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Freedom of speech
June 14, 2008 11:44 AM   Subscribe

Should Michael Reagan be free to say this on syndicated radio? Should Mark Dice be free to say this (NSFW audio) on his website?

I guess the FBI will get to decide.
posted by an egg (172 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Yes, they should be, since you ask my opinion.
posted by dawson at 11:50 AM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Should Michael Reagan be free to say this on syndicated radio?

"Talk show host Michael Reagan calls for murder
of anti-war activist ...

Transcript of Reagan's statements: "Excuse me folks, I'm going to say this. We ought to find the people who are doing this, take them out and shoot them. Really. You take them out, they are traitors to this country, and shoot them. You have a problem with that? Deal with it. You shoot them. You call them traitors, that's what they are, and you shoot them dead. I'll pay for the bullets." Reagan adds, "How about you take Mark Dice out and put him in the middle of a firing range. Tie him to a post, don't blindfold him, let it rip and have some fun with Mark Dice."


Of course he should be free to say that. He can say whatever he likes.

Those of us who value free speech and open discourse realize that our ideas -- our values -- are bigger and stronger than his. We're strong enough to live in a country where death threats are allowed to be aired. We're strong enough to survive Michael Reagan.
posted by Avenger at 11:55 AM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yes.

Next?
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:57 AM on June 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


Whatever it was, without even listening: yes.
posted by Malor at 12:00 PM on June 14, 2008 [14 favorites]


Just to be contrary, I'm going to take the position that no one should be allowed to say anything, ever.

So there.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:01 PM on June 14, 2008 [7 favorites]


As long as it is not an immediate and real threat to another person's safety or likely to incite imminent violence, yes.
posted by Falconetti at 12:04 PM on June 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Since when do we live in a country where death threats are allowed to be aired? Those are fighting words, and the First Amendment does not apply to such statements. For precedent, see Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire.

It is well-established in practically every jurisdiction in the free world that free speech does not allow you to make death threats.
posted by jagorev at 12:04 PM on June 14, 2008 [19 favorites]


Yes, they should.

Also, MEMO TO MICHAEL REAGAN: YOU HAVE A FACE FOR RADIO AND A VOICE FOR NOT BEING ON RADIO. STOP BEING GROSS WITH YOUR AUDIBLE SPIT ON THE AIRWAVES.
posted by cmonkey at 12:04 PM on June 14, 2008


This thread will be so lovely if it stays around. I'm sure a pretty strong case could be made for either side as to whether death threats are covered by the first amendment. He sounded earnest. How do you get the mentality to even consider "take them out and shoot them" as a potential option in the spectrum of potential options? Is there that much hatred for rule of law among modern conservatives? But anyways, we should take all these pundits out and shoot them.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:04 PM on June 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yes, of course he should be allowed to say anything he wants to say. That's what 'Freedom of Speech' means.

If people actually went out and took action on what he said, then it would be fair to bring him up for "inciting a riot" or some such, too. There's rights and there's responsibilities (or at least that's how it is supposed to be).
posted by misha at 12:05 PM on June 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


jagorev writes "It is well-established in practically every jurisdiction in the free world that free speech does not allow you to make death threats."

I think a good argument could be made that he was speaking in general terms. He wasn't calling for anyone to shoot this protester, specifically. He never actually threatened anyone. Of course, if someone ends up doing following his ideas to their conclusion, I imagine some lawyer will want to take up a civil case against Reagan.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:07 PM on June 14, 2008


This was a specific threat, graphically described, with anthe target individual named, and broadcast to thousands of listeners. There does not need to be anyone acting on the suggestion in order for a judge to conclude that they were fighting words and likely to incite harm.
posted by jagorev at 12:07 PM on June 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


> Those are fighting words, and the First Amendment does not apply to such statements. For precedent, see Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire.

Except fighting words have to be an imminent threat of lawlessness. Not an idle threat made for the sake of political hyperbole.

To quote the Supreme Court in Chaplinsky, fighting words are "those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace."

If there was a mass armed demonstration and a speaker said "Let's go shoot jagorev" that might be fighting words. But a radio show? It's not likely to be an immediate breach of the peace.

Anything other standard would allow a corrupt government to censor any kind of anti-government programming. That's not good.
posted by Leon-arto at 12:08 PM on June 14, 2008


Should I be allowed to kick Michael Reagan in the nuts?

Yes. Yes, I should.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:09 PM on June 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


krinklyfig: replace the name "Mark Dice" in his rant with the name of a prominent political figure. Do you think the FBI and Secret Service would be ready to let that slide?
posted by jagorev at 12:10 PM on June 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


Burhanistan writes "How do you get the mentality to even consider 'take them out and shoot them' as a potential option in the spectrum of potential options?"

I dunno, but "you'll be first against the wall when the revolution comes" is so trite now as to be ironic. I think there's a bit of that sort of rhetoric on either side. But these guys are a bit too nationalistic for my tastes. This sort of police-state-promoting rhetoric is a bit scary in times like this, when the people in power are working hard to get there.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:10 PM on June 14, 2008


By the way, Mark Dice didn't say that. Mos Def did. Word.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:10 PM on June 14, 2008


Those of us who value free speech and open discourse realize that our ideas -- our values -- are bigger and stronger than his. We're strong enough to live in a country where death threats are allowed to be aired. We're strong enough to survive Michael Reagan.

Seems to me the last eight years have proven otherwise.

And death threats are illegal for a reason.
posted by jokeefe at 12:10 PM on June 14, 2008


You people are crazy. No, Michael Reagan shouldn't be legally allowed to say that- meaning, he should be investigated seriously for death threats. He's not speaking in the abstract here, he's talking about a specific individual and the method of their death.

Do you not get the non-equivalency here? Michael Reagan isn't a participant in your boardgame; he's not playing by the same rules. He's not saying "Mark Dice should be investigated for treason", he's saying "Exercise vigilante justice, and kill this one particular person". Michael Reagan would not support- clearly does not support- free speech, so why should you support his?

See, imagine you're playing at one of those park bench chess games, with numerous people playing out in the sun peaceful games of chess. Then some schmuck comes up, and starts "playing", but doesn't follow the rules, just rampantly takes your pieces off the table when you're playing, moves his pieces in ways that aren't allowed. Now, of course you'll say "What the hell are you doing?!" and refuse to play with him. Quickly the rest of the regular park bench chess players will refuse to play with him as well. He's violated the rules, he's not playing the same game, and until he does he isn't allowed. Just because he's not playing the rules, doesn't also mean every other player must not play by the rules. Everyone minus this one person can play by the rules, but at the same time acknowledge they won't play with that one guy.

That's hardly irrational; yet you knee jerk defenders of free speech don't get it. How is it at a place like metafilter people don't get "meta" very well? If people want to talk about the war on Iraq, that's free speech. If people want to talk about and encourage violence or ending the lives- or even free speech- of people simply because they don't agree with them, then that's breaking the "rules of the game". When neo-nazis talk about eradicating whole races/creeds, you don't back their free speech, you say "Whoa. I was kosher with you marching, assembling, speaking, but when you start advocating the murder of other people- ending their free speech and free lives- then why exactly should we support your free speech any more?"

It's a sucker's game, and you're suckers if you believe in the Onion-esque "ACLU supports freedom of Neo-Nazis to burn down ACLU headquarters". And don't piss down the slippery slope; that's why it's meta. It's like saying the one taboo subject in an otherwise free speech country should be the notion of ending free speech- including of individuals, by murder. Michael Reagan is free to say what he wants, and he is also free to suffer the consequences when he speaks out in a way that is a pretty clear death threat/incitement to violence.
posted by hincandenza at 12:11 PM on June 14, 2008 [66 favorites]


jagorev writes "krinklyfig: replace the name 'Mark Dice' in his rant with the name of a prominent political figure. Do you think the FBI and Secret Service would be ready to let that slide?"

Probably not. I'm not defending the tactics nor the concept behind the Secret Service, however.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:11 PM on June 14, 2008


In general, yes, he should be able to say whatever he wants. He should also be liable for the consequences should someone be able to prove incitement to violence. You pays your money, and you takes your pick....

To cloudy it up: He should be able able to say what he wants on his own frickin' soapbox. Go down to the park and use a megaphone, for all I care. But the airwaves (both radio and TV) are publicly owned. If the owners (us) decided that he couldn't spew idiotic crap like this, then he couldn't do it. And it wouldn't be a freedom of speech issue, at all.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:14 PM on June 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Michael Reagan should face no consequences from the government

We ought to find Micheal Reagan, take him out and kick him in the balls. Really. You take him out, he is a traitor to civility, and kick him. You have a problem with that? Deal with it. You kick him. You call him a traitor, that's what he is, and you kick his balls dead. I'll pay for the steel toe boots. How about you take Michael Reagan out and put him in the middle of a stadium. Tie him to a post, don't blindfold him, let it rip and have some fun with his balls.
posted by Mick at 12:15 PM on June 14, 2008 [11 favorites]


hincandenza writes "Michael Reagan would not support- clearly does not support- free speech, so why should you support his?"

That's a non-starter. Are we going to abridge free speech because some people are assholes who don't believe in it? Are we going to say, free speech for some, but not for others, just out of spite?

I still stand by the idea that Reagan wasn't calling for specific action on the part of any of his listeners. I think he's saying, sort of, "In my fantasies," or, "If I had my way ..." I'm not saying what he said is a good thing. I don't like him nor his family very much at all. But I don't think it's a good idea to start investigating people based on this sort of thing. Like I said, if someone does follow through, you bet some lawyer will jump all over it, and Reagan probably would be in quite a bad way after that.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:15 PM on June 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


He wasn't calling for anyone to shoot this protester, specifically.

What?

"How about you take Mark Dice out and put him in the middle of a firing range. Tie him to a post, don't blindfold him, let it rip and have some fun with Mark Dice."

He even offered to pay for the bullets. How was that not specific?
posted by dirigibleman at 12:16 PM on June 14, 2008 [6 favorites]


Sounds more like incitement, rather than a direct death threat. So it's not like something like this has never come up before.

Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969), was a United States Supreme Court case based on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It held that government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless it is directed to inciting and likely to incite imminent lawless action.
posted by poppo at 12:17 PM on June 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


No, this is not a free speech issue. Reagan is not be allowed to make death threats, on-air or off. His broadcaster should rightfully lose its FCC license, for mandating his behavior by continuing to broadcast his show. And, because it is against the law to issue death threats, he should be punished for doing so.

It is a felony to threaten another human being, and the word and spirit of US law is entirely straightforward on the matter:

"Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both."

Of course, because the felons involved are Republicans, this individual will not be prosecuted and nothing will happen to the broadcaster. As a bonus, we'll get to hear bullshit rationalizations on the Internets about First Amendment rights that do not apply to this situation. Business as usual.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:18 PM on June 14, 2008 [20 favorites]


And yet I agree with prosecuting the radio deejays who called for genocide in Rwanda.

Freedom of speech, yes. I have no problem with these jokers stating their viewpoints, whether they be inane, misinformed, self-serving, scurrilous, or even evil. But calling for murder? Demanding murderous action? Has that really ever been part of what we consider protected speech?

If I got together with my friends and planned to rob a bank, we would get arrested, and we couldn't make a free speech case out of it. There is a very real difference between despised ideas that must be protected and actual calls to murderous action.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:18 PM on June 14, 2008 [9 favorites]


We're strong enough to survive Michael Reagan.
Mark Dice might not be.
posted by Flunkie at 12:19 PM on June 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


Should I be allowed to kick Michael Reagan in the nuts?

I'll pay for the steel-toed boots.
posted by Adam_S at 12:21 PM on June 14, 2008


This Michael Reagan sounds like an "Ass Clown." There is a line where freedom of speech doesn't cover it - he is inciting people to acts of violence and that's just not jake.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:21 PM on June 14, 2008


Michael Reagan is free to say what he wants, and he is also free to suffer the consequences when he speaks out in a way that is a pretty clear death threat/incitement to violence.

The problem, though, is that it's not at all clear clear that this was a death threat/incitement to violence.

Some of us think that Michael Reagan does not actually intend any of his listeners to shoot anyone else, does not intend to shoot anyone himself, would not pay for any bullets if asked, etc. Also, no violence seems to have resulted from these remarks.

To me, Michael Ryan seems to be saying that Mark Dice's actions should be considered treason, and that Mark Dice should suffer capital punishment for this treason. This is political speech. It's full of hyperbole, and it's a stupid thing to say, but it's political speech.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:21 PM on June 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Er, "Michael Reagan." Apologies to Mr. Ryan, whoever that is.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:24 PM on June 14, 2008


If someone takes him up on it, does Michael Reagan bear any legal responsibility for Dice's death? IANAL, but it sure seems to me like he would. So how can it be legal for him to say that now?

And, for the record, I think that if you aren't allowed to say it about a the president, you shouldn't be allowed to say it about anyone else. Let's have a level playing field on this one.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:25 PM on June 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


In re: fighting words and incitement

I'd just like to point that Reagan's statement was far, far more specific and threatening than that of Walter Chaplinsky (in Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire), who shouted at a town marshal (admittedly in front of a large crowd): "You are a God-damned racketeer" and "a damned Fascist". Chaplinsky was arrested, and the Supreme Court sided with the state of New Hampshire, that his words were not protected under the First Amendment. Note that in this case the arrest was made and the ruling upheld in spite of the fact that no one was actually incited to violence against the marshal.

Reagan's statement was much more clearly aimed at inciting violence and murder, it had gruesome specificity, and although he did not say it directly in front of a large crowd, you could argue that the thousands of radio listeners constitute a much larger mob that could be incited to violence.
posted by jagorev at 12:26 PM on June 14, 2008 [15 favorites]


That's hardly irrational; yet you knee jerk defenders of free speech don't get it.

that's because those of us who are knee-jerk defenders of 2nd amendment rights don't have to get it

the best remedy for free speech is more speech

the best remedy for death threats is a loaded gun

the 9/11 conspiracy people tend be from the fully armed right wing militia types - i can't believe michael reagan is so stupid as to make a death threat against one of them - that could backfire on him seriously, as i'll bet mark dice's fans are a lot more likely to off someone that reagan's are
posted by pyramid termite at 12:26 PM on June 14, 2008


Yeah, and if I joke about bombing an airport while in an airport, or joke about robbing a bank while in a bank, I'm going to be looking at charges, even if I intended my comments as political satire, full of hyperbole, and no actual airplane bombing or bank robbery ever occurred.

Also, it's not clear that he did mean it as hyperbole. I guess there are no irony tags on the radio.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:27 PM on June 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


"Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?"
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:27 PM on June 14, 2008 [12 favorites]


Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America said:
Some of us think that Michael Reagan does not actually intend any of his listeners to shoot anyone else, does not intend to shoot anyone himself, would not pay for any bullets if asked, etc. Also, no violence seems to have resulted from these remarks.

First of all, according to Supreme Court precedent, no violence needs to result in order for a statement to be counted as incitement to violence.

We have Michael Reagan's own words as proof of what he "actually intends". Are you suggesting that all death threats are fine and dandy actually until and unless someone is actually killed?
posted by jagorev at 12:29 PM on June 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


9/11 conspiracy people tend be from the fully armed right wing militia types

You and I appear to subscribe to much different newsletters.
posted by Adam_S at 12:30 PM on June 14, 2008


Some of us think that Michael Reagan does not actually intend any of his listeners to shoot anyone else, does not intend to shoot anyone himself, would not pay for any bullets if asked, etc.

It doesn't matter what his intent was — or what your interpretation of his intent was — when he issued the death threat. It is still illegal to issue a death threat.

Also, no violence seems to have resulted from these remarks.

That is entirely irrelevant.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:30 PM on June 14, 2008 [8 favorites]


I'm ok with anyone saying anything, as long as I don't have to listen to it, or read about it.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:34 PM on June 14, 2008


To me, Michael Ryan seems to be saying that Mark Dice's actions should be considered treason, and that Mark Dice should suffer capital punishment for this treason.

What countries define capital punishment as "find the people doing this ... take them out and shoot them"?
posted by YoBananaBoy at 12:35 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


What countries define capital punishment as "find the people doing this ... take them out and shoot them"?

Some. Not any we would want to be compared to, though.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:37 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, in the Commonwealth (GSTQ) what he/they/it said could be considered assault if the subject of the utterance perceived the threat of imminent physical violence because thereof.

Forthwith.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:37 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have news for you guys: there are strict limits on free speech, and justifiably so.

People who say, "Without reading it, I know he has the right to say it," are simply not thinking.

Consider the "death threat": someone calls you up and says, "Unless you (do X), we will kill you."

This is a felony. You can go to jail for simply that.

There are numerous other cases where "free speech" is prohibited. If I put up a website trying to get kids to eat lead or mercury, you'd better believe I'd be charged with all sorts of things.

Now, this specific case is a sort of legal gray area but someone I know served a year in jail in New York City for saying much the same thing about his landlord (expressed as a hypothetical) so these laws are certainly enforced (whether justifiably is a different matter).

I'd say these commentators might already be breaking the law and if they continue in this fashion they will inevitably break the law sooner or later. In an earlier, more honest world, a complaint would have been filed, and a polite gentleman from the cops would have showed up and explained to these "writers" that they were flirting with charges being filed.

However, given the fact that we've had seven years of the filthy Republicans getting rid of anyone who might enforce the laws at all, I don't expect anything to be done.

Instead, I wait with hope for the day where some Iraq veteran snaps and takes out a few of these "conservative commentators" in a graphic and newsworthy fashion. If that happened even twice, you'd bet these cowards would be lying low for many decades.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:38 PM on June 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


This can only result in tragedy. Just look at the genocide that followed Jello Biafra's public exhortation to "kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor tonight".
posted by Tube at 12:46 PM on June 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


It doesn't matter what his intent was — or what your interpretation of his intent was — when he issued the death threat. It is still illegal to issue a death threat.

I don't think this is true. A "death threat" isn't simply a matter of speaking the magic words in the right order. The very same words can be a threat in one context and not a threat in another, and a great deal of the context is derived from the speaker's intent.

What countries define capital punishment as "find the people doing this ... take them out and shoot them"?

Some of you guys almost seem autistic. Have you seriously never encountered hyperbole? This is going to come as a shock, but people often say extreme things, not meaning them perfectly literally.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:47 PM on June 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


We have Michael Reagan's own words as proof of what he "actually intends". Are you suggesting that all death threats are fine and dandy actually until and unless someone is actually killed?

No, I'm suggesting that I listened to the clip, and based on Michael Reagan's own words, I don't think a death threat was made.

I pointed out that no violence had actually occurred because even though you are correct that violence isn't a necessary precondition, lack of violence is at least some indication that the words weren't an incitement to violence.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:51 PM on June 14, 2008


And, for the record, I think that if you aren't allowed to say it about a the president, you shouldn't be allowed to say it about anyone else. Let's have a level playing field on this one.

Damn right. You should be allowed to say everything said here about the President, too.
posted by darksasami at 12:52 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ah, nice words from the eldest son of Ronald Reagan.
posted by ericb at 12:52 PM on June 14, 2008


The very same words can be a threat in one context and not a threat in another, and a great deal of the context is derived from the speaker's intent.

The only worthwhile context is that Reagan is a right-wing radio personality and, because of his political views, therefore will not be charged with the felony he committed, much like that other right-wing radio personality who got off on a felony charge.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:53 PM on June 14, 2008


lupus_yonderboy writes: I have news for you guys: there are strict limits on free speech, and justifiably so. [...] I wait with hope for the day where some Iraq veteran snaps and takes out a few of these "conservative commentators" in a graphic and newsworthy fashion.

Let's not stoop to their level.
posted by anifinder at 12:54 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's amazing how sensitive MeFites are to the 1st amendment. Death threats? Really? Most here clamor for ever more "reasonable" regulations on the right to bear arms, but regulating speech in the slightest is out of the question?
posted by knave at 12:58 PM on June 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


The only worthwhile context is that Reagan is a right-wing radio personality and, because of his political views, therefore will not be charged with the felony he committed, much like that other right-wing radio personality who got off on a felony charge.

I think it's much more likely that you heard a felonious threat in the clip because of your own biases. Of course, your biases are so deeply ingrained and you're so blind to them that you take your warped view of the world as objective truth, and you just can't understand why I prosecutor wouldn't want to fight your idiotic battles for you--unless there was some big conspiracy.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:59 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think it's much more likely that you heard a felonious threat in the clip because of your own biases. Of course, your biases are so deeply ingrained and you're so blind to them that you take your warped view of the world as objective truth

Okay, sure. But back in the real world, we're dealing with on-air incitement to murder and the accompanying offer to buy the bullets. So either you're trolling because you don't have a leg to stand on, or you're too thickheaded to grasp what happened. Given your history, it's hard to say which.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:09 PM on June 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Okay, sure. But back in the real world, we're dealing with on-air incitement to murder and the accompanying offer to buy the bullets.

In the real world, nothing is going to happen to Michael Reagan, because nobody who actually matters will do anything. If you want to believe it's because everyone is part of a conspiracy or "too thickheaded to grasp what happened," that's your right, I suppose.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 1:12 PM on June 14, 2008


Michael Reagan should face no consequences from the government

We ought to find Micheal Reagan, take him out and kick him in the balls. Really. You take him out, he is a traitor to civility, and kick him. You have a problem with that? Deal with it. You kick him. You call him a traitor, that's what he is, and you kick his balls dead. I'll pay for the steel toe boots. How about you take Michael Reagan out and put him in the middle of a stadium. Tie him to a post, don't blindfold him, let it rip and have some fun with his balls.


Be a little careful, here.

Mark Dice is not protected by the Secret Service, but as the son of an ex-President, Michael Reagan probably is.

Dementia evidently runs in the family; maybe we'll get to see whether Teflon does, too.
posted by jamjam at 1:17 PM on June 14, 2008


His right to say it doesn't seem to be the most salient point to me...

What mystifies me is that those who find fault in what he says don't feel they have the same power to counter his speech that other groups do.

How is it that those who don't want to see Rachel Ray's evil terror-donut-scarf are more empowered to shut things than those who don't want death threats against anti-war activists?

An uptight parent in middle America sees a nipple on tv, and all of a sudden they're the most influential person in American media...Yet nobody can do anything about right-wing blowhard.

Unless this guy has a history of getting his audience to do his bidding, there's no reason to make the assumption that this was a credible threat. I don't know enough about this guy to say one way otr the other. If it was Rush Limbaugh, who has been very upfront about expecting his listenerst to actually do the crap he talks about, then I think it would be fair to say it warrants a bit more scrutiny.

There's definitely a difference between something that is highly unlikely people will take literally, and those wacky morning zoo guys getting a stupid listener to streak a baseball game.
posted by billyfleetwood at 1:43 PM on June 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


If Michael Reagan can do it, we all can.

I've said here before that the only reason I'd ever purchase a gun is specifically as a tool to kill someone with. Because there are better tools for every other supposed purpose to own a gun.

That said, I hope if I ever get to meet Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America in person, I get at least 10 days prior notice. You know, the California waiting period.

Or is that too subtle?
posted by wendell at 1:43 PM on June 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


If he had been caught on a (legal!) wiretap saying to someone "You call them traitors, that's what they are, and you shoot them dead. I'll pay for the bullets." that would be conspiracy to murder, yes? But because he said it on the airwaves to lots of people, and not to a specific person, that somehow makes it legal, or okay, or an exercise of his free speech?
posted by rtha at 1:45 PM on June 14, 2008


Everyone who decided to post without listening to what Reagan said: you're a fucking idiot.

Everyone who decided to post that it is fine to ask your listeners to murder a specific person, including offering to pay for the method of execution: you're a fucking idiot.

I want you to shut the fuck up for a second and think about this. An influential broadcaster exhorted his listeners, many of whom may be psychotic or suggestible, to kill a real human being. He asked his listeners to kill Mark Dice because Mark Dice is engaged in a misguided but peaceful resistance to a war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. Mark Dice is a real person, like you or me. Go stand in front of a mirror and say: "it's okay for a broadcaster to call for the murder of an individual. It's okay to specify how to kill a man, and offer financial support to any of your listeners who manage to do it, to kill a man because you asked them to."

And if you can say that, and mean it, may god have mercy on your soul.

What if you were the target? Maybe you cut Michael Reagan off in traffic, or were opposed to the Iraq War, or maybe he just didn't like you. And it was your name that thousands of people know, and you are the target of a call to murder. How would you sleep at night? Would you tell your children that it was okay that people have been given a social and financial incentive to kill mommy or daddy? That America is about free speech at all costs? That it's okay to use the power of broadcasting to terrify and silence an innocent man, because of what he believes? What on earth has become of us? Of you?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:52 PM on June 14, 2008 [50 favorites]


Well, I'm a free speech fundamentalist, and I've got to agree with the idea that death threats aren't covered by free speech. Sorry if that makes me less pure in the eyes of some.

I do think the State should prosicute Reagan for making a death threat, I do think he and any other talk radio type who makes death threats should be taken off the air. That sort of rhetoric poisons debate, and can (as others have pointed out WRT Rowanda) lead to actual deaths. Which is kind of the whole reason why death threats aren't protected speech: they can lead to deaths.

They don't, always, anymore than every instance of drunk driving leads to deaths. But we prosicute those who drive drunk even if they don't actually kill anyone, and so too should we prosicute those who make death threats even if their words didn't (that time) result in deaths.

As for the incredibly long named right wing troll: your bullshit justifications for the continuance of eliminationist rhetoric from your fellow choads are pathetic. If you and your fellows can't make your points without making death threats perhaps you should consider the possibility that your points really aren't worth all that much.

As for Mark Dice (or whatever his real name is), he's definately not sane, and I disagree with his prattle, but its legal and I will defend it as free speech.
posted by sotonohito at 1:58 PM on June 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


Would any of us want a pundit with thousands of listeners calling for us to be shot? Personally I'd be freaked out because so many of these listeners are gun nuts to begin with. I wouldn't be surprised if Reagan's lawyer isn't personally flogging him for creating such a legal liability. The people he's directing the death threats at likely have grounds to sue his pants off even if this isn't an outright criminal offense.
posted by mullingitover at 2:02 PM on June 14, 2008


Or is that too subtle?

No, it was clear enough. I didn't interpret it as a threat, though, because I don't think you actually have any intention of buying a gun, regardless of how much advance notice you have, and you're certainly not going to kill me.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 2:05 PM on June 14, 2008


After listening to this evil fucker's call for violence, I'll admit that the thought of being put in a room with this bastard and one of my lovely Damascus steel bowie knives for around 15 minutes, makes me grin. I'm all for peace, but with these scumbags, there's only one language they understand, and it ain't peace and bunny rabbits.
posted by dbiedny at 2:06 PM on June 14, 2008


Is it an incitement to violence? Sure it is.
But Mark Dice is in no danger, because Reagan and his listeners are pants wetting cowards who like to share these masturbatory fantasies with each other to escape from their miserable lives.
They live in a world where they've gotten the shaft from uppity negroes and loud mouthed women, know it all scientists and pointy headed intellectuals. The 21st century is a strange and frightening time for them, and they will never catch up.
They are hurting and they need your support, your compassion, your love.
But most of all, they need a good kick in the nuts.
posted by 2sheets at 2:08 PM on June 14, 2008 [9 favorites]


I think the threatened person/people should be able to sue. And the law should make it quite possible for them to win. That provides accountability: say what you want, so long as you're prepared to deal with the outcome.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:09 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow. A lot going on here.

First of all, the "FBI" link goes to the website of Mr. Dice himself, not to a news story of an FBI investigation. i now feel permanently dumber for having visited a website with the url "theresistancemanifesto.com"

Second, this is a very close call, with arguments to be made on both sides. Stuff like What if you were the target? is a horrible argument no matter what side you're on- it's basically "won't someone think of the children???" Stuff like this is why people are so gung-ho to defend free speech: because there's always someone out there who want to use specious scare tactics to take it away.

That said, I think "We ought to" is the key phrase here that moves this into death threat territory. "In a just world, someone would take him out and shoot him" is hyperbole and protected speech. But "we" in this case seems to refer to Mr. Reagan and/or members of his audience literally doing this.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:14 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


you just can't understand why I prosecutor wouldn't want to fight your idiotic battles for you

I prosecutor no cyan fight I&I battles for I, Mr. His Imperial Majesty Dr. Bumboclot Jamrock, seen?
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:17 PM on June 14, 2008 [11 favorites]


reagan's defense attorney will probably argue that by "we" he means the US government, but if that's the case, why would the government need him to buy them bullets?
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:17 PM on June 14, 2008


Excuse me folks, I'm going to say this. We ought to find the people who are supporting the war, take them out and shoot them. Really. You take them out, they are traitors to this country, and shoot them. You have a problem with that? Deal with it. You shoot them. You call them traitors, that's what they are, and you shoot them dead. I'll pay for the bullets. How about you take Michael Reagan out and put him in the middle of a firing range. Tie him to a post, don't blindfold him, let it rip and have some fun with Michael Reagan.

That's okay to say, right? Am I clear on where we stand?
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:22 PM on June 14, 2008


I prosecutor no cyan fight I&I battles for I, Mr. His Imperial Majesty Dr. Bumboclot Jamrock, seen?

I am suddenly inspired to stop reading about the First Amendment and return to playing more GTA4.
posted by rokusan at 2:31 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


We ought to find the children in mormon schools, take them out and shoot them. Really.

We ought to find the children of immigrants, take them out and shoot them. Really.

We ought to find the children of George W. Bush, take them out and shoot them. Really.


It's a lot more fun when somebody thinks of the children. Now if only I had a nationally syndicated talk show.
posted by Null Pointer and the Exceptions at 2:31 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Second, this is a very close call, with arguments to be made on both sides. Stuff like What if you were the target? is a horrible argument no matter what side you're on- it's basically "won't someone think of the children???" Stuff like this is why people are so gung-ho to defend free speech: because there's always someone out there who want to use specious scare tactics to take it away.

It's not a scare tactic: it's to point out that this is a real person we're talking about. To bring home the point that what Reagan said has real consequences even if no one winds up killing him. Frankly, I don't know why you and your kind are incapable of empathy: maybe your daddy hit you or you were bullied or you just don't give a shit about anyone but yourself, but sometimes the rest of us need to point out that certain behaviors are unacceptable. Asking thousands of people to kill a specific person is one of those unacceptable behaviors.

I don't know why I even bother: America has become so filled with self-loathing males whose insecurities lead to this ridiculous need to prove how tough they are. Check out this shit:

shinagami18: "mike is 100% correct. if you dont like the war,tough, you had your chance before it started, otherwise, shut up and let us win so we can get our troops home"

Why, who is this tough warrior determined to keep America free from dangerous guys who are sending documents and DVDs? Oh, it's a ugly fat kid who enjoys anime and video games. Thank goodness he is defending us!
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:34 PM on June 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


five fresh fish In the USA, and pretty much everywhere else with a Western type legal system, anyone can sue anyone else at any time for any reason. Of course, the judge might dismiss the suit out of hand if they think its preposterous, but there's nothing (except possibly the fear of revealing his real name) preventing Dice from sueing Reagan.

However, I have to say I don't much care for that. Lawyers aren't free, and if you don't have the money for a lawyer its incredibly easy for someone with that money to really screw you over with well funded, but ultimately groundless, lawsuits. The old "the speech is free, the lawyer isn't" bit is not particularly kind to those of us not blessed with a few million dollars. And, since Reagan does have that money (and presumably the backing of the corporation paying for his radio time) he'd grind Dice into the dust if Dice ever did try to sue.
posted by sotonohito at 2:38 PM on June 14, 2008


But Mark Dice is in no danger, because Reagan and his listeners are pants wetting cowards who like to share these masturbatory fantasies with each other to escape from their miserable lives.

"In the U.S.,
violence directed toward abortion providers has killed 7 people, including 3 doctors, 2 clinic employees, a security guard, and a clinic escort.[5]

* March 10, 1993: Dr. David Gunn of Pensacola, Florida was fatally shot during a protest. He had been the subject of wanted-style posters distributed by Operation Rescue in the summer of the year before. Michael F. Griffin was found guilty of Dr. Gunn's murder and was sentenced to life in prison." (emphasis mine)
posted by rtha at 2:41 PM on June 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Why the hell should I have to deal with any of this? If Michael Reagan wants Mark Dice dead, he should shut the fuck up and go kill him. It's not my job to go kill everyone that shit stain doesn't want in his little Disneyland America.

Similarly, if Mark Dice feels threatened by... well... by death threats, then why the hell is he putting out a press release so I can feel all threatened for him? If he really thinks Michael Reagan presents a credible deadly threat to his life, he should kill him. He should pulp Reagan's skull with a mattock before Reagan does it to him. That's why the law recognizes a right of self-defense

Either way, these slap-fighting pussies should leave me alone. It's time to shit or get off the pot guys. Call me when somebody's dead.


(wow, that was fun!)
posted by Naberius at 2:41 PM on June 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Also, no violence seems to have resulted from these remarks.

Yet.

I have a feeling this would cause a lot more of a ruckus if someone on left-wing radio had called for the murder of someone like Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly. They'd go absolutely nuts about it.
posted by marble at 2:51 PM on June 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Fire!
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:55 PM on June 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is somewhat of a close call, although if I was in a jury deciding this case I would probably convict. I think it is good that the First Amendment threat doctrine is qualified by "immediateness" though because if it wasn't, normal human hyperbole ("You should kick the ass of the guy who sold you that counterfeit watch") would all of a sudden be criminal. It also protects subjunctive phrasing ("I wish someone would assassinate President Bush"), allowing us (by us, I mean those protected by the First Amendment) to express nasty hopes or wishes.

I think it gets more complicated when you are speaking to an audience over the radio or airwaves because you don't know who exactly you are speaking to. If you tell your buddy that he should kick someone's ass, you are in a much better position to judge whether your words will actually encourage him to kick someone's ass or whether you are just expressing sympathy for whatever he is pissed about. When your speech is directed at unknown people in an unknown number, there is a greater chance that you will be taken literally and there will be an immediate threat, which is why I think this guy's speech is not protected.
posted by Falconetti at 2:58 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Michael Reagan... Hmmm...I wonder what his parents were like.
posted by notreally at 3:33 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mark Dice is not protected by the Secret Service, but as the son of an ex-President, Michael Reagan probably is.

No. He isn't.
"...former Presidents and their spouses receive protection for life unless they ask that it be withdrawn. Children are protected until the age of 21."*
In related news:
"And while the 2008 campaign gets going, the [Secret Service] is also gearing up for January 2009, when President Bush is set to leave office ... The service has begun training agents to fill 103 full-time slots as to be part of the current president's retirement detail."
posted by ericb at 3:37 PM on June 14, 2008


"And while the 2008 campaign gets going, the [Secret Service] is also gearing up for January 2009, when President Bush is set to leave office ... The service has begun training agents to fill 103 full-time slots as to be part of the current president's retirement detail."

Boy, that must be a shit job, huh? Talk about people who should rethink what they're doing...
posted by Naberius at 3:45 PM on June 14, 2008


Would any of us want a pundit with thousands of listeners calling for us to be shot?

On the flip side, I can't help but recall the assassination of Denver-based liberal radio talk show host Alan Berg. He was shot thirteen times in his driveway by members of the White nationalist group The Order. Members used to call-in to his radio program to goad him into arguments.
posted by ericb at 3:49 PM on June 14, 2008


FYI: Dice is on the show tonight at 6:30 ET (in 38 minutes).
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 3:52 PM on June 14, 2008


Michael Reagan... Hmmm...I wonder what his parents were like.

FYI, he was adopted.
posted by Leon-arto at 3:57 PM on June 14, 2008


FYI: Dice is on the show tonight at 6:30 ET

Since it's currently 6:58 p.m. here on the East coast, he's on right now.
posted by ericb at 3:59 PM on June 14, 2008


Actually ... Reagan's website says: "Mike's Guest on Monday at 6:30pm Eastern will be Mark Dice."
posted by ericb at 4:00 PM on June 14, 2008


Is it ok to suggest that the station allowing this stuff ought to be blown up?
posted by Postroad at 4:13 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Optimus Chyme writes "And if you can say that, and mean it, may god have mercy on your soul."

That's not very persuasive, sorry. I'm also sorry that you take this so personally.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:55 PM on June 14, 2008


The service has begun training agents to fill 103 full-time slots as to be part of the current president's retirement detail.

So each time a president is re-elected, 103 new hire positions are lost?

Interesting argument for term limits.
posted by rokusan at 4:55 PM on June 14, 2008


That's not very persuasive, sorry.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:55 PM on June 14


great rebuttal chock full of facts thanks for spending so much time on it
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:12 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why was this posted to Metafilter?
posted by Class Goat at 5:24 PM on June 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Actually ... Reagan's website says: "Mike's Guest on Monday at 6:30pm Eastern will be Mark Dice."

never mind the death threats, there's money and publicity to be had! - if we really wanted to be mean, we'd sentence both of them to life-long obscurity in some town in south dakota without radio equipment or internet
posted by pyramid termite at 5:33 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why was this posted to Metafilter?

The carbonation of Wingnut Blue tickles me little kitten nose. Interesting posting history, egg. Flagged.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:37 PM on June 14, 2008


I heard the jerk of the well-set hook a half a continent away - lefties, righties, wingnuts and moonbats - you all bit down hard on this one, people.
posted by yhbc at 6:00 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, just looked at the three comments the OP made before posting this turd. Someone should take him out and shoot him.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:06 PM on June 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


This thread will be so lovely if it stays around. I'm sure a pretty strong case could be made for either side as to whether death threats are covered by the first amendment. He sounded earnest. How do you get the mentality to even consider "take them out and shoot them" as a potential option in the spectrum of potential options? Is there that much hatred for rule of law among modern conservatives? But anyways, we should take all these pundits out and shoot them.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:04 PM on June 14 [1 favorite +] [!]

You're right I'm new to this, but I have to start somewhere. Thanks for your input. I did notice this at the bottom of my page:

note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.

I guess I misinterpreted something.
posted by an egg at 6:16 PM on June 14, 2008


FYI, he was adopted.

Presumably he was a brain damaged crack baby, adopted as part of Nancy's 'Just Say No' efforts in the War on Drugs?

Nice to see Care in the Community working out so well.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:22 PM on June 14, 2008


I guess I misinterpreted something.

You're right, it's not a great post, but hopefully you'll lurk a bit more and find out what makes a good post before doing this again. Don't be too discouraged.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:23 PM on June 14, 2008


Can we at least do without the "you're crazy," "knee-jerk," "you guys almost seem autistic," "God have mercy on your soul," "your kind are incapable of empathy," bullshit? I think reasonable arguments can be made that a fucking shitstain made legally actionable statements, because he made a specific death threat, or that a fucking shitstain said something protected by the first amendment because there was not an immediate danger of incitement, or that even if he shouldn't be censured by the government, there is steal an actionable tort, but can we can it the dramatic What if it was yoooou? and I don't care what he said, he did nothing wrong! nonsense, and talk like adults?

Also, looking at an eggs posting history, am I the only one who can tell that his posts are hyperbolic sarcasm? Or am I crazy?
posted by Snyder at 7:06 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


What company does Michael Reagan work for?
posted by intermod at 7:13 PM on June 14, 2008


Why, who is this tough warrior determined to keep America free from dangerous guys who are sending documents and DVDs? Oh, it's a ugly fat kid who enjoys anime and video games. Thank goodness he is defending us!

Damn, Optimus... it's a YouTube comment.
posted by the other side at 7:32 PM on June 14, 2008


It seems that he's calling for the death of those that believe that the 911 attacks were an inside job and not anti-war activists as the YT title states. Finally a right-wing nut case I can get behind.
posted by pianomover at 7:44 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


an egg's (pseudo?)trolly comment history notwithstanding, this is a great post and a great discussion, and I hope for more like this in future.

(It's better than baconfilter.)

As for the issue at hand, Dice's decision to call the FBI was a sound one; if nothing comes of that, there's always the entirely legitimate "mental anguish" route.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:44 PM on June 14, 2008


Anybody should be allowed to say whatever they want. That's free speech.

If someone actually listens to this bozo and does what he tells them to do? That person should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. That's justice.

All Michael Reagan is doing is providing a program, and if that's what people wanna listen to, if that's what brings the advertisers in, then that's capitalism.

Blaming Michael Reagan if an idiot dumber than him goes and shoots someone sending DVDs to the troops that they think should be seen? That's stupid.

Reagan's just got a big mouth and that's what he gets paid to do. The trick here is that's what he gets paid to do. So long as there's money flowing to that big mouth, it'll keep right on talking. Why would advertisers support this jackoff? Obviously, cuz there's an audience for it. Otherwise, Reagan would be where I am. Nowheresville. People don't wanna listen to common sense. They wanna listen to filth and they want it 24/7. They want sensationalism. That's why the Hearsts and the Murdochs of the world make the big money. Don't like it? STOP BUYING INTO IT.

Bullshit sells. It's very simple.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:09 PM on June 14, 2008


an egg: if I misread your intentions and your previous comments were made as off the cuff jabs at ridiculous events rather than earnest trolling, then my apologies.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:45 PM on June 14, 2008


... because that's about the only way an egg's prior posts make any kind of sense.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:12 PM on June 14, 2008


After all, he's only an egg.
posted by bouncebounce at 1:42 AM on June 15, 2008


And of course the chicken came before the egg cuz of Intelligent Design...
posted by ZachsMind at 5:06 AM on June 15, 2008


Anybody should be allowed to say whatever they want. That's free speech.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:09 PM on June 14


Do you mean to say that even libel shouldn't be actionable? Or that the broadcasters who called for the Rwandan genocide were, in fact, without blame? I just want to make sure I'm understanding you.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:16 AM on June 15, 2008


Aw yeah, Michael Reagan, the son where Reagan went to speak at his boarding-school graduation, then didn't recognize him. Well, now I know two things about the guy. Oh, wait, three--I just saw an article that mentioned he was a bedwetter.
posted by box at 7:33 AM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't know why I even bother: America has become so filled with self-loathing males whose insecurities lead to this ridiculous need to prove how tough they are.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:34 PM on June 14


"In his best-selling "On the Outside Looking In," Michael [Reagan] wrote of being molested by a camp counselor, of his confusion over being adopted, of his anger about being shuttled from boarding school to boarding school — and from parent to parent.

He was hardest, however, on himself, revealing his bedwetting and his inability to find a career, stay out of debt and get along with parents."


lmao if this guy wasn't reagan's son he'd be wearing shit-stained jeans and living in a homeless center run by liberal do-gooders; i am so tired of being correct
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:42 AM on June 15, 2008


OptimusChyme: "I just want to make sure I'm understanding you."

Anybody should be allowed to say whatever they want.

If there are consequences for saying something slanderous or downright stupid, those consequences will will out. One should not be punished for speaking their mind. Lies should of course be dealt with accordingly. It's censorship I abhor; not justice.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:52 AM on June 15, 2008


"If there are consequences for saying something slanderous or downright stupid, those consequences will will out."

Too bad those million dead Zwandans can't sue.
posted by psyche7 at 9:42 AM on June 15, 2008


lmao if this guy wasn't reagan's son he'd be wearing shit-stained jeans and living in a homeless center run by liberal do-gooders; i am so tired of being correct
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:42 PM on June 15 [+] [!]


Dude, I usually agree with you, but are you fucking serious? Why would you ever wish that on anyone? I accept and even agree that this guy is a spineless asshole whose only concern is capital but making fun of a neglected and sexually abused kid and his reprehensible fate had he not been adopted by rich parents is really fucking low and you should know better.
posted by nonmerci at 10:03 AM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


posted by ZachsMind Anybody should be allowed to say whatever they want. If there are consequences for saying something slanderous or downright stupid, those consequences will will out. One should not be punished for speaking their mind. Lies should of course be dealt with accordingly. It's censorship I abhor; not justice.

So then, is yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater or telling a stewardess on an airplane "I have a bomb" perfectly okay with you? I'm really trying to understand this logic of yours.
posted by optovox at 10:45 AM on June 15, 2008


I'm not sure it's a good idea to try to understand any supposed logical underpinnings of those rants.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:39 AM on June 15, 2008


IANAL but I'd say it's not a specific death threat. I think poppo hit it pretty squarely w/ Brandenburg v. Ohio.

So I don't think it's illegal for him to say that. However, if it doesn't violate FCC regulations, there is no point to even have FCC regulations.

I wonder how Michael and Ron Reagan get along ...
posted by mrgrimm at 12:09 PM on June 15, 2008


I do hope Mr Dice isn't a pacifist.

I wouldn't bet real money against his chances of a self-defence plea if he went into Reagan's studio and blew his head right off.
posted by genghis at 12:19 PM on June 15, 2008


Not wishing to put words in OP's mouth, but perhaps the initial question could be more usefully rephrased from "Should he be able to say this?" to "Having said this, should he now be punished?"

I believe he should be able to say it, absolutely. But now he needs his ass handed to him for being a nasty, wrong-minded piece of shit.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:01 PM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just spoke to Michael Reagan on the phone.(!!) Regarding Mark Dice and 9/11 Truth.
"OK GUYS- I know this sounds ridiculous but it is 100% true. Yesterday I wrote an article which appeared on the front page of prisonplanet.com, entitled 'How to properly file an official FCC complaint against Michael Reagan for death threats against Mark Dice'. Today, our group INLAND EMPIRE 911 TRUTH had a meeting and decided that we will stage a protest against Michael Reagan on Monday June 16th. In my research tonight, I found a number for him, called it, and by freak chance accidently got his direct personal line. He answered, and we spoke about the issue. Here is what happened.

...I had been digging around the net for a few hours trying to find out where they broadcast the show from. So at 10PM, (let this be a lesson about privacy issues..) I find what I believe to be the guy's home address and what turns out to be his CURRENT CELL PHONE NUMBER.... i was expecting to get some office line, but no, I called it and Michael Reagan answered it personally , which took me by complete surprise, and we ended up talking for 4 minutes and 15 seconds.

...I told him initially, after my shock that he answered, that I was calling about the Mark Dice issue, that I was Catholic and I think it's very wrong for him to issue death threats. I also said that I'm a lifelong republican, a Ron Paul supporter, and that I do believe that the evidence shows there was government involvement, government sponsored terrorism on 911. He went immediately back to saying, if you think we should send these type letters and dvds to the troops i think thats wrong. I tried again to say, 'but aside from sending dvds...'

He said he was sorry for his comments, that he apologized, and that he shouldn't have said it and confirmed that he will have Mark Dice on his show Monday. He explained that when he made the comments, he had recently given a speech and just got off the USS Ronald Reagan, he sees the troops and supports their work, and was upset, but that he acted wrong in making his comments. I said that many people are saying there should be criminal charges filed against him for his remarks, and asked him what he thought of that,. He said no comment on that but reiterated that he and Mark had a nice conversation and will discuss it on the show.

I told him I appreciate the time, and asked, can i just address one point, (I was gonna mention the larger issue of govt black ops) and he said it's Saturday night, father's day tomorrow and he has to go,. and added 'and thats the story'.

Then we both said bye and he abruptly hung up."
posted by ericb at 3:32 PM on June 15, 2008


MAD Magazine has announced a new comic feature: 'Wacko vs. Wacko.'
posted by ericb at 3:34 PM on June 15, 2008


Anybody should be allowed to say whatever they want.

If there are consequences [...] those consequences will will out.


See, the funny thing about death threats, ZachsMind, (or fatwas such as this) is that one possible consequence is, you know, someone's death.

Let me see if I've got this straight: If you were to, say, ask someone to murder your spouse for the insurance money, when the cops came around and questioned you, you'd tell them, "I didn't think he would actually do it," because you think that would be an adequate defense?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:36 PM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


BONG HITS FOR JESUS!
posted by Marla Singer at 3:42 PM on June 15, 2008


BONG HITS FOR JESUS!

Ah, yes. Morse v. Frederick -- BONG HiTS 4 JESUS (previously on MeFi -- 1, 2).
posted by ericb at 3:52 PM on June 15, 2008


The Supreme Court rules that a students suspended for a 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' banner didn't have his rights violated. [video | 2:11].
posted by ericb at 3:54 PM on June 15, 2008


Somebody should tell their principals.
posted by an egg at 9:08 PM on June 15, 2008


OptoVox: "So then, is yelling 'Fire!' in a crowded theater or telling a stewardess on an airplane "I have a bomb" perfectly okay with you? I'm really trying to understand this logic of yours."

I'm getting de ja vu here. I've probably addressed this in The Blue before. So forgive me if this reads like a rerun cuz it sure writes like one.

If you make a law saying certain things cannot be said, that is censorship. That is wrong.

Yeah yeah yeah yeah I know. "Screaming 'fire' in a theater can cause panic and people can die!" whine whine whine whatever.

I know why we have laws against it. We have laws against the use of words describing sexual activity and excrement: two things the human body kinda has to do. You can make all the laws against free speech that you want, and they have legitimate reasons to be there. Still don't make them right.

Simultaneously, no human being in their right mind should WANT to yell fire in a movie theater, because smart people know what the consequences of such an act would be.

If someone screams "fire" in a movie theater, and nothing happens? The guy shouldn't be sent to jail. People should throw their popcorn at him, and that would be the end of it.

If someone screams "fire" in a movie theater, and that incites a panicking riot, then yes the guy who screamed fire should be taken into custody and on a case by case basis he should go to trial and be held accountable if found guilty.

Currently, as I understand the law, and someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but the very act of screaming "fire" in a movie theater is a chargeable offense - whether or not anything bad actually happens. That's against the first amendment. Free speech is not being protected in this case. We all presently agree this is acceptable. We give up our right to scream "fire" in a movie theater, so we can feel safer in a movie theater. It's an illusion. We're not any safer in a movie theater, but we feel like we are and that makes all the difference, right?

I'm not saying repeal the law. I'm just saying it's wrong. Objectively speaking.

Subjectively I'm all for the law. I don't wanna scream 'fire' in a theater personally, and I think anyone who does is a prick, so by all means keep the law. That don't make it right.

Hell, make a law saying nobody can call me FAT. I can call myself fat all I want but I want any jackass who insults my weight without my permission to go to fucking jail do not pass go do not collect two hundred dollars fuck you! See? There's a reason why they won't let me pass any laws. I'd suck at it, but I'D be happier than shit. I'd pass laws requiring people give me all their money. I'd pass laws requiring women I choose to have sex with me.

You can pass all the laws you want, if they let you. That don't make them right.

No screaming 'fire' in a movie theater. Got it. Personally I wish similar laws would be made about car alarms cuz DAMN I'm tired of hearing those things go off at three in the morning for no good reason. No my neighbor's radio doesn't get robbed every night. His car alarm is so sensitive, if another car drives near it, the damn thing goes off. Why isn't there a law against that? Isn't a car alarm going of that's not getting robbed like yelling fire in a movie theater, or crying rape in an alley when you're not getting raped?

There's a thousand other things that a person can say which could incite a riot. Screaming "fire" in a movie theater is weak tea. I could probably come up with dozens of more valid and more dangerous scenarios. Should there be laws against all those too?

If I buy an American flag for purposes of burning it, should I be incarcerated? It's my flag. I bought it. I kept the receipt. I wanna burn it. Why can't I do that? Am I inciting to riot? Is that why? What if I burn it in an artistic expression of how the meaning behind the flag REMAINS after the symbol is destroyed? Am I still inciting to riot? Am I still unAmerican?

Where is the line drawn? How do we know that line will stay where it is tomorrow? Every time we make a law against the first amendment, we give up a little bit of our freedom in return for an illusion of security.

Maybe you don't scream "kill the president" but what if you get very heated in a public forum, addressing your grievances against the Executive branch, and someone else misinterprets your free speech as provocation to mutiny against the government? Should you go to jail for being unAmerican? IS it unAmerican to speak up against authority figures? Or is it MORE unAmerican to keep your mouth shut?

In answer to the original question, it's not perfectly okay with me. I don't want weirdoes going around inciting riots while I'm trying to watch Indy Twelve. Still. It's a restriction on free speech. If there is ANY - and I mean ANY - restriction on free speech?

IT'S. NOT. FREE.

You can keep a lowland gorilla in a wildlife preserve with several acres of nice land designed to mimic his natural habitat. If he can't get out of that area ...he ain't free. He's gonna wanna get out. If a stupid ape can tell the difference between freedom and captivity, why the hell can't we?
posted by ZachsMind at 10:34 PM on June 15, 2008


A company sells something to you. If you buy two of them, the company says you get one free. That's a lie.

In order to get one for free, you have to buy one. So it's not free. You're getting them both at half the original price. They just tell you the second one is free cuz it sounds better, but if you have to shell out any money, you're getting nothing for free pal.

Any restriction on free is not free.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:40 PM on June 15, 2008


Dear ZachsMind,

My username is all lowercase.

Thank you.
posted by optovox at 10:56 PM on June 15, 2008


I find it very amusing that you are so very convinced that absolute freedom of speech is more important than the very health of a society. You argue that even speech which is detrimental to society is more important than society. It seems a very facile, naive concept.

All other aspects of our society are a balance of give-and-take. But you'd have it so that there is no give-and-take where speech is concerned. Were it possible to utter the nine billion names of God, sure as shootin', you'd want that to be allowed regardless the consequences.

The sociopathic creeps who spew hatred tend to attract a nasty element of our society, who then go out and do crazy, hurtful, destructive shit.

Quite simply, I don't think we need to put up with their bullshit for the vain ideal of free speech. We're trying to have a society here. That means there are limitations as to what is acceptable. You don't get to make excessive noise during the night hours; you don't get to raise pigs in your front yard; you don't get to incite hate violence.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:10 PM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


No screaming 'fire' in a movie theater. Got it. Personally I wish similar laws would be made about car alarms cuz DAMN I'm tired of hearing those things go off at three in the morning for no good reason. No my neighbor's radio doesn't get robbed every night. His car alarm is so sensitive, if another car drives near it, the damn thing goes off. Why isn't there a law against that?

I have never lived in a municipality that didn't have very specific ordinances against noise pollution. This includes car alarms. Provide evidence of the car and the decibel level and file a complaint, if you want.

If I buy an American flag for purposes of burning it, should I be incarcerated? It's my flag. I bought it. I kept the receipt. I wanna burn it. Why can't I do that?

You can burn the flag if you want, Practice fire safety, though.

There's a thousand other things that a person can say which could incite a riot. Screaming "fire" in a movie theater is weak tea. I could probably come up with dozens of more valid and more dangerous scenarios. Should there be laws against all those too?

Zach, you know that the laws prohibiting those sort of things don't specifically say "No yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater," right? Because after reading what you wrote ten times, I think that you think that it is explicitly prohibited, and that to prohibit other dangerous, riot-inciting speech would require a legislature to - what? Give specific examples?

Now it's my turn to use some free speech on you, Zach. The above quoted comments indicate that you don't have a fucking clue what you're talking about. You use three examples are that exactly wrong. You've displayed a childlike understanding of the law and society. This is the kind of argumentation I would expect from a bright but naive and dorky eight year-old. It is embarrassing to watch.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:38 PM on June 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


See, the funny thing about death threats, ZachsMind, (or fatwas such as this) is that one possible consequence is, you know, someone's death.

Ok infidels, I've said it before but I'll say it again. A fatwa is not a death threat issued by some inane talk show host. It is simply a decision or opinion, usually from an accredited scholar, about a matter in Islamic law. It could be as simple as a ruling on if a certain kind of toothbrush is conformable to the shariat, or if it's ok to perform the prayer as a Hanafi if one follows the Shafii madhab but is with Hanafis. It's unfortunate that Khomeini has coopted this term. Most Sunni scholars repudiated his so-called fatwa against Rushdie. But the idea that fatwa is a direct translation of "death warrant" needs to be nipped in the bud.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:28 AM on June 16, 2008


I stand corrected, B'stan; my bad.

Still, there's a distinction to be made between a death threat ("I am going to kill you") and a call for someone's head ("Please kill this person"), the distinction being that the latter, once uttered, is out of the control of the speaker, and cannot easily be absolved with hugs and apologies.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:43 AM on June 16, 2008


The 9/11 truthers, as a group, infuriate and sicken me. None of them apparently actually understand the definition of the word "truth". I think they are a pox on society and I feel very very sorry for people who are so desperate to believe that they'll throw all reason and sobriety out the window to blindly follow someone with a video camera and some editing software. These are the same people who get sucked into cults, as far as my meager mind can rationalize it. Regardless of this fact, the Truthers, just like the Westboro Baptist whackos and the KKK have every right to vocalize themselves. Additionally, we have a right and a moral obligation to counter-vocalize them and let them know those opinions aren't welcome in our towns.

I guess I didn't listen to the whole thing, but saying "someone should kill" and "I'm gonna kill" are !=, and if we're saying that it's NOT ok to happily discuss violence against people of differing opinions, then we need to take down a large portion of the music, literature, and art of the last several hundred years. Also, no more religion.

The world ain't roses and bunnies. NOT allowing people to vocalize their anger, regardless of how important or unimportant the topic is---won't make anything better.
posted by TomMelee at 10:24 AM on June 16, 2008


Ok. I'm going to go on the air and talk about how I think people should brutally rape your mother. I'll give out her name and address, and describe ways of making her forcefully submit (ie. pressure points on the neck). So, you're going to say I can do that on the air and it is totally fine?
posted by Burhanistan at 11:17 AM on June 16, 2008


Ayup.
posted by TomMelee at 11:19 AM on June 16, 2008


Wait, you guys are still unsure of whether M.P.D.S.E.A. is trolling?
posted by tehloki at 2:19 PM on June 16, 2008


You don't have to invent hypotheticals, Burhaistan.

There are cases of anti-abortionist loudmounths inciting their listeners to go out and kill abortion doctors. Some of those frootloops actually did go out and do so.

I can't be arsed to find out how the law ruled, though.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:26 PM on June 16, 2008


In any case, it's a bit odd to cry Free Speech in a case where the speaker is advocating the murder of people who dare to exercise that same right.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:36 PM on June 16, 2008 [4 favorites]


[in a case where when] just in case
posted by Sys Rq at 4:41 PM on June 16, 2008


In any case, it's a bit odd to cry Free Speech in a case where the speaker is advocating the murder of people who dare to exercise that same right.

That is the same form of justification Bork used to attempt to explain why he believed communists should not be afforded free speech in the United States (because they don't believe in it). Hardly persuasive and very shortsighted.
posted by Falconetti at 4:47 PM on June 16, 2008


Falconetti: Yyyyyyyeah.... And the Communists in question were advocating murder, were they?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:20 PM on June 16, 2008


That is why I said "form" because there are factual differences that don't change the main point. This is probably a terrible case in which to make my point thought since I said above that I probably don't think his speech is protected under the First Amendment threat doctrine, so point taken.
posted by Falconetti at 5:58 PM on June 16, 2008


Optimus Chyme if this guy wasn't reagan's son he'd be wearing shit-stained jeans and living in a homeless center run by liberal do-gooders

nonmerci Why would you ever wish that on anyone? [..] making fun of a neglected and sexually abused kid and his reprehensible fate had he not been adopted by rich parents is really fucking low


I read it as an observation, not a wish. Optimus Chyme simply points out that had Reagan not been adopted by rich parents, he would be more dependent on the social programs his party opposes. That sentiment doesn't seem especially shocking or unfair.
posted by ryanrs at 1:28 AM on June 17, 2008


There are cases of anti-abortionist loudmounths inciting their listeners to go out and kill abortion doctors. Some of those frootloops actually did go out and do so.

I can't be arsed to find out how the law ruled, though.


The case is Planned Parenthood of the Columbia/Willamette Inc. v. American Coalition of Life Activists, and the death threateners lost and the Supreme Court refused to hear the case because there's no controversy: death threats are not protected speech, never were.

Just because you do it with your mouth or a pen doesn't make it protected speech: fraud, forgery, and conspiracy aren't protected speech.

It's not a violation of the First Amendment too jail you for printing a note demanding the ransom for a kidnapped victim, nor for a 'private communication' between yourself and a bank teller which reads "This is a bank robbery. I have a gun. Give me all the money in your drawer of I will kill you."
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:37 PM on June 17, 2008


Give me all the money in your drawer of or I will kill you

My hypothetical bank robber will also be jailed for failing to proofread, although spelling crimes are fully protected by the First Amendment and he'll win on appeal. :-)
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:38 PM on June 17, 2008


He's advocating shooting people who send questionable letters: any letter is quesitonable depending on the point of view of the reader.

He's basically saying that people who exercise free speech that he deems to be questionable should be shot. and it's calling for listener to shoot them.

At the same time, he wants freedom to say that and denies any other the same freedom by attempting to scare them and calling for their death.

That's a fucking fascist and no amout of spin can change that fact. Hundred of thousands of americans and europeans died in the attempt to save the world from them, this one more should be moved off the air instantly. Similar broadcasts soliciteded genocide.
posted by elpapacito at 6:37 PM on June 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


> It's not a violation of the First Amendment too jail you for printing a note demanding the ransom for a kidnapped victim, nor for a 'private communication' between yourself and a bank teller which reads "This is a bank robbery. I have a gun. Give me all the money in your drawer of I will kill you."

Neither of those are really good examples -- writing a ransom note isn't what defines the crime of kidnapping, and that's not the part you'd be arrested for; likewise, actually robbing a bank requires intent that's not totally encompassed in the text of the note itself. In both cases, it's not really the speech that's illegal, but the context that you're putting the speech in.

I think that's a fairly important distinction. You don't need to come close to abridging the First Amendment to make it illegal to kidnap people or rob banks.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:19 PM on June 17, 2008


In both cases, it's not really the speech that's illegal, but the context that you're putting the speech in.

Err... all speech is in a context. But you don't have to kidnap someone to get arrested for writing a ransom note: it's a common crime in some South American countries to demand a ransom when you know a particularly rich person will be out of town and unreachable for a day or two. Similarly, you don't have to have a gun to get arrested for passing a note to the teller claiming that you do: and it'll be bank robbery they arrest you for.

The point here is that words do things in the world. They don't just bounce off our ear drums: they're the principle means by which we achieve our ends together, whether those ends be political or criminal. Words can argue, injure, dominate, liberate, trick, inform, and confuse. Not all of those acts are protected speech.

You don't need to come close to abridging the First Amendment to make it illegal to kidnap people or rob banks.


The question isn't whether criminalizing bank robbery "abridges" the First Amendment, the question is: does the First Amendment protect all speech, writing, and expression, no matter what its content or context? And the answer is unequivocally, "No, it doesn't. We can criminalize certain kinds of speech (fraud, threats of violence) without running afoul of the First Amendment."
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:15 PM on June 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


OptimusChyme: "Now it's my turn to use some free speech on you, Zach. The above quoted comments indicate that you don't have a fucking clue what you're talking about. You use three examples are that exactly wrong. You've displayed a childlike understanding of the law and society. This is the kind of argumentation I would expect from a bright but naive and dorky eight year-old. It is embarrassing to watch."

You're arguing semantics, Chyme. I'm no lawyer and we both know this. The long and the short of it is you can't scream fire in a movie theater today. It's unacceptable behavior and there are people who will find a way to make the laws work for them to put you away if you do it. "Disturbing the Peace" is a great place to start with that, but there's other ways.

I don't want to get into the boring semantics of law in a MeFi thread. Takes the fun out of arguing. The devil's in the details and so is all that creepy stuff you find that you can't determine what it is when you're cleaning that old couch.

You can put a cow in a pasture. Give it one hundred acres of land for it to graze in. The cow can go through its entire life grazing, blissfully unaware that surrounding it is fence. It doesn't know cuz it never ventures beyond the center. It's a cow. It doesn't know it's not free. It doesn't know it's destined to be a Happy Meal. No one ever told it about freedom. It doesn't care to know. It has all the grass it could possibly eat. It is a creature that exists in the now, and so long as 'now' doesn't mean hamburgers, it's okay.

We human beings however, know about the fences. When we see them we know what they are. We cannot be given a hundred acres of land surrounded by fence and told we are free. We know better. At least those of us not chewing on our own cud, know better.

Freedom costs. The very fact that men and women have had to die so you and I can speak freely amongst ourselves means that there's a price to be paid. This does not make freedom free. People have to fight by word or by deed on an irregular basis for rights which are base and intrinsic to human existence. Does this sound even remotely like FREEdom to you?

Why do we have to fight for freedom? Because among our own kind, other human beings seek to remove those metaphorical fences for themselves while simultaneously constricting the space around others. For some reason, some of us think that by restricting our neighbors, we become more free, when that can't be further from the truth. This is irrational behavior. Mankind is insane.

Do you lock your doors at night to keep the burglars and rapists of the world outside, or to keep yourself inside? Aren't these effectively the same thing? What if there's honestly no burglar or rapist anywhere within a hundred thousand miles of your location remotely interested in opening that door? Would you still lock that door for your own peace of mind? You are only restricting yourself. Is this freedom? The freedom to choose to lock yourself up in your home?

We must live. We must have liberty. We must be allowed to pursue happiness. If ever any of these three intrinsic necessities to the human spirit are stifled in any way, even if it's a fence that's a hundred acres away from the cow, it limits freedom.

If FREEdom is limited in any way, by definition, it ceases being freedom. That's not law. That's language.

Now, OptimusChyme, I put this to you: what part of the word "freedom" do you not understand?
posted by ZachsMind at 8:19 AM on June 18, 2008


Ok. That's quite enough, thank you.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:36 AM on June 18, 2008


Wow. That's quite a load.

Your definition of Freedom, ZachsMind, bears a striking resemblance to anarchy. If you like anarchy, you'll love the Balkans.

Do you lock your doors at night to keep the burglars and rapists of the world outside, or to keep yourself inside? Aren't these effectively the same thing?

No. It's a lock, not a hermetic seal. I can unlock the door and leave whenever I want.

Also, you don't know shit about cows.

The long and the short of it is you can't scream fire in a movie theater today.

Dude, SHUT UP. That is a very, very old hypothetical that is completely, 100% outdated, and quite frankly pretty stupid to begin with. How is someone yelling Fire! any more panic-inducing than a fire alarm? Go ahead and try it. You know what's going to happen? A) People will see that there is no fire, because they are neither blind nor stupid; B) People will calmly file toward the many fire exits; C) Someone will grab a nearby fire extinguisher and spray you with it; D) An usher will ask you to to leave, as you are ruining The Happening for everyone. You know what won't happen? You won't be charged with a criminal offense.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:41 AM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


raw insanity
posted by ZachsMind at 8:19 AM on June 18


what
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:10 AM on June 19, 2008


Oh Zach.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:51 AM on June 20, 2008


I was totally watching an old episode of Law and Order last night and they talked about the prospect of words encouraging someone to commit a crime. The big referral case was Stanley V. Georgia, where the supreme court ruled, in summary, that the mere tendency of speech to encourage unlawful acts is not a sufficient reason for banning it. More on that case here. I worry greatly because it's a very slippery slope to start deciding what speech is free and what speech isn't...
posted by TomMelee at 7:59 AM on June 21, 2008


TomMelee: Stanley is an obscenity case. It's about possession of pornography. Surely we can acknowledge a difference between mere possession and a performative speech act like a death threat? It's a little clearer if your read the misquote you pulled from Marshall's opinion in context:
Whatever the power of the state to control public dissemination of ideas inimical to the public morality, it cannot constitutionally premise legislation on the desirability of controlling a person's private thoughts.

Perhaps recognizing this, Georgia asserts that exposure to obscene materials may lead to deviant sexual behavior or crimes of sexual violence. There appears to be little empirical basis for that assertion. [n9] But, more important, if the State is only concerned about printed or filmed materials inducing antisocial conduct, we believe that, in the context of private consumption of ideas and information we should adhere to the view that "[a]mong free men, the deterrents ordinarily to be [p567] applied to prevent crime are education and punishment for violations of the law. . . ." Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 378 (1927) (Brandeis, J., concurring). See Emerson, Toward a General Theory of the First Amendment, 72 Yale L.J. 877, 938 (1963). Given the present state of knowledge, the State may no more prohibit mere possession of obscene matter on the ground that it may lead to antisocial conduct than it may prohibit possession of chemistry books on the ground that they may lead to the manufacture of homemade spirits.
The obsession with obscenity for interpretation of the First Amendment throughout the latter half of the twentieth century has led many people to think with their genitals when it comes to all questions of speech. But speech isn't really free for sexual reasons, it's free for political reasons: we need freedom of expression and freedom of thought in order for our democracy to function. Masturbatory material isn't really directly tied to the functioning of our society, but we protect mere possession of obscene materials because we don't like the idea that a person's private thoughts and reflections, whether they be sexual, artistic, political or mundane, ought to be subject to state intervention. The difference between mere possession and what we're talking about can perhaps best be seen in the difference between owning obscene materials and using them in public. No one defends public masturbation on free speech grounds.

Similarly, there's a difference between thinking about how much you'd like to kill someone and telling them that you're going to kill them, just as there is a difference between thinking about robbing a bank and actually doing it. Threatening the death of another citizen doesn't contribute to the debate over policy or justice. In fact, it is the opposite: when you make a credible threat on my life, you put me in a position where I must think not about politics but about my safety and the safety of my family. We carve out an exception for such speech because of the loss of civility and security it presages.

I worry greatly because it's a very slippery slope to start deciding what speech is free and what speech isn't...

Let me be as clear as I can: we have already decided that some speech isn't free. We are already on that scary slippery slope. Being on a slippery slope does not require that one tumble to the bottom: slippery does not mean irresistible. The beauty of law in general is that legal thinking makes one an extremely nimble climber. The members of the Supreme Court are quite capable of maintaining their grip, whether it be on the metaphorical slope of censorship or on the common sense that seems to have slid from your grasp.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:34 AM on June 21, 2008


In a metaphorical way, we're all standing in line at the TSA checkpoint, waiting to board our flight. Now, go away and ponder that one until the thread is closed next month.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:26 PM on June 21, 2008


Panacea--I agree and understand, except to the point where I don't. I DON'T think that we've fully established what free ANYTHING means, insofar as that it won't ever change again. I mean, ffs, there might be a lyrical cure to cancer that gets copyrighted---I mean there's not, but as the interpretation of things like pornography have changed, so have our viewpoints of the legitimacy of their protection under the first amendment. Do I think the founding fathers intended loudmouth fatties to be able to go on the public airwaves and say disgusting things? Nope, not anymore than they intended assault rifles and abortion. However, they left it up to us to decide for ourselves as we evolved and changed.

I point to one sentence you made in particular---"you make a credible threat". Here's where the judge steps in and the DA tries to prove it's credible. I would argue that a fat white republican on a radio is no more credible than a pissed off driver in traffic screaming "I'll kill you motherfucker!". Capability to do a crime is != to committing a crime.

I mean, if the National Alliance can publish and air a manual discussing how to, say, blow up the Murrah Federal Building and, say, someone who's a pissed off ex-Army douchebag follows it and blows it up, would not their inflammatory speech and step-by-step directions be, by your definition, unprotected free speech? How is "Someone should kill all xxxxx and I'll buy the bullets" different than "Lynch all the n***** in Georgia, hang 'em high at noon?"

Understand that I don't disagree with you, but I also don't agree with you---I just very much like to discuss free speech.

And Bruhanistan---just because a thread updates doesn't mean you have to A) read it or B) add a comment. Just sayin'
posted by TomMelee at 9:43 PM on June 21, 2008


I would argue that a fat white republican on a radio is no more credible than a pissed off driver in traffic

I beg to differ.

The angry driver is unlikely to successfully incite action from the bystanders, and is almost certainly not going to be seen as an authoritative leader by the kind of dangerous freak who will go out and kill in his name.

The fat white republican on the radio, on the other hand, has successfully affected the Democrat primaries by encouraging his listeners to vote in those primaries. I have no doubts whatsoever that he reaches listeners who would, if he asks it, go out and do violence.

That is the difference between being a shmuck in a car stuck in traffic, and having a radio program: in the latter case, you have active listeners, some of whom are crazy listeners who will make an effort to follow the leader's suggestions or commands.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:43 AM on June 22, 2008


I would say that you obviously haven't seen traffic cams of traffic related violence stemming from shouting matches on the roadways.

I would also argue that your standpoint seems to indicate that his speech not be allowed to influence democratic primaries, and/or that this fact somehow adds more credence to why he shouldn't be offered the same freedoms under the first amendment.

My point is that it's not the fault of speech (or really the speaker) if people are ignorant, blind, or ridiculous enough to blindly follow what they hear. If it was or if they were, we'd have to start shutting down religion after religion and newspaper after newspaper because someone somewhere might actually listen to the proselytizing and go out and do what it says.
posted by TomMelee at 9:11 AM on June 22, 2008


Melee- 'somebody ought to shoot this guy' isn't a death threat per se, but 'I'll buy the bullets' starts to sound an awful lot like we're actually planning the logistics of vigilante justice. I doubt a jury of fat white Republicans would convict on it, but I certainly think there's enough evidence here for an indictment.

And that's the question: if he has a viable First Amendment claim, it's not up to the jury. If he doesn't, a subset of his peers have a right to judge the case on its merits, to evaluate the crediility of the threat on the basis of all the admissable evidence. Every crazy letter from a rabid fan promising undying loyalty and death to libtards is another nail in the coffin: it suggests that Reagan knew his audience includes members psychotic enough to turn his rhetoric into reality.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:13 AM on June 22, 2008


Sorry about before--my keyboard batteries died just as I pressed that period, and so I didn't get a chance to finish my thought, which is as such:

Even saying "Reagan knew" indicates that freedom of speech applies differently to different people. We cannot, and we must not, as far as I am concerned, start to make these sorts of judgement calls as a people. A poor un-connected appalachian must not have a different set of rights than a rich white Jew, regardless of either's audience or personal ability to do anything about what they're saying.

Don't get me wrong, what he's saying is reprehensible. However, this is the sort of thing that should fall to a) his family b) his employer and c) the general public, NOT NOT NOT the federal government. Sure, his family isn't going to do anything, but if the general public made enough stink he'd be gone just as fast as the fella who made the comments about the Rutgers womens basketball team. Even if he didn't, if everyone who felt it was an issue wrote the company who employs him and the advertisers on that network and told them they (as consumers) would do everything in their power to make sure nobody bought their products so long as they support that trub, it might make a difference.

I suppose this is the part that makes me conservative on this standpoint---I don't need the guv'mint holding my hand and protecting my ears from unkind or even untrue words. Now, I agree that the people with the 85 IQ's out there who take those words for gospel are unfortunate, but they have a RIGHT to believe whatever they want to believe just like we have a right and perhaps an obligation to try to show them it's ridiculous.
posted by TomMelee at 7:28 PM on June 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


You don't need the government to protect your ears. You need it to protect your life. People like Neal Horsley are inciting violence — or, rather, murders.

Good luck trying to show him and his psychotic followers that their actions, let alone their words, are ridiculous. The only solution against him and his ilk is to deny them the right to free speech.

As I said before, the right to free speech can not take absolute precedence over the health of our society. To allow that is to allow our society to be destroyed by those who promote hatred and violence.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:30 AM on June 23, 2008


So we're just denying THEM the right to free speech? See, here we go again deciding who gets freedom and who doesn't. Who makes THAT decision?

We've already GOT laws about violence, and protocols for protecting the threatened, and laws about self defense and etcetera ad infinitum. Tell me exactly HOW telling some folks they can't say some stuff is going to protect ANYONE? Is this the same logic that says "Make it illegal to own guns and everyone will be safe?" It just seems like shortsighted thinking to me.

Also, and here comes the hate mail, the injury or death of one or one hundred people doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the health of our society. I mean, if we're talking about words provoking people to hurt themselves or others...why do we let car manufacturers talk about how safe their cars are? Because, I mean, bumbling idiots get in their MDX's and think that side curtain airbags and crumple zones will protect them and everyone in every other car has them too? I mean certainly more people die every day to idiots in cars than as victims to someone's rants and raves. I realize there's a huge difference here, but I'm still not seeing justification for either the removal of freedoms OR the precedence of allowing certain groups freedoms while disallowing others.

Just because the majority disagrees with what I have to say doesn't mean I shouldn't be allowed to say it. I mean, we used to crucify people for that....on crosses. Haven't we come further than that?
posted by TomMelee at 8:53 PM on June 23, 2008


Out of curiousity, can you name any social progress that has not required abrogating the rights of the bigoted or powerful?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:12 PM on June 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


That's a good point. Touche'. However, now you're talking about a proletariat uprising?

However I CAN because, well, it's the difference between human rights and civil rights and laws. Let's talk about desegregation. Social progress. Who had rights taken away? Some white folks, you're right. BUT, were those human or civil rights? (Scanning....sitting in the front of the bus...nope, not a human or civil right.) Were those segregation laws violating the human or civil rights of another group? Yup, equal protection under the law, access to education, healthcare...ayup. Civil and human rights always trump traditional laws in my eyes, and any law that tries to remove those rights from any group is a law that should be fought in my opinion. Example---I don't like the removal of voting rights for felons in some states.

Now, sure, you could say that to equalize rights for everyone we'd have to eliminate the rich and eliminate the poor and make a huge middle class and be socialists. But still, my point remains that the selective removal of civil rights is a scary, scary prospect, and these sorts of disciplinary responsibilities lie with someone other than the government.
posted by TomMelee at 8:29 AM on June 24, 2008


However, now you're talking about a proletariat uprising?

WTF? No. I'm talking about laws being made to change people's behaviours.

In BC, for example, various smoking laws have been passed. One of them was a ban on smoking in pubs. There was a loud hew and cry from smokers and pub owners. The world would simply end if smoking were band, OMGBBQ!

Several years later, after everyone became accustomed to enjoying their meals in a clean environment, the law was partially reverted. And very few pubs went back to the now-legal-again smoking option. Turns out that once people got used to a better thing, they didn't want to go back. And as an additional bonus, smoking rates plummeted, with the concomitant drop in health care, sick leave, and other sundry costs to society.

It was win-win all around, though I'm sure you'd have had kittens at the mere idea of a government implementing a smoking ban.

The same shit applies to anti-discrimination laws.

For instance, gay marriage is legal in Canada. Before the law was ruled, there was the typical dipshit panic about how legalization would just utterly destroy our society and people would be marrying goats and the rest of the bullshit.

A couple years later, most Canadians say they couldn't give two shits about whether gays get married. Turns out it's no skin off anyone's ass.

And the exact same thing applies in this thread's case: when anti-discrimination laws change society to the point that racism, sexism, etc-ism is basically extinct because everyone's grown up being used to the idea that everyone's got equal rights, the laws could be largely rescinded and we'd discover most businesses and people would continue to do The Right Thing.

Just because you've got a bee up your ass about gay people being treated as normal people does not mean that anti-discrimination laws are unjust, unfair, or unwarranted. In fact, quite the opposite: that you've got problems with it indicates quite clearly that some people in society still have their heads lodged up their ass, and thus the laws are required.

Change always causes stress, struggle, and resistance. But change toward the cause of greater equality is worth it.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:56 PM on June 24, 2008


Whoops, I mixed this thread up with the gay photography thread!

Still, much the same applies: societal change often, and maybe always, requires that the bigots and haters be inconvenienced.

Also, you wrote this:
Now, sure, you could say that to equalize rights for everyone we'd have to eliminate the rich and eliminate the poor and make a huge middle class and be socialists.
Why the fuck would I want to say that? In fact, I wouldn't want to say that.

You can have the last word, because I'm not going to bother discussing things with you if you're going to play silly-ass strawman games.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:05 PM on June 24, 2008


Lol I read your first response and I was like *que?*

I figured you'd turn my words around on me and say that to make everything equal would mean that we'd have to take everyone's rights away.

Not sure what you mean by silly ass straw man games.

Also not trying to have the last word, like I said, regardless of who the asshole is, I value free speech. I mean, I think the KKK should be allowed to rally and spew their shit, but I also think that we as a group should tell them to STFU. Same w/ Mr. Reagan. It's who the "We" is that matters, as citizens or as government. No worries man, I just like the argument and I fully see your point and don't even disagree with it.

I think that talking about these things keeps people thinking about them, and I think that in a time when lots of people take lots for granted, keeping issues like these in peoples minds can only serve to make the world a better place and better ensure those freedoms.
posted by TomMelee at 8:20 PM on June 24, 2008


Out of curiousity, can you name any social progress that has not required abrogating the rights of the bigoted or powerful?
posted by five fresh fish at 12:12 AM on June 24 [2 favorites +] [!]


Britain's first female Prime Minister.
posted by an egg at 9:28 PM on June 30, 2008


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