Embassy Attacks

American Conservatives Have Their Own Version of Shariah Law

A lot of wrongheaded people with an irrational fetish for holy symbols think their hurt feelings justify censorship.

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A lot of wrongheaded people with an irrational fetish for holy symbols think their hurt feelings justify censorship. They demand legal action to stop the blasphemy.

Islamic protesters? Nope. Try the U.S. Senate—and the American public, too.

The furor in the Mideast over an obscure video mocking the Prophet Muhammad has prompted many Americans to pat themselves on the back for their devotion to free speech. Some of them have gotten a charge out of lecturing the Arab world about the value of it.

Others, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have done so out of duty. "To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible," she said Thursday. But: "We do not stop individual citizens from expressing their views, no matter how distasteful they may be."

Sure we do. Just ask – oh, Senator Hillary Clinton, D-NY.

Six years ago Clinton and Utah Sen. Robert Bennett, a Republican, co-sponsored legislation to make burning the American flag a federal crime.

Clinton's bill was drawn fairly narrowly, as such things go: It outlawed only flag-burning, not flag desecration. The latter can include all kinds of offenses: stepping on the flag, making disposable American-flag napkins or sewing an American flag to the seat of your jeans.

To her credit, Clinton voted against a much broader flag-desecration amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That vote put her in the minority: 66 Senators voted in favor of the measure – just one vote shy of the two-thirds majority it needed to pass. (George Allen of Virginia, now running to regain the seat he lost to Jim Webb, voted yes.)

The amendment was proposed because the Supreme Court had struck down, by a deplorably narrow 5-4 split, earlier statutory prohibitions on flag-burning. In his dissent, conservative Chief Justice William Rehnquist opined that the flag was "not just another 'idea' or 'point of view' . . . Millions and millions of Americans regard it with an almost mystical reverence."

Well. If mystical reverence justifies censorship, then the reverence in which millions of Muslims hold the Prophet would justify censoring movies, political cartoons, "South Park" episodes, and a whole lot more.

Conservatives today should be glad Rehnquist's views did not prevail then. During the current controversy over the video mocking Muhammad, some on the right have been quite vocal about the importance of free speech. But you have to wonder whether those stirring paeans to unrestricted expression are really just another way to poke a finger in the eye of those swarthy, jihad-lovin' A-rabs. Back in 2006, the flag-burning amendment had considerable conservative support.

It still does: The 2012 Republican platform says "Old Glory should be given legal protection against desecration."

And the flag is hardly unique. By a 410-3 vote last week, the House of Representatives passed a newer version of the Stolen Valor Act, which makes it a crime to lie about military service or decoration. The Supreme Court had to strike that down on First Amendment grounds as well.

Then there's porn. Mitt Romney has signed a pledge to enforce the nation's anti-porn laws to his utmost ability. The Republican platform supports "making the Internet family-friendly" (!) through the vigorous enforcement of current anti-obscenity laws. Michele Bachmann signed an even more puritanical pledge, agreeing that "all forms of pornography should be banned." Apparently some conservatives are fine with Shariah law so long as it's based in the Bible, or their interpretation thereof.

To be fair, conservatives often look like rank amateurs when it comes to suppressing speech. Troll through the archives of campus speech codes and you will find a level of censorship that is simply astounding – much of it aimed at protecting the tender feelings of the most easily offended person on campus. For brevity's sake, let one small example suffice: As recently as 2010, George Mason University in Northern Virginia prohibited "any form of bigotry….whether verbal, written, psychological, direct, or implied." Try to find a logical limit to the concept of implied psychological bigotry.

The trouble with protecting feelings is that advocates of free expression have them, too: Many of them are genuinely pained by the prospect of government silencing people by threat of force. Flag-burners and bigots also have feelings – rather strong ones, judging by their willingness to suffer the hostility of their fellow citizens. Likewise, gays and lesbians have feelings that are hurt when religious conservatives call them sinful, and religious conservatives have feelings that are hurt when gay-rights activists call them haters. If we go around silencing any speech that might hurt someone's tender ego, then before you know it nobody will be able to say much of anything. Defending free speech requires defending it when the speech makes you mad, not just the other guy. That's a lesson that seems to need repeating – over and over.

This column originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. 

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  1. I can’t imagine prosecuting people for thought crimes, but apparently many people can.

    1. and yet that’s exactly what’s prosecuted in those catch-a-predator stings which dont involve actual minors

      1. Sour grapes, huh?

      2. Which is also bullshit. To be convicted of trying to have sex with a child, one should have to, you know, actually try to have sex with a child.

        1. Sort of like the sting where recently some home-grown terrorist tried to set off a bomb supplied to him by an undercover FBI agent? It was a dud. (the bomb, that is).

      3. no, it’s not. utter logic fail

        it’s no different than any other inchoate offense in dealing with intent

        for example, if you intend to murder your wife.

        the plot is discovered.

        your plan is to leave for work at 10 pm, then sneak back in the home at 11 pm and shoot her as she lies sleeping in bed

        you leave for work.

        the cops set up a sting. they place a mannekin under the sheets, knowing that in the dark room, you will think it’s your wife, and you will shoot the mannekin THINKING you are committing murder

        the plan goes through

        wife replaced by mannekin

        you sneak in , take careful aim and shoot it.

        the cops promptly arrest you for attempted murder

        note there is no ACTUAL attempted murder victim here. just a mannekin

        much like in the catch-a-predator sting, though, the issue is you THINK it is your wife, and having intent to kill her, you commit the act of attempted murder

        you can call it a thought crime, or a ham sandwich

        but it’s a valid attempted murder case.

        1. The key issue too is whether you had these intentions in the absence of police involvement. In most cases, the perpetrators did. They started out looking for children for sex, and then law enforcement stepped in posing as the intended victim. It’s not like they gussied up some 15 year old girl to make her look 21 and sent her to their doorstep soliciting.

  2. I’ve felt for some time that the ‘Flag Burning’ flap (sorry) had a fairly simple solution. The kind of flags that people seem to like to burn are fairly large pieces of cloth. Frequently nylon or some similar cloth that melts and becomes sticky when burned. A flag of any size is a fairly large fire. Large enough, it seems to me, that it should fall under most local no-fire ordinances, especially when you consider the danger of a flaming flag getting caught by the wind and wrapped around a bystander.

    So, apply local no-fire ordinances to flag burners. If they want to burn a flag anyway, make them get a fire permit, and follow basic fire safety requirements. I remember reading somewhere that KKK cross-burnings are commonly treated this way. Which means that my proposal puts flag burners on the same social level as the KKK …. which is about where they belong. There should be no 1st Amendment issues involved; the Amendment emphatically does not cover ‘symbolic speech’ that endangers the public.

    Passing an amendment, or even just anti-flag-burning legislation, is treating these annoyances far too seriously. Instead, we should treat them as one treats adolescents who have been caught setting fires in vacant lots.

    1. Flag burners are just as bad as the KKK?

      1. To social con dipshits, I guess so.

      2. He has to equate the two because who could possibly be in favor of the KKK burning crosses. The problem is that it presumes that by judging those acts to be dangerous to the public, it is therefore a legitimate means of prohibiting them. It’s bullshit.

        I hate the KKK, but I hate people who use these tactics to stifle free speech even more.

      3. Calidissident| 9.17.12 @ 12:14PM |#
        “Flag burners are just as bad as the KKK?”

        He just poisoned the well and hopes no one notices.

        1. i hate illinois klansmen

      4. Flag burners and the KKK both choose to set fire to things purely to outrage people and attract attention that they could not attract with legitimate arguments.

        1. So why do you want to enable them by giving them the publicity of an arrest?

          1. I doubt we are talking about an arrest in most jurisdictions. I had in mind something along the lies of the tickets (not particularly cheap tickets, mind) that get handed out in my area when somebody sets a picnic-fire in a park without getting the right permit.

            Arresting these dipsticks would be overkill. Not AS MUCH overkill as Amending the Constitution over them, but overkill.

          2. Publicity is indeed a major factor in uncivil activities. Take away the cameras and see how long the protests endure.

        2. Usually the KKK burns crosses on someone else’s property for the purpose of intimidation. People that burn flags usually burn them on their own property or public property to cause outrage, not to intimidate specific individuals.

          But other than that, they are nothing alike.

          Although, I do agree that it is bullshit to consider burning a flag to be ‘protected speech’ in a way that burning a pile of leaves is not.

          1. I am given to understand that every Klan rally features a burning cross, unless they can’t get the permit. They used to just light up, but a lot of local law started to enforce fire permits, as a way of sayin “Jimbo, you and your friens keep it down during an election year, y’hear?”

            As for the KKK and Flag burners being unalike;

            They are both typically attention starved misfits, trying to outrage public opinion for general shits and giggles. Any actual political point they may have is swamped by their towering ignorance and addiction to rebelious sounding pig-swill.

            1. As a tribute to CPS Shoenfeld, tomorrow morning I plan to wipe my ass with my Stars Stripes toilet paper, after defecating on a cartoon elephant.

    2. There should be no 1st Amendment issues involved; the Amendment emphatically does not cover ‘symbolic speech’ that endangers the public.

      I’m going to burn a dozen flags in protest to that cockamamie bullshit statement of yours.

      1. Then I hope your local police give you a summons for having a fire without a permit. We in this country are entirely too goddamned fond of fire as a generic symbol of ‘protest’. The only reason I can think of that we have not had dozens of unpleasant object lessons in how little fire is under control is that God takes care of fools and drunks and obviously extends the latter category to this who are drunk on rhetoric.

        1. The only reason I can think of that we have not had dozens of unpleasant object lessons in how little fire is under control is that God takes care of fools and drunks

          This, or that the fire is actually under control and not near as dangerous as you seem to think it is. Under the control of humans even.

          1. I seriously doubt that the generic protest fires one sees everywhere the Left is throwing a tantrum are under anyone’s control. The kind of people who are the backbone of such events are far too prone to thinking almost entirely in symbolic terms. nothing else can explain the way the protesters are Kent State set fore to the ROTC building and then interfered with firefighters on the scene (check out Michener’s KENT STATE if you don’t recall this detail).

            I don’t mind people who want to wear the flag (or A flag), stomp on a flag, wipe themselves with a flag (so long as I can wipe myself with theirs, mind). I don’t want flag burners to be unfairly oppressed. I think passing special legislation just to ‘get’ them is paying them far too much attention.

            But most places I have lived have rules about having a fire much larger than a typical lighter in a public place. And I see no reason that Flag burners should be better treated than trash burners, picnickers cooking weenies, ….. or cross burners.

            1. yeah i can tell your primary concern here is fire safety.

              what a joke

            2. So now you’re defending the murder of Kent State students?
              Holy shit, you are a sick mother f ucker.
              Where did you get this fear of fire? Were your parents cavemen?

              1. Protests that become excessively violent and destructive have to be stopped. Setting Fire to buildings certainly can injure or kill its occupants. A simple match can start wildfires, which cause extreme damage and loss of life.

        2. We in this country are entirely too goddamned fond of fire as a generic symbol of ‘protest’.

          You skeered of fire? You strike me a legalistic busybody slinking around in the shadows with binoculars glued to your forehead crying foul on anything that brushes the boundaries of your long list of favorite commandments.

        3. The only reason I can think of that we have not had dozens of unpleasant object lessons in how little fire is under control is that God takes care of fools and drunks and obviously extends the latter category to this who are drunk on rhetoric.

          Yeah because after a few thousand years of practice we couldn’t possibly have figured out how to burn shit without collateral damage.

          Are you really this fucking stupid?

          1. Tens of thousands of people burn down their houses in turkey fryer accidents every year, so I’m not sure if that’s the best line of refutation.

    3. the Amendment emphatically does not cover ‘symbolic speech’ that endangers the public.

      This is Tony-grade stupid. The First Amendment doesn’t have any addendums, nor does it mention the word “Symbolic.” But keep on making shit up to support your dumbass preconceived notions about how everyone else should be forced to treat your holy symbol, you fucking moron.

      1. The SCOTUS has long ruled that the first Amendment covers symbolic speech (such as striptease, to pick an real example). They have also long ruled that “Nobody has a right to shout ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre” if there is no actual fire, on grounds of public endangerment.

        So, I’m hardly making things up, and you might consider doing some basic research on a subject before opening your yap and demonstrating your ignorance to all and sundry.

        1. They have also long ruled that “Nobody has a right to shout ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre”

          Drink!

          Who yelled “fire” in a crowded theater? And sorry, your opinion of what equates to “fire” in a crowded theater doesn’t count.

          The point of the 1st amendment is it protects me from people who cherry pick what equates to “fire” in a crowded theater.

        2. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

          Do you see any addendems or the word symbolic? Just because someone says it covers it, does not mean it is in the ammendment.

          1. I don’t see “expression” in there, either.

            1. I’m having a hard time coming up with “expression” that isn’t “speech”.

            2. Well here, since you seem to be obtuse, try this Amendment:

              The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

              So it doesn’t specifically mention “expression”, but guess what it doesn’t have to…I have that right despite the lack of “enumeration”.

          2. While in agreement with much you say, sadly the original words of the Constitution no longer matter as do the interpretations by the SCOTUS. You would have to read their decisions and myriad interpretations of those decisions to know what is (currently) “legal.

    4. Instead, we should treat them as one treats adolescents who have been caught setting fires in vacant lots.

      What draconian-clad mental process did you crawl from? I’m used to seeing this kind of drivel on Breitbart, but Reason?

      1. I am actually a little stunned by the reaction I’ve gotten here. I am suggesting that flag burners should get a ticket for having a fire without a permit, and suddenly I’m a Right Wing whack-job demanding that anyone I disagree with be forthwith cast into durance vile.

        I’m saying; want to burn a flag, and effigy, a few hot dogs? Then in most jurisdictions, particularly urban ones, you should get a permit. OR you should get a ticket for NOT getting that permit. If you don’t like that, then work to get the fire regs repealed, but don’t make objections based on content of message.

        Why the outrage?

        1. I am actually a little stunned by the reaction I’ve gotten here

          You shouldn’t be, people despise your type, the “we’re going to stifle your speech with ordinances and claim it’s justified” assholes who think some tiny, marginal public good trumps free speech rights.

          then work to get the fire regs repealed,

          Like, maybe with a protest? Where something gets burned, to show the stupidity and chilling effect of using ordinances to stifle speech? Maybe burn a flag?

          1. Like, maybe with a protest?

            Just be sure to get a permit for that protest. And also make sure it is in a designated protest zone. Oh yes, and protests are only on the second Tuesday and third Thursday of the month. Make sure you follow all these rules on protesting. Otherwise you get a ticket, not arrested, but a large ticket.

            But other than that, we are cool with freedom of speach.

            1. speech even

        2. I think that it’s because you suggested a government solution to ______. That shit don’t fly round here boy.

    5. I prefer the Louisiana Solution:
      Five dollar fine and 30 second jailtime for assaulting a flag burner.

      1. I prefer the Louisiana Solution:
        Five dollar fine and 30 second jailtime for assaulting a flag burner.

        So you are ok with assaulting someone for harming nothing. Good to know.

        1. I’ll say this for his solution; it does give the flag burners what they are asking for.

        2. No, dickhead.

          Burning a country’s flag is not “harming nothing”. Other-wise the attention-junkies wouldn’t do it.

          But, yes, I would much rather have the flag-burner be afeared of Johnnie Redneck scaring the living shit out of them (please note: I specified assault, NOT battery) than the offender be facing the barrel of the popo’s gun.

          Similar for the Jihadi savages: protest, yell, scream “Death to America” all you want outside the Embassies. But the moment you cross the plane of the outside wall: DRT, .50 cal-style.

          1. This^

      2. *hangs head in shame*

        That fucking Cain. That is exactly the kind of political chicanery I was talking about.

  3. Yeah, there’s definitely some hypocrisy there. On the other hand, the conservatives weren’t calling for the murder of those who desecrated their mystical object, so there’s that.

    1. No, but conservatives have no compunction at all against murdering people who sell politically incorrect chemicals.

      1. That fucking conservative Obama is at it again, right?

        1. Just because liberals do it too does not mean conservatives can’t be called out for it.

          1. “But Mommy! He did it first!”

            1. “But Mommy, the topic has dick to do with sarcasmic’s hobbyhorse, why does he feel the need to drag the drug war into a freedom of expression discussion?”

              1. Because the drug war involves forcibly stifling freedom of expression?

                1. And how does injecting the drug war, or titty dancing, or prostitution or any other forcible stifling of expression shed light on the topic of flagburning or shouting down people who say mean things about the Koran?

                  1. Titty dancing matters, it always matters…

              2. Getting high is how I express my freedom.

                1. You’re a towel.

                2. Getting high is how I express my freedom.

                  I’m just practicing my religion.

              3. “Mommy! Sarcasmic is being a big meany! He’s not playing by my rules! Make him stop! Please, Mommy! Make him stooooop!”

                1. I think you confuse “big meany” with “non sequitur tossing dimwit” and “make him stop” with “ask him WTF it has to do with flagburning.”

                  1. It has to do with articles of faith that some people are willing to kill over.

                    “Drugs are bad m’kay” is an article of faith that conservatives are more than willing to kill people over.

                    Drug using infidels. Who need’s ’em?

                    1. “Drugs are bad m’kay” is an article of faith that conservatives statists are more than willing to kill people over.

                  2. You didn’t ask him anything. You said “Obama does it too.”

          2. Which has fuck all to do with the topic of the article, right?

            1. That’s not what your original complaint said. Your original complaint was that Sarcasmic was being mean to conservatives when OBAMA DID IT TOO!!!!

              1. “Moooooooooom!”

              2. No, my original complaint is that it takes a galactic level of disingenuousness to complain about conservatives’ view of drugs given how non-conservative law-makers and -enforcers operate.

                1. Reagan signed the bill that established a federal death penalty for drug kingpins.

                  1. Have those laws ever been applied, and is the general public aware of their existence? I would agree with you that neither the laws on the books nor the conservative support of same are conducive to freedom (ditto leftists to a lesser extent), but most conservatives I know (Reagan administration apparatchiks exempted, I suppose) are neither aware nor supportive of such extreme measures. (As proof, I’d note that Gingrich ran on the issue of the death penalty for drug traffickers without much success.) Hell, I doubt even Reagan was aware of that proviso, considering that he was more likely than not beginning to develop signs of Alzheimer’s.

                    I would guess that the percentage of conservatives in support of that obscure proviso is small.

                    1. The Immaculate Trouser| 9.17.12 @ 1:01PM

                      You need to do your own research.

                    2. That was a rhetorical question, sarcasmic: the death penalty has never been applied under either state or federal drug laws.

                      The existence of an unenforced and unheard of proviso in a law is no more a disposivite indicator of support than the existence of various anti-spitting ordinances are evidence of an epidemic of anti-saliva Americans.

                    3. (As proof, I’d note that Gingrich ran on the issue of the death penalty for drug traffickers without much success.)

                      This point of view was probably the least of Gingrich’s problems. There are so many more reasons to be turned off by him that I doubt anyone cared about his desire to execute drug traffickers.

                2. That fucking conservative Obama is at it again, right?

                  Not seeing the meta-point you claim you were making.

                  1. Not seeing the meta-point you claim you were making.

                    I’ll type more slowly this time.

                    The point is that both conservative and liberal lawmakers are in large part on board with the war on drugs. To point out that one or the other — regardless of which is included or excluded — is in favor of the drug war is disingenuous on its face.

                    The point is not to excuse the conservative position through some kind of tu quoque, it is to point out that not only conservatives hold this flawed position.

                    1. It came as a surprise that Obama has been raiding medical mj because, well, because he’s a liberal.
                      You see conservatives standing up for medical mj? Exactly. Why not? Because it’s a backdoor to decriminalization and then outright legalization.
                      Nope, better to lock up and/or kill dealers for putting that poison on the streets and into the hands of the children.
                      Is it a perfect analogy? Of course not. We live in a civilized society where citizens find ways to solve problems without mob violence.
                      No analogy will be perfect. Take a sedative.

                    2. Take a sedative.

                      This, from a guy who drags the drug war into a comparison between how burning the flag is handled here and “blasphemy” is handled by Muslims.

                      Physician, thyself, etc.

                    3. You’re the one who had a fit, not me.

                    4. You see conservatives standing up for medical mj? Exactly. Why not? Because it’s a backdoor to decriminalization and then outright legalization.

                      A number of conservatives have come out in favor of decriminalization or legalization of mj.

                      Most recently Pat Robertson. There isn’t someone of equivalent influence on the left that has done so.

                      And in fact, crackdowns on medical mj and opposition to legalization in super blue CA have been led by high profile democrats.

                    5. “You see conservatives standing up for medical mj? Exactly. Why not?”

                      National Review’s editorial position has been, pro-legalization of marijuana for some years now. It is true that that is not a common position among GOP pols, but GOP and conservative are not inerchangable terms.

                      By and large, the drug war is not a partisan issue.

                    6. Night Elf, why is it that you and others on this board always bring this up whenever anyone makes a comment only criticizing conservatives, but then whenever someone does the opposite (makes a comment only criticizing liberals) you guys are nowhere to be found? It’s not like conservatives aren’t hypocritical on plenty of issues they’re supposed to be better than liberals on

          3. Ummm…because the the fact that it is a mutual fault renders the qualification “conservative” pointless? If there’s no real correlation for support for the drug laws between conservatives and liberals, then there’s no point in identifying conseravatives as the supporters of such laws.
            Try to think about it this way. If I were to say “Young libertarians shit their pants”, my statement would be effectively meaningless. Young consevatives, liberals, communists, libertarians, etc. all shit their pants. It’s what babies do. By identifying libertarians, I’d be dishonestly attributing the behavior to a group that is no more or less likely to engage in it. Much the same way sarcasmic’s statement does with conservatives.

      2. Correction: *some* conservatives. At any rate, this strikes me as a non-sequitur for a number of reasons, not limited to the fact that a) most conservatives and liberals will work within the law to accomplish their goals without resorting to violence, b) the violence in question, while absolutely deplorable, is narrowly targeted and employed and not explicitly intended to have an adverse impact on the exercise of freedoms or an intimidatory effect, c) no drug laws in the US are subject to the death penalty, and d) those same views on drugs are believed and carried out under law far more fervently in Muslim countries (where drug use often is illegal up to death).

        The drug war is ruinous to our liberties, but the comparison between the domestic war on drugs and the ME protests is strained and trivializes the struggle for liberty in Muslim-majority countries.

        1. no drug laws in the US are subject to the death penalty

          Unless the bill that Reagan signed in 1988 creating a death penalty for drug kingpins has been repealed, I believe you are wrong.

    2. The GOP isn’t storming Revolution Bookstore, dragging the owner and manager into the street, beating them to death, and then burning the bookstore down.

      1. The GOP isn’t storming Revolution Bookstore, dragging the owner and manager into the street, beating them to death, and then burning the bookstore down.

        Yeah, but you know they want to.

        1. So you mean that in a civilized country, even people with absolutely deplorable views on drug use will refuse to murder and intimidate random passerbys who disagree with them on the issue?

          Well, fancy that.

          1. No, I mean that laws that punish people for murder and arson can be effective in deterring people from committing such crimes despite an overwhelming desire to do so.

            1. They don’t have any laws against murder and arson in the Middle East?

              1. That was in reference to:

                EDG reppin’ LBC| 9.17.12 @ 12:18PM |#

                The GOP isn’t storming Revolution Bookstore, dragging the owner and manager into the street, beating them to death, and then burning the bookstore down.

                Try to keep up moron.

                1. So these mobs of conservatives itching to storm the Bastille are being kept at bay by laws against murder and arson — the same sort that exist in the Middle East, and which existed in the US in places and times when violent and unlawful riots, murders, and arsons over, say, integration were not uncommon?

                  Methinks I’m not the one having problems keeping up.

                  1. Methinks I’m not the one having problems keeping up.

                    Obviously you are.

                    I quipped about conservatives having the desire to burn down the Revolution Bookstore and you got offended and assumed that I was somehow defending what the mindless mobs in the Middle East were doing, which is baseless. All I said was “Yeah, but you know they want to.”

                    You’re reading comprehension is not improved by projecting your false assumptions on the things that I write.

                  2. You responded by stating: So you mean that in a civilized country, even people with absolutely deplorable views on drug use will refuse to murder and intimidate random passerbys who disagree with them on the issue?

                    To which I answered: “No, I mean that laws that punish people for murder and arson can be effective in deterring people from committing such crimes despite an overwhelming desire to do so.” Thus reemphasizing that while conservative my not be lining up to burn down the Revolution Bookstore, that does not mean that they wouldn’t like to.

                    Nowhere do I mention the Middle East or what those sun-baked tools are doing in the name of religion. So yes, you seem to have a problem keeping up.

                    1. It wouldn’t occur to them to burn down the Revolution Bookstore.

                      Even when crazed fundies get together for a good old fashioned book burning they actually buy the books they’re burning–they don’t head down to the bookstore and take them.

                      Different mindset completely.

                    2. That’s because pointing out that laws against arson and murder don’t prevent arson and murder in the people who really do have a strong desire to commit arson and murder utterly refutes your completely mindless conjecture (it would be beyond its dignity to even call it a “point”).

          2. Well, it does go a little further than that, though, doesn’t it? I mean, conservatives aren’t only refraining from murdering supporters of legalization and burning down their property. They actively recognize them favorably – Buckley, Friedman, Schultz – despite the disagreement.

        2. Projecting again….

          I have long found it a reliable way to predict how Liberals will behave in a given situation to observe what they accuse Conservatives of doing in the same situation.

          1. I have long found it a reliable way to predict how Liberals will behave in a given situation to observe what they accuse Conservatives of doing in the same situation.

            And I have found it a reliable way to determine who is a stuck up panty waist by making a joke and seeing who gets pissed off and assumes the worst. I think the most insulting part of your statement is that you insinuated that I’m a liberal. You do realize that there are more than two types of people in the world, don’t you?

            1. Say something stupid, get called on it, it’s a joke. Duh! You humorless morons!

  4. Now I want to make a video for youtube and see if I can provoke worldwide riots as well. What would it take? A guy takes a satisfying dump, gets up and leaves, the camera pans to the bowl and all that is inside is their holy book?

    1. Make a short of someone putting out a flaming Koran with a steady stream of urine.

    2. How about a guy dressed as a Catholic priest fondles a little boy while masturbating into his vestments?

      Oh, wait…

    3. That would be the awesome. Whose book are you going to excrete?

      1. I poop a wide array of holy texts from many faiths.

    4. and all that is inside is their holy book?

      Would that be Audacity of Hope or Dreams From my Father?

      1. Reenact the death of Ambassador Stevens with the part of Stevens being played by the Koran.

    5. ” A guy takes a satisfying dump, gets up and leaves, the camera pans to the bowl and all that is inside is their holy book?”

      Now that had me laughing. Good one.

    6. I like this. Extend it to a web site that shows a different random publication in the toilet at the end of the dump. Include all religions and major political wings. Then see who starts violent protests over it.

  5. In Russia, flag burn you!

    1. And they said Soviet technology is second rate. Scary at it would be, being chased by a pyromaniac flag would be at least in the top ten most interesting things to ever happen to me.

      1. “I am not a number, I am a free man!”

  6. Let’s not forget the Westboro church picketing funerals of the fallen. Holmes prohibition on yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre is the only logical principle I’ve heard. So did the video create the peril of which Holmes spoke? Do the funeral protestors incite violence? Is this not all part of a broader question, that of what constitutes “decency”? Has decency a place in our lives? I certainly hope so. Should it be “enforced” under penalty of law? I certainly hope not. Is this where religion should enter the fray? Its record certainly does not recommend it. My hope is that these issues will find resolution, as do most, through individual responsibility.

    1. “Is this where religion should enter the fray?”

      Seems this is where religion *does* enter the fray.

      1. But is it not in the name of their religion that the Muslim rioters do their damage? Ours vs. theirs? Those who are ignorant of history are condemned to relive it. Crusades anyone?

    2. If only there was some code of ethics which said something like, you won’t initiate violence and stuff.

      1. If only there was some code of ethics which said something like, you won’t initiate violence and stuff.

        Unfortunately, some people feel burning a piece of cloth is initiating violence. Sad, but true.

    3. “Holmes prohibition on yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre is the only logical principle I’ve heard. ”

      Maybe, but still not a sound logical principle. It opens the door to censoring any expression where others might behave badly in reaction. This encourages anyone to threaten misbehavior to silence any expression they dislike. The fact that so many are calling for censorship of the video in question and/or the punishment of those involved in it’s production is evidence of this.

      *I used the same terminology you did, but I would have preferred ‘legal reasoning’ to ‘logical principle’ because the two are very different concepts.

      1. One would hope legal reasoning grows from logical principles. And, as I hope you noted, I contended that only individual responsibility holds any promise for guiding group activity. I am seeing an idea more clearly every day: that the individual is the last best hope. Let us strip groups of legal standing. Sue not corporations for their transgressions, but rather their board members. Hold preachers as individuals responsible for harms inflicted by the membership, No campaign contributions but from individuals. Am I echoing some philosopher of the past? If so, please educate me as to both his/her identity and fate.

        1. One would hope. Unfortunately that hope is naive.

        2. Hold preachers as individuals responsible for harms inflicted by the membership

          I’m not quite sure how that fits into your doctrine of individualism and personal responsibility.

          1. You are correct. Bad analogy. Mea culpa

    4. Re: Tom Beebe,

      Holmes prohibition on yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre is the only logical principle I’ve heard.

      It is indeed the only one and most often quoted by those that want to limit people’s freedom of expression. However, Holmes was wrong: Theathers of all kinds (for plays or movies) are still private venues and not the property of the State.

      1. Does not law apply even within private venues?

      2. OK, what about yelling fire at a crowded Lakers game?

        Do you think the speech is constitutionally protected because the Staples Center is public property?

    5. The “shouting fire” thing is not law. It is a comment made my one Justice. No one was on trial for shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre and no one was convicted of doing so. So the idea that it is not protected speech is still mere speculation.

  7. “Chief Justice William Rehnquist opined that the flag was “not just another ‘idea’ or ‘point of view’ . . . Millions and millions of Americans regard it with an almost mystical reverence.””

    Uh, this guy had to have studied law at some time or other, but it’s hard to believe.

    1. Something about power that deludes the mind

    2. You’ve obviously never been to law school.

    3. So the American flag is a religious symbol? Wouldn’t that mean that the government could no longer show American flags, in order to avoid violating the establishment clause?

  8. Yet another site mentions Romney antiporn pledge…

    Don’t worry about it. He’s not actually going to do anything about smut online because he can’t do anything and he knows it. He’s just playing to the base. Kind of like when Obama said he’d close Gitmo.

    1. Yeah, don’t worry about it because he probably won’t really do it! Vote for Romney!

    2. You are naive. Get a burr under the skin of a religious nut (Romney) seeking to quell the spiritual fears of a certain mass (right-wing anti-porn crusaders) and I fucking guarantee that funding for anti-obscenity bureaucracy gets raised just high enough to make some porn-producing or porn-watching lives quite miserable.

      When the right decides to take on sexual ‘sin’ it can costs millions upon millions to withstand in court. Get the right president with the wrong motivation and it could take billions- THIS could foretell some serious fucking problems for the future of adult entertainment.

      I have followed censorship and obscenity for years and the battle against this form of oppression is financially enormous and has taken decades to resist and the average worldly citizen has no fucking idea because they are too busy being goggled and boggled by shallow life issues. They take for granted they can read and watch practically anything they wish with little thought paid to the media warriors who’ve fought their entire lives to make this possible- Barney Rosset and Larry Flynt being just a couple of these important fighters.

      I don’t take right-wing zealotry lightly.

      1. Larry Flynt’s utility to free speech has been entirely incidental.

        1. Whether or not you liked the smut peddler the man lived his ‘incidental’ utility to free speech in way that would shame the average, bumbling, and rules-obsessed American. His politics may be absurd but there is no way I’ll ever discount his refusal to kowtow to legal assaults continually launched by the insipid forces of sexual media censorship. Without Flynt and others like him battling the orthodoxy of American puritanism this country would look far different. Few realize this, sadly.

          1. Flynt believes in limits to the First Am on political speech grounds, and has stated a desire to have the speech of various right wing sources banned. I absolutely agree that envelope pushers like Flynt are needed to test the structure of our speech protections, but I award them no points if they are hostile to the use of that same right by others.

            1. But… but… but… Larry Flint saved our pr0nz! They had a movie about it and everything!

  9. “Then there’s porn.”

    Hey, there was no link you lying…wait, what? Nevermind.

  10. This is a strained comparison. There is not a single state in the US where one places their lives in peril by burning a flag — much less where protests will lead to the deaths of completely unrelated parties. It is imperative that libertarians (and all Americans) support free speech — but let’s get some perspective. A flag-burning amendment is D-E-D dead on arrival, and at best there are a few half-hearted nods in that general direction by some politicians and conservatives who, as Americans, should know better. Affronts to the Koran and the Prophet Muhammad are met throughout the Muslim world with indiscriminate violence and death threats by people who, again, should know better. These are not equivalent reactions.

    1. No, but Americans have no compunction at all against murdering people who sell politically incorrect chemicals.

    2. …and at best there are a few half-hearted nods in that general direction…

      That vote put her in the minority: 66 Senators voted in favor of the measure ? just one vote shy of the two-thirds majority it needed to pass.

  11. The ole flag burning law. How many times has that idiocy been invalidated? Every few years they try that crap here in Louisiana, and every time they get slapped down. It is an unconstitutional law and they know it, they are just performing political theater to get attention and votes. One thing I am certain of is that there is no connection whatsoever between the laws a legislator concocts and their personal belief.

  12. As a wise man once said, religion poisons everything. I will not fight to the death for anyone’s right to bicker over whose magical sky grandpa is the real one. The First Amendment is a simple, elegant bit of Enlightenment ethics. It is not an opening bell for a religious bout. It protects you from state sanction for your beliefs, but it does not protect your beliefs from criticism. In holy war it is totally irrelevant. Religion is about the alleged magical property of words. True believers by definition do not tolerate the abuse of their magic words (blasphemy). For one side of a holy war to flap the First Amendment in the face of another is to profane the document; it’s to use the guarantor of free expression as a mere expression of cultural machismo. “Look how advanced we are compared to you barbarians–we can piss on your magic sky grandpa and nobody gives a shit.” Which is to say, of course, that we really don’t appreciate the “truths” of religion as much as the barbarians, and are thus less advanced in the matter of “truth,” to them.

    Holy warriors need to die off or be educated away. Nothing good comes from deep religious devotion. And evidently the West will not win a contest on those terms. But neither side will treat the First Amendment with any of its due respect whatsoever; it does have a progressive purpose, as all Enlightenment ethics do, and that purpose will forever be contrary to that of religious devotion.

    1. Re: Tony,

      As a wise man once said, religion poisons everything.

      Especially State worshipping (which includes nationalism): It killed 250 million people last Century, a conservative estimate.

      I will not fight to the death for anyone’s right to bicker over whose magical sky grandpa is the real one.

      Nobody asked you to do that. What people asks of you is not to curtail or limit THEIR right to believe in any sky god they want.

      True believers by definition do not tolerate the abuse of their magic words (blasphemy).

      You mean when you scream “blasphemy” as people point out – correctly – that taxation is theft?

      Holy warriors need to die off or be educated away.

      Nobody expects the Toniesque Inquisition!

      1. I delight in seeing your comment “taxation is theft”, but may I suggest a refinement? I see two principles to catagorize transfer of wealth: direction and freedom. Free bidirectional transfer is commerce. Free unidirectional transfer is charity. Forced bidirectional transfer is taxation in exchange for government services. Unidirectional transfer forced by government is taxation + entitlements. Unidirectional transfer forced by individuals is theft. Seeme to me the last two have great similarity.

        1. Except, it can be argued, there is no real distinction between what you call “entitlements” and other government services. My wealth (in the form of taxes) is transferred to a tank manufacturer, but is called the service of national defense. My wealth (using the exact same taxing mechanism) transferred to a food stamp recipient is no different as long as you see that “entitlement” as a service just as, if not more so, applicable to me as the tank I helped paid for; I could have a run of bad luck some day and need food stamps. That event, incidentally, is far more likely than my ever needing the service of the tank.

          1. Tony can’t tell the difference between food stamps and national defense and actually think this an argument that makes him look good…

      2. Do you get headaches looking at the world through such a narrow lens?

        It’s not blasphemy when you say taxation is theft; it’s utter nonsense. It cannot be theft. Theft is defined by the exact same entity that collects taxes. Your not recognizing this–your insistence that these things are determined above and beyond the affairs of mere humans–is what makes your beliefs into a religion, and thus unworthy of respect as ideas.

        1. $

        2. Taxation as theft:

          Consider the following progression:

          On a dark street, a man draws a knife and demands my money for drugs.
          Instead of demanding my money for drugs, he demands it for the Church.
          Instead of being alone, he is with a bishop of the Church who acts as bagman.
          Instead of drawing a knife, he produces a policeman who says I must do as he says.
          Instead of meeting me on the street, he mails me his demand as an official agent of the government.

          If the first is theft, it is difficult to see why the other four are not also theft.

          1. I’d have no problem with paying taxes, with the following two stipulations.

            1. Tax money can only be used to protect the rights of individuals.

            and

            2. Every man, woman and child receives equal services AND pays exactly the same dollar amount for those services.

            Sign me up.

            1. 1. Tax money can only be used to protect the rights of individuals.

              and

              2. Every man, woman and child receives equal services AND pays exactly the same dollar amount for those services.

              If tax money can only be used to protect the rights of individuals, how would there be ANY services as you describe in #2?

              1. Protecting the rights of individuals ARE the services.

                1. Just not individual worker rights, healthcare rights, or pretty much any right to a basic individual need. But to the nonbasic entitlement of property ownership, have all the government you want!

                  1. The problem you have at this point is that you have absolutely no clue or concept what a “right” is, so you confuse services like health care for “rights”, which are mutually compatible securities against hostility by others.

          2. If taxation is morally wrong, then the only morally permissible form of society is anarchy. Ergo, considering taxation morally wrong is dumb.

            You may not buy into the social contract but it’s worked pretty well considering the alternatives.

        3. Re-read the definition of forced bidirectional wealth which covers the purchase of tanks. You surmise that we all may have need of welfare (food stamps). I suggest that such needs can be addressed by encouraging saving (and certainly the Fed is suppressing such an idea these days). As a last resort there’s charity (voluntary uni-directional transfer).

          1. You’re begging the question. Paying a contractor to build tanks is not bidirectional unless you consider the service of having a tank participated in by all. It’s not clear at all that people equally enjoy the tank any more than people equally enjoy food stamps. Even if you’re not too poor to be properly fed, you benefit from not having people in this situation hanging around.

            1. Sometimes I have to think that even though you’re trolling, it has to pain you to say such stupid things.

              National defense (part of which may entail the purchase of a tank – or it may not) is a service participated in by all. Without it, you wouldn’t have a premise from which to rob money from the populace for programs that benefit a few, like, say, paying for old people to obtain medical services even though they have enough wealth to provide it for themselves, or granting money to energy companies with good political connections, etc.

              1. May I suggest an obverse definition of what benefits all, and is in the contaxt of this discussion bidirectional trade when purchased with our tax dollars. That which benefits no one person or group more than all others can be said to be of benefit to the general public. Thus the tank is a legitimate trade for tax dollars but a college grant or food stamp is not, except in an indirect manner. Another way to clarify, theoretically, is to let each taxpayer vote on whether he wants to help buy a tank or a food stamp. If he declines, his taxes are not used for that purpose.

    2. T o n y clearly is just a computer somewhere permanently logged into Reason that gets typed on at various times by a variety of lefty operatives. The inconsistent levels of effort, articulation and wide variation in intelligence and in leftyness have made me suspect this for a long time.

      It is comforting to know that we commentariat here at HampersandR are considered a voice important enough to thwart. Good luck with that T o n y.

    3. Holy warriors need to die off or be educated away.

      And it will be done with the cleansing fire of free speech.

  13. Of course the great irony in an American flag-burning amendment is that the only reason the folks who founded this country weren’t burning Union Jacks, is that they were too busy shooting Redcoats.

    1. For that matter, plenty of protests and even common displays of the flag in businesses and residential areas blatantly violate flag code in the service of expression.

    2. You want REAL irony? Check out a Boy Scout manual on proper treatment of flags. When they are too worn to be flown, they are supposed to be respectfully burned.

      1. I believe that got covered back in the 90s. Man, almost makes me miss Clinton…almost.

  14. Sounds like some pretty crazy stuff dude. Wow.

    http://www.AnonWays.tk

    1. I hate your kind.

  15. File this article under the, “we have stuff that’s just as bad here in America” heading; the mainstream media has put out a lot of them lately. It seems that in analyzing the events of the past few days the left is left with a paradox, condemn Muslims and appear racist, or give up on the principle of free speech. Was it ever in doubt which one of those two was going to win out?

    In order to save face, and not appear as though they are condeming Islam, they’ve found any sort of marginal attachment to Christianity, preferably white, and absent that a broad condemnation of “religion” as being inherently “evil.” They then drag out their “proof” of acts they can’t reference, that happen here (after all, when the acts are make believe the location can be too), and are equivalent in magnitude and frequency to the events of this past week in the Middle East.

    1. You are wrong this is not a liberal rag, the article is right, America cannot proclaim itself the bastion of free speech if burning a piece of cloth with stars and red and white stripes is banned.

      1. But it’s not.

      2. … And so consequently we have no moral authority to judge people who commit murder and riot in the streets. Because we have mostly-unenforced laws against burning our flag. We are just as bad as them! ZOMG!

        This is the kind of shit that makes for excellent classroom discussion in poli/sci 101, but looks absolutely fucking retarded in the real world.

  16. Burn the US flag, the Koran, the Bible, a picture of Mao, a picture of Ghandi and a picture of the black gay (whilst wearing a KKK hood burning it) and you will get 90% (Americans, Muslims, Christians, Chinese, Indians and liberals) of the world to hate you. I should make a movie about this anyone here feel like acting in it ?

  17. here’s a video that’s sometimes forgotten , and clearly qualifies as “offensive” to the handwringing “let’s not offend people” set, but UNLIKE the movie trailer currently causing controversy… it’s actually PRETTY DARN GOOD

    yes, that’s right.

    the return of HADJI GIRL!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_qzEY8R3rU

    (note: the chorus inspired by matt and trey’s team america)

    and when it came out, the liberal set “i believe in free speech BUT…”, y’know… THOSE guys of course wanted the guy charged with a HATE CRIME

  18. As long as someone buys the flag they’re burning, that’s cool. But this is a stupid article. I don’t think a politician trying to make flag-burning illegal is as bad as killing adulterers or apostates.

  19. the cops set up a sting. they place a mannekin under the sheets, knowing that in the dark room, you will think it’s your wife, and you will shoot the mannekin THINKING you are committing murder

    So, by this analogy, it would be child molestation if the cops set up a sting operation and the would be perp comes in and actually has sex with a woman who he thinks is underaged?

    1. it depends on how the law is written, as to state of mind required (willingly, knowingly, etc.) and case law in the state and a host of factors.

      for example, when i was a cop in hawaii, the way the conspiracy laws were written, and the way case law had formed, if i conspired to commit a crime, say bank robbery, as an undercover officer, with some guy, we could not charge conspiracy. conspiracy requires two or more participants. and the way the HRS was writte/interpreted, both of those participants had to be bona fide PARTICIPANTS.

      since i would not be a bona fide participant, but PRETENDING to be one, i would need to conspire with TWO people for the charge to stick

      in many other states, that is not a requirement

      as to your example, analysis follows…

      1. i’m looking through some case law. it’s a really weird example and i am not 100% sure of the analysis based on the case law.

        but as best i can tell… (and setting aside that as part of a law enforcement sting they would never actually HAVE SEX with the suspect to complete the crime)…

        IF the subject thought the person they were schtupping were 11

        and that belief is one a reasonable person could hold under those particulars, then the crime would be

        Criminal Attempt RCW 9a.28.020, with the underlying crime being attempted is 9a.44.073

        but assuming i am correct (again, this is a weird case, not saying based on THIS fact pattern is am 100% certain) in my analysis, the crime is NOT Child Molestation

        RCW 9A.44.073
        Rape of a child in the first degree.

        (1) A person is guilty of rape of a child in the first degree when the person has sexual intercourse with another who is less than twelve years old and not married to the perpetrator and the perpetrator is at least twenty-four months older than the victim.

        (2) Rape of a child in the first degree is a class A felony.


        (continued next post)

        1. the charge is CRIMINAL ATTEMPT (with the related charge being rape child I)

          (note section 2 which directly addresses the issue of it not REALLY happening, or possible to happen (kid person is not actually underage)

          Criminal Attempt

          RCW 9A.28.020
          Criminal attempt.

          (1) A person is guilty of an attempt to commit a crime if, with intent to commit a specific crime, he or she does any act which is a substantial step toward the commission of that crime.

          (2) If the conduct in which a person engages otherwise constitutes an attempt to commit a crime, it is no defense to a prosecution of such attempt that the crime charged to have been attempted was, under the attendant circumstances, factually or legally impossible of commission.

          (3) An attempt to commit a crime is a:

          (a) Class A felony when the crime attempted is murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree, arson in the first degree, child molestation in the first degree, indecent liberties by forcible compulsion, rape in the first degree, rape in the second degree, rape of a child in the first degree, or rape of a child in the second degree;

          (b) Class B felony when the crime attempted is a class A felony other than an offense listed in (a) of this subsection;

          (c) Class C felony when the crime attempted is a class B felony;

          (d) Gross misdemeanor when the crime attempted is a class C felony;

          (e) Misdemeanor when the crime attempted is a gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor.

  20. Hmmm. All fine and dandy to point out the ways in which US citizens want to ban speech as well, but let’s not push the moral equivalence.

    Americans can watch the flag being burned in some foreign country on the news about every week. How often do Americans react by wide scale riots and murder?

  21. The slow, weak, 120-pound hippy of textiles. Even jute laughs at it.

  22. So, two days after a Democratic president has someone “taken downtown for questioning” over a politically inconvenient film, Reason and Hinkle are telling us all about how conservatives want to institute their own version of shariah. Yup, there’s no reason whatsoever for conservatives and fusionists to question the intellectual and moral integrity of cosmotarians.

  23. Republicans say mean things about people saying things they don’t like and Reason and Hinkle see them as Hitler reincarnated. The Democrats have someone brought in for questioning in the middle of the night for saying something they don’t like and its nary worthy of mention.

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