Constitutional Law

Miami Mayor's Adviser Proposes 'Civility Courts' Because Rudeness Is Bad

Under Mikki Canton's blatantly unconstitutional plan, incivility would be punished by community service.

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Howard County Library System

Everyone can agree that it's nice to be nice and rude to be rude. So why not demand civility under the threat of legal punishment? That idea was hatched by Miami attorney Mikki Canton, a senior adviser to Mayor Tomás Regalado, and it got a respectful hearing at a recent meeting of the Miami Herald's editorial board, followed by respectful coverage in that paper on Sunday.

You might think that a lawyer and the editors of Miami's leading newspaper would know something about the First Amendment, which protects rudeness along with crassness, indecency, racism, anti-Semitism, flag burning, tobacco billboards, violent video games, parodies involving incestuous sex, movies that make politicians look bad, and films in which women stomp on little furry animals. But neither Canton's presentation nor the Herald's account of it betrayed any knowledge that freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Constitution.

"I think we're at the point of urgency," Canton told the paper's editorial board. "It's not just because you've got this political situation the way it is. But you've got behaviors, people doing things and other people thinking that's OK and there's no alternative to that way." Her answer: "civility guidelines," to be enforced by "civility courts."

Canton—who in addition to advising the mayor runs Miami's EB-5 Regional Center, part of a federal program that guides foreign investors thinking of moving to the U.S.—explained that rudeness must be banned because it is often perfectly legal. "Sometimes what you do doesn't rise to the level of breaking the law," she said, "but it sure does break civility rules."

Mind you, Canton does not want to throw people in jail merely for being rude. But she figures that "making them do some community outreach work, where they actually get a chance to interact with people and be civil," might do the trick. "If I were the judge," she said, "I'd say, 'What was it?' and 'Where did he commit this offense that didn't rise to the level of breaking the law?'…I would put him out there and make him be the spokesperson and make him work some community hours."

Setting aside the wisdom of putting people distinguished by their extraordinary rudeness on the front lines of "community outreach," Canton's scheme is blatantly unconstitutional, as Miami New Times writer Jessica Lipscomb pointed out a couple of days after the Herald published its story about Canton's Civility USA campaign. Unlike Herald reporter Alfonso Chardy, who did not include a single skeptical comment in his story, Lipscomb interviewed "two First Amendment lawyers," who "were stunned when New Times told them of the proposal." One of them noted that "people have a right to be very vocal and uncivil…to use swear words and very strong language," because "in the United States, the rule has been that government cannot punish that type of speech."

Confronted by the First Amendment implications of her proposal, Canton told Lipscomb that rude statements with political content would be exempt from her civility code, which is funny for a couple of reasons. First, speech protected by the Constitution is not limited to political messages; it includes opinions on all sorts of subjects, no matter how hurtful or how rudely expressed. Second, the chief example of incivility mentioned in Chardy's story, one that came up during Canton's presentation to the Herald's editorial board, involved an unhinged Donald Trump supporter who called a local Starbucks barista "trash" and "garbage" while accusing her of refusing to serve him because of his taste in presidential candidates (and possibly his skin color; it's not entirely clear). Canton's civility courts evidently will have to weigh the motivations of rude people before punishing them, which will create an incentive to mention a politician or a cause while castigating an inattentive barista or telling a nosy neighbor to fuck off.

"I'm not a fan of lunatics shouting at baristas about Donald Trump," writes Popehat's Ken White, who noted the Herald story on Twitter. "But honestly, I am far more offended by lawyers—especially government lawyers—promoting civic illiteracy by proposing patently unconstitutional policies."

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  1. That’s right up there with everybody wearing nametags to make the city friendlier.

    1. If I was king of the world the one law I would have is for everyone to wear a nametag

      But that is only because I can never remember names

      P.S. For anyone worried, I think there is no chance of me becoming king of the world

      1. P.S. For anyone worried, I think there is no chance of me becoming king of the world

        That’s what they told me about Trump, so you know, never say never.

        1. Really!

          Then everybody better get their name tags ready. And no script, all block letters so I can read it from a distance.

          1. Plus another line in Braille for the blind folks.

            1. Maybe put the name badge under something affixed to your clothing that is conspicuously colored to draw attention to it — just spitballing, maybe it could be yellow, maybe in the shape of a star — it’s just plain courtesy to do so.

              1. In New York, we do require name tags, and if you engage in electronically conveyed mockery by wearing the wrong one, we have a special civility court waiting for you. Surely no one here would dare to defend the outrageous “First Amendment dissent” of a single, isolated, libtard judge in America’s leading criminal “parody” case? See the documentation at:

                http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

            2. So I could self identify as blind and feel up the wymmen. Winning!

      2. You’d have my support. I’m terrible with names too.

        1. I am so bad that they can tell me their names the minute before and I will still not be able to remember it.

          1. ‘Scuse me, I’ve forgotten your name.

            1. Just call everyone Herman. Even the women.

    2. Lloyd Braun is back?

  2. Fuck off slavers.

  3. But was the local Starbucks barista “trash” and “garbage”, and being rude back? Who gets to decide who the rude party is in a dispute?

    1. One guess.

      1. I’m guessing the person working a non-high-paying job who can be fired for talking back to rude customers might not be found at fault.

        But, leaving it up to the genius who proposed this non-law law, who the fuck knows?

  4. Mikki Canton, go fuck yourself.

    1. I came here to say something similarly rude, yet slightly different. So I wish to add, if you’d be so kind as to permit me, Fuck Mikki Canton. Fuck Mikki Canton right in the ass.

      1. You say that like she might not like it.

    2. Yeah Mikki, go to hell and die! (And Mondale sucks!)

      Did I do it right?

  5. “Hello, Civility Court? I’d like to report a total asshole who wants to strip millions of people of their basic liberties. Her name’s Mikki Canton.”

  6. This does IN FACT make rudeness a crime. Ordering community service is punishment. If you refuse your community service they would put you in jail.
    The article mentions first amendment protections for speech, but rudeness goes way beyond speech. Do we punish the person who cuts in line at the bank? How about the person who steals the parking spot you are waiting for? How about the person who makes a snide comment about the barista while in line at Starbucks? No foul language, but rude. Do we then call the cops to the Starbucks? How do you administer the punishment except by calling the cops? Furthermore, some things rude in one culture are required in another. I have friends from other countries where the men want to kiss me (a man) on the cheek and I do not want. Some people are hypersensitive to slights and think all sorts of things are rude, while others are oblivious and do rude things out of their obliviousness. There are going to be lots of people doing community service.
    The fundamental problem is that kindness and consideration are traditionally the domain of religion. Speech codes and now a rudeness law are an attempt to make it illegal to be a flawed, goofy, imperfect person. Religion has tried to elevate the person to give them good qualities that make society flow more smoothly. I think I can see which one works. You cannot perfect humanity by making all human flaws illegal.

    1. Religion has tried to elevate the person to give them good qualities that make society flow more smoothly.

      Asserts facts not in evidence. Also, the point of religion is not the utilitarian goal of “mak[ing] society flow more smoothly,” but rather the goal of telling people how to not anger the gods.

      1. Asserts facts not in evidence. Also, the point of religion is not the utilitarian goal of “mak[ing] society flow more smoothly,” but rather the goal of telling people how to not anger the gods.

        Yes, and what is one of the most important ways to not anger the gods? Be kind and respectful to fellow human beings. i.e. “the Golden Rule”. So yes, I would assert that the facts are in evidence.

        1. The golden rule exists outside of religion, Mikey. Remember that the first commandment of the Abrahamic faiths says diddly about one’s fellow man and is entirely about the god of that faith. Sure, some of the other commandments dictate behavior towards one’s fellow men, but only because those behaviors anger that god.

          1. I am aware of that, Toni. But the world’s various religions have been extremely important for (usually) encouraging good behavior towards others.

            Regarding “some” commandments dictating behavior towards others; the first four commandments are related to behavior towards god. The last 6 are behavior towards your fellow man. And yeah, it’s crazy that a religion’s rules would mention the god being worshiped first isn’t it?

      2. Also, the point of religion is not the utilitarian goal of “mak[ing] society flow more smoothly,” but rather the goal of telling people how to not anger the gods.

        What millennia are you from, and can I borrow your time machine? Ever since the first millennium BC(!) a huge part of religion, across all the major faiths, has been smoothing interpersonal relations and promoting personal morality. See the Wikipedia article on the Golden Rule if you would like a brief overview of this concept.

        1. And that’s what I get for not refreshing…I see this point has already been raised.

  7. Is there no shitty idea already found in England they don’t want to import here?

    1. Don’t worry, it punishes “behaviour” not “behavior.”

  8. So, could someone living there call up and report the likes of Hillary for being rude and calling people deplorable simply for disagreeing with her?

  9. The only Court that has jurisdiction over rudeness is the Court of Public Opinion.

  10. Civility codes are so Victorian.

    It’s like sending people to work farms for the non-crime of being unemployed.

    It’s not a prison. It’s a work farm! It’s on the site of a prison, and you’re working along with a chain gang, but you know you’re not imprisoned because you never got a trial with a jury!

    They just took you in front of a judge who determined you were unemployed and needed a job. Thank goodness they have a place for young men who need a job.

    Civility codes are Victorian like that.

    The elites are there to elevate the mentality of the unwashed masses, doncha know.

    I can see the self-righteous, temperance movement ladies sitting there smugly.

    A free society may be a rude society, but at least you don’t have bored old bitches bossing you around all the time.

  11. The bar exam is to demonstrate you understand the law. Why doesn’t the bar revoke her license when she demonstrates she doesn’t?

    1. Because the Bar Association would lose her dues?

    2. Best response yet!

      As Canton works for the mayor, and he’s likely sworn an oath to the Constitution, he ought to also be removed. But our liberal and statist GOP politicians haven’t been held accountable for their violations of the Constitution, except at the ballot box. So people are basically voting for this.

      Maybe Trump being in office, and his semi-support of free speech, might teach liberals to respect free speech again. Consider the gay lawyer couple who had the disrespect to lecture Ivanka in front of her kids on a plane (and what to make of their suggestion she should be on a private plane?) getting kicked off (which other passengers applauded, and which Ivanka didn’t support to her credit). Frankly if I were the CEO of the airline, I’d kick them off for offending my passengers regardless of who they were. Liberals demanding safe spaces, then acting like this just shows the brown shirts they’ve become.

  12. Mikki, cover up them ankles. They’re rude.

    1. Thankfully I can’t see those ankles. But,

      I found her proposal to be quite rude in the extreme. She needs to go to court and be forced into a red-de-educaiton program because of it, and to be consistent with her proposal.

  13. “…Mind you, Canton does not want to throw people in jail merely for being rude. But she figures that “making them do some community outreach work, where they actually get a chance to interact with people and be civil,” might do the trick. “If I were the judge,” she said, “I’d say, ‘What was it?’ and ‘Where did he commit this offense that didn’t rise to the level of breaking the law?’…I would put him out there and make him be the spokesperson and make him work some community hours.”

    No, it wouldn’t ‘do the trick’ you insipid bozo. It would likely piss people off further. The unseen seething anger would be deep.

    Seriously, how do such stupid people without a scant understanding of human nature get into such positions of power?

    1. I’ve found that those who rise to power are the most ruthless, independent of competence.

      1. It’s amazing. Apparently, by artificially creating a civil society based on force which will result in a resentful populace is enlightened among lefties. They have human nature exactly back wards.

        Look at what we’ve done! Look at all this civility! Meanwhile, all they’ve achieve is sweep things under the rug or drive things under ground.

        Very dumb, ignorant and evil people.

        1. So with civility goes their idea of charity…

          I was debating with a liberal friend one night over wine and she asked, “What does it say about our country if we don’t take care of the poor?”

          I asked her, “What does it say about you that you have to be forced to take care of the poor?”

          1. “And, what more does it say about you that you want to force others to take care of the poor?”

    2. I assume the first people that would be getting “community service” would be the comedians. Since 99% of comedy involves making fun of someone (you know, like a roast), and making fun of someone is extremely rude.

      The next proposal to come from Mikki is a National Swear Jar. Every time someone utters a swear word, they have to write a check to the IRS and at the end of the year, we’ll take all that money and have a National Block Party. You know, because everyone is so civil to one another now.

      1. I would bet she’s a bitch who won’t even say “Thank you” if you pause to hold a door open for her…

  14. Well, this will give Tony and AmSoc some serious boners. This is the level of totalitarianism the progressives are hungering for.

    1. So, is she a D or an R? In my experience, 99% of curtailments of the 1A are proposed by…. well, I’ll let you guess.

      1. She is an “I”—as in ignorant.

        1. She’s certainly not an L

      2. The mayor is a Republican, so she probably is as well.

        1. R’s were embarrassed that the Dems were approaching a monopoly in crazy, decided to up their game. Or down their game I guess.

          Talk about a race to the bottom.

          It is strange though that a Republican would pick a Trumpkin as her example of incivility.

      3. I think the progs would like nothing better than to have their “hate speech is not free speech” bullshit codified into law, complete with punishment for transgressions.

    2. No one expects the Progressive Inquisition…

  15. From the comments:

    “G.L. Johnston
    This needs to be taken nationally. Amazing how disgusting people are anymore, and Trump champoining bullying behavior has brought it to a new level. Do it!
    Like ? Reply ? 1 ? Dec 18, 2016 12:48pm”

    “Carlos Lizarraga
    Ms Canton is well intentioned and there is and has been a steady deterioration of civility.However, I am not sure that her solution will work.Civility starts at home and should be taught in elementary school and subsequently reinforced throughout the school years.”

    The ‘well-intentioned’ act needs to be dropped. I no longer accept. It’s not ‘well-intentioned’. It’s malice and coercion. You don’t get to hide behind doing a ‘good thing’ by enforcing it through force.

    I don’t know. I think we can expect more of this bull shit moving forward. Notice the uptick in beginning the process of attacking the 1A. From free speech on campuses, to fake news, and little stunts like this.

    Vigilance is necessary.

    1. ARBITRARILY TAKE MY RIGHTS AWAY FROM ME FOR THE GOOD OF SOCIETY!!!
      Pretty much describes every lefty/ utoipanist/ statist’s philosophy….

      1. Hey, “we’re going to have to take some things away from you for the common good.”

  16. I could actually get behind this. I think it could be fun. Maybe they’ll have classes too.

    1. Not just classes. Summer camps too, where we can gather all the rude people and teach them to be nicer. It’s much easier to educate when the target audience isn’t so spread out. When they’re concentrated, so to speak.

  17. Second, the chief example of incivility mentioned in Chardy’s story, one that came up during Canton’s presentation to the Herald’s editorial board, involved an unhinged Donald Trump supporter who called a local Starbucks barista “trash” and “garbage” while accusing her of refusing to serve him because of his taste in presidential candidates (and possibly his skin color; it’s not entirely clear).

    Did it ever occur to the author or Ken White, who is a First Amendment lawyer by the way, that maybe the barista’s refusal to serve the guy is what caused him to call the person names? Maybe one had to do with the other. Basically the author assumes that the Trump’s supporters claim that he wasn’t served is untrue and a post hoc lie made to justify his action. That is possible. But it is also possible that the Barista started the confrontation by refusing to serve him. That still doesn’t reflect well on either party but it is not the same as if the guy just went berserk and then made up a lie about not being served.

    Maybe White and the author should practice some civility here by at least trying to figure out the truth instead of carelessly slandering the Trump supporter and justifying the barista. You know engage in journalism and reasonable discourse.

    1. I’m guessing that if somehow a barista at Starbucks refused to serve someone … and I’ve spent a lot of time in Starbucks (GF is kind of an addict) and never once saw anyone refused service … the customer * might * have done something really, really rude first. I’ve yet to observe a single person being rude in a Starbucks, customers or employees.

      That being said, if you really want to get the barista to serve you, fucking tell them to get you the store manager so you can talk about whether their violation of the public accommodation laws is a fireable offense.

      1. My guess is that like most public conflicts both parties were being assholes. Rarely does someone just go berserk and start cussing someone out for no reason. What usually happens is one party does something dickish, the other party then overreacts which in turn provokes a reaction from the first party and so forth with neither side being mature enough to walk away.

        1. I’m guessing the customer was the one seriously escalating slights, perceived or real. Starbucks management is reaally vigilant about protecting their brand name, and rude baristas would quickly become ex-baristas.

    2. Certainly possible the Barista refused to serve him given he had been going there for 10 years and she could easily have known he was a Trump supporter, but the guy himself admits to being off his meds. My guess is he got a little attitude from the Barista or was ignored intentionally for a bit and went off. You’re right, though. White and the author are jumping to conclusions.

      1. Whoa, pretty much what John said. Isn’t that something?

        1. Report to detention!

  18. So now I know what a “crush video” is. Not what I had suspected.

    1. Yeah, leave it to reason to shoot itself in the foot once again by unnecessarily championing cruelty. Well-done, Sullum. Give my regards to Linnekin. [flips the bird]

  19. When will the left get around to suggesting court-ordered multi-ethnic playgroups for children? Think of the racism it would prevent!

    1. They have been all over that for decades. It was called school busing.

    2. The new hotness is segregation. Haven’t you read any of Rico’s articles?

  20. These laws always end up backfiring – persecuting the victims they were originally intended to protect. Guaranteed. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if these people are Trumpkins.

    It’s just the old school-yard ruse: the bullies gang up on the victim and claim “He was bullying us first!” And if you think a judge will know who’s telling the truth you are delusional. Still, it could be fun.

  21. Shove a chainsaw up yer hoo-ha, Mikki.

    1. Are we switching from woodchippers to chainsaws? Anyway, when we get to blow torches I’ve got an awesome handle in mind.

  22. If every rude person in Miami were sentenced to 1 hour of picking up trash, it would be the cleanest city in the WORLD.

  23. Re: the picture

    The “Choose Civility” bumper sticker in Howard County is almost always on vehicles driven by somebody who doesn’t know how to drive, even by Maryland’s already abysmally low standards.

    1. Shouldn’t that say, “Choose Civility. Or Else.”?

    2. even by Maryland’s already abysmally low standards

      So, true. But at least not as bad as DC drivers. [shudders]

    3. In mild defense of Howard County residents, the occasional parody sticker can be seen around town as well. “Choose Insanity” is good.
      “Choose Hostility” is better.
      “Choose to Kiss it” is downright inspiring.

    1. Phase Two: Community service for incorrect grammar.

  24. John Spartan, you have been fined one credit for a violation of the verbal morality statute.

  25. I say let them do this, and watch what happens.

    I predict that the “civility court” will be packed with assholes bitching a blue streak against one another and trying to get government authority to make the other guy behave, and the whole thing will implode within a week, Constitutional issues notwithstanding.

    1. And who’ll be paying for those courts?

      1. The usual tax base, bureaucratic largess, and possibly fines. My point is however it that it will fail spectacularly and not matter, much. The entertainment value should be worth it.

  26. Obviously, I endorse her plan.

  27. Huh, the commenters here are more civil than I thought. I thought the entire list of comments would be different versions of:

    “F*** you, then”

    So congrats, I guess?

  28. You all do realize, that in China it’s a thing. http://bit.ly/2h7npfm Why did Sullam miss this?

    Get punished, fines, social media scores, and finally credit scores. I can see that sort of stuff here. Hey, it’s not a crime like smoking or anything. No violation of rights folks. Its just going to go against you buying a house, getting insurance, buying a car, which schools your kids can go to, getting a job..

    Social police. Coming to a village near you. just like old times!

  29. I watched Demolition Man for the first time last night. They had it all figured out. In the year 2046, every time you cuss, the computers hear it, and fine you one credit. Everyone was very polite. Be well, friends!

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