Friday, September 21, 2007

Why Isn't This Freedom of Speech?

I just saw on CNN that in a town near where the Jena 6 controversy is going on, the police pulled over a red pickup truck with nooses on it. Nooses in a tree was part of the racist provocation that liberals over here are now using to justify the racially-motivated beating of a white student that is why the Jena 6 were prosecuted.

My first reaction to someone doing something like this is: In a town currently filled with angry black people? That's crazy. I notice that the driver was charged with DUI--about the high level of intelligence that I would expect of someone who would drive a pickup truck around town with nooses on it.

Will the ACLU be defending the driver's right to freedom of expression? I mean, if nude dancing is protected, and burning the American flag is protected--why not nooses on your car? Or will liberals decide that racism trumps freedom of expression?

Of course, you know my take on it: freedom of speech (which is what the Constitution protects) is not the same as freedom of expression. There is a good pragmatic argument against laws that ban burning of the American flag. People that burn the American flag tend to reduce their political influence on others. But this does not mean that flag burning is protected speech within the meaning the Framers intended.

UPDATE: Oh yes, the ACLU is now arguing that the charges against Senator Larry "Happy Feet" Craig violate his freedom of speech. According to this September 20, 2007 Idaho Statesman article:
The ACLU filed its brief Monday, saying Minneapolis airport police violated Craig's constitutional right of free speech by charging him with disorderly conduct after arresting him in an airport men's room, where police say he solicited sex from an undercover officer.


Also, the remarks are "without substantive merit," the brief says, because the ACLU focused on free speech, and not Craig's other conduct: invading someone else's personal space in the most private of places, a bathroom stall.

The airport takes privacy in its restrooms seriously, according to the brief. Police started their undercover sting operation "on the heels of an incident in which a private citizen was seated in the stall, the individual next to him invaded the space of the adjacent stall and looked up the stall divider. The victim was so upset he waited for the defendant to come out of his stall and took him to a security checkpoint to call the police."
So, does freedom of speech cover all solicitations to perform some action, no matter how crude or vulgar, or where it takes place, as long as the action itself is lawful? It is completely lawful to have sex with a complete stranger. If you walk down the street, asking every person you meet to have sex, I suspect that you will find yourself arrested for disorderly conduct. Perhaps the ACLU would prefer to live in that kind of a world, where the last attempts at maintaining civility are gone.

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