Thursday, August 28, 2014

Acquire a reputation for violence and lack of self-control...

...dictate terms to society.

//Behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated. People who are willing to use violence to suppress speech will learn that such behavior is effective, at least when the police don’t come down particularly hard on the thuggery. Indeed, they may find at times that even merely threatening violence might suffice to suppress speech they dislike. And of course this message will be easily learned by the potentially violent of all religious and political stripes (again, so long as they suspect that the police won’t make the thuggery too costly).

There are already plenty of rewards for this sort of violence and threatened violence. First, it can feel emotionally satisfying on its own to lash out against speakers who offend you. Second, many speakers will give in to the private violence quite apart from police orders to leave; that too can be emotionally satisfying to those who see that their power has gotten results. Third, the violent will see benefits to their political and religious cause, as the message gets out that their opponents are in danger (and maybe even those who host their opponents, say in private lecture halls or rented government buildings).

But the “heckler’s veto” gives the violent hecklers extra bonuses. They get to see the speakers suppressed by the government itself. They get to feel the extra pleasure and validation of feeling that the government has stepped in on other side. And they get to block speech even by those who don’t fear physical attack, but who understandably don’t want to be arrested and prosecuted.

The society we live in stems from the incentives we create. Incentives for violent speech suppression mean more violent speech suppression. That, I think, will be the consequence of the Sixth Circuit panel decision, if it is not reversed by the en banc Sixth Circuit or by the Supreme Court.//

This is not the First Amendment I was taught in law school.

1 comment:

John Kasasian said...

This is troubling. Not only does it run counter to the First Amendment, it also presumes that all Arabs (International Arab Festival)are Moslem. there are Christian Arabs (if there are any left after the Islamic State hasn't crucified or beheaded them all.)

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