

But Liptak's piece has none of the nuance of the On The Media segment, and instead hits you over the head again and again with anecdotes falsely arguing that free speech is now being "weaponized" against the most vulnerable, ignoring how frequently the First Amendment still is used every single day to protect the vulnerable. But that's ignored because it also protects people or ideas that the NY Times thinks "liberals" don't like:

“Because so many free-speech claims of the 1950s and 1960s involved anti-obscenity claims, or civil rights and anti-Vietnam War protests, it was easy for the left to sympathize with the speakers or believe that speech in general was harmless,” he said. “But the claim that speech was harmless or causally inert was never true, even if it has taken recent events to convince the left of that. The question, then, is why the left ever believed otherwise.”

Some liberals now say that free speech disproportionately protects the powerful and the status quo.

“When I was younger, I had more of the standard liberal view of civil liberties,” said Louis Michael Seidman, a law professor at Georgetown. “And I’ve gradually changed my mind about it. What I have come to see is that it’s a mistake to think of free speech as an effective means to accomplish a more just society.”

Basically, Liptak found some liberals who are now upset because they realize conservatives get their speech protected by the First Amendment too. The response to that should be "duh" or just (in true free speech fashion) plain mockery. Because, of course, the idea is that the First Amendment protects everyone's speech. That's the point. That some people on one side of the coin or the other are upset that it supports expression by those with opposing viewpoints really only highlights one thing: those people were never really First Amendment supporters. They were just supporters of having their own speech protected.

There may be reasonable questions to ask about the borderline between expression and action. Or if the current (extremely limited) list of exceptions to the First Amendment are appropriately bounded. But the idea that one side has "weaponized" free speech, or the idea that some people think that free speech is being used to protect ideas they don't like, is a silly concept and not one that deserves a serious think piece in the NY Times.

I mean, why give time to this nonsense without pointing out how silly it is:

To the contrary, free speech reinforces and amplifies injustice, Catharine A. MacKinnon, a law professor at the University of Michigan, wrote in “The Free Speech Century,” a collection of essays to be published this year.

“Once a defense of the powerless, the First Amendment over the last hundred years has mainly become a weapon of the powerful,” she wrote. “Legally, what was, toward the beginning of the 20th century, a shield for radicals, artists and activists, socialists and pacifists, the excluded and the dispossessed, has become a sword for authoritarians, racists and misogynists, Nazis and Klansmen, pornographers and corporations buying elections.”

Is there any evidence to back up the idea that it is "mainly" used as a weapon of the powerful? Because that would be interesting. Instead, there are just anecdotes. Anecdotes of assholes using the 1st Amendment to be assholes. But that's not actually new. Klansmen famously used the First Amendment to protect their right to march in Skokie decades ago.

Furthermore, notice how MacKinnon lumped "pornographers" in with misogynists, racists and Nazis above. Yet, there are lots of well known First Amendment cases involving pornography that I don't think anyone would have considered being "conservatives" or "the powerful" wielding the First Amendment. Rather it was the reverse. Larry Flynt winning his Supreme Court case against Jerry Falwell was not an example of a "conservative" win for free speech. Yet, why in this article is it now being lumped in as on that side of the ledger by claiming "pornography" is now conservative?

Again, Liptak is an excellent Supreme Court reporter, who does a much better job explaining the details and ins and outs of various cases than many other legal reporters. But this entire piece is garbage -- something I can say because I'm protected by the First Amendment. The NY Times has made a mockery of its own legacy as a First Amendment beacon in publishing such nonsense.


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 3:40am

    Anyone who claims that pornography is “conservative” is doing more talking out of their ass than Ace Ventura—and he was at least marginally funny when he did it.

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    • identicon
      JarHead, 3 Jul 2018 @ 11:58am

      Re:

      Actually pornography as part as conservatism does make sense in the current political / social movement climate, as long as you're willing to do the mental gymnastics.

      There are some who views conservatism is all about maintaining the status quo. Then there are those who also view that pornography as a kind of exploitation, which is part of the status quo (some call it Patriarchy). Can you see the commonality?

      Those who embrace conservatism may not accept pornography, but that doesn't stop others to paint them as they are because of the above.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 12:39pm

        Re: Re:

        There are some who views conservatism is all about maintaining the status quo

        I wonder what gave them that idea. It's not like it's right there in the name, or anything. I mean jeeze, that's as absurd as saying progressivism is about promoting change! ;)

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    • identicon
      Agkistro, 5 Jul 2018 @ 1:30pm

      You think it was feminists watching R-rated movies and subscribing to Playboy this whole time?

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  • identicon
    OGquaker, 3 Jul 2018 @ 4:02am

    Without interconnects, it's just pissing in the wind

    The 1st Amendment is useless without a NEUTRAL post office, created on 26 July, 1775 by the second Continental Congress to replace London's 'Imperial' postal service. Here we go round again.

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    • identicon
      carlb, 3 Jul 2018 @ 10:01am

      Re: Without interconnects, it's just pissing in the wind

      There is no such thing as a "neutral" post office.

      If one ever is created, it won't come from the folks who brought you the Comstock Act.

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    • identicon
      OGquaker, 3 Jul 2018 @ 3:44pm

      Re: Without interconnects, we be just pissing in the wind

      Comstock Act | United States [1873]

      Purity good interconnect neutrality for the first hundred years; not bad

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  • icon
    Richard M (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 4:07am

    Moral stands are few and far between

    I see very few if any moral stands any longer with politicians or those who are politically active.

    Small Govt Republicans- The Govt should get out of our lives unless of course you are doing something we do not approve of like drugs, sex, gambling, or pretty much anything fun.

    Anti-War Democrats- Bombing and killing all the brown people around the world is horrible when Bush does it but when Obama doubles down all you hear is crickets

    Both sides- The First Amendment is great except when the other side uses it.

    Both sides- The President "ruling with his pen" is great when their guy doing is doing it but when the other party is doing it then it is an unconstitutional power grab.

    etc etc etc....

    All they care about is giving themselves and their party more power and money. The constitution and the actual citizens have no meaning and are just obsticals to run over when they get in the way.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 5:11am

      Re: Moral stands are few and far between

      it is fake government

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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        identicon
        sidequark, 3 Jul 2018 @ 6:20am

        standard leftism

        - NY Times has always been a strongly partisan organ with a leftist (anti-liberty) agenda.
        No surprise.

        - American Progressivism has always been an elitist ideology of top-down government rule. Only the enlightened progressive intelligentsia can discern truth... others are easily deceived into false & dangerous ideologies -- therefore such false beliefs must be actively suppressed. Free-Speech is only for people who speak truth.

        - This little episode is just another small event in the (very amusing) meltdown of American liberal/progressive/leftists in reaction to Trump. This type of radical emotional political response has not happened since President Lincoln.
        Trump-Derangement-Syndrome (TDS) seems to be a very real malady on the left.


        (P.S. attaboy Mr Masnick -- excellent post. You're starting to sound like a libertarian -- better take a couple of aspirin and lay down until it passes)

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 7:08am

          Re: standard leftism

          What exactly are you attempting to say?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 8:03am

          Re: standard leftism

          Free-Speech is only for people who speak truth.

          Wanna know how I know this statement is bullshit? That lie you just told is protected by the First Amendment.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 8:36am

          Re: standard leftism

          lol

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          brad (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 9:01am

          Re: standard leftism

          What I got out of that is that you liked the article (agreed) and that you're now trying to spin it as supporting a "side" that you like when the whole article was about how that's kind of obnoxious.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Thad, 3 Jul 2018 @ 9:52am

          Re: standard leftism

          American Progressivism has always been an elitist ideology of top-down government rule.

          That's why so many progressives voted for the billionaire who lives in a tower with his name on it and gets angry when Congress and the courts don't do what he wants, or when the press criticizes him.

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          • identicon
            Valkor, 9 Jul 2018 @ 7:08am

            Re: Re: standard leftism

            Or, more likely it's both.

            One side demands that you do what's good for you whether you like it or not, and the other is our current dumpster fire.

            I submit the government of the State of California as evidence.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Toom1275 (profile), 4 Jul 2018 @ 3:40pm

          Re: standard leftism

          For tge benefit of readers of the above drek, here's the most accurate of the definitions of Trump Derangement Syndrome on Urban Dictionary:

          Trump Derangement Syndrome:

          The latest attempt by the alt-right to demonise anybody who thinks that maybe putting a reality TV star who's declared bankruptcy six times in charge of the country might not have been the best idea.

          "So what if Trump only told the complete truth throughout 4% of his campaign, and had to settle out of court for that fraud trial, and that he reacts like a spoilt brat on Twitter to any kind of criticism? Geez, you libtard SJW snowflakes just have accept democracy won and stop exercising your right to free speech! You're so negative with your Trump Derangement Syndrome!"

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  • identicon
    Bruce C., 3 Jul 2018 @ 4:42am

    Corporate Rights...

    Thanks for the informed take on this. I wasted a lot of time thinking about the consequences of the Citizens United PAC speech verdict, and the people who misstate that decision as defining "money is speech", when it's actually fairly consistent with Times v. Sullivan -- people have the right to freely assemble, including as corporations and those people have similar freedoms within those groups that they do as individuals.

    I originally was thinking that in order for the corporation to have rights, it must claim those rights in the articles of incorporation -- on the theory that it would prevent a corporation created for commercial purposes from imposing religious or political restrictions on their customers or employees. But that would only last a little while until every corporation added boiler-plate text claiming all relevant rights into their articles of incorporation.

    So what should be done about the imbalance of power between the government, big business and the average American? It's the same imbalance of power that led to the American Revolution in the first place: crown/parliament and colonial trading companies/large landowners back home vs. the colonists.

    I can't say that a new revolution is the answer. It might work if the rebels were space colonists (See "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"), but a new Civil War on US soil would be a disaster for all of us. No matter who won the internal "debate", US position as the defacto global currency would disappear, and that change would add to the chaos of the war.

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    • identicon
      sdaf, 3 Jul 2018 @ 6:10am

      Re: Corporate Rights...

      It's worth noting Citizens United also made it easier for foreign corporations to donate money to US political campaigns. The Intercept revealed a couple examples in the past year.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 6:59am

      Re: Corporate Rights...

      If it is right for corporations to have the same rights as "people" because they are made up of individual people, then the people who make up corporations should also be individually responsible for the corporations actions. This means individual responsibility by the owners for the corporations debts and obligations as well as any unlawful or criminal behavior. So, when all of a corporations owners (stockholders) start going to prison when a corporation breaks the law, I'll start considering corporations to have personal rights.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 7:05am

        Re: Re: Corporate Rights...

        So, when all of a corporations owners (stockholders) start going to prison when a corporation breaks the law, I'll start considering corporations to have personal rights.

        I believe the common quip is, "I'll believe that corporations are people when Texas executes one."

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 7:16am

          Re: Re: Re: Corporate Rights...

          None of you have any of this right.

          Corporations are NOT people, they just should have the same legal protections as people because at the end of the day... they are still filled with people. And it is intellectually corrupt to say that you can suddenly control their money because money is not speech. Well, money is indeed speech in the same way that burning a flag is free speech or expression. And where/how you spend money is an extension of that.

          That said... the problem is not the corporations are getting the same protections as people, the problem is that the government treats businesses like 1st class citizens. When a business files a claim against you, the government trusts them in a "citizens is guilty of what the business claims" approach.

          As usual, you cannot understand the truth of the situation and just go running off half cocked and ignorant of the real problem here.

          But I will say this, you are definitely correct on this point.... "I'll believe that corporations are people when Texas executes one."

          Corporations should most definitely share in the exact same punishments as the citizens, but I guarantee that each and every one of you will not support this when the rubber meets the road and one of your favored businesses get into trouble.

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          • icon
            The Wanderer (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 9:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Corporate Rights...

            Of course corporations are filled with people.

            And of course those people don't lose their rights when they group together into a corporation.

            But that (at least by itself) doesn't mean that the corporation has those rights - only that the people who make it up still retain them.

            Also: which people are we talking about?

            The people whose money (and, therefore, influence) is being used to express what the corporation says are the investors - which, in the modern publicly-traded markets, more or less means the shareholders. If their money weren't invested in the corporation, they could spend it on speaking directly, so it seems reasonable to argue that they should be allowed to have the corporation spend it on their behalf.

            But for the most part, at least as I understand matters, the investors are not the ones making the decisions about what the corporation will say. For the most part, those decisions are being made by people who work for the corporation - from board members and C-suite officers on down - who, in many cases, may not actually control any stock. (Though, at least in theory, they probably serve at the pleasure of (some fraction of) those who do.)

            The problem with corporate speech being protected is one of disproportionality. An entity with the combined resources of many individuals can make itself heard much better than can any of those individuals alone, and that's part of the reason why people might want to band together into a corporation - but if the people deciding what will be said by the corporation are not the ones whose resources are going to be used to say it, then it seems much harder to argue that the speech of the corporation is simply an extension of the speech of the individuals who form the corporation.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 1:17pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Corporate Rights...

              I tend to flip it around... It is not that corporations are people but that people are being treated as corporations rather than human beings...

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    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 7:56am

      Re: Corporate Rights...

      Let corporations speak all they want, but remove money from politics (having government pay for all elections would remove the direct money (aka bribery) from the equation(and it would be cheap, maybe 1% of the black budget, or NSA's budget)) which would eliminate their undue power. This would satisfy both sides...well not the power hungry side.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 9:18am

        Re: Re: Corporate Rights...

        (having government pay for all elections would remove the direct money (aka bribery)

        Just how do plan to ensure that:

        1) That budget remains limited

        2) It is not used to pay no hope candidates as a payoff for favors received, giving a partner an income etc.

        3) That the infomation needed for the public to monitor that the system is being used properly is actually made available, and not hidden as a national security concern.

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        • icon
          Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 10:02am

          Re: Re: Re: Corporate Rights...

          1) That budget remains limited

          Businesses tend to operate with licenses from the government. Tell them they need to give up certain amounts of space/time for the purposes of elections to maintain their licenses. Then whatever agency designated to do so, divides up the space/time equally between candidates for whatever office.

          2) It is not used to pay no hope candidates as a payoff for favors received, giving a partner an income etc.

          We have laws against bribery, enforce them. Lobbying would be limited in that campaign contributions are no longer legal and the lobbying would have to be about merit rather than payment.

          3) That the infomation needed for the public to monitor that the system is being used properly is actually made available, and not hidden as a national security concern.

          Make all the transactions open and publicly disclosed, just as campaign contributions are now disclosed.

          I am certain that there are other pitfalls, but a serious discussion prior to implementation would smooth out most of the kinks. The point is to not only allow someone with no money to run for office, and to remove the impact direct money has on candidates. It would also get elected officials to spend their time doing the peoples business, rather than campaigning. I also advocate removing political parties, for many of the same reasons. Undue influence.

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        • identicon
          nona, 13 Jul 2018 @ 5:57am

          Re: Re: Re: Corporate Rights...

          This can limit the candidates direct money access, which I like. What solutions are there deal with free speech and people advocating for candidates? Isn't this already being done now with pacs so the candidates can claim plausible deniability for skirting regulations?

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      • icon
        cattress (profile), 5 Jul 2018 @ 2:53am

        Re: Re: Corporate Rights...

        No. No. No. No. Just No.

        I understand what you are aiming at, but you have a misplaced trust and faith in government. The government is made up of people and therefore cannot be apolitical, bias cannot be eliminated. Can you imagine how many political "friends" would be positioned to get elected?

        And corporations are going to advocate for the candidate that best represents their interest. Businesses aren't just limited to campaign contributions, they can advocate based on issues in uncoordinated efforts.

        How about we break down the duopoly power, get rid of all the laws that favor the status-quo two party system. Try out alternative voting systems like ranked choice to encourage more parties. Change legislative rules so that representatives can collaborate on issues rather than party lines.

        We all tend to agree that the government is corrupt and does a shitty job with every task they take on (Think IRS, DMV, TSA...) It doesn't make sense to give them something else to screw up. Hell, we should all be happy if at least 1/2 the states take election security seriously and sure up their systems.

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      • identicon
        nona, 13 Jul 2018 @ 6:14am

        Re: Re: Corporate Rights...

        sorry for double post replied in wrong place.

        This can limit the candidates direct money access, which I like. What solutions are there deal with free speech and people advocating for candidates? Isn't this already being done now with pacs so the candidates can claim plausible deniability for skirting regulations?

        Also UK does something similar in providing caps for spending and giving grants to candidates. I'm not sure how they handle their version of pacs or even if they have them.

        I'm suspect this is one of those never ending rabbit holes where people will find ways to break it. No matter how much it gets fixed. It's just a matter of time.

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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 5:06am

    ITS ONLY GOOD WHEN IT BENEFITS US!!!!!!!!!!
    YOU'RE BAD PEOPLE, SO IT CAN'T BENEFIT YOU!!!!!!!!!!

    Let us all return to our safe places & pretend every sane person agrees with us & our view is the correct one.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 5:16am

    This "weaponizing" silliness is just another smelly pile of excrement left upon the door step of society.

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    identicon
    fonu, 3 Jul 2018 @ 5:39am

    fonu

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Flakbait (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 5:58am

    Tangential thought

    I'm getting tired of the use of the word 'weaponized' which itself has become, well, weaponized.

    It has become one of those words (and I'm sure there's a name for them) that is an automatic pejorative when attached to an idea, and because of its pejorative strength, no further explanation is required for many people. Think 'Frankenfood' and 'fake news.'

    And as soon as I post this I'm going to send it to Lake Superior State University to recommend it be added to their banished words list (https://www.lssu.edu/banished-words-list/).

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 6:12am

    "The NY Times has made a mockery of its own legacy as a First Amendment beacon in publishing such nonsense."

    Have they though? Or have they cemented that legacy by proving through their own actions, that even men with completely ridiculous opinions such as this deserve the right to voice them.

    It would seem that you're using the fact that you don't like this opinion as reason that the NY Times should have censored it. That goes against the very right to freedom of speech that you find so indispensable.

    Woodrow Wilson said, "I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool, the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking."

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 8:06am

      Re:

      Saying the Times was stupid for printing a stupid article with a stupid conclusion is not censorship. Criticism is not censorship.

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    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 9:27am

      Re:

      It would seem that you're using the fact that you don't like this opinion as reason that the NY Times should have censored it.

      The Times makes decisions every single day about what it will and will not publish according to its own editorial standards - such as whether, in the eyes of the editors, something is well-argued or not, misleadingly constructed or not, insightful or not, thorough or not, etc.

      To say "The Times should not have published this" is not calling for censorship - it's criticizing editorial standards/decisions. The Times does not publish every single column and editorial that comes across its desk.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 2:57pm

      Re:

      It wasn't published in the OpEd section. It was published on their front page as if it was actual news.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 3:31pm

      Re:

      It would seem that you're using the fact that you don't like this opinion as reason that the NY Times should have censored it. That goes against the very right to freedom of speech that you find so indispensable.

      Um, no. That's not how free speech works. I have made no effort to force the NY Times, under the power of the state, not to publish. It used its free speech rights to publish something stupid and I used mine to say it was stupid.

      That's how free speech works. It's not against free speech to criticize someone's idiotic opinion.

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    • icon
      Clumsy Grace (profile), 4 Jul 2018 @ 10:23am

      Re:

      The right to freedom of speech guaranteed by the 1st Amendment ensures that the government will not limit speech and that the government will not punish the use of free speech.

      That's ALL ... nothing else. It does not compel a newspaper or other type of media outlet to provide a platform for any opinion that anyone wants published or force them to publish anything.

      In fact it doesn't restrict actions by anyone or any entity other than government. IMPORTANTLY: It does not offer protection from consequences imposed by others in reaction to the exercise of one's right to free speech OTHER THAN consequences imposed by the government. For instance, if an employee of a business, for example, a DJ at a radio station, tells a joke on air (or off air, for that matter) that the radio station management (or anybody else) finds offensive the 1st amendment will not prevent the DJ from being fired ... or disowned, unfriended or divorced.

      Something is only considered to be "against free speech" when it is the government doing the interfering.

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      • icon
        The Wanderer (profile), 4 Jul 2018 @ 11:47am

        Re: Re:

        It's true that the only guarantee of free speech in US law (of which the Constitution is the foundation) is against government restriction of speech.

        But that doesn't mean that government restrictions are the only thing that "free speech" is about.

        Free speech is a principle; it can apply equally well in any context where restrictions on speech may be considered.

        The idea behind enshrining protection of free speech against government interference in the Constitution, but not doing so with protection of free speech against any other kind of interference, seems likely to have been based on an assessment that attempting to restrict the ability of non-government entities to restrict speech would introduce more and/or problems than it solved - and that idea may very well be correct.

        That doesn't mean that it's not legitimate to cite "free speech" in an argument about non-governmental restriction of speech, however - just that all such an argument can be about is convincing (non-governmental) people to change their minds about restricting speech, since there's no legitimate (governmental) authority to either require them to do so or prohibit them from doing so.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 6:17am

    So, lemme get this straight, you want the New York Times to protect it's legacy of championing free speech by... censoring an author?

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    • icon
      Flakbait (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 6:25am

      Re:

      It's not censoring, it's editing. They don't have to print everything submitted to them.

      They then have the First Amendment right to print whatever drivel they want.

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    • icon
      nerd bert (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 6:36am

      Re:

      So, lemme get this straight, you want the New York Times to protect it's legacy of championing free speech by... censoring an author?

      No, I want the NYT to use its corporate speech rights to counter the author's idiocy by showing it understands the importance of the First Amendment.

      Not that I expect that will happen. Too many "progressives" are far too happy to attack the basic human rights of people these days, and classic liberalism is sadly out of fashion these days being relegated to the libertarian crowd alone.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 7:20am

        Re: Re:

        "Too many "progressives" are far too happy to attack the basic human rights of people these days,"

        Just progressives huh? It is everyone doing this... not just the left. I rarely ever have the chance to call out the hypocrisy of the right at TD because it is overly leftist, but you are guilty as a $1 dollar hooker turning tricks.

        BOTH sides do this bullshit! Reagan started the war on drugs and civil forfeiture bullshit. He is also living proof of my claim that you can get a conservative to turn against the 2nd amendment just by showing them a picture of a black man with a gun.

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        • identicon
          Chick, 3 Jul 2018 @ 8:55am

          Re: Re: Re:

          So because both sides have done bad things, maybe neither of them should have been heard anyways. ^_-

          This is the real danger. We'll stop listening to anyone if we do it predicated on the idea of "this side did something bad". We have to keep talking or we just start seeing the other side as "bad guys" and less than human.

          Even if we think people are deluded, they should be able to speak. If they're really fools, they'll hang themselves in the court of public opinion. If they're genuinely dangerous, let them investigate it.

          Just don't shut them up and make their words seem more powerful than they are in reality. Words are nothing without action to back them up.

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          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 1:24pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Just don't shut them up and make their words seem more powerful than they are in reality. Words are nothing without action to back them up.

            Exception: Nazis. Punch them the fuck out.

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    • icon
      stderric (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 6:47am

      Re:

      Saying that the NYT shouldn't have chosen to publish something by one of its reporters because it's hypocritical, short-sighted, alarmist drivel that makes them look stupid isn't the same as saying that they should've been legally barred from printing it.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 7:08am

      Re:

      They could also have printed it opposite an opposing editorial viewpoint, saying, "We think this is an important conversation to be having... but that other post is completely wrong, both in its general ideas and its specific details, and here's why."

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 8:12am

      Re:

      otherwording noun — The practice of rephrasing a point of argument to intentionally distort the point into saying something it does not and slander the person who made it; often done to make winning an argument easier

      Example: You can typically find the phrase “so you’re saying” at the beginning of an instance of otherwording.

      See also: strawman; your post

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 6:49am

    Attacking free speech is a slippery slope

    When you start making rules around what can and can't be said, you are trying to control what can and can't be thought. The end result is thought police in an era where they can actually determine your thoughts in certain circumstance. You have been warned.

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  • identicon
    Unanimous Cow Herd, 3 Jul 2018 @ 6:55am

    On weaponization.

    On its face, of course free speech is weaponized. The Founding Fathers, in their wisdom, provided an arsenal of "weapons" against tyranny in the form of a Bill of Rights. Use them often so they do not become weak.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 7:03am

    real reason

    The argument that pornography is conservative is so they can feel better about participating in it. ;)

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 7:10am

    Rights for me!

    but not for thee!!!

    Typical!

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  • identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 3 Jul 2018 @ 7:18am

    Weaponised free speech

    There may be reasonable questions to ask about the borderline between expression and action. Or if the current (extremely limited) list of exceptions to the First Amendment are appropriately bounded. But the idea that one side has "weaponized" free speech, or the idea that some people think that free speech is being used to protect ideas they don't like, is a silly concept and not one that deserves a serious think piece in the NY Times.

    Yeah...

    ... people with authoritarian tendencies are using freedom of speech and expression as a pretext to exercise control over others. So it is that a county clerk used her religion as justification to deny gay people the marriage licences they are entitled to by law. A pharmacist refused to fulfill a woman's prescription for a drug intended to speed up her miscarriage. Hobby Lobby litigated for the right to determine which contraceptives they could deny to their female workers as part of their healthcare coverage. Paediatrician Bob Sears promotes alternative vaccination schedules and enables parents to deny their children vaccinations. A manager at a Red Hen restaurant refused service to Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Now Google and Amazon are facing revolts by staff opposed to the Trump regime.

    Adam Liptak has rather fudged the issue by bashing conservatives instead of challenging the authoritarianism behind efforts to use speech and expression rights to censor speech or simply exert control over others.

    When you're kicked out of a restaurant for being employed by a certain individual or for wearing the wrong hat, it's going to chill your expression, isn't it?

    I see authoritarianism on both sides of the aisle, though it's not some kind of contest and no, it's not okay. The use of speech rights to censor or exert control over others needs to be explored. Adam Liptak could have — should have done a better job in writing about this and it is a conversation we all need to have.

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    • identicon
      Chick, 3 Jul 2018 @ 9:04am

      Re: Weaponised free speech

      It feels like two sides tugging at two children in a custody battle. They don't just want their one child each, which is what was decided legally, they want them both, or at least for the other child to just disappear to make the opposing parent suffer.

      The children are going to lose all faith in the parents when they fight this hard to gain all in such a careless manner.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 10:04am

      Re: Weaponised free speech

      One thing I've been thinking about for a while is the possible ways in which people with authoritarian tendencies may be able to abuse the clinical, academic lens through which journalists, analysts, political commentators and more view free speech. Their stances could be abused in order to weaken faith in institutions so that, over time, radicalization occurs and makes it easier for authoritarian tendencies to come about.

      There are people who have a tendency to view and commentate on certain events which I call "Free Speech Moments" through a cold laboratory-style lens. Free Speech Moments are events like when a controversial speaker shows up to give a talk on campus, or protests that inspire counter-protests. There are people who view these Free Speech Moments in this detached manner, as if they're merely examining the event to ensure that some kind of protocol is followed. They want to see whether or not the First Amendment is "working", that people are doing the "right" thing by countering speech with "more, better speech". People who want to see that some sort of standard procedures are followed rather than caring about their overall consequences, which could wind up being over the long term.

      Let me give an example. A controversial speaker gives a talk on the campus of a public university. He entertains a fantasy of making an ethno-state where people of European heritage would be welcome and where minorities would be persecuted. Protests of that speaker happen, but the speech goes on and reaches its conclusion. Later on, analysts, journalists, and commentators write their takes on the "Free Speech Moment". They write that it's a good thing that the First Amendment was upheld, they use that one Voltaire quote, and so forth. They examine the procedure of the Free Speech Moment and then move on to the next one. Their articles and essays influence other public colleges to let speakers with similar ideologies have their say.

      What effect does this have on the students of those colleges? A minority student who sees that a speaker was given a platform to talk about turning them into a second-class citizen may have their confidence in institutions waver. One could also see a certain level of hypocrisy in the way that massive amounts of public funds were expended during WWII to literally combat similar fascist ideologies, but now campus speakers saying the same things nearly a century later have their on-campus speech and safety subsidized by taxpayer money. Simply maintaining Free Speech Moment procedure and countering speech with More, Better Speech™ isn't necessarily gonna help stop a wavering in the faith of our institutions and other people to protect minorities and other marginalized groups.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 11:03am

      Re: Weaponised free speech

      Except, the majority of those examples you gave has separate laws governing what is and is not illegal. Some are already included as some of the limited exceptions to the First Amendment and the persons involved have or are paying the price.

      The county clerk was subsequently fired, as what she did was against the law.

      You can't practice quack medicine or be negligent in your medical practice, and Bob Sears is paying the price.

      Restaurants do have the right to refuse service to someone provided it's not based on discrimination against a protected class, after all, how else can they can kick people out for not paying their bills, being disruptive to other customers, etc...?

      The Hobby Lobby case went all the way to the Supreme Court and it was decided that because it was such a closely held, private company, that it did qualify for 1st Amendment protections. The majority of other more public corporations don't get this same exemption.

      I don't know why you're bringing up the Google and Amazon revolts as those are a completely different case. From what I've read, the staff is upset because the companies are selling technology to the government that is being used to spy and collect data on unsuspecting American citizens. They are, rightly, opposed to that and corporations have the right to choose to sell to the government or not.

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      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 4 Jul 2018 @ 2:34am

        Re: Re: Weaponised free speech

        Yes, people pay the price. I get that. The question I was asking is how healthy is it to live in a world where we've got competing consciences? Each of the examples I gave was about people using the power they had at the time to compel other people to behave according to their wishes. That they paid the price is not the point; that people are being compelled or that people are attempting to compel others is at issue here.

        Corporations have the right to choose whom to sell to but should they have their policies dictated by their staff? Yes, the corporations are misbehaving but think about it: what if a quorum of staff were racist or otherwise prejudiced and wanted to compel the company to refuse service to certain individuals or groups? What if they were partisan and wanted to refuse service to a political entity?

        RE: Hobby Lobby, that was a horrible precedent. What if they decided that all contraception was wrong?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2018 @ 7:47am

          Re: Re: Re: Weaponised free speech

          The question I was asking is how healthy is it to live in a world where we've got competing consciences?

          I think that depends on how you view it. If you view it in terms of who gets to say what, I think that's very healthy as it means you can believe and say whatever you want, you just can't restrict someone else from believing and saying what they want either. And it's always a good idea to be exposed to opposing view points, good, bad, or indifferent.

          That they paid the price is not the point; that people are being compelled or that people are attempting to compel others is at issue here.

          And what are you suggesting be done about it? Restrict what people can say? That's not a good idea.

          You can't stop people in positions of power from occasionally abusing that power, it's going to happen, perhaps even unintentionally or with good intentions. If you allow people to have any kind of power, it will eventually be abused by someone, maybe not always and by everyone, but it will happen occasionally. That's why we have laws against those things as a deterrent. Hopefully it will keep most people from abusing it and it provides a system to punish and/or remove people from those positions of power if they cross the line.

          Given that, I think the fact that they are paying the price is exactly the point. They broke the law that says they can't do those things and now they are being punished for it. You're never going to stop someone BEFORE they commit a crime, not unless you go full Orwell and start policing thought crimes.

          Corporations have the right to choose whom to sell to but should they have their policies dictated by their staff?

          I don't think that's what's happening here. The staff isn't dictating anything, protesting yes, but the management is responsible for how they respond to that protest. In this case they are agreeing with the protesters. They could also say no and the protesters would be free to quit if they just absolutely couldn't tolerate that decision. And honestly, if they want to run their business that way, where employees get to decide those things, what's wrong with that? As far as I know there is no law against running your business like that. It may not be the best way to do things but it's not illegal or inherently wrong.

          what if a quorum of staff were racist or otherwise prejudiced and wanted to compel the company to refuse service to certain individuals or groups?

          Two things, first, there is no such thing as a quorum of staff in business. Ultimately the owner/CEO/board has the ultimate power to make decisions on what the company does or does not do. Corporations are not democracies, they are dictatorships. I don't mean that in a bad way, it's just a statement of fact.

          Second, that would be against the law and any company found to be deliberately engaging in that would be punished according to the law. And there are some pretty stiff punishments for that. No company executive in their right mind would bow to the wishes of their employees like that.

          What if they were partisan and wanted to refuse service to a political entity?

          This one is tricky because political entities are not protected classes, you can discriminate based on political affiliation all day and it won't get you in trouble with the law. Nor should it. There may be social consequences but it is perfectly legal.

          Regardless of that though, my arguments above still apply. Corporations are not beholden to the whims of their employees, especially if those whims would do more harm to the company than good. In the case of Amazon and Google, there is really no downside to going along with it in this case. The government is doing bad things with their tech that harm the average citizen. If they kept it up, public opinion (not just their own employees) would tank and cut into their bottom line; plus it's morally wrong anyway. Ending their government contracts is morally right and wins them lots of public and private brownie points. It's win-win.

          Hobby Lobby, that was a horrible precedent.

          In what way? It was deemed that because of how closely held that company is, it would be akin to denying the owner himself of his 1st Amendment rights. You can't make that determination for very many other companies, and it definitely doesn't apply to any publicly traded company.

          Additionally, from my skimming, it seems like this didn't even really affect the employees as a separate government sponsored plan kicked in to cover it for them anyway. So they could still get those two types of contraception and not have to pay at the very least full price, if anything at all. Can you elaborate on why you think it was horrible, apart from the company being exempted from having to pay for only two types of contraception?

          What if they decided that all contraception was wrong?

          But they didn't, and I have a hard time believing the Supreme Court would have issued the same ruling if they had gone nuclear on contraception. I skimmed through the ruling and it seems to be pretty clear that there were some pretty specific circumstances that caused them to rule this way based on other precedent and current laws. Specifically the fact that they weren't trying to block ALL contraception, only two types.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 7:30am

    Legally, what was, toward the beginning of the 20th century, a shield for radicals, artists and activists, socialists and pacifists, the excluded and the dispossessed, has become a sword for authoritarians, racists and misogynists, Nazis and Klansmen, pornographers and corporations buying elections.

    Even a basic understanding of 20th century american history would show that the relationships between the groups mentioned and society have radically altered over the past 100 years. While certainly that first group was excluded and dispossessed in the early 20th century, a lot of things have changed since then. Groups and ideas which were commonly and widely held are no longer acceptable, and others which were uncommon and scorned are now near universal.

    In other words, the "radicals, artists and activists socialists and pacifists" which were weak in the beginning of the 20th century are now strong, and the "authoritarians, racists and misogynists, Nazis and Klansmen, pornographers and corporations" which were strong in the beginning of the 20th century, are now weak (with the possible exception of corporations). Just because you no longer like the weak groups doesn't mean that they aren't weak, nor does you liking the strong groups magically make them excluded.

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    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 4 Jul 2018 @ 5:39am

      Re:

      **Just because you no longer like the weak groups doesn't mean that they aren't weak, nor does you liking the strong groups magically make them excluded.**

      True, but the partisan divide and its associated enforced conformities is cause for concern. It particularly scares me that you can be forced to do something you don't want to or be denied medications required because your employer's speech rights take precedence over your personal freedom.

      I just don't like the idea of being compelled to speak or act (or not) because $group's conscientious objections trump your own beliefs.

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 7:47am

    Poisoned corporatist payload in apparent "free speech" piece.

    First, Masnick routinely cite New York Times as reliable source, as the "Trump-Russia collusion" allegations he ran for months: this is just minor carp on opinion piece.

    Besides, if you're actually interested in the same issues about corporations using the First Amendment, a much better take on this topic was done just a couple months ago in an episode called How Corporations Got Rights. It takes a much more reasonable look at this issue and highlights why we shouldn't be so quick to complain about corporations having fundamental rights.

    Google-boy YET AGAIN sneaked in pro-corporatism. He's NEVER against corporations (legal fictions) have not just rights, but POWER over "natural" persons.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 8:14am

      Re:

      You’re just upset that the Kochs won’t pay for your medication.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 8:39am

      Re: Poisoned corporatist payload in apparent "free speech" piece.

      Literally every aspect of government and society is a "legal fiction."

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    • icon
      JMT (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 7:53pm

      Re: Poisoned corporatist payload in apparent "free speech" piece.

      "First, Masnick routinely cite New York Times as reliable source..."

      Which kinda explains his disappointment doesn't it. Reliable doesn't mean infallible, and it doesn't get you out of deserved criticism.

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 7:51am

    And is not a one-time slip or relevant, it's ongoing assertions:

    "And, I think it's fairly important to state that these platforms have their own First Amendment rights, which allow them to deny service to anyone."

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170825/01300738081/nazis-internet-policing-content -free-speech.shtml

    Masnick is not hedging "legal FICTIONS have rights?", or "lawyers say and I don't entirely agree", or "that isn't what I call serving The Public", but STATES FLATLY that corporations have arbitrary control of MAJOR outlets for The Public! He claims that YOUR Constitutional First Amendment Right in Public Forums are over-arched by what MERE STATUTE lays out!

    Guess you might try another site -- that can ALSO arbitrarily refuse to "serve" you. You could still pay for your own web-site. But Google is not required to index (having scanned it with AI for acceptable), and doesn't even have to accept your advertising! So in practice you'd never be discovered.

    But does Masnick worry about how that assertion of corporate "First Amendment Rights" affects YOU? -- No, he STATES flatly that YOU are subject to control by corporations!

    Isn't it ASTONISHING that Masnick views the First Amendment as empowering corporations to LIMIT speech of "natural" persons, rather than safeguarding our rights?

    And yet Corporatist Masnick STILL poses as champion of "free speech"!

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 7:54am

      Re: And is not a one-time slip or relevant, it's ongoing assertions:

      Next three tries were blocked! Still can't use "Masnick" in subject line was one of the causes, but variations didn't get through, so I conclude session was poisoned.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 8:39am

        Re: Re: And is not a one-time slip or relevant, it's ongoing assertions:

        A common trick I'm seeing used on sites that have apparently draconian word filters is to simply insert per.i.o.ds or com,m,a,s or whatever else into the banned word (years ago, mumber substitution was common).

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        • icon
          lucidrenegade (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 9:27am

          Re: Re: Re: And is not a one-time slip or relevant, it's ongoing assertions:

          Don't feed his delusion that Mike is out to get him. The only "censorship" that goes on around here is users flagging his stupid comments.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 8:18am

      Re: And is not a one-time slip or relevant, it's ongoing assertions:

      Please cite, with proper references, the law(s) or statute(s) that says a corporation must allow anyone to say anything on a corporately-owned platform without moderating the platform in any way.

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    • icon
      Dan (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 8:55am

      Re: And is not a one-time slip or relevant, it's ongoing assertions:

      It's an ongoing assertion that happens to be right. Go spew your bullshit elsewhere.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 8:25am

    role reversal

    It's funny how things have completely reversed in the last half century. In the 1960s the "right" dominated political and cultural life while the "left" fought for free speech. Now it's the complete opposite. The same was true for violence. Back then left wing demonstrators were assaulted by right-wing thugs while the government approvingly watched from afar while pretending not to notice.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_Hat_Riot

    These days however it's the "right" who must overcome considerable obstacles to hold "free speech" rallies -- while masked leftist thugs invade their space and violently assault them with the tacit approval of the mayor and police chief, as has notably happened in Charlottesville, Portland, Berkeley, and other cities in just the last two years.

    It's funny how "free speech" has gone from the rallying call of the left to the rallying call of the right.

    Perhaps the most accurate way of determining which 'side' holds true power in society, both politically, culturally, and economically, is by seeing who is against free speech and who is for it.

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    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 9:33am

      Re: role reversal

      These days however it's the "right" who must overcome considerable obstacles to hold "free speech" rallies -- while masked leftist thugs invade their space and violently assault them with the tacit approval of the mayor and police chief, as has notably happened in Charlottesville

      I think you better take a closer look at what actually happened in Charlottesville there, buddy.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 10:43am

        Re: Re: role reversal

        I should have been more clear. It was primarily the mayor of Berkeley, Jesse Arreguin, and Charlottesville Police Chief Alfred Thomas, who were the primary anti-free speech enforcers at those events.

        On Charlottesville, I watched just about every Youtube video I could find. The version of events as reported in the mainstream press did not even remotely resemble the video "version" of events. (also helpful were satellite-view maps of the area)

        Forget about what anyone says happened in Charlottesville. Watch as many raw videos as you can, from as many sources as you can, particularly the long uncut videos, and you'll get a much more accurate version of events than trusting anyone else's narrative. It certainly changed my mind, and I was quite shocked at how far from (video) reality the mainstream press had been about Charlottesville, particularly MSNBC.

        Also read the FBI's damning investigative report, where Charlottesville's police chief (who was forced to resign upon release of the FBI report) orders his officers to "Let them fight for a little. It will make it easier to declare an unlawful assembly."

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        • icon
          Leigh Beadon (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 10:58am

          Re: Re: Re: role reversal

          Oh, I've watched lots of raw footage, and pretty much zero mainstream media coverage. And yes, the police completely dropped the ball - stunning incompetence, and significant reason to believe at least some of it was intentional.

          What I deny is the suggestion that the police were simply looking the other way in order to allow "leftist thugs" to cause violence.

          What I saw in the raw footage included:

          • Groups at the Unite The Right rally formally assembling squads armed with shields and sending them out to cause trouble

          • Walls of protestors with shields bearing Nazi symbols blocking off their section of the park (police get significant blame for this too, since they gave them their blessing to manage their own entrance, even while knowing that the last minute swap of the designated protestor/counterprotestor areas meant many people arriving were trying to get into the wrong quadrant of the park)

          • Alt-right figures rushing down lines of counterprotestors in order to get into the park a full hour after the rally had been declared an illegal assembly

          • The scheduled Unite The Right speakers turning down a secure police escort into the park at the very last minute - leaving the police with the impression that, as the officer who had been in charge of organizing the escort put it, "they do not plan on this going well"

          • Oh, and, a nazi murdering a woman with his car. The police get blame here too of course, since they redeployed the officer on that corner after she radioed for backup because things were getting out of hand, leaving absolutely no police presence (just a couple sawhorse barricades) at a crucial intersection. But that doesn't reduce the blame on the murderer himself, nor the stain on the unabashed nazi rally that brought him to Charlottesville and helped drive him to murder.

          The characterization of Unite The Right as a nice, reasonable free speech rally disrupted by leftist thugs is bullshit. It was a vile and angry nazi rally containing many, many people who were actively courting violence and conflict.

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          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 1:21pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: role reversal

            And all that does not even cover their midnight tiki torch march on the night before their rally.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 8:14pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: role reversal

            The characterization of Unite The Right as a nice, reasonable free speech rally disrupted by leftist thugs is bullshit. It was a vile and angry nazi rally containing many, many people who were actively courting violence and conflict.

            And the leftist thugs gave the rightist thugs the violence and conflict they wanted instead of ignoring them and letting them look like angry clowns. There is plenty of blame to go around.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 10:09am

      Re: role reversal

      One of those obstacle climbers in Charlottesville killed a woman, so…maybe pick a better example next time?

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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 8:37am

    Basically, Liptak found some liberals who are now upset because they realize conservatives get their speech protected by the First Amendment too. The response to that should be "duh" or just (in true free speech fashion) plain mockery.

    No, it really shouldn't. That would do more harm than good.

    It needs to be recognized as a fundamental law of the Internet, on par with Godwin's Law, that in any debate, mockery is the first resort of those who realize they're out of valid points, as an attempt to distract the audience from realizing the same, and that employing it automatically causes you to lose the argument.

    People are slowly beginning to understand this, (about 20 years too late,) and even well-intentioned mockery will be likely to backfire. The appropriate counter to bad speech is better speech, not sinking to their level.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Chick, 3 Jul 2018 @ 9:21am

      Re:

      Oh, if only. People are *moved* by the right kind of mockery and it's a race to whoever makes more of a fool of the other.

      When people won't listen to your points, mockery is all you have left. Meh, it isn't fun to admit, but perhaps the lack of proper discourse between people who won't listen to one another is a big reason for the mockery getting really heavy everywhere these days.

      It'd be better if people listened and were decent online, of course, but with insults and adhom being a sort of "old school" Internet type of bonding/deterrent (reee! normies! and such), it's like two groups speaking two languages.

      Now that everyone (including nerds and geeks) are online people still don't understand the difference between these two groups either, and it compounds the whole thing.

      If your *only* speech you use is mockery against those who disagree with you, it's an inadequate tool. But mockery is amusing to see done by people with more diverse tools at their disposal nonetheless. :)

      Mockery should never have become the "best" or "favourite" tool of free speech though, but I try to be realistic. :P

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 9:40am

      Re:

      employing it automatically causes you to lose the argument

      I dunno. A better Godwinesque observation might be: in any debate on the internet, someone will try to define some sort of formal infraction that they want to automatically disqualify people - such as "logical fallacy!" or "name calling!" - and will latch on to such infractions and attempt to declare sort of formal, inarguable "victory" for their side as a result, or at least the formal exclusion of all other points from the offending side. And that this is not helpful either.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Thad, 3 Jul 2018 @ 9:56am

        Re: Re:

        Part of why I've learned to go light on correcting people's spelling or grammar is that I've learned that if you write a six-paragraph, point-by-point rebuttal to everything they said, and somewhere in those six paragraphs is a parenthetical "by the way, you misspelled X", then the reply you're going to get is going to be some variation on "You're correcting my spelling, how immature and irrelevant."

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 3 Jul 2018 @ 10:02am

      Re:

      It needs to be recognized as a fundamental law of the Internet, on par with Godwin's Law, that in any debate, mockery is the first resort of those who realize they're out of valid points, as an attempt to distract the audience from realizing the same, and that employing it automatically causes you to lose the argument.

      Properly-deployed mockery can be a valid way of pointing out the absurdity in an argument -- for example, sometimes when somebody starts ranting about how people shouldn't be taxed for services they, personally, don't use, I'll chime in with, "And why should I have to pay for the fire department? My house isn't even on fire!"

      Upthread, you'll note mockery being used against several comment trolls. You could make the argument that people shouldn't be responding to them at all, and that's a fair argument. But as long as people are responding to them, mockery is an appropriate way of doing it. Attempting a good-faith debate with an unhinged troll implies that the unhinged troll is making reasonable points that need to be rationally refuted. A gibbering rant deserves mockery. Those who do not speak in good faith do not deserve to be spoken to in good faith.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 10:16am

      Re:

      in any debate, mockery is the first resort of those who realize they're out of valid points

      This assumes that the other “side” of the debate always has a valid point/always makes a point in good faith. Mockery of, say, a racist shithead who says “White people are genetically superior” does not concede any argument to the shithead—it mocks them for holding onto a factually false belief that they use to justify their racism.

      If a debate is to be had, let it be on the merits of an argument. If the argument has no merit, we should not act as if it does.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 11:42am

        Re: Re:

        It does worse than concede the argument to them; it concedes the high ground to them and gives them a rallying point, especially if they're level-headed enough to employ the classic troll tactic of making a big show of how reasonable they're being when called on their trollery. The only effective counter is to actually be more reasonable than them, consistently.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Leigh Beadon (profile), 3 Jul 2018 @ 12:06pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The only effective counter is to actually be more reasonable than them, consistently.

          By what metric of effectiveness are you measuring that, though? It is very hard to say what is "effective" in a debate, especially on the internet in a public forum. There's no measurement of how many people actually had their minds changed or their beliefs strengthened/weakened by either side.

          I would say there is just as much reason to believe that being "reasonable" in response to a widely discredited, retrograde idea being espoused someone you know is not going to discuss it in good faith - e.g. "white people are genetically superior" - actually makes them seem more legitimate to many onlookers, and invites them to spread their disingenuous and flawed arguments. You are left attempting to pick apart the flaws, but they are not beholden to logic or consistency and can simply pontificate while constantly shifting goal posts, leaving the overall impression to some of the uninitiated that you are "losing" the argument.

          "Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert."

          • Jean-Paul Sartre, widely applicable to many kinds of bigots

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 8:53am

    Corporations as people

    That case is only won by the NY Times -- the same publication that published this latest silly article -- because a corporation (the NY Times Company) is able to have First Amendment rights. Without corporations getting First Amendment rights, defamation cases would sink any publication doing serious reporting.

    That isn't true. We can say that reporters have speech rights, without saying the corporation does. The corporation would have to be protected from lawsuits to protect the rights of the reporters, but wouldn't have "rights" of its own per se.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 9:17am

      Re: Corporations as people

      Even the First Amendment can't prevent a newspaper from being seized by the government and/or the reporters and editors jailed for saying things the government doesn't like. That's exactly what Abraham Lincoln did, and he got away with it, Constitution be damned!

      Executive Order—Arrest and Imprisonment of Irresponsible Newspaper Reporters and Editors

      http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=70018

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 10:10am

    $$$$$

    I think you forget the part about the power of money over the power of free speech. Look at the Hulk Hogan vs any news site. Money was able to kill free speech. Corporations have more money than one person willing to use their free speech right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jul 2018 @ 1:18pm

    The Grey Lady has been rather sick the past 4 years with vilifying freedom of speech. Only recently has it become so overt and direct.

    Sadly the sickness appears to be contagious and has infected the ACLU recently as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    pjcamp (profile), 4 Jul 2018 @ 3:23pm

    Beschizza delenda est

    That's an interesting comment as Beschizza regularly drops the speech suppression hammer in the forums at Boing Boing. In fact, that's the reason I quit visiting that site. He has made it into an echo chamber for the college PC crowd.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    pjcamp (profile), 4 Jul 2018 @ 3:28pm

    corporate rights

    BTW, there's no question that corporations have rights. The questions are: (1) Are corporations, required to pursue only the financial interests of their investors, equivalent to human beings with all the rights that actual humans have? and (2) Is money the same thing as speech?

    I do hope you're not coming down on the corporate side of either of those.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SGOR, 5 Jul 2018 @ 10:04am

    Minnesota Land of 10000 Electronic Peeping Toms

    Nice quote from batbrained Catherine McKinnon.

    But I think your reference to the KKK marching in Skokie is in error.

    Those famous marches were led by the American Nazi Frank Colin~nee Cohen, in one of the great free speech comedies of my era.

    So, the McKinnon reference is anapt followup,considering her vapid, toxic form of veiled sex abolitionism.

    Little irony in the fact that her father George McKinnon was the key player who established the FISA court as well.

    If misoginy means hating/mocking/despising/denigrating women like her, Im all in.

    Google (or duckduckgo) Lesbian porn wars and organized gang stalking.

    Batbrain McKinnon has a huge cult following,who stalk and harass people who challenge their version of feminism.

    It cannot be missed that Andrea Dworkun and Batbrain led the anti-porn crusade against Kermit Alexander in Minnesota, and tried to put heinous legislation,aka the Minneapolis porn ordinance on the books.

    That one ordinance was unique of its kind, and was a precursor to SESTA/FOSTA, etc, by cloaked religionists allied with fauxminists to eradicate pure speech.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SGOR, 5 Jul 2018 @ 10:20am

    Minnesota Land of 10000 Electronic Peeping Toms

    Thelink between McKinnon, and her father George who founded the FISA court should bear some scrutiny-the poison seed grew the poison fruit, and now, our TOTAL F@CKING POLICE state.....

    Minneapolis porn ordinance (something is seriously wrong in Minnesota in a Freudian Projection kind-of-way):

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antipornography_Civil_Rights_Ordinance

    Dworkin and MacKinnon placed special emphasis on the legal definition of pornography provided in the civil rights ordinance. The civil rights ordinance characterizes pornography as a form of "sex discrimination" and defines "pornography" as "the graphic sexually explicit subordination of women through pictures and/or words," when combined with one of several other conditions. In the "model ordinance" that they drafted, Dworkin and MacKinnon gave the following legal definition:

    1. "Pornography" means the graphic sexually explicit subordination of women through pictures and/or words that also includes one or more of the following:

    a. women are presented dehumanized as sexual objects, things or commodities; or
    b. women are presented as sexual objects who enjoy humiliation or pain; or
    c. women are presented as sexual objects experiencing sexual pleasure in rape, incest, or other sexual assault; or
    d. women are presented as sexual objects tied up or cut up or mutilated or bruised or physically hurt; or
    e. women are presented in postures or positions of sexual submission, servility, or display; or
    f. women's body parts—including but not limited to vaginas, breasts, or buttocks—are exhibited such that women are reduced to those parts; or
    g. women are presented being penetrated by objects or animals; or
    h. women are presented in scenarios of degradation, humiliation, injury, torture, shown as filthy or inferior, bleeding, bruised or hurt in a context that makes these conditions sexual.

    2. The use of men, children, or transsexuals in the place of women in (a)–(h) of this definition is also pornography for purposes of this law.
    3. "Person" shall include child or transsexual.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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