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Meet Entitlement Eric - Robot Pimp

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Time, Place, and Manner

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The Secret Positivity of Hate Speech

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Freedom of expression is essential to a productive and creative learning environment. This means students must be prepared to listen to opinions that differ from their own. Speech that challenges commonly held assumptions can be beneficial. Hate speech benefits no one because it seeks only to tear down, not to build up. The University needs to directly address hate speech for the good of productive discourse.

Bold words from the University of Chicago's student newspaper editorial board. And by "bold" we mean "retarded."

Of course, The Chicago Maroon editors would probably classify that last sentence as hate speech, because it seeks only to tear down, not to build up. But this is a core flaw in the anti-hate speech movement. Nevermind the question of what qualifies as hate speech, and who will be the arbiter, and the extreme likelihood that anti-hate speech policies would be used by the politically powerful to suppress their opponents (look at how much criticism of George W. Bush could be considered hate speech). Nevermind all that, because the premise against hate speech is wrong.

Does it seek to tear down? Yes. But, it also seeks to build up. When we call the Maroon's editorial staff a bunch of limp dicked retarded fascist douche nozzles, it's not just to tear them down, but to simultaneously build up the concept of free speech and individual liberty. It is rare for any speech critical of another or a group to not serve some purpose of building up some other individual or group. That doesn't mean the speech is good, but it does mean that the Maroon's distinction between hate speech and constructive speech is fundamentally flawed.

What the Maroon would have banned isn't speech that seeks to tear down rather than build it. It would ban that which stings those they want to help, which builds up that which they would tear down.


The anti-hate speech crusade at Chicago comes largely from an incident in which a student (Derek Caquelin) claimed his Facebook account was hacked and then used to post a hateful message. That message called out another student who is a leader in the fight against micro(!)aggressions. It said, in part, "you are next. None of your profiles are safe. This is the beginning of our rape season."

Turns out, the alleged hacking victim posted the message himself. And this is why we must be extra-cautious when it comes to giving away any of our rights. Ben Franklin famously said, "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." That trade, while ill-advised, is at least rational in its own way. But what Caquelin and his ilk want us to do is trade essential liberty to purchase exactly as much safety as we already had. It's giving away freedom to stop an evil that exists only in the imagination.


We'll end this post with a little snippet from the Declaration of Independence: "A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people." Is there any doubt that such a description of a man could be describe as derived from hatred? Though no television station would bleep the term because it lacks vulgarity, there are few things Americans abhor more than a tyrant. Such language would not be allowed, if Caquelin or the The Chicago Maroon editors had their way, but who could say this language, for all its tearing down, does not, in the end, seek to build up?

Drexel Prof Laments Freedom of Speech

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How many political science professors does it take to change a light bulb?

If the light bulb is symbolic of fundamental liberties then thankfully it takes a lot more than one.

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, Drexel University professor George Ciccariello-Maher took to Twitter to condemn not the murderers, but the concept of free speech.


That's right, the "problem" isn't murderous fanatics, it's free speech, and the only people who advocate for free speech are racists and Islamophobes. Free speech advocates like Louis Brandeis, defending freedom of speech in Whitney v. California, "It is the function of speech to free men from bondage of irrational fears." Or Winston Churchill who described the American tradition, saying "The United States is a land of free speech. Nowhere is speech freer--not even here where we sedulously cultivate it even in its most repulsive form. And FDR who placed free speech at the top of all fundamental freedoms, "We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech an expression--everywhere in the world." (The other freedoms were religion, basic economic security, and freedom from fear.) And then there's the great Islamophobe George Washington who said, "If men are to precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."

It's of course ironic that an opponent of free speech would work in a field where freedom of speech is a cherished value. The numerous incidents of universities suppressing speech notwithstanding, the vast majority of professors are grateful to have the protection of academic freedom. Folks like Ciccariello-Maher, though, don't want the rest of us to have the freedoms he enjoys.

It'a also ironic that an opponent of free speech would be a professor of political theory, a field which is premised on the ability to critique the prevailing political regime. Without free speech, poli sci tests would be a whole lot easier. One question, is the Sovereign right? Correct answer: Yes. Also acceptable: Always.

But what's most ironic is that to George Cigarillo-Maher, Islam is actually a threat to freedom of speech. In his world, the sensibilities of Islam trump the right to free expression. He sees Islam as a religion which requires a fascist enforcement regime. So yeah, scratch a free speecher and you will find an anti-fascist. Thankfully, all our light bulbs are out of GC-M's reach.

Should we care if people know where rights come from?

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Over on Prawfsblawg yesterday, Roll Tide Law prof Frederick Vars noted that a recent survey found only 29% of Americans could name one of the five rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. He then asked the obvious question:

[B]ut should we care?

Well asked, professor. His reasoning is that another survey found that 99% of Americans think the right is very important, and if you want to argue First Amendment protection in court, saying "Free Speech" will get you there, you don't need to name the amendment.

Comments were closed on his post, so no one got to offer an alternative answer to the "should we care" question, but we think perhaps the answer is yes.

There are a lot of rights out there, they don't exist in a vacuum, and unlike folks, not all rights are created equal. There are God-given natural inalienable rights, and their close relative the Constitutional rights (ie: the God-given natural inalienable rights deemed important enough to be mentioned in the Bill of Rights). Then there are statutory rights, which you have only by virtue of the government saying so, things like social security benefits or early voting. These things can be taken away without violating your core natural rights. And then there's other rights existing out in the aether, like the right not to be offended, or to walk from your dorm to class without hearing something you deem to be hate speech. When you start throwing the word "right" around (round round) willy nilly, weird and stupid things happen.

For instance, in a HuffPo op-ed, Celia Buckman writes regarding the Hobby Lobby decision:

What someone should or should not do for their health is between them and their physician, not their boss. This also specifically targets female workers' rights to their bodies, as Hobby Lobby exclusively refuses to pay for female contraceptives.

For a brief period between the implementation of the ACA and the ruling in Hobby Lobby, women did have a right to have their employer provide specific types of contraceptives. But that's a statutory right. The outrage coming from the Hobby Lobby decision though acts as if it infringed on one of the more important God-given natural inalienable rights, specifically the right to control your own body. But women still have the right to control their body, what they've lost is the right to make someone else fund their control.

If you're familiar with the Motte and Bailey style of argument, this is it at work. The insurance coverage right is a weak right, it's the Bailey, and it's very hard to defend. When attacked, women retreat into the bodily autonomy argument, that's the Motte, the fortified keep in the center of the Bailey that's virtually impregnable (har!). Without understanding how rights can differ, women like Celia Buckman (and like a hundred million others) will think that the Bailey is just as defensible as the Motte. Fortunately for Ms. Buckman, she's just a rising high school sophomore. We can forgive the lack of nuance in her case.

But then there's people like Nan Aron, President of the Alliance for Justice, "a national association of over 100 organizations, representing a broad array of groups committed to progressive values and the creation of an equitable, just, and free society" with an annual budget of four million dollars. She writes for HuffPo regarding the McCullen decision (the abortion clinic buffer zone one people stopped talking about once Hobby Lobby came down):

The Chief Justice gives away the game when he writes that the anti-abortion activists bringing the case "are not protestors," and expresses sympathy with their complaint that they haven't been as successful in persuading women to change their minds as they would be if the buffer zone didn't prevent them from sidling up to within an arm's length and whispering their gentle words of persuasion. Ah, you see, anti-abortion activists aren't actual protestors, like you might see outside a political event or on the public sidewalk in front of, let's say, a bank. Those kinds of people can be forced into far-distant "buffer zones" that have chain-link fence around them. But when it comes to abortion and women trying to enter a medical clinic to exercise their constitutional rights, well, that's another story. [Emphasis added]

Alright folks, get out your Constitutions and find for me the right to an abortion.

"It's in the penumbra!" ...Go fuck yourself.

Calling it a constitutional right doesn't make a lot of sense, with or without the penumbra. When we say "constitutional right" we mean the enumerated ones, not the penumbra. The penumbra has a whole other name, and it's God-given natural inalienable rights. The only difference between natural rights and constitutional rights is that the constitutional ones have been written down. An unwritten constitutional right is a meaningless term. It'd be like referring to the IMDB top 100 movies not listed on the IMDB top 100 movies list (and not just the films bumped off over time).

So why does McCullen refer to constitutional rights in her op-ed? Probably because it makes for good rhetoric, and because she hasn't stopped to consider what it means for something to be a constitutional right versus a natural right.

Going back to professor Vars's question, should we care? We think so. The origin of rights matters when it comes to how we treat them, and we're moving towards a society where people think the hierarchy of rights comes down to nothing more than how passionate they are about the issue. If you're going to make more use out of your free contraception than your religious freedom, then you know which right trumps the others. Next you'll be saying your right to not be offended trumps another's right to free speech, not based on any concrete theory of rights, but just on how you feel about their relative importance.

Don't Have Sex In New Zealand

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We shouldn't say don't have sex in New Zealand. Instead, if you're going to have sex in New Zealand, do it now. Do not wait.

The NZ Labor Party has introduced a bill that would radically change the way rape prosecutions are handled, using the time dishonored burden of proof known as Guilty Until Proven Innocent. The innovation's sponsor, Andrew Little, says not to worry because the state (down under the call it the "Crown") still bears a significant burden of proof:

The Crown has to prove more than just sex; the issue of consent has to be raised by the Crown, they have to prove the identity of the offender. They would have to bear that burden of proof before a switch to the defence to prove consent. [NZ Herald]

See, no need to worry. The Crown still bears the burden of proving that sex happens (she says so) and the identity of the offender (she says him). Your ball, Mr. Defendant.

And why shift the burden? Well because rape cases are really hard to prosecute. Do you know how hard it is to prove lack of consent? Just about as hard as it is to prove consent. And since consent is so hard to prove either way, the NZ standard would basically be Guilty If Accused.

Guilty If Accused?! Surely we're exaggerating. After all, plenty of people do get convicted of rape. In fact, in New Zealand 46% of defendants brought to trial for rape are convicted. If the Crown is able to so often prove a lack of consent then surely the defendant will have a fair shake.


Oh, except that the defendant isn't allowed to question the accuser.

The accuser will only be questioned by the judge, a judge working under a Ministry of Justice with an official policy of increasing rape conviction rates.

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