November 17, 2007

Free speech? Or incitement to violence?

An article in today's News Journal details how a few Delaware State University students joined Al Sharpton in protesting for hate crimes laws that cover the hanging of nooses: "Every noose that's hung should be prosecuted by the law and we will demand that today," he said.

Interestingly, the New York Post reports that an ex-principal of an Arabic school -- who was "forced" out after it was revealed she had connections to a group who sold t-shirts that said "Intifada NYC" on them -- is now suing the city, claiming her free speech rights were violated:

Debbie Almontaser has said her right to free speech was violated when she was forced to resign in August as principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy for failing to condemn "Intifada NYC" T-shirts sold by a group with links to her.

Less than a week after defining "Intifada" as a "shaking off" of oppression - which led to public admonitions from the head of the teachers' union and other groups - she resigned.

Mm-hm. "Shaking off of oppression," huh? In New York City? I'm sure she was just "misinterpreted" as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "has been" all those times.

The question would be then, if [someone hanging] a noose should be prosecuted as a hate crime, why wouldn't [someone wearing] that t-shirt?

I think both are disgusting expressions; however, as I've opined many times, this is the inherent problem with "hate" crimes laws -- they're selectively chosen and selectively enforced. If Ms. Almontaser's t-shirts are "free expression," then why isn't someone hanging a noose on their own property also "free expression"? After all, the US Supreme Court has ruled that cross-burning is free expression (not to mention American flag burning). Isn't cross-burning as intimidating/inciteful (worse, even?) as the hanging of a noose?

Unless there is a clear incitement to violence in someone's speech or [hateful] expression, I'd rather err on the side of free speech and expression than on some politician's view of what is appropriate ... expression and ultimately thought.

Posted by Hube at November 17, 2007 08:51 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Yes, Sharpton knows all about protected speech.
But at Freddy's, Mr. Sharpton was even more malevolent. He turned a landlord-tenant dispute between the Jewish owner of Freddy's and a black subtenant into a theater of hatred. Picketers from Mr. Sharpton's National Action Network, sometimes joined by "the Rev." himself, marched daily outside the store, screaming about "bloodsucking Jews" and "Jew bastards" and threatening to burn the building down.

After weeks of increasingly violent rhetoric, one of the protesters, Roland Smith, took Mr. Sharpton's words about ousting the "white interloper" to heart. He ran into the store shouting, "It's on!" He shot and wounded three whites and a Pakistani, whom he apparently mistook for a Jew. Then he set the fire, which killed five Hispanics, one Guyanese and one African-American--a security guard whom protesters had taunted as a "cracker lover." Smith then fatally shot himself.

Eight people died, and so evidently did the conscience of liberal Democrats. It was Al Sharpton who had the honor of asking the first question at last week's debate, held within hailing distance of the Freddy's massacre.

If it's his speech, even if the equivalent of "fire" in a crowded movie house (or worse), Sharpton is protected legally and politically.

Posted by: soccer dad at November 19, 2007 11:34 AM

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