I feel like I misspoke in my earlier post with the "it's a free country" part, because you're not free to instigate violence.
I stand by the statement that both those who like the illustration in its own context (not just the freedom of speech context) AND those who react
violently to it are just mad because they feel like the size of their genitals is being questioned.
Originally posted by junglejake
Well, I do support the T-Shirt. The reason being not the image, but the message that the freedom of speech will not be cowed in the face of
I'm with you as far as not backing down from freedom of speech.
The question I ask myself is whether or not the image is honestly speech. What is speech?
1. A. The faculty or act of speaking.
B. The faculty or act of expressing or describing thoughts, feelings, or perceptions by the articulation of words.
The Bill of Rights is a practical document intended to preserve the practically applicable rights of the people. Obviously freedom of speech was
intended as a protection of messages and ideas, not simply the right to pass air over one's vocal cords, so definition 1B is the defintion to work
So the question becomes, is the cartoon intended to express an idea, or is it an invitation to confrontation.
I was aware in coming into this thread that the Supreme Court has ruled against "fighting words", but what I did not realize until I did a little
searching is that their rationale is almost word for word what I was thinking.
Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire
CANTWELL v. STATE OF CONNECTICUT, 310 U.S. 296 (1940)
These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or 'fighting' words-those which by their very utterance inflict
injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. 4 It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any
exposition of ideas
The offense known as breach of the peace embraces a great variety of conduct destroying or menacing public order and tranquility. It includes not
only violent acts but acts and words likely to produce violence in others. No one would have the hardihood to suggest that the principle of freedom of
speech sanctions incitement to riot
If a form of speech is such that a reasonable person A. Would not gain any benefit from it. B. Would be provoked or incited to violence, it is
"fighting words" and is not protected.
I am a big fan of John Stuart Mill thanks to On Liberty
, because the utilitarian explanation of liberty gives objective logical weight to it. I
agree with his explanation that the value of free speech and action (to the exclusion of doing harm) is in the advancement of human knowledge and
understanding, and that nonsubstantive verbal attacks, or speech which encourages unjust acts, are not useful and therefore enjoy no right to
Considering philosophy and law, it is obviously permissible to speak against religious violence, to advocate any religious ideology, including the
decision NOT to embrace one or any religion, to make a statement as to what policy regarding some segment of society ought to be, etc. Note however
that in the interest of preserving peace and order it is not forbidden that the timing, location, venue, etc be regulated (see Cantwell decision).
It is NOT permissible to make statements which will primarily function to disturb the peace. See the circumstances of the Chaplinsky decision, which
upheld the arrest of a man who called a police officer "a damned fascist". Clearly the court would not hold that it is forbidden to criticize law
enforcement, to call them fascists, or even to use strong language in reference to them. The problem with Chaplinsky was that his context made it
clear that he was not merely conveying ideas but inviting a confrontation.
I believe that the cartoon right on the brink of being in that same classification, but I concede that this is a matter of perception, requiring a
value judgement on the intellectual content of the cartoon, and it is doubtful that the Supreme Court would be in any great hurry to even accept this
case because it would involve setting precedent on a very murky issue.
It's a tough issue. The illustration would not be unreasonable if it weren't for the expectation of an unreasonable reaction from those who oppose
it. I understand why this would make it tempting to say that the problem is solely with the Muslims who over-react. Consider this analogy however:
There is nothing wrong, in a vacuum, with me saying that I suspect George W. Bush of being possessed by a demon. But if I say that to someone who I
know is insane, with the knowledge that he will believe it and try to kill George W. Bush as a result, is the blame all on the patsy, or am I to blame
for inciting violence through speech which would normally be OK?
Thanks for reading, I know I've been detailed.