Free Speech

Everyone Has a Right to Call Politicians "Idiots" …

... no matter the politician's race, sex, or religion, and no matter whether the speaker owns a gun store.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

A N.C. gun store put up this billboard:

Rep. Rashida Tlaib responded:

No, calling politicians idiots or "Four Horsemen [of the Apocalypse]" isn't "inciting violence" or "encouraging gun violence." It is urging people to dislike the politicians—a basic right of every American. That's so when people criticize President Trump or the Republican Congressional leadership or the left wing of the Democratic party or anyone else. It's so regardless of what groups those politicians belong to.

It's true that some tiny percentage of listeners may react to such criticism by deciding to violently attack its targets, whether the targets are on the Left or on the Right. But one basic premise of free speech isn't that we don't treat speech as "inciting violence" (a label for constitutionally unprotected speech, see Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969)), and suppress its communication to the 99.9999% of people who don't act violently because of it, just because of a risk that 0.0001% would act violently.

And that's so even for much harsher speech, such as calling people traitors or fascists or other such labels that some might see as morally justifying attacks. It is even more clearly true of simply calling them idiots or "Four Horsemen" (for a famous earlier Four Horsemen reference, see here). That's true, I think, not just a matter of law but also of political ethics: There's no basis for morally condemning such speech as supposedly "inciting violence." (One might mildly condemn it as being nonsubstantive, but that condemnation would of course apply to a vast range of common criticism, and of common praise, of political figures from both sides.) It most certainly does not "NEED[] TO COME DOWN."

Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayanna Pressley have set themselves up as leaders of the left wing of the Democratic Party. They have achieved national prominence, not just individually but as a group. In my view, their policies and views merit criticism; but even if you agree with them, surely others have a right to disagree. People have a right to criticize them as a group and not just individually. People have a right to continue to criticize them even when the politicians had gotten threats from third parties (as Omar, Tlaib, and Ocasio-Cortez, and Pressley reportedly have, and as I'm sure many other politicians have as well).

People have a right to criticize them disrespectfully and not just respectfully. They have a right to criticize them with slogans and not just substantively, again just as they do with President Trump or Republican Congressional leaders or anyone else. And of course they have a right to call them "idiots."

UPDATE: I revised the post slightly to make clear that my analysis applies just as much to calling people "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" as "idiots."

UPDATE: Some people seem to think that this speech becomes incitement of violence because it's a gun store that puts it up, presumably because somehow viewers of gun store advertising are particularly likely to buy a gun and shoot a politician because she was called an "idiot" (and, obviously hyperbolically, an idiotic Horseman of the Apocalypse). No: Calling a politician an idiot, whether it's on a gun store billboard or anywhere else, isn't incitement of violence, whether as a legal or as a moral matter. It's criticism, and one of the fundamental rights of free citizens.

Note also the implications of that sort of argument: If this sort of criticism becomes illegal or immoral when a gun store says it, surely the same must be even more so as to gun rights advocacy groups (which tend to have much more public stature than ordinary gun stores). Presumably it would be as to prominent gun rights advocates, too. And if something like "idiot" is "inciting violence" in that context, then of course most other criticisms would qualify. (Indeed, criticizing a politician as advocating bad policies would be slightly more likely to encourage violence than criticizing them for being "idiots," not that either likelihood is substantial enough to warrant condemning the criticism.) What a convenient way for politicians and advocates to try to suppress criticism that comes from their political adversaries.

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  1. Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayanna Pressley have set themselves up as leaders of the left wing of the Democratic Party.

    I would disagree with this. They were singled out as somehow “representative” out of the 235 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the house not due to their ideas but how they look and based on some perception they are not true Americans (see sexism and racism).

    (I had to look up Ayanna Pressley to remind myself who she is – which just goes to show you how much of a real impact she’s having within the Party)

    1. Shorter regexp:

      Anyone who disagrees with any leftist is a racist!

      1. Typical excuse of the racists. (lol)

      2. WTF?

        Did you even read regexp’s comment?

        He objects, rightly, to Eugene’s characterization of the these four as “leaders of the left wing of the Democratic Party.”

        It’s Trump, not the Democrats, who has anointed them, for purposes of his own.

        1. Trump speaks, right-wingers follow.

          ‘Send them back’ is an example.

        2. Trump didn’t anoint them, the so-called “squad” anointed themselves, with the help of the liberal-social media.

    2. Yeah, Fox News is really obsessed with them, but they’re not representative of the average Democrat or even the average Democrat politician at all.

      1. It’s not Fox News, so much as the liberal media-social media complex.

        1. No, it’s FOX News and Trump. They have a strong Twitter presence, but it’s not like they appear all the time on your hated NYT or Post or any those other purveyor of reality you want to make into a conspiracy for not agreeing with Tucker Carlson enough.

          1. Nice try Sarcastro but total fail.

            I know it hurts however the far-left Progressives basically control the Democratic Party. AOC, Omar, Tlaib, Pressley, and others are way out there; dragging the rest of the party including all the Presidential candidates to the far left. Pelosi, Schumer, et.al. have lost control of their far-left tovarisch and there is no one else to blame but themselves. I actually feel sorry for the Liberals in the Democratic Party that are denigrated by their own party if they don’t follow the Progressive ideology.

            1. Your complete misapprehension of the facts is evidence of FOX news elevating them, FlameCCT.

              Biden’s leading in the polls. None of the Squad’s grand policy proposals have made it to the house floor. Pelosi is still speaker.

              They influence the conversation, but not the agenda is what it always was.

              Which I’m sure you’d call Far Left regardless. Hell, I think I’ve seen you call Pelosi Far Left before.

          2. AOC does her own work via Twitter and her 5,000,000 followers. (Yes, 5 Million. That’s a little crazy for a Freshman Congressman. Pelosi only has 2.8 million.)

            1. It’s not Fox News, so much as the liberal media-social media complex.

              AOC does her own work via Twitter and her 5,000,000 followers

              Do you bother to be consistent, or are you just willing to say whatever?

              1. This may surprise you, but Twitter is…ahem…social media

                1. But according to you, Twitter isn’t doing the work, AOC is…

        2. This example is instructive. Who is talking about them, here? Is Cherokee Guns part of the “liberal media-social media complex”? Is Professor Volokh? Laura Ingraham is the one who called them “the four horsewomen of the apocalypse”.

      2. You sir must be obsessed with Fox News.
        My search for “The Squad Congresswomen” articles returns Vox, Fortune, USA Today, CBS News, HuffPost, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Boston Globe, MSN, Washington Post, Democracy Now, New Yorker, abc News, … I am at the bottom of the second page of returns and am not finding Fox News.

        1. Writing about the Squad, and insisting they’re the scary head of the Dems are two different things.

          They’re newsworthy. They are not boogiemen with any kind of power to take your guns or your cows or your Christianity away.

          1. He didn’t say they were the leaders of the Democrats, he said the were the leaders of the LEFT WING of the Democrats – aka, a faction.

            One named the Justice Democrats.

            1. Yeah, Fox News is really obsessed with them, but they’re not representative of the average Democrat or even the average Democrat politician at all.

              It’s not Fox News, so much as the liberal media-social media complex.

              I’m not sure what comment you’re tracking, but no one else seems to be on your page.

              1. The article – remember the thing we’re all responding to? That’s what I was pointing out that you were misrepresenting in your comment.

                Since the article (and the people that actually quoted it) referred to The Squad as leaders of the left wing of the Democrats, not the leaders of all the Democrats like you claimed.

                1. If you cannot see that the thesis of this comment thread is not the same as the argument in the OP…

      3. Have you not been watching any of the Democrat Debates. If they are not representative of Average Democrats then why are their policies, rhetoric, and message being mimicked by 90 percent of the candidates on stage?

        1. You either have no idea what the debates discussed or have no idea about the policy proposals the Squad is putting forth.

          Suffice to say, not even Sanders and Warren were talking about a Green New Deal.

          1. IIRC both Sanders and Warren (and Harris, Booker and Gillibrand) co-sponsored the GND resolution back when it came out.

            Of course, they don’t like to talk about that now; they jumped on the bandwagon when they thought it was a winner, and now hope people forget.

            What does this tell us about what they really believe? Mostly, I think that they – like most of their colleagues on both sides of the aisle – don’t really believe in much other than getting elected. We have built a political system that seems to attract only the principle-fluid.

        2. Which, if you think about it, shows how much FOX news is elevating them as contentless boogiemen, versus their own actions.

          1. Yes, Fox News forced those 5 million people to follow AOC’s twitter.

            (rolls eyes)

    3. The Republicans didn’t place AOC and Omar at the head of the party. The Republicans didn’t force CNN and other outlets to disproportionately cover their campaigns and electoral successes. The Republicans aren’t putting them on magazine covers next to the Speaker of the House, or flying them on trips overseas with Congressional leadership. All the Republicans are doing is taking the Left’s self-determined champions and amplifying the awareness of their stature within the Democrat party.

      1. The Republicans didn’t place AOC and Omar at the head of the party.

        Neither did the Democrats. In fact, nobody did. They are not “at the head of the party.”

        The Republicans didn’t force CNN and other outlets to disproportionately cover their campaigns and electoral successes.

        Neither did the Democrats. Those are decisions made by those outlets.

        The Republicans aren’t putting them on magazine covers next to the Speaker of the House,

        Neither are the Democrats. Those are decisions made by those magazines.

        or flying them on trips overseas with Congressional leadership.

        Lots of members of Congress go on overseas trips. How many have they gone on?

        All the Republicans are doing is taking the Left’s self-determined champions and amplifying the awareness of their stature within the Democrat party.

        No. What the Republicans – guided by their racist President – are doing is taking four freshman Democrats and trying to make them the face of the Democratic Party so as to arouse the base. The four are not by any means the “self-determined champions” of the left.

        1. Your contention is that Rolling Stone magazine forced the Speaker abd members, presumably against their collective wills, to appear on their magazine’s cover? It was a photo shoot.

          1. Those four are the Democratic Party’s leaders much as Steve King, Louie Gohmert, Paul Gosar, and Matt Gaetz are leaders of the Republican Party.

            Ted Cruz, of course, is the inspirational leader of the “often libertarian” Volokh Conspiracy.

            1. Actually, Rev, the four Republicans you name are much more leaders of the GOP than the Squad is of Democrats.

          2. No.

            My contention is that Rolling Stone decided they wanted that cover and got it.

            Your idiotic contention seems to be that Pelosi forced that decision on Rolling Stone because she wanted to promote the others into party leaders.

            If you’d read about their relationship with Pelosi you would know just how stupid that is.

            1. I have a young and female freshman Democrat repping my Midwest district. Why was Ilhan Omar pictured alongside Pelosi and not Abby Finkenauer? At least Finkenauer flipped a district; what did Omar do?

              Why did Pelosi choose to elevate her stature within the Democrat caucus? Why is she elevating AOC? You can deny all you want but anyone with a functioning prefrontal cortex and at least one functioning retina can see that The Squad are calling the shots, and Pelosi has given them her implicit and explicit blessings.

              1. Pelosi is not elevating their status in the caucus. Quite the opposite. Go google it. Or read about it here.

              2. “The Squad are calling the shots”

                That explains the impeachment proceedings, the Green New Deal enactment, the Medicare For All enactment, and the establishment of Islam as America’s national religion — at least, it explains this among half-educated, right-wing white nationalists.

                Prof. Volokh’s wandering into low-grade layman’s political punditry with respect to “the Squad” seems to lather the usual rubes quite nicely, but it indicates to me that the Conspirators see the window for right-wing academics’ appointment to the federal bench closing for what may be a long stretch of political wilderness for Republicans.

                1. The best thing about Trump being re-elected is that it will shut up idiots like you for a while (but never long enough).

          3. Or that Yahoo News runs an average of 3 AOC stories per day?

    4. The four Idiots of the Apocalypse wanted prominence in the DNC. Left wingers and the media saw value in promoting them as the race of the DNC. Trump and the GOP saw value in promoting these four idiots as the face of the DNC.

      If the Democrats want to distance themselves from the politics of these four women they can do so. But the DNC is in a bad place: when you have little political power a small group can seize power by asserting strong positions and offering to use whatever power they achieve.

      Unfortunately for the Democrat party, the views of the extreme left are abhorrent to people not on the extreme left.

      1. You figure this is the threshold moment for conservative competitiveness in public debates, and right-wingers are going to stop getting stomped in the culture war?

        Is this peak clinger?

        1. You want more Trump? This is how you get more Trump.

    5. Well, I’ll disagree with THIS.

      They were “singled out” because the four of them, together, have sought the spotlight … you don’t believe for a moment that some “right-wing nut” decided to hang the moniker “The Squad” on them, do you?

      They consider themselves the moral conscience of the nation, and they are quite vocal in their denunciations of anyone who disagrees with them. What THEY believe is “Free speech for me, not for thee.”

      The rest of us have every right to “disagree” with them, and if some choose to use “shorthand” in doing so – by calling them “idiots” – well, that is 100% constitutionally protected.

      They chose to get into politics. Being criticized is part of the game – no “playing the victim card” because someone’s “being mean.”

    6. “The Squad” is described as “self-styled” by their admirers. Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayanna Pressley chose the moniker and chose to be confrontational. And they got what they wanted when Donald Trump pushed back. They are grown adults and and not helpless little girls. And it is other democrats who are avidly promoting this brouhaha.

      1. Yes. They chose to be confrontational.

        That doesn’t make them leaders of the Democratic Party.

        As for Trump’s pushback, that has more to do with their color than their politics.

        He hasn’t devoted nearly as much attention to Bernie Sanders, for example.

        1. Bernie doesn’t have the mad tweeting skilz of the squad.

  2. You’re letting your constitutional law-blinders obscure your perception of reality again, Eugene.

    When people interpret these kinds of signs as “inciting violence,” they are not trying to re-cast them in terms that fit within the narrow First Amendment exception. They’re just reading the message as it would ordinarily be received, by people not quite so committed to specious apologia. Crosshairs on faces. Apocalyptic rhetoric on a gun store billboard. Everyone knows what’s being hinted at.

    And we can concede that, perhaps, the people putting out these images and messages mean only to hint at violent fantasies that certain people share but would never act upon – so there is this kind of bemused, “yeah, if only…” nuance to what’s being expressed. But to come out and harumph about how it’s every American’s right to say perfectly nasty and violent-ish things about our politicians is just to make you out to be the gullible nerd that none of these redneck gun-nuts would ever spend time with.

    We all know what’s being said here, and Tlaib is correct to call it out. No, most of us wouldn’t interpret this as a literal call to assassinate one of the members of “the squad.” But, I can assure you, few of us would be genuinely surprised if someone were to take the billboard up on its suggestion.

    1. So all the folks calling Trump a traitor or Nazi are guilty of the same thing, right?

      That’d be one way to reduce the number of Democrats eligible to vote – convict them all of making terrorist threats.

      1. So all the folks calling Trump a traitor or Nazi are guilty of the same thing, right?

        It depends on the context. Paint a crosshair on Trump’s face, maybe. Call him a racist, neo-fascist, corrupt traitor to everything American ought to stand for? There’s no invitation to violence there.

        You need to set aside your ends-driven reasoning and just look at the billboard. It calls “the squad” the “Four Horsemen,” explicitly invoking an end-times image well-understood by any evangelical viewer (who also, as it happens, tend to lap up pop fiction depicting end-time heroics). It’s an ad for a gun store. Why would you use a gun store ad to make a political statement, if not to slyly intimate – “Gosh, if only…”

        Everyone driving past this billboard understands what it means, and would admit to it in safe company. You need to stop pretending otherwise.

        1. There is no crosshair on any of their faces, and no overt invitation of violence. You’re basically saying that because this person owns a gun shop he has reduced 1st amendment rights because of how a few people perceive his speech

          1. I haven’t said anything, anywhere, about the gun shop owner’s First Amendment rights – not as they are, nor as they should be.

            I am simply reading the message. I don’t know why deplorables and conserva-libertaria-tards are so committed to pretending they don’t see what they see, but it’s obnoxious doublespeak that you just stop doing.

            1. Seeing things that aren’t there isn’t really the best evidence for “other people are evil.”

              1. I haven’t called anyone “evil.”

                1. You’re saying that the billboard is suggesting these people should be shot. That would be evil in my book.

                  1. And the only connection to guns is that the speaker owns a gun shop, hence anything he says will be interpreted that way meaning he must have reduced 1st amendment rights

                    Its funny how SimonP claims to be “simply reading the message” yet seems incapable of reading his own

                    1. The owner could have said the same thing but with no tagline advertising the gun shop.

                      There’s no logical reason to mention the gun shop at all, unless, you know….

                    2. Dilan : The owner could have said the same thing but with no tagline advertising the gun shop. There’s no logical reason to mention the gun shop at all, unless, you know…

                      Unless, you know…..he’s advertising his gun shop !

                      Which is one mile on the right btw.

                    3. He doesn’t need to advertise his gun shop with agitprop against Democratic politicians.

                      And he shouldn’t. This is an easy one.

                    4. “He doesn’t need to advertise his gun shop with agitprop against Democratic politicians.”

                      One man’s agitprop is another man’s deep discourse. There’s hundreds of small business that take shots that politicians they disagree with. There would be nothing wrong with some anti-Trump coffee shop in Portland advertising with anti-Trump rhetoric, and there’s nothing wrong with a gun-shop owner doing the same thing.

                  2. So you’re saying that I’ve failed to prove the conclusion that you have drawn?

                2. You called people evil as much as this billboard called for violence.

                3. “There’s no logical reason to mention the gun shop at all, unless, you know….”

                  If the local generator dealer puts up an ad saying ‘Hurricane season is coming!’ wouldn’t they want to put ‘Mayberry Generators – 1 mile on the right’ on the bottom?

        2. “It depends on the context. Paint a crosshair on Trump’s face, maybe. Call him a racist, neo-fascist, corrupt traitor to everything American ought to stand for? There’s no invitation to violence there.”

          It’s funny that you criticize others for end-driven reasoning while being so blind to your own.

          “It calls “the squad” the “Four Horsemen,” explicitly invoking an end-times image well-understood by any evangelical viewer (who also, as it happens, tend to lap up pop fiction depicting end-time heroics).”

          And then it says the Four Horsemen are idiots. In fiction and myth, are idiots terrifying? Are they the ones that people are scared of? Are they the ones that people fight? Not from what I’ve read. People laugh at idiots, not fight them.

          And who knew that Grantland Rice was really calling for people to murder the Notre Dame football team. Sneaky guy, that one.

          “It’s an ad for a gun store. Why would you use a gun store ad to make a political statement, if not to slyly intimate – “Gosh, if only…””

          Or because you own a gun store and want to write off the billboard as a business expense. Seriously, many of the liberals on this board are absolutely terrible at understanding why people might do things.

          “Everyone driving past this billboard understands what it means, and would admit to it in safe company. You need to stop pretending otherwise.”

          Yes, if you are a Deplorable, buy your guns at Cherokee Guns. I bet they’ll admit that in unsafe company as well.

        3. When your party claims the right to use violence against “Fascits,” paints all political opponents as “fascists,” and violence against those people actually occurs then you are advocating for violence by supporting that party.

          In other words, the fascist party is the one using violence against their political opponents.

          Stop being a fascist.

          1. Antifa doesn’t speak for Dems. Maybe stop calling your political opposition fascists if you want to be taken are more than some partisan.

            1. Tell it to Antifa and the Twitter shriekers.

        4. “So all the folks calling Trump a traitor or Nazi are guilty of the same thing, right?”

          Or a Russian asset…

        5. You seem to be saying that everyone driving by this billboard would read it the way I do (after all, I am a member of the set labeled ‘everyone’).

          Therefore we are all in agreement. The billboard is for a gun shop. People who buy guns tend not to like gun bans. Left wing Democrats fairly reliably push for more restrictions on gun ownership and use at every opportunity and sometimes inadvertently slip up and support actual bans when they are not just “preaching to the choir”. “The Squad” actively tries to position themselves as the face of the left wing of the House and the party in general.

          Looking at all the data, I (being a human and hence in the set ‘everyone’ and therefore representative of that set) conclude that this ad is making a political statement and a commercial statement. The political statement is, in the humble opinion of this shop’s owner, the The Squad is not Second Amendment friendly. The commercial statement is “Buy what you need now before these idiots’ rhetoric cause supplies to be exhausted”.

          I’m very glad were able to reach agreement on this.

          (BTW, the media is more than happy to aid The Squad in promoting themselves as some ‘woke’ movement on the left and trying to paint and/or force the party to follow them. It is so much easier than, for example, researching and writing articles explaining that practical battery powered commercial cargo and passenger planes won’t be available before the “doomsday tipping” point that AOC’s GND envisions. Explaining that the power to weight density of batteries is ridiculously lower than jet fuel and that, unlike batteries, as you use jet fuel it reduces the weight of the plane so even if the power to weight density of the batteries was the same as jet fuel, the range of a battery powered plane would likely be less than that of a jet plane. I say ‘likely’ because a jet engine is not terribly efficient – as thermal loses make obvious. Perhaps, though, really large planes using nuclear power could be viable, hmm…).

        6. I await your denunciation of Kathy Griffith.

    2. SimonP:

      Balderdash and poppycock. During the last two years, can you guess which Members of Congress *have actually been shot*? Republicans, by a deranged Democrat. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Congressional_baseball_shooting )

      Deplorables aren’t going around shooting Democratic Congressman. You’ve got it 100% bass-akwards.

      No one reads this billboard and thinks about committing acts of violence against the Squad. That very concept itself is a slander and a smear. Shame on you for making it.

      1. Balderdash and poppycock. During the last two years, can you guess which Members of Congress *have actually been shot*? Republicans, by a deranged Democrat.

        Yeah, it’s too bad we didn’t have some way to keep guns out of that guy’s hands.

        Deplorables aren’t going around shooting Democratic Congressman. You’ve got it 100% bass-akwards.

        You’re right – they’re driving into crowds, massacring black churches, and otherwise targeting other “soft targets” rather than aiming for national politicians. I’ll wager that’s because deplorables generally lack the resources or wherewithal to mount a successful assassination attempt. Meanwhile their militias engage in military training, gleefully anticipating the day when they can declare war on their fellow citizens.

        1. You’re a real piece of work.

          1. Yeah, and “anti-racists” are the true “racists,” etc.

            Your rhetoric works for people who already agree with you. It’s not a way to convince people with whom you disagree. So you can save it.

            1. You don’t know who I am. You’re full of assumptions, which isn’t surprising to me at all.

              1. I’m not assuming anything at all. I’m just reading your words. I fully appreciate the rhetorical techniques you’re trying to use, and I’m not fooled by them.

                You’re trying to “call me out” for reading a perfectly obvious inference from a gun store ad as though it reflects, instead, on my own character. “Oh, my!” you state, clutching at your virtua-pearls, “How could anyone be so base as to think this political statement could be anything other than just an innocuous criticism of prominent national politicians?” You cite a fact; I cite others. And then you double down: “Why, I never!”

                I get it. It’s the ol’ “anti-racists are the real racists” play. You’re trying to cast me as the “bad guy” for speaking frankly about an insinuation into a billboard that you’re pretending isn’t there. That might get you off, and it might entertain your pals in the circle-jerk, but it’s completely pointless against me.

                No assumptions necessary. Like I said, you can save it.

                1. Sure thing, SimonP. I won’t waste anymore time engaging with you. I appreciate you telling me just how much of a first-class asshole you are. Now, I will truly save enormous time and energy.

                  Thank you!

                  1. Seeing as how you don’t seem to have much value to add anyway, I’m not sure I’ll be any worse off.

                2. You’re kidding, right? You complain that the billboard is intentionally trying to nudge just a few people through imagery and wording into violence against people hundreds of miles away (subliminal messaging, a classic form of pearl clutching) and claim other people are pearl clutching?

                  Next you’ll be complaining that “the vidya games” made them put the billboard up and that they were hopped up on the devil’s lettuce.

                  1. You complain that the billboard is intentionally trying to nudge just a few people through imagery and wording into violence against people hundreds of miles away (subliminal messaging, a classic form of pearl clutching) and claim other people are pearl clutching?

                    No, this is not what I’m saying.

                    1. What difference does it make what you’re “saying”?

                      This whole thread is people like you pretending a billboard communicates what it does not say.

            2. Everything you said there applies even more to you, fuckwit.

        2. Totalitarians are worried Americans might be armed.

          1. Totalitarians and, I suppose, Americans who worry that other Americans will decide at some point that the political process hasn’t given them enough power.

            1. *cue the dramatic music*

              1. You can mock, but anyone with some sense should pause at the oft-touted assertion that the Second Amendment is intended to preserve a “right to revolution.”

                Seems nice, in a grade-school, sons-of-liberty, “roots of liberty must be refreshed with blood” kind of way. But no one seems to ask what the relevant threshold for revolution has to be, or agrees, or acknowledges the massive danger in suggesting that we have this “right to revolution” that could just be invoked by some group of partisans or another.

                I am not necessarily worried that, in reality, this is an imminent threat. But the rhetoric is out there, it’s getting fanned, and I don’t think there can be any doubt about what we’re likely to hear from Trump if he fails to win in 2020.

                1. “I don’t think there can be any doubt about what we’re likely to hear from Trump if he fails to win in 2020.”

                  Yes, but you’ve repeatedly demonstrated a near-complete inability to understand anyone who doesn’t think just like you, so I’m not terribly worried.

            2. Like “the political process” in Venezuela. Or “the political process” in China.

              If America’s “political process” distributes power away from the people in the way that totalitarians desire, then those arms will be needed. Which side will you be on?

              1. Try to follow the logic one step further.

                You don’t like how Venezuela has descended into a corrupt, broken, quasi-socialist/kleptocracy. I don’t either.

                So who gets to decide what comes next? Into whose hands are you putting the guns? Do you have any reason to believe that Guaido would be any better? Or that his path to power would avoid undue catastrophe?

                I am not saying that there is any easy, political and peaceful answer to a state that has gone off the rails, in terms of corruption and power. But the people behind Trump are not people who care about the liberty of anyone besides themselves.

                1. Trying to take arms out of the hands of the general public without amending the constitution that protects the right to bear those arms is the clearest indication.

                2. “Into whose hands are you putting the guns?”

                  Who is the “you” who is putting guns into “whose” hands, and why does “you” get to decide “whose” hands get guns. That’s one of the points of the Second Amendment. There is no “you” who gets to decide.

                  1. I think that Simon forgets why we have a Bill of Rights. It isn’t to protect the majority. They don’t need protection, since they have the votes. It is to protect minorities from the majority.

        3. “Meanwhile their militias engage in military training, gleefully anticipating the day when they can declare war on their fellow citizens.”

          That’s because “fellow citizen” doesn’t mean much anymore.

          1. I’m sure that’s what they tell themselves, yes.

            1. It doesn’t. “Fellow citizen” used to connote a person with a shared culture, language, and sense of values. Now, with our country flooded with tens of millions of illiterate third worlders, jihadists, and other unassimilable people from alien cultures, what does “fellow citizen” mean at this point?

              1. “Fellow citizen” used to connote a person with a shared culture, language, and sense of values

                At no point in our — or any country’s — history has it ever meant that. Well, maybe Vatican City’s.

                1. Complete lie.

        4. If you want to repeal the Second Amendment, then come out and say it, jackass.

      2. You know what, Michael Towns?

        I’m damn tired of hearing about Steve Scalise, as if that’s the only political violence we’ve seen recently.

        Yes, the guy who shot him, a left-winger, is a criminal who needs to be in jail.

        But the vast majority of the political violence is in this country is right-wing. Dylann Roof, Alex Shields, Robert Bowers, Cesar Sayoc. Who have I missed?

        I’m sure you or Brett or someone will be along shortly with an Alex Jones type explanation. Forget it.

        1. That’s because your’e excluding the gratuitous “hate whitey” violence by blacks from the definition of “political violence.”

        2. “Yes, the guy who shot him, a left-winger, is a criminal who needs to be in jail.

          But the vast majority of the political violence is in this country is right-wing. Dylann Roof, Alex Shields, Robert Bowers, Cesar Sayoc. Who have I missed?”

          I’m not sure what your point is here. You seem to recognize that the only person responsible for the Scalise shooting is the shooter, but fail to recognize the same thing with respect to Dylann Roof, Alex Shields, etc.

          And if some criminal were to take the Cherokee Guns billboard as inspiration to commit some crime, the Cherokee Guns guy would be no more responsible for that crime than critics of the Republicans are for the Scalise shooting.

          1. I concur that individual responsibility should be the default assumption (but see: Muslims and the right), but at some point…this latest shooting is the third to have posted on 8chan in like 8 months.

            Note that I’m not sure if 8chan has a political valience other than radical.

            1. “but see: Muslims and the right”

              Yup. Just different people making the same arguments.

              1. We’re on the same page. At least on this.

          2. You seem to recognize that the only person responsible for the Scalise shooting is the shooter, but fail to recognize the same thing with respect to Dylann Roof, Alex Shields, etc.

            It was Michael Towns who equated Scalise’s shooter with the left. If he can do that I can equate those guys with the right. I’ll note that Shields has been defended by at least one commenter here.

            1. “It was Michael Towns who equated Scalise’s shooter with the left.”

              No, he didn’t.

        3. Two words for you, bozo: Rand Paul.

    3. There are no crosshairs anywhere on the billboard. It’s only “apocalyptic rhetoric” in so far as it mocks the apocalyptic rhetoric of these freshmen Congresswomen. Even if it were, shooting the Four Horsemen wouldn’t do shit. Why would a religious nut suggest somebody should waste their time during the End Times shooting at divine forces rather than begging for Grace or forgiveness? It’s pretty clear they aren’t suggesting they should be shot.

      I would absolutely be surprised if random people driving in Murphy, NC decided to shoot any of the four people on an obviously political billboard just because they were on a billboard and were called idiots. That kind of belief in subliminal messaging is even dumber than the “Beatles are Satanists” half a century ago.

      1. Even if it were, shooting the Four Horsemen wouldn’t do shit. Why would a religious nut suggest somebody should waste their time during the End Times shooting at divine forces rather than begging for Grace or forgiveness?

        You haven’t paid much attention to modern-day evangelical rhetoric on the end times.

        None of it makes a lot of sense, but the basic theme is that evangelicals view themselves as both instrumental in bringing the end times about – e.g., by re-establishing the Temple in Israel, which is something the Anti-Christ is supposed to do – as well as in any fights against Satanic forces during the end times, as part of God’s army. At the same time, they ignore all the ample evidence that suggests that they, themselves, by the very terms of their own Revelations, bear all the signs of being on the devil’s side.

        Anyway, you’re right that, in the mythology, shooting the “Four Horsemen” would be pointless (and impossible), and I don’t think anyone is suggesting that the squad are the literal “Four Horsemen,” at least not in the same sense that it was once said that Obama was the Anti-Christ. But the mythological comparison is not incidental to the message. The “squad” are cast as a menace. Something should be done about that. And it ain’t, “convince their various constituencies to vote differently in a couple of years.”

        I would absolutely be surprised if random people driving in Murphy, NC decided to shoot any of the four people on an obviously political billboard just because they were on a billboard and were called idiots.

        I feel like I was pretty clear in stating that this is not what I purported the billboard to be doing.

        1. Point me to any Evangelical who says that we should shoot the Four Horsemen. I imagine it numbers in the dozens, at most. The idea that somebody’s going to influence those few people through a temporary advertisement is laughable.

          You’re taking a very small portion of evangelicals and extrapolating it to all of them, all the while misunderstanding what they believe. Most evangelicals of the type believe they’ll be part of the Host, yes, but it’s a spiritual war, not physical. The Horsemen are likely to be events or patterns and certainly not Congresswomen.

          Evangelicals don’t believe the Anti-Christ will create the Third Temple. They believe it’s necessary for the Second Coming, but only because they think the Jews have to accept Jesus as God in fulfillment of the messianic prophecies (which requires the Third Temple) or because they think the prophecies themselves require it. The only things that would mark them as being followers of the devil from Revelations would be if they were all afflicted with sores or were the Beasts or Dragon (way too many Evangelicals for that to be the case).

          The billboard doesn’t have to be making any call for action against them at all, political or not. It’s just an advertisement, and an extremely effective one at that after all this pearl clutching.

          “No, most of us wouldn’t interpret this as a literal call to assassinate one of the members of “the squad.” But, I can assure you, few of us would be genuinely surprised if someone were to take the billboard up on its suggestion.”

          If the billboard is making a suggestion that people should shoot other people then it’s making a suggestion that people should shoot other people. It’s hard to argue otherwise.

    4. “Crosshairs on faces.”

      What are you referring to? Perhaps you’re one of those misled souls who relies on the NYT for their news?

    5. What a load of garbage. You’re just trying to justify censorship.

      Tlaib isn’t “calling anything out,” she’s claiming the “right” to be exempt from criticism.

      No sale.

    6. Child please!

      Your projection has gotten to the point that you are delusional. Truly sad!

      Now run along child.

  3. I saw someone propose that since it was a business that posted the sign, the gun store was guilty of using the “squad”’s images in advertising without their permission. I didn’t even try to correct them.

  4. Wow, how far this mag has fallen. Making excuses for racist violence, I thought that was Robbie’s beat. Why don’t you interview the guy who paid for the billboard. What does he have to say?

    It’s like Reason gave John a job if he could talk polite for this shit.

    1. I don’t know who taught you that “words are violence” but they were IDIOTS … don’t be an idiot.

      1. I don’t know who taught you to be passive aggressive, but it worked. Keep on with your excuses

    2. Totalitarians say speech is “violence”

    3. Looks like someone is trying to do an OBL, and failing.

    4. Ah, yes … “racist” … the all-purpose “Shut up, he explained” card.

      Stupid ideas don’t suddenly become noble when spoken by a black woman, a hispanic woman, a “Palestinian” woman.

      You want racism? Read what Omar, Tlaib & the rest of the Squad say … it oozes out of them.

    5. I missed the racist violence. There was none. Or, really even the racist speech.

      1. It happened today

    6. Go die in a fire, fuckwit leftist.

  5. As if the “idiot” language, and not the thinly veiled gun violence threat were the problem with this billboard.

    1. There is no “thinly veiled gun violence threat” you fucking moron.

      1. Totalitarians can see whatever threat they need to see to justify whatever action they want to take.

        The ends justify the means, and the ends are to protect against threats, and threats are anything they don’t like at the moment.

    2. Old saying … “If you’re hearing dog whistles, you’re the dog.”

      Maybe you need a refresher course in “respecting opposing opinions.”

  6. You are correct as far as you go. The gun store has First Amendment right to post this billboard. The government has no power to suppress it. However, I think you also agree that the Muslim Advocates also have a first amendment right to point out that the billboard encourage some people to use gun violence, a point which you concede, even though the risk of violence is too small to justify government suppression. And I think you agree that the Muslim Advocates also have a right to demand that the billboard company take it down, which the company could do under the first amendment.

    1. “Could encourage violence” is a far lower bar than “will incite violence.” It could encourage violence if I take the last cookie at a baby shower, no matter how slim the chance. It’s certainly isn’t inciting violence.

      If you’re still confused, consider how you have to change agency to claim any encouragement of violence. The “billboard encourage[s] some people to use gun violence” instead of the owners or advertisers.

      Yes, other people have a right to complain or ask for it to be taken down, but it’s extremely irresponsible for a Congresswomen (no matter how inept) to claim that there’s some legal understanding that requires them to take down rather innocuous speech by trying to tie it to “inciting violence,” one of the few limits on speech.

      1. I can’t help you with your reading comprehension problem.

        1. And he can’t help you with your logic problem.

          He addressed your point, and then made his own – these are elected members of Congress, using the authority of their office, to declare speech “unacceptable.”

          That’s a far cry from private citizens using their first amendment rights to debate issues in the public square.

          Tlaib is so transparently self-serving: she wants to declare herself “beyond criticism,” and therefore any criticism directed at her is “racist” or “inciting violence.”

          That’s the bigger point.

    2. Calling Trump or Republican legislators a racist, or Nazi, or totalitarian could possibly encourage someone to violence, as shown by the ballpark shooting. So should all the Democrats who use such language be rounded up and jailed?

      1. Who is talking about rounding up and jailing anyone?

        1. Read the comments about this billboard in the Washington Post. There’s plenty of folks.

        2. Isn’t that language just as open to the charge of “inciting to violence,” especially when, oh, I don’t know … a “Bernie Bro” who was out of his mind decided he believed the drivel being peddled by Democrats near & far and shot up a Republican baseball practice?

          Democrats routinely call Republicans racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe, yadda yadda yadda. It’s a standard Dem talking point that /Republicans are not simply “wrong,” they are in fact “evil.”

          Why is it only “inciting violence” when someone says something nasty about a Democrat? Hmmm?????

    3. “You are correct as far as you go. The gun store has First Amendment right to post this billboard. The government has no power to suppress it. However, I think you also agree that the Muslim Advocates also have a first amendment right to point out that the billboard encourage some people to use gun violence, a point which you concede, even though the risk of violence is too small to justify government suppression. And I think you agree that the Muslim Advocates also have a right to demand that the billboard company take it down, which the company could do under the first amendment.”

      Why would I concede that? There was no identifiable violence against Muslims as a result of the billboard being put up. None.

      They can demand all they want, and the store selling guns can agree to take it down (they did, but maybe not for that reason) or they can just laugh at the Muslims demanding that the billboard be taken down.

      My view, and that of a lot of people, is that the billboard was not anti Muslim, but rather anti rabid leftist wacko, with two of the four coincidently being Muslim. But that has nothing to do with their religion, and everything to do with their expressions of anti American sentiment. AOC is kinda Hispanic, which probably means at least tokenly Roman Catholic, but doesn’t mean that she is held in any higher regard. Or that we hate Catholics or Hispanics because we don’t like her politics.

      1. Your last paragraph is devoted to your personal views, which I can respect, whether or not I agree. Otherwise, I think we agree: both sides had First Amendment rights to say what they said. Some other commentators do not seem to accept this.

  7. Totalitarians say “it needs to come down”

    1. Some do. Other totalitarians say “send them back.”

      Left – Right = Zero
      Two sides of the totalitarian coin. Blindly obeying their leaders.

      1. Oh look, new name for an old idiot.

        1. (sneer)

  8. Indeed. it’s the idiots vs the retards. And they change hates every two weeks.

  9. Here’s what most are missing: This is a carefully crafted attack on guns. A business hired a billboard to state an opinion. The business identified itself. The business happened to be a gun store.

    The Leftists specifically lie about this, equating a business which sells guns with criminals who use guns to commit crimes. To the Leftists, they are one and the same, and it is their goal to convince everyone else to think the same.

    Taken to its logical conclusion, NO person or business that is in any way affiliated with firearms would be able to say ANYTHING without being a call to violence.

    And THAT is their ultimate goal.

    1. Their ultimate goal is total suppression of second amendment rights without the bother of a constitutional amendment.

    2. I agree with Prof. Volokh – this is nothing like unprotected speech. It’s miles away from incitement to imminent action.

      But if you like Free Speech you need to condemn bad speech, and this is bad speech.

      Also bad speech: insisting that any time a gun seller says something and is called out it’s oppression. It’s pretty ridiculous paranoia. And your free association game about what the leftists want you to think is not helping.

      1. “and this is bad speech.”

        What is bad about it?

        “The 4 Horsemen are Idiots”
        “Signed, the Deplorables”
        “Cherokee Guns”
        “1 Mile On Right”

        Can you identify the “bad speech” here?

        1. Because while it doesn’t incite violence, ten minutes of hate by a gun seller is certainly framed with that implication in the background.

          And because it is ten minutes of hate. It’s saying ‘they bad, we good’ and nothing more. Selling of the back of that may be good, but it also moves us incrementally further down a substanceless line.

          1. I think you’re confusing hate and contempt here.

            1. Ten minutes of hate is a reference to 1984, and empty contempt for just being who they are gets to be there right alongside.

              It’d be just like if there was a McConnel sign calling him a Nazi.

              1. “Ten minutes of hate is a reference to 1984…”

                Two minutes, not ten, FWIW. ‘Ten’ left me wondering if it was a 1984 reference, or something else.

                1. Eh, numbers was never my strong suit – ‘s why I went into physics.

                  1. Logic and rationality aren’t strong suits of yours, either,

              2. Wait, “idiot” and “NAZI” are the same? My dad got a purple heart in WWII fighting mere stupidity?

                “empty contempt for just being who they are ”

                No, contempt for their idiotic political views.

                1. If it’s contempt for their views, I’d expect to see their views on that billboard, not just namecalling.

                  1. The billboard isn’t big enough to list all of their idiotic views.

          2. The sign says “The Four Horsemen are idiots” not “they bad, we good”.

            1. Explain the difference in the distinction you’re making.

              1. Not all Fools are Knaves, and vice versa.

                Though there is certainly a large intersecting set.

          3. “Because while it doesn’t incite violence, ten minutes of hate by a gun seller is certainly framed with that implication in the background.”

            And you just PROVED the point of my first comment. Thanks, I couldn’t have done that any better myself. It’s almost as if I was telling you what to say to support my point!

            1. …you think I’m making an association from a gun store’s partisan rhetoric to violence in a clever ploy to attack guns?

              Quit with the crazy, dude.

          4. “Because while it doesn’t incite violence, ten minutes of hate by a gun seller is certainly framed with that implication in the background.”

            No, it obviously isn’t. And my “obviously” trumps your “certainly”, so I win.

            1. Got me on that semantic tic; I try and catch those.

              But if you don’t see a thread [sic] of violence in contempt against politicians coming from a gun seller, you don’t read these comment threads very carefully. Second Amendment remedies come up fairly often.

              1. Even when Second Amendment remedies are mentioned, explicitly, that doesn’t necessarily or even usually constitute a threat. The world contains many more empty threats than real ones.

                “Say that again and I’ll kill you” probably produces one actual attempt for every 100,000 utterances.

                “Vote Hillary” is a far more terrifying threat.

                1. Don’t move the goal posts – we’re not talking about legalities since this speech is clearly protected.

                  Threats on billboards, empty or not, are not something that we should condone from companies.

                  1. “Threats on billboards”

                    There’s nothing remotely close to a threat on this billboard, except the one that partisan hacks like you are making up for political advantage.

                    1. Read the thread above, jph.

                      A gun store saying ‘screw these guys; buy our guns’ carries some additional connotations to it over say, a shoe store.

                    2. Again, that’s only to partisan hacks like you trying to score cheap political points.

                      And it doesn’t say “screw these guys.” It says “these guys are idiots.” You are an idiot. Does that mean I’m trying to get someone to shoot you?

                    3. I find it hard to believe you don’t see the connection there, or insist that it’s bad faith to see the implication.

                      And your quibbling over ‘screw these guys’ and ‘these guys are idiots’ is quite the hair to split.

                      If you offered a gun to readers of your comments alongside your name-calling, I’d be justified in being a bit more troubled than I am now, no?

                    4. “I find it hard to believe you don’t see the connection there, or insist that it’s bad faith to see the implication.”

                      I don’t care what you find hard to believe because you’re an idiot. We’ve established that. Repeatedly. There is absolutely nothing threatening about that billboard. Any threat is entirely manufactured in the fevered dreams of partisan hacks like yourself.

                      “And your quibbling over ‘screw these guys’ and ‘these guys are idiots’ is quite the hair to split.”

                      That’s not quibbling, and that’s not splitting hairs. One could possibly be read as a directive to do something, which I have little doubt is why you are trying to frame the message that way. The other can’t.

                      “If you offered a gun to readers of your comments alongside your name-calling, I’d be justified in being a bit more troubled than I am now, no?”

                      No. Why the fuck would you think that anyone would shoot you because I called you an idiot, regardless of whether I offered them a gun? Do you really think people are that desperate for my approval?

                      And the billboard doesn’t offer a gun to anyone. It advertises for a gun shop. Where people go to buy guns, not be given them.

      2. “But if you like Free Speech you need to condemn bad speech,”

        Huh? Maybe your post is bad speech.

        1. “Bad speech” is a meaningless concept.

          1. ? It’s an easy concept that just because it isn’t illegal doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.

            We can debate what’s good or bad just fine now that no one is pointing the state at anyone.

            1. In this case it’s both legal AND acceptable.

              ALL speech has some people who accept it, (At a minimum, usually the people who originated it.) and people who don’t accept it. Lacking any privileged group of people whose acceptance is all that counts, it’s ALL “acceptable” in the sense of being capable of being accepted.”

              The left regularly tries to appoint itself to the position of that privileged group whose acceptance is all that counts. But nobody has to humor that presumption.

              1. Acceptable isn’t about ‘being capable of being accepted.’
                That you’ve had to abstract the debate to ‘some people are okay with this speech is all you need’ is telling.

                My personal judgement is that this speech does nothing good and is bad – it is therefore unacceptable. Removing the state from the issue means you don’t get to come back and pretend a generalized ‘who made you king’ is a sufficient rebuttal, but rather put your morals where your mouth is.

                1. “My personal judgement is that this speech does nothing good and is bad – it is therefore unacceptable.”

                  And your personal judgement and $5 will get you a cup of coffee.

                  1. Indeed – that’s the point of the First Amendment.

                    1. A point that sails over your head like the clouds sail over the ocean.

                2. “Acceptable isn’t about ‘being capable of being accepted.’”

                  Acceptable means, literally, nothing else. That’s the grammatical function of the word.

                  If you say, “I find it unacceptable”, you’re making, ultimately, a statement concerning yourself. No problem, we all know you’re capable of being outraged by things the average person doesn’t even blink at, all you’re doing here is demonstrating that hair trigger outrage once again.

                  The problem begins when you assert something to be “unacceptable”, shorn of any reference to who might find it that; At that point you’re purporting to make a statement about that billboard’s message, not merely your own eccentric reaction to it.

                  It’s at that point that I feel it necessary to remind you that your personal judgement is just that: Yours, and not even particularly indicative of how other people regard things.

                  1. Again, that you move the set in question from the individual to the group is a moral dodge to get away from your own individual position. For some reason…

                    National consensus is not required by the definition of acceptable.

                    shorn of any reference to who might find it that I think I made it pretty clear who I was talking about: me. And I challenged you to make the same judgement. And you have refused, it seems.

      3. I think that you completely missed EV’s point, which I read to be that putting up that billboard was not “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” (Brandenburg v Ohio). Not only was it unlikely to incite or produce imminent lawless action, it didn’t produce any such action, despite probably having been seen over a million times.

        1. ?
          I said: It’s miles away from incitement to imminent action. How is that missing the point?

          Though I do think you have something wrong – the test is not whether lawless action resulted, as that would be over and under inclusive.

          1. I think his point there was that incitement has a mixed objective-subjective component; a jurist has to subjectively decide if they think it will objectively result in violence. You may think that’s purely objective, but at the time of the statement you don’t know the final results, so you have a subjective determination of the objective results. In this case, we have the objective results: no violence ensued, reinforcing the view that no violence was likely.

            Just for fun: some claim that speech is violence, and under that rubric the billboard incited mass violence directed against it by supporters (broadly meant) of the Congresswomen. Not implying this is your belief, hence just for fun.

            1. I don’t think that’s how the Brandenburg test is deployed.

              I also don’t think that’s what a mixed objective-subjective test. Otherwise every objective standard would be mixed.

              1. Not quite. An objective test is one that requires measurement, but without inherently needing judgement. An example would be the 2000 Florida Presidential election – the objective test is “how many votes did each get.” Then there’s an edge case scenario of “does this count as a vote” that happened to kick us in the ass, but the underlying test is “how many votes” and you just count them up.

                The second part of Brandenburg “…likely to incite…” is subjective-objective. The question the justices want answered is “after using our time machine, did this actually incite violence, so we can go back and prevent it?” But since a priori we can’t know if it will incite violence, the judge has to decide if they think (subjective) the probability of (objective) violence is high. In other words, the jurist has to try to predict the future. If it was purely subjective, it would be “I don’t like it, so it’s banned.” If it were purely objective, it would always be “we punish only and always if violence resulted.”

                The first part of Brandenburg, of course, is just intent – were the words intended to incite violence, not just capable of it. No disagreements here I think, since we both seem to agree that wasn’t the intent. But was instead to ridicule the Congresswomen.

                1. As a matter of law, you are incorrect. Torts are all about objective tests of a reasonable man. These are not considered mixed tests.

                  A mixed test is like self defense – both that the individual in question did fear for their lives, and that a reasonable person in the individual’s place would have feared for their lives.

                  Brandenberg is the first type, not the second. Again, because such a test would include speech that should not be included, and exclude speech that should be included.

                  1. You’re right, I’d forgotten that there’s a legal term with the same name as what I was describing.

                    Ignoring the naming, the reasonable man standard has an attempt at objectiveness, that’s the very point. In Brandenburg, the 2nd question is: would a reasonable man be incited to violence, setting aside the fact that it’s inherently unreasonable to be incited to violence for any purpose other than to prevent greater violence. So what does it really mean? You have to have something that would make a reasonable man act unreasonably? Isn’t that necessarily never, except in the case of false claims of impending violence?

                    Since I hate this trope, let’s assume I were to claim that an arsonist is about to set a theater on fire. Hey! There he is, go get him!

                    This should fail the Brandenburg test for incitement, because it’s a statement that would lead a reasonable person to commit violence. And if I’d accurately described the arsonist we’d all be hailed as heroes for preventing a fire in a theater and it would be protected speech, while if I’m lying (or maybe even mistaken) it fails the test.

                    But I don’t think that’s how it’s actually applied, because that extremely narrow such that almost nothing would be unprotected except for the solicitation of a crime (even if the actor thinks they’re not committing one).

                    Instead, I think courts actually try to predict the future: is this the sort of speech that actually does lead people, who necessarily contain many unreasonable people, or borderline reasonable people, to commit a crime ? This seems to better match actual outcomes, including at the Supreme Court. Morse v Frederick (Bongs hits for Jesus) fits this paradigm (setting aside that it was about whether schools could punish students outside of school), as do Schenck, Chapplinsky, Tinker, but see RAV v St Paul which doesn’t disagree with this model, but makes it clear that categorical determinations won’t work, and Virginia v Black (cross burning) with the same categorical rule (noting many of these aren’t about violence per se).

                    If the actual rule used (not just the one claimed to be used) is “will this actually result in lawbreaking more than x% of the time” then there’s an attempt at an objective standard: if you could determine the actual rate you’d use that.

                    Current politics hypothetical: “throw them out” is pretty clearly protected speech, as it neither directly advocates or encourages lawbreaking, and hasn’t resulted in lawbreaking. But if we started to see attacks on “some people” shortly after each chant of “throw them out,” and the chants were initiated by a particular presidential candidate, we’d see a determination that it was really an incitement to violence – a dog whistle, as is often claimed today even though it hasn’t resulted in any unlawful action (to my knowledge, and I hope that you can’t inform me that I’m wrong on this).

                    1. I think courts would be reluctant, but if we did see regular follow-on violence to a particular type of speech, that would move them…eventually.
                      Lower courts more quickly, but the Supreme Court loves it’s formalism!

  10. Prof. Volokh finally finds his keyboard with respect to the Trump-related controversies involving non-white targets . . . to post this?

    Carry on, clingers. Mostly silently, of course, in the context of appeasing bigotry.

    (Thank goodness that billboarder didn’t use “slack-jaw,” though; that could have created some consternation at the Volokh Conspiracy Board of Censors.)

    1. Race-card … you’ve disqualified yourself.

      1. You must be new here — the Reverend long since disqualified himself. He’s a typical liberal identifying, for example, anyone who disagrees with him as a ‘clinger’. However it’s amusing to see such a bigot be one himself.

    2. “Prof. Volokh finally finds his keyboard with respect to the Trump-related controversies involving non-white targets . . . to post this?”

      I know, right? A law prof who blogs about first amendment issues blogging about a ridiculously incorrect interpretation of the incitement exception by a member of Congress? Shocking.

      1. Maybe she wasn’t making a constitutional argument at all. Maybe she was objecting to a billboard using her image and calling her an idiot and a threat to human existence to goad people into buying firearms. Speech can be an incitement to violence and still be constitutionally protected.

  11. If you replaced the word guns with the word tires would folks argue that there was a threat of vehicular violence to run people over?

    1. No. They would just say “violence”. A threat of “violence” is all they need to justify whatever action. Anything they don’t like is “violence”.

  12. The only thing there that would cause me to be violent is the deplorable grammatical error. “Horsemen” is plural, so “come”, not “cometh”.

    1. 200 posts before I finally learn something new. Thank you.

    2. Old English has always contained deplorable grammar as well as several weird letters and spelling. 😉

  13. The discussion is on the wrong turf. The issue is not inciting violence. The issue is armed intimidation in politics. That is what billboard defenders commenting here intend to defend. That is what EV, whether he realizes it or not, is defending.

    A helpful reference would be to the 1A, but not to the free speech part, to the peaceable assembly part. I would like to know how many pro-gun commenters think it is okay to ignore the amendment’s “peaceable” mandate, and bring to your opponents’ political rally a conspicuous display of arms. That is what the billboard is promoting, and it is what the gun store owner plainly intends it to do.

    The billboard owner wants to tinge political debate with the threat of arms. And with the billboard he does so, just as an armed mob’s presence at an opponents’ rally tinges political debate with the threat of arms. Just as a display of military arms at an anti-government rally tinges political debate with the threat of arms.

    The billboard owner intends to rally others who think likewise. He suggests an armed mob is an appropriate way to conduct politics. He has Professor Volokh to remind everyone that to say that is a constitutionally protected right. No law says he cannot think that, or say it.

    It is past time to enact a law—not a law to say he cannot think it, or say it; Professor Volokh is right about that—but a law to say he cannot do it. What is needed is an arms-free politics law. Keep the focus away from speech, and put it on assembly, and on armed intimidation in politics. The constitution’s mandate that assemblies be peaceable provides adequate basis for enforcing bans on arms at political events.

    With a law such as that in place, protestations of gun advocates that the billboard is mere speech could be taken in stride by everyone. By that change, the billboard itself would be transformed into the benign expression of opinion that Professor Volokh—and pro-gun commenters here—are pretending it to be.

    Absent willingness to support such a law, everyone can reasonably conclude the gun advocates are hypocrites, who do intend armed political intimidation. The billboard is a publication flaunting real arms—available at the billboard owner’s store—against specific political opponents. Its clear intent is to invoke armed political intimidation, not mere speech.

    Whether that political intimidation, in the form of the billboard, is itself action or speech is perhaps a close question. There can be no question that bringing arms to political events is action, and contrary to the constitution. An enforceable law against doing that is urgently needed, especially if the question about the billboard is to be decided in favor of speech.

    The right to keep and bear arms cannot be interpreted as a right of insurrection. Advocacy of the use of arms, even for insurrection, is speech, and protected. Bringing arms to political forums is the end of peaceable assembly—and the start of insurrection.

    1. Shorter version: we need a very carefully worded law to otherize and stigmatize people who don’t see things the way Stephen Lathrop sees them. Once he has sorted out who the bad people are, then …. well, we can’t just let bad people run around being bad, can we?

    2. Are you suggesting that people involved in the firearms industry must give up their 1st amendment right to speak on political matters, lest it be interpreted as “armed intimidation”

      Because that’s what it seems like

      1. Are you suggesting that people involved in the firearms industry must give up their 1st amendment right to speak on political matters, lest it be interpreted as “armed intimidation”

        Kevin, I thought I pretty clearly suggested the opposite. That is what I meant when I wrote this:

        There can be no question that bringing arms to political events is action, and contrary to the constitution. An enforceable law against doing that is urgently needed, especially if the question about the billboard is to be decided in favor of speech.

        Perhaps your goal is armed intimidation as a routine part of American politics. If so, I can see why you would not welcome a law to ban arms at peaceable assemblies. Is it your preference to leave room for armed intimidation in American politics?

        1. No thank you. Antifa has proceeded to the point where they appear to have crossed the line into the use or threatened use of what is legally defined as deadly force, with their use of bats, chains, brass knuckles, etc. You are essentially advocating giving up our 2nd Amit right of self defense because your (apparently) favored side is using forms of deadly force more useful to younger people than to those older or physically weaker.

          1. Oh, come on. I need a gun to defend against Antifa is some pretty silly boogimanning.

            I remember when it woulda been NEW BLACK PANTHERS. Just as lame.

            I’m all for owning a gun if that’s your thing – self defense is always a concern. But integrating it into a partisan violent fantasy is not good.

            1. Well, of course YOU don’t need a gun to defend yourself from Antifa. They attack their ideological enemies, not their allies. You’re not on their target list. Yet.

              Now, I might. I’m 60 years old, arthritic, and a Trump supporter. If some black clad commie 40 years younger than me decides to go to town on me, if I’m not packing heat I’m headed to the hospital.

              1. You’ve skipped over the odds of whether Antifa is going to go after you.

                They suck, but they’re reactionary not preemptive in their violence.

                1. Honest question, I don’t pay much attention to this, but I’d understood that Antifa almost always is preemptive in their violence rather than reactionary, though their presence at any given location is reactionary.

                  In other words: they only show up when someone they don’t like is present, but they always start the violence.

                  Is my understanding wrong? How?

                  1. As I understand it, they only show up at protests by the violent yahoo cohort on the other side. Which side throws the first punch at that point is a largely academic question.

                    My point is that they’re not going to hunt Brett down or go into his house. At least as currently constituted.

                    1. Yeah, you don’t pay much attention to what they’re up to, then. I suppose that ICE office they tried to torch threw the first punch.

                      The problem here is that they assert that merely disagreeing with them qualifies as aggression that merits violent response.

                    2. I’m not following how it’s academic about who throws the first punch, if the only reason you categorize the “yahoo cohort” as violent is because they were attacked. That seems to be the core of the matter.

                      Example: people I don’t like show up at my local park, so I go there for the purpose of assaulting them, and do so. You seem to be arguing that it’s academic which of use threw the first punch, because you also dislike them (hey, this is my hypothetical, play along). Instead, that’s not academic, that entirely the point.

                      Changing it a bit: instead of me going to assault them, I go to call them hooligans, and make many references to their mothers and how her profession negates any way of knowing their father, whereupon they attack me. Here, maybe it’s academic, as it would be reasonable to conclude that I intended that result.

                      But in the Antifa instances I’ve seen, the actual scenario is more like: people I don’t like go to the park, I go to call them hooligans….. and when they don’t attack me, I put on a mask and start hitting people with chains and clubs.

                      That doesn’t seem to be an academic difference to me at all, though I’d be interested in learning new facts if what I’ve seen doesn’t summarize the situation well.

                    3. That wasn’t Antifa at the ICE office, though, it was some Jewish organization, Brett. Or are you thinking of some different ICE situation?

                    4. I’m talking about this attack.

                      Antifa, and identified by local Antifa as one of their own.

                    5. Ah. I was tracking this.

                      Yeah, that’s no good. Not sure how you feel personally threatened by that though.

                2. “You’ve skipped over the odds of whether Antifa is going to go after you.”

                  They’re a lot higher than the odds of Antifa going after you, in any particular encounter, because Antifa deploys their violence against people of my opinions, not yours.

                  OTOH, the odds of my actually encountering them IS pretty low, because they, like the Klan before them, only show up where the fix is in, where they know the police won’t respond. And I don’t live in such a place, our local police would deal very harshly with anybody showing up in masks and attacking people.

            2. IIRC it was the Black Panthers that used their 2A Rights to carry firearms and Progressive Democrats that kept trying to take away their Rights just as they denied MLK his 2A Rights!

              1. Wasn’t just Dems that wanted their guns taken away. In the 1970s, there was a full-on bipartisan consensus about the scary black radicals.

                The New Black Panthers took a scary picture by a Philadelphia polling place in 2008 and became a GOP meme through 2012 until their utility ran out.

                1. Back in the 1970s, both parties recognized that violent terrorist groups like the Black Panthers were a bad thing.

                  By 2009, race-baiting Democrats had decided that New Black Panthers convicted of bearing weapons and threatening white people at the polls were a GOOD thing, and decided to protect them.

                  1. In the 1970s, what a black person with a gun could do to become a terrorist was pretty broad.

                    In 2009, there was insufficient evidence to show that those guys were doing anything untoward. Convincing people like you is not the same as convincing a jury.

                    1. The two New Black Panthers were convicted. No charged, not accused – convicted.

                      Then a politically appointed individual that had publicly declared that he didn’t believe black-on-white voter intimidation existed took the unusual step of interfering in a case to drop all charges during the sentencing.

                    2. On May 29, 2009, the Department of Justice requested and received an injunction against the member who had carried the nightstick, but against the advice of prosecutors who had worked on the case, department superiors ordered the suit dropped against the remaining members

                      Where are you getting your facts?

                    3. New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case

                      “In April 2009 Bartle Bull, a former civil rights lawyer who was serving as a poll watcher at the polling station where the incident occurred, submitted an affidavit at the Department of Justice’s request supporting the lawsuit, stating that he considered it to have been the most severe instance of voter intimidation he had ever encountered. When none of the defendants who were charged appeared in court to answer the charges, the career attorneys pursuing the lawsuit assumed that they would win it by default. However the move to pursue a default judgment was overruled by two of their line superiors, Loretta King, who was acting Assistant Attorney General, and Steve Rosenbaum, Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General.”

                      Failing to show up for your trial does generally result in a conviction. It’s pretty unusual to have a case ordered dropped at this point over the objection of the prosecutors. It was a product of the DOJ’s internal culture at the time, which regarded voter intimidation by blacks as never being appropriate for prosecution, if it could even be a real thing.

                    4. So it wasn’t a conviction.

                      Not showing doesn’t prove the facts that Toranth wants it to prove.

                    5. The case was won, the defendants convicted by default, on May 4th (actually on April 2nd, but there was an extension). The case was dismissed during the sentencing phase, by political appointees, over the objections of the professional prosecutors, on May 15th.

                      I’m sure even you, Sarcastro, can understand a calendar enough to understand that the conviction came before the dismissal.

                    6. We would won by default, therefore these guys are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is not how justice works.

                      Add in the fact that you’re just proving the strength of this racial boogieman a decade after it happened, and years after everyone stopped talking about it.

                      It’s only proving my point about how lame right wing boogieman end up proving later on, which undercuts the drama about Antifa.

                    7. Look, Sarcastro says something that shows the opposite proves his point.

                      Fuck off and die, idiot.

    3. “The billboard owner wants to tinge political debate with the threat of arms.”

      Well, no.

      You, and the other liberals looking for an issue, want to tinge this piece of political debate with the threat or arms.

    4. “The billboard owner wants to tinge political debate with the threat of arms.”

      Or he wants to advertise his business while criticizing politicians he doesn’t like. Or he wants to advertise his business by generating responses and media coverage. Why are so many liberals on this board just so certain they know exactly why everyone else does everything they do? And why is it that the reason is inevitably nefarious?

      “He suggests an armed mob is an appropriate way to conduct politics.”

      No he doesn’t. He says that the four are idiots. All the rest is just your projection.

      “The constitution’s mandate that assemblies be peaceable provides adequate basis for enforcing bans on arms at political events.”

      There already are bans on regular people carrying firearms at most political events.

      “Absent willingness to support such a law, everyone can reasonably conclude the gun advocates are hypocrites, who do intend armed political intimidation.”

      This is just such an utterly stupid statement that it’s not worth addressing, only highlighting.

      “The billboard is a publication flaunting real arms—available at the billboard owner’s store—against specific political opponents. Its clear intent is to invoke armed political intimidation, not mere speech.”

      As is this.

      “There can be no question that bringing arms to political events is action, and contrary to the constitution.”

      So no more armed secret service or police at political events? Or is it not political intimidation when the government does it?

      1. “Why are so many liberals on this board just so certain they know exactly why everyone else does everything they do?”

        Easy. They see something from someone who doesn’t agree with them 100%, and then construe it in the worst possible light (and Liberals apparently know a lot about the worst possible light), then assume that is what that person means, since anyone who doesn’t agree with them is totally evil.

    5. Or, the four people listed, “The Squad”, are very publicly in favor of severe gun restrictions, and the store that sells guns is point out that these “The Squad” are idiots using a common cultural group of four.

      The rest is your prejudice and projection.

      1. The billboard’s sponsor is entitled to his opinion.

        He and his intended audience are right-wing bigots.

        1. Says the expert in bigotry.

        2. I believe he acknowledged your ludicrous characterization of them with “Signed, the Deplorables”.

          My first thought was similar to several posters up: A gun seller was reacting to four leftists who want to take guns away, and mocked them in various ways.

          Nothing popped up in my mind that it was a wink wink request to shoot anyone. That’s pure disasterbation baloney, sorry.

    6. Don’t you think we could solve this problem if we just repealed section 230 of the Communications Decency Act?

      1. Like, like, like.

    7. Wow … THAT was an amazing “reach.”

      Now, if you want to do “political intimidation” … do “constantly caalling your political opponents racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe.”

      We’ll hang up and listen.

    8. “A helpful reference would be to the 1A, but not to the free speech part, to the peaceable assembly part. I would like to know how many pro-gun commenters think it is okay to ignore the amendment’s “peaceable” mandate, and bring to your opponents’ political rally a conspicuous display of arms.”

      Antifa can bring their bats, chains, and brass knuckles, typically considered deadly weapons, to protests, but no one can bring guns to protect themselves from them? The firearms brought to protests for self defense aren’t putting people in the hospital. Antifa’s bats, chains, and brass knuckles are.

    9. Does it hurt being that ignorant Stephy?
      Or just normal for a Progressive prole?

  14. bath-house Barry exclaimed,in the runup to the 2008 Election;“They’re going to try to scare people. They’re going to try to say that ‘that Obama is a scary guy,’ ” he said. A donor yelled out a deep accented “Don’t give in!”

    “I won’t but that sounded pretty scary. You’re a tough guy,” Obama said.

    “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said. “Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl.” Inciting violence, the Chicago way.

    1. Bath-house Barry? Playing the old hits I see. Along with ‘deeply accented.’ I dig what you’re laying down.

      Both statements are legal of course. No one thinks Obama was talking about shooting people, nor that this billboard is calling for executions.
      And both are pretty bad ideas, as a general proposition. One was at a fundraiser by a Presidential candidate years ago, the other is on a freaking billboard right now. And it’s the second on we’re talking about.

      So maybe stop distracting yourself by looking at the other side and look to your own side’s tribal bullcrap.

      1. “Both statements are legal of course. No one thinks Obama was talking about shooting people, nor that this billboard is calling for executions.”

        Essentially, an admissions that the billboard does not rise to the level of “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” (Brandenburg v Ohio)

        1. …do you think I’m advocating for state action against the billboard or any of the companies associated with it?

          1. No, you’re just whining like a stuck pig, and deserve the same amount of attention.

  15. This comment thread somehow reminds me of the Monty Python stoning scene, with ‘gun store’ substituted for ‘Jehovah’.

    It would be interesting to see the Venn diagram of people who think that billboard is a universal and unambiguous incitement to assassination and those who thought Kathy Griffin’s head severing was just good clean political humor (and vice versa).

    1. “…those who thought Kathy Griffin’s head severing was just good clean political humor…”

      Now I’m a huge supporter of free speech, but depicting the dismemberment of a sitting head of state goes to far. When Kathy Griffin depicted herself severing the head of Putin’s penis, she crossed a line.

  16. I thought that words themselves could be violent, never mind incitement!

  17. In any case, “horsemen” is sexist, particularly for these WOC. They should have said “the four eschatological equestrians.”

    1. “Equestriennes,” I think, Eddy.

      1. The Latin for horses ass is equos asinum; just use that.

  18. We should be more concerned that Iron Maiden revealed their phone number:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dx5KnFr9xSk

  19. But one basic premise of free speech isn’t that we don’t treat speech as “inciting violence” (a label for constitutionally unprotected speech, see Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969)), and suppress its communication to the 99.9999% of people who don’t act violently because of it, just because of a risk that 0.0001% would act violently.

    Professor Volokh, I suggest you are off on the percentages, by orders of magnitude. I doubt you intended those figures as anything more than a rhetorical flourish—as a way of saying, “very small number.” But in fact, the statistical danger of a gun owner shooting someone is not a very small number, and it is especially high for pistol owners.

    Taking pistol owners as the “people” in question, somewhat in excess of 1.8% of their pistols do eventually shoot someone. That is a fact easy to calculate, by comparing the number of pistols in circulation to the total shootings, which accumulate during the service life of the pistols. Just stay mindful that all the pistols in circulation must account for all the pistol shootings during that service interval, and calculate from there.

    You can make the result vary, by including or excluding suicides, by shortening or lengthening the presumed service life of a pistol, and by increasing or decreasing the median number of pistols during the service interval. Using reasonable assumptions, and excluding suicides, delivers the surprising result that about 1.9% of all pistols will eventually be used to shoot someone, fatally or otherwise.

    As I recall, for that estimate, I used a pistol service life of 50 years, 116,000 annual shootings (fatal and non-fatal combined), and about 300 million pistols as the median total during that 50-year service interval. Varying those assumptions within reason will vary the resulting percentages, but never put them anywhere near your tiny numbers.

    The reason that seems surprising may be because folks are accustomed to annualized statistics. In this instance, those obscure, rather than elucidate, the public dangers which attend the ownership of pistols. The statistical danger per pistol is not an annual danger, but instead a danger which increases continuously until the pistol goes out of service.

    Also, it is worth noting that some pistol owners average multiple pistols in their possession. In fact, spreading the median number of pistols over the largest likely number of pistol owners (I take that to be about 150 million—65% of the population between 18 and 65)—and I suggest that is likely too high) indicates that each pistol owner is at least twice as likely to shoot someone as is the typical pistol. All the pistol owners also have to account for all the pistol shootings, and there are notably fewer owners than pistols.

    Thus, considered on the basis of dangers presented to the public by pistol owners, the average risk per owner may be approximately double the average risk per pistol—and possibly a risk as high as 4% per owner. As applied to any individual, that comparison would be complicated by the undoubted fact that not all pistols will complete their service in the hands of one owner, and not every owner will retain even one pistol for its entire service life. Those considerations are irrelevant to the overall statistical picture.

    Of course, none of that affects the purely legal basis for your arguments. It does undercut your attempts, as in the quote above, to suggest the law is wisely responsive to unremarkable experience. I suggest that on the contrary, the law has been notably unresponsive to shocking experience.

    I am mindful that this analysis is rough and ready, and far outside commonly-held expectations. I have tried to find something notably wrong with it, and do not find it. If anyone can show why this critique, taken on its own terms, is mistaken, I would welcome hearing what you have to say, and would be grateful to be corrected if I am in error.

    1. “Taking pistol owners as the “people” in question, somewhat in excess of 1.8% of their pistols do eventually shoot someone.”

      Cite, please.

      1. Or, you could probably run a similar analysis on automobiles, given a 20 year service life, and find they’re much more dangerous than guns. Car bans, anyone?

        1. Based on common sense control of evil things; cars are used in all drunk driving crimes. They should be banned.

          1. I believe some people have been charged with DUI while driving their riding mower home from the bar. But, I would agree that cars are used in most drunk driving crimes.

    2. I’ll leave the several substantial gaps in your statistical analysis as an exercise for the reader and accept your numbers at face value. I don’t see how that demonstrates that Prof. Volokh has underestimated the risk of a violent response to this billboard. In fact, while I agree that his numbers weren’t intended to be taken literally, I would suspect they substantially overstate the risk.

      Prof. Volokh estimated .0001% of people responding violently, or one in a million. In light of the attention this has received and seems to still be receiving, I’m sure that several million people will see the billboard (or a picture of it). And yet I am prepared to bet that not a single one will attempt violence towards any of the congresswomen at all – much less that they’ll be moved to do so because of the message.

      1. Keeping in mind, in Brandenburg, the Supreme Court held that government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless that speech is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” Even inciting 1/1,000 people to violence wouldn’t probably qualify as “likely”. Probably not even 1/100. Definitely not 1/1,000,000 – except, of course, the billboard probably didn’t even incite anyone to violence out of that huge number.

    3. The fundamental error (and I assume your math is correct) is that shootings are not randomly distributed among gun owners, nor among guns. Firearms (not just handguns) fall into a trimodal distribution: the vast majority are never used, and a small number are used once, and a larger number are used many times. So to determine the risk of any particular gun being used to shoot a person you have to determine which category it’s in initially, followed by the risk of it changing categories.

      So what are those categories? Guns never used to shoot someone belong to lawful gun owners, and disproportionately to people with concealed carry permits, who commit less violent crime than any other class of people (including police officers: CCW permit holders are convicted fewer times per capita that law enforcement, and I assume you share my suspicion about the low rate of LEO prosecutions). To keep these in this class we don’t need lock rules, but could subsidize gun safes – a thief can easily remove a gun lock after they’ve stolen it, but a gun safe deters the theft entirely.

      Guns used once to shoot someone almost exclusively fall into a single class: depressed owners, with the result being suicide (and a small number of cheating spouses, but while this is glamorous, it’s rare). To reduce this we can provide better early mental health services, and (funnily enough) NOT seize firearms from people who self-refer for mental health treatment – a fact which deters many from seeking help. We can also seize firearms from those involuntarily committed by a court, which is already the law, but is often not enforced.

      Guns used in many shooting are owned by people involved in many shootings: members of organized crime, predominantly gangs. This is the only class of guns that are materially dangerous. To reduce this population we can remove all black market arbitrage opportunities, which are the primary drivers of organized crime. Examples of arbitrage include all drugs (ex: buy cheap fentanyl in China, sell heavily diluted as heroin in the US) and high taxes on cigarettes and alcohol. Since an arbitrage opportunity exists any time there’s an artificial price gap, leveling taxes nationally will significantly reduce the opportunities, though importation from other countries will still exist. Direct subsidization of primary cartel goods could also be used to accelerate the breakup of such organizations – if you were addicted to heroin, would you rather buy it from the guy on the corner and get a questionable substance, or pick up your daily dose from Walmart’s pharmacy at half the price (subsidized by the tax payer)?

      The core problem of gun violence in the US is the same as overall violence: it’s a method of dispute resolution for those who are prevented from using the legal system. Remove the need for that dispute resolution and most of it will disappear. Then we can focus on actual crazy people (see, Walmart today).

      1. The gun safe subsidies should be large and include an allowance for installation. Most “gun safes” are actually easy to open with brute force. YouTube will teach you how!

        The Gun Safe Subsidy Act of 2019 must insure that every citizen can have a quality gun safe installed correctly. Perhaps a TL-30×6 safe should be required. The Democrats will sign on if we require that subsidized safes be Made in America — imagine the jobs that will create and the improvement in the national firearms storage infrastructure! As a bone, it could require that qualified safes be Union made — after all, the government is paying for it so why do I care if it’s overpriced?

        1. Why the heck would I want to lock up my guns? I’m in the category above of having a lower than average propensity to illegally use firearms, due to having a concealed carry permit.

          We have every medium to large mammalian predator in the lower 48 in this county, including now brown bears and wolves. Luckily neither of those are common – yet. But a decade or so ago, we had neither. We had a decent sized forest fire several years ago, and the FS people tell of black bears just streaming out of the fire, swimming the river to the west to escape. We do have them through the neighborhood a couple times a week. Slim pickings, because everyone is careful about their trash.

          And telling us to wait for the police just doesn’t work, in a county 100 miles long, where sometimes a single deputy may be on duty late at night, which means an hour or more response time at times.

          My guess is that 80% of the houses have firearms, and probably half the (ubiquitous) pickups. Not locked up, of course, but readily available. Likely in the glove compartment or central console. Most common trucks are 2000-2009 Chevy/GMC full sized, which have a nice slot on the bottom of the lid that nicely fits a full sized semiautomatic (perfect fit for my G17, but not my larger G20 bear gun).

          This last week, I dropped by the local consignment/gun store to check on the gun case that my spouse and kid bought me for my upcoming birthday. It’s a glass case that displays up to eight long guns upright, locked with a small key. You would be appalled if you are trying to force expensive gun safes on everyone. Yet, where is the danger? The danger would be fumbling with a complicated lock, on a safe, if we have a bear on the porch.

          Here, the solution to kids mishandling firearms is gun safety starting at a young age. By the time they are big enough to get into trouble, they know better. They know how to handle guns safely. And do. It works.

          1. Well, I at least am not actually in favor of mandatory safes, subsidized or not, but it would at least reduce the transfer of guns from lawful owners to unlawful owners, and (probably) reduce the percentage of gang members who are carrying a firearm at any given time.

            There are also additional ways to accomplish your need for speed of availability, such as hidden shelves that hold a gun, which will drop out with the use of a keycard (I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials, others please google “shelf gun safe” or similar).

            Entirely agreed on gun safety training, which should be part of elementary schools everywhere, just like learning to swim should be.

      2. Robert, your multi-modal gun distribution is a shape shifter, and it leaks. You posit categories as if they were stable over time. The categories may be, but the members are not. People who lived their lives sober for decades fall into alcoholism, or get ravaged by drug use. People who never showed signs of it, suffer psychotic breaks. People who were loving husbands become domestically violent.

        As for the leakage? Gun owners die. What happens to the guns after that is utterly out of control. Even police guns find their way into the hands of professional criminals. The useful life of a gun is long enough that there is only limited correspondence with the life of its initial owner.

        Because of both factors, the instability of the categories, and the leakage, every time a gun is sold into the hands of a person of sound mind and impeccable character, the chance of it being used in crime increases. Under the present system of lax gun regulation, that is unavoidable. So policy has to account for it statistically, not with the special exceptions for virtuous individuals you seem to be advocating.

        Also, I don’t see where in your system you make allowance for fecklessness. A policy to arm everyone with little or no discrimination is a policy to take your chances with everyone, just as they are. And a notable percentage of otherwise unimpaired people are too loosely self-disciplined to prevent getting involved in shootings which neither they nor anyone else wants or really intends. That is another randomizer that makes a wreck of your categories.

        All that is before we get to today’s issue, which is political intimidation. That is a growing, virulent threat which is being actively promoted by the gun industry, and in right wing politics.

        All that aside, I do sincerely thank you for a thoughtful comment, and for constructive engagement. There is way too little of that on this subject.

        1. Yes, guns do change categories, and when an owner dies is a chance to move from a “safe” category to an “unsafe” category, but in my experience (and I have no statistics for this, so please chime in if you do), gun disposal in this scenario always fall into three classes: guns go to kids/grandkids (who the owner presumably thought would make good owners), guns are sold individually to a pawn shop or gun store (when few guns are present), or they are sold at auction (for large collections).

          Sales via auction or gun store go through FFLs and necessarily through the background check, so if we address the organized crime and mental health problems there’s no reason to expect they will be diverted to bad ends.

          Transfers to heirs (again, my experience) always go to responsible gun owners, though I’m sure there are counter examples, though these would not be solved by the gang and mental health fixes as no checks are made. I’m open to being convinced that changing that would improve things.

          As to fecklessness, yeah, the state of nature is that she’s trying to kill you, either by sending wolves (metaphorical and literal) so you need a gun to protect yourself, or by sending men with guns in their stead.

          On political intimidation, I’m just not seeing it. Sure, there are instances of people who are right on the edge of brandishing (a crime in ever state), but I’m not seeing a picture of political intimidation with firearms – to the contrary, the political intimidation seems to be of the hooded variety in 2019 (which funnily enough, was also the case in 1919).

          You could be meaning that some people are intimidated by open-carry of firearms in general, and there’s a kernel of truth there, but that seems to be cultural: when my wife and I moved from California to Arizona 12 years ago and started seeing people regularly carrying openly it was a bit disconcerting, but it’s such a common occurrence that it’s entirely unremarkable now.

          In locations where open carry is rare however, the solution to this isn’t “we’ll take away your ability to defend yourself without taking on an obligation to defend you,” it’s either “concealed carry only” or “no guns, but we now have an absolute duty to protect you and our venue is absolutely liable for any unlawful injuries as if we did it ourselves.”

          Otherwise, you’re putting people like my wife, 5ft in, black, immigrant, 100 pounds soaking wet, in a position where she has no chance of protecting herself. That may be an acceptable trade off, both to the physically fit (I’m disabled), or to those who accept a loss of personal autonomy and responsibility for a perceived increase in safety (but not enough, of course, to be willing to pay for it), but many won’t be willing to make that trade off, and that’s the conversation we should be having, not just a repeat of Remy’s “People will die” video.

    4. Your analysis of the number of pistols that end up shooting someone, and why it is shocking (because we see annual statistics and not lifetime service statistic.

      Oh, and cars shorten your life by an average of 6 years, while we’re at it.

    5. Taking pistol owners as the “people” in question, somewhat in excess of 1.8% of their pistols do eventually shoot someone. That is a fact easy to calculate, by comparing the number of pistols in circulation to the total shootings, which accumulate during the service life of the pistols.

      Silly, completely worthless statistic. As others have pointed out, a small number of guns are used multiple times, while most are never used to shoot someone. But it also ignores that some of the guns used for shooting people were in the police at the time, and others were in the hands of civilians engaging in perfectly legal justified self defense. And then, maybe the largest number of such guns (maybe outside criminals) are used for suicides.

    6. “somewhat in excess of 1.8% of their pistols do eventually shoot someone.”

      OK, there’s where your analysis goes wrong. You’re assigning the agency wrong: Guns are inanimate objects, they don’t shoot, they are “shot”.

      This isn’t a minor quibble: By assigning the agency to the guns, you avoid confronting that the agency is actually possessed by the people, and so guns owned by some people are going to be harmless, and guns owned by other people will be harmful. You’ve essentially ruled out consideration of the actual variable driving the outcome!

      You totally bugger up your causality analysis this way. And you have to get causality right in order to craft working policy.

    7. The ATF NIBIN system of digitizing crime scene ballistics evidence and doing matches has found multiple crimes committed with single firearms (mostly handguns) over the course of a year. One handgun was used in a string of sixteen robberies in one year, either a prolific armed robber or a gun shared by a gang. A lot of gun violence is done with a small number of guns in the wrong hands.

      Claiming that the typical gun owner is X% likely to commit a crime is really skewed.

  20. Murder Rates and gun control: 1970 / 2016

    Games can be played with numbers (see Laptrop’s above) and correlation does not prove causation, but it is interesting to note that in 1970 MD’s population was ranked 18th and the murder rate was 18th. In 2016 (40 plus years after enactment of a strict gun control law) . . . MD’s population was ranked 19th and the murder rate was 6th.

    Needless to say MD Progressives continue to double down on “gun control” despite what the statistics clearly show.

    Scroll down on the charts for the math:

    Maryland Crime Rates 1960 – 2016 – The Disaster Center

    http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/mdcrime.htm

    1. Mass shootings are up; that’s what’s shocking the conscience right now. The randomness of death of innocents for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time is up.

      It may be silly, but tragedies like that do move policy more than utilitarian arguments about total deaths.

      I’m not for gun confiscations for exactly the reasons you lay out, but it’d be best to meet those that are on the terms of the argument they’re making.

      1. Something about multiple people dying in one event really captures the imagination.

        Flying in a (currently grounded) 737 MAX with the old software and with just ten minutes of additional pilot training (“Hey, Boeing calling here… We grafted on this thing called MCAS. It’s got some problems due to stupid design, so the first thing you should do when you experience unexplained nose down behavior is execute the runaway trim procedure. Sorry about that. Thanks and blue skies“) is probably safe than driving in a car — but Ford, Tesla, Toyota and the NTSB haven’t “grounded” all cars for some reason.

        1. Yep. Humans’ risk analysis is borked from a utilitarian point of view. Though I’m not sure that’s always a bad thing.

        2. BadLib, this is kind of off topic, but since you brought it up: some modern military aircraft are so aerodynamically unstable that they really can’t be flow manually. So between the pilot and the controls is a system of continuous computer intervention, monitoring everything, and keeping all the parameters in line many times a second. Even so, the military accepts attrition rates which would quickly put any civilian user out of business.

          It may be that Boeing built one of those for civilian use, without quite intending it that way. Hence, a retrofit, but not a very good one.

          If so, the best thing it can do now is say so, and drop the design. It would be a tremendous hit, but Boeing might survive as a company. If it does have an aerodynamically unstable airplane, and does not say so and act responsibly, it is betting the company on getting away with it.

          1. Not so much that the plane was unstable under normal operating conditions, as that it would behave differently in some moderately abnormal conditions. And they added some software to make the plane appear to behave like the older models, to avoid complaints about pilots needing retraining.

            That software itself could cause problems under some circumstances, and could be shut off, or even warn you that it should be shut off, but they made that a pricey option, instead of just going ahead and fixing it on all the planes.

            Boeing is in big trouble, and deservedly so. They shipped a plane they knew had a safety defect, and treated the fix as an option rather than warning everybody and applying it free. You only have to do that sort of thing once for your corporate rep to be shit.

          2. The reason many military aircraft are inherently unstable is that they’re trying to maximize some other characteristic (usually transonic or supersonic controls). The classical example of this is the inverted wing with canards, which maintains flight controls at all speeds, but which inherently destabilizes itself such that constant adjustments are necessary even in ideal conditions.

            The 737 on the other hand is inherently stable – once airborne you can let go of the yoke and it will continue flying with no input. The problem Boeing had with the MAX, as Brett points out, is that they keep putting bigger and bigger engines on it until it shifted the center of mass far enough forward that the plane no longer acted the same way under rare circumstances.

            But the interesting part is why they did it that way, because a newer airframe could have been easily designed without this problem, like they did with the 777. The reason they did it that way is because of the costs of airworthiness certification in the US – it was more efficient to keep an aged plane that to design a new one because of the compliance costs. Airbus has the same pattern with the A320 series, where they lengthened the airframe from a 150 passenger version to a 190 passenger version (the A321), and made multiple shorter versions (A318, A319) to carry as few as 100 passengers, all because of the compliance costs. But for the fact that the Airbus are newer and designed for modern airports they’d have run into the same problem.

            For the curious, the underlying problem is that the 737 was designed for air stairs and intentionally made low to the ground for the airports of its era. This reduced available space for newer, larger, more efficient turbines, so Boeing solves it by cantilevering the engines up and in front of the wing instead of below it. Airbuses were always higher off the ground, so didn’t have this problem.

      2. It’s not actually so much that mass shootings are up, as that at some point in the 90’s, the media decided that they’d endlessly hype any mass shooting, nation-wide. (Yeah, as part of a PR offensive for gun control.) And kept doing so even after they realized there was a strong copycat component to the shootings, and that by doing so they were encouraging them.

        So, it’s more a matter of the media artificially creating the impression that mass shootings have gone up.

        1. Mass shootings are statistically way, way up. Triple since 2011, though RAND’s study quibbles about the definition.

          You can blame the media for meming this into existence – there’s something to be said there (although obviously completely blaming the media is dumb), But you can’t really deny the existence of the trend.

          1. Why did you choose 2011 as your starting year? 7 years of data is a very odd number to pick, and it’s not like 2011 was a special year in any way.

            2007 had 51 killed in 4 shootings. [VT]
            2008 had 16 killed in 3 shootings.
            2009 had 38 killed in 4 shootings. [Fort Hood]
            2010 had 8 killed in 1 shooting.
            2011 had 18 killed in 3 shootings.
            2012 had 67 killed in 7 shootings. [Aurora, CO Batman shooting]
            2013 had 31 killed in 5 shootings.
            2014 had 17 killed in 4 shootings. [Rogers the Incel]
            2015 had 45 killed in 7 shootings. [San Bernardino]
            2016 had 71 killed in 6 shootings. [Pulse]
            2017 had 112 killed in 10 shootings. [Las Vegas]
            2018 had 82 killed in 12 shootings. [Parkland]

            The last two years certainly do appear above average, even though you picked a below average year as your base. You also ignored or concealed the fact that the number of events is so low that a difference of 2 is considered statistically significant.

            Also, you certainly can blame the media for some of the shootings – several shooters have left notes indicating they counted on media attention to get their message out and inspire others. This has been true both in the US and overseas (NZ, for example).

            1. I chose that year because wikipedia did.

              The findings establish an increasing frequency of incidents annually. During the first 7 years
              included in the study, an average of 6.4 incidents occurred annually. In the last 7 years of
              the study, that average increased to 16.4 incidents annually.

              source

              1. Perhaps that tells us more about wikipedia than mass shootings.

                1. Perhaps I bother to click through the cited sources to verify them. Like the link I provided to an FBI study.

                  1. “Mass shootings are statistically way, way up”
                    “Perhaps I bother to click through the cited sources to verify them.”

                    Dunno how carefully you read the study you linked to. For one thing, it’s not about “mass shootings”, it’s about “active shooter incidents”. But, hey, any idiot knows those are about the same thing, right?

                    If you look at the chart on page 8, for example, 2010 was a banner year for “active shooter incidents” – that’s a fair amount of the trend right there. In Toranth’s data, though, 2010 is the lowest year! Someone’s obviously a lying partisan weasel, right?

                    Or not. If you scroll down and look at the list of incidents, many of the 2010 incidents had zero people killed. One had 8 killed, one had 4, and the others were all less than 4. So 2010 was a peak for ‘active shooter incidents’, but a trough for ‘mass killings’, if you use the ‘more than 4 deaths’ definition.

                    So definitions matter.

                    As an aside, the ever controversial John Lott has some other criticism of that study: “While the FBI assures people that it “captured the vast majority of incidents falling within the search criteria,” their report missed 20 shootings where at least two people were killed in a public place. Most of these missing cases took place early on, biasing their results towards showing an increase.”

                    Or look at just school shootings, and google “Schools are safer than they were in the 90s, and school shootings are not more common than they used to be, researchers say” for the Northeastern study.

                    It’s not wrong, using its definitions. You can’t just jumble up ‘active shooter’, ‘mass shooting’, ‘mass killing’, ‘school shooting’, etc. Definitions matter, and it’s important to speak precisely about what a study is saying.

                    1. So SOME kind of public shootings are way up and we’re reacting to it. Lets quibble with the statistics, because that matters.

                      If you want to look only at mass shootings, check out this Harvard study, that alas I can only find at Mother Jones.

                      This is dumb. It’s not some media mirage that these are happening more often. Pedantically bucking every fact, even the ancillary ones, is some debate school BS. We weren’t even discussing policy in this comment thread!

                    2. Sarcastro

                      Which events are way up matter though (setting aside Lotts observation about a systemic sampling bias causing the trend to erroneously be up).

                      Using cars: claim – the car crash rate is way up! There are twice as many bumped light poles this year as last! Reply – but there are fewer DUIs and multiple car pile ups, so overall it’s safer even if more people will have dings on their car.

                      Your reply, “This is dumb. It’s not some media mirage that these are happening more often…”

                      No one is arguing that something isn’t happening more often, rather that what is claimed is increasing and what is actually increasing are not the same things, and the things that are actually increasing are less-bad than the things that are claimed, which is fear mongering. We can be alarmed at what’s actually happening, but if we don’t know what’s actually happening we can’t ascertain how alarmed we ought to be. Others have also implied, and I’ll outright state, that part of the reason for our collective incorrect knowledge is that it’s advantageous for media companies to conflate these, as it’s better clickbait. That’s a different problem, but one that systematically makes it harder to do anything about these problems.

                    3. Does it matter, though? In this thread we are discussing the non-utilitarian reactions the public has to these events. Specific classification of these events is not probative to that discussion.

                      Pedantry about ancillary issues is more distraction than useful.

                    4. “It’s not some media mirage that these are happening more often.”

                      That is, actually, a pretty important question, and you seem to be assuming the answer.

                      Lots of people thought shark attacks were way up in the summer of 2001, and a large majority or people think violent crime is way up over the last couple of decades. Carefully looking at actual data is the right way to answer the question, not just using the availability heuristic. And the studies that do that don’t have clear cut results, depending on a lot of things, not the least the definitions you don’t think matter.

                      If someone watches a lot of Fox news and thinks there is a tidal wave of crime by illegal immigrants, should I just take their fervent belief as the truth, or actually take a careful look at the data?

                    5. “In this thread we are discussing…”

                      I dunno what you and your mouse are discussing, but I’m discussing your reply to Toranth, where you posted as a rebuttal a study that was orthogonal to Toranth’s data; I’m pointing out that such replies aren’t really useful. Doing so is sort of, to borrow a phrase, “some debate school BS”.

        2. … you just argued that (A) mass shootings aren’t actually “up”, and that (B) because of reporting on mass shootings, they are “up”.

          So which is it? According to you, are they up or not? And if they aren’t, how can you blame the media for the “up” that isn’t?

  21. “Thieves” would be more accurate. Not all politicians are idiots, but they’re all thieves.

  22. Ben_ This whole thread is people like you pretending a billboard communicates what it does not say.

    Ever watch a pharmaceutical ad? What does it communicate while some speedy drone reads the nasty side effects? Do all the actors suddenly break off the happy enjoyment of their lives, and instead start clutching their throats, scratching their skin, going cross-eyed, and keeling over?

    Of course not. But that is what would happen if marketing communicates what it does say. Instead, while the bleak picture gets painted, actors present their happy, happy lives using pictures so wildly at variance with the message that the bad news will mostly be disbelieved.

    More generally, in day-to-day life, I never encounter folks who aren’t sure they get the secondary messages in marketing materials. Everyone is absolutely certain that marketing fools other people, but not them. Except in cases, like on this thread, where to get the message is to concede something unwelcome. Then, nobody can be found who claims to get the message.

    By the way, did you know that the region, “where certain funguses are present,” is the Ohio River Valley? Or that “a certain cause of inflammation,” one biologic pharmaceutical is said to act against is actually called, “tumor necrosis factor?”

    1. To get the real meaning, you have to play the billboard backwards.

    2. If you’re trying to do a meta-OBL, you’re doing a fine job.

    1. Not that it matters? It matters a ton when a private actor censors under wink wink threat from a politician, to make the politician happy.

      1. I don’t think it was the politicians they were worried about, but rather the publicity.

        1. That’s an easy thing to say, so long as it’s your political enemies being silenced, and your politicians doing the winking. After all, no downside if you’re wrong!

          1. Brett, you are doing your usual thing where if you imagine a politician wants something you figure they were involved in making it happen.

            This company became a public controversy, and moved to avoid that. That’s it. No need for any winking at all. Do you think the powerful Texas Dems would have regulated the company out of business or something?

            1. “Brett, you are doing your usual thing where if you imagine a politician wants something you figure they were involved in making it happen.”

              Meh. The notion that a member of Congress publicly suggesting that your protected speech is a criminal act might have a chilling effect on the speech is way more plausible than you suggest.

              1. Nope. Still paranoid.

                Business responding to consumers is still much more likely than being scared off by someone in Congress tweeting.

                Not that Congress should be using such rhetoric, but think for a moment what’s more likely.

                1. You are enormously discounting the degree of political extortion going on in this country. We’re enough of a regulatory state that there’s always going to be some way you can be retaliated against if you piss off a Congressman, and he calls around. Building permits not approved, that sort of thing.

                  1. And what’s so terrible about that form of retaliation is that it doesn’t even matter if it’s true. Enough examples of evidence of its truth (even if not true in general) will have the threat of retaliation give government administrators all the power they need.

                    The fact that you (and many others) believe in this risk means that the damage has already been done.

                    1. This is just like when someone on the left believes some hoax about Trump and when disprove they just nod and say ‘but the real tragedy is that it was plausible enough I believe it’s true.’

                      Partisans believing things is not a barometer of anything useful. And I say this as a partisan myself, albeit on the other side.

              2. So every third Trump tweet?

  23. What EV knows (because he teaches the subject), but many seem to have forgotten, is the Brandenburg test: Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case, interpreting the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Court held that government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless that speech is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

    I think that it is clear to many, if not most here, that the speech wasn’t directed to “inciting or producing imminent lawless action”. Those who seem to believe that it was so directed, assume that it was some sort of coded dog whistle. Except that no one who would supposedly respond to that dog whistle actually hears it, and the only ones who do hear it, are those on the left who aren’t going to respond to it.

    And the fact that the billboard was up for some time without any ensuing violence by those supposedly vulnerable to the message, very strongly suggests that it was not likely to incite or produce such violence. Thousands saw the message and none of them grabbed a gun and went on a shooting spree.

    The standard is extremely high, and it is exceedingly rare for speech to be egregious to qualify as incitement to violence under Brandenburg. And the speech here was nowhere close to the level that would qualify for suppression under that standard. Which, of course means that government attempts to suppress that speech violates the 1st Amdt.

    This is a back door attempt to suppress free speech. Suppressing “hate speech” obviously violates the 1st Amdt. So, the left is trying to use incitement to violence as justification for suppressing speech, but they are ignoring the extremely high standard set by Brandenburg.

    1. The gun store-owning bigot has a right to express himself.

      The targets of his bigoted expression have the right to attempt to persuade non-government entities (such as the billboard company) to decline to be associated with statements by bigoted gun nuts.

      Conservatives are in no position to be offering pointers on censorship — the Volokh Conspiracy in particular, vividly.

    2. There’s only one sort of person who could read that billboard as incitement to violence – someone that is inclined to political violence. Like Antifa and other leftists…

      1. Dude, there was just a politically-motivated shooting and it wasn’t Antifa.

        Maybe don’t play that dumb game – calling the other side violent doesn’t do much but normalize your side’s violence if and when it comes.

        1. I agree. It’s too bad that’s been the description from the left of all conservatives (“Trumps literally Hitler!”) for years now.

          I wish that were not the case, but it seems quite clear that while it’s not one sided, it’s more common on one side.

          1. Nope – that’s confirmation bias. I seem to recall some pretty heated rhetoric about Obama as well. (Muslim, ISIS, also Hitler. Stalinist, Maoist, etc. etc.)

            Partisan pointing doesn’t mitigate or justify markm23 playing that dumb game. Or you.

          2. What are your thoughts about 8chan? I think that has a stronger case than the partisan stuff (though I’ve long held that the replacement thesis logically concludes in violence, there’s clearly no state action there).

            But I also dunno about the government shutting down a speech platform, even if it seems correlated to mass shootings.

    3. “This is a back door attempt to suppress free speech. Suppressing “hate speech” obviously violates the 1st Amdt. So, the left is trying to use incitement to violence as justification for suppressing speech, but they are ignoring the extremely high standard set by Brandenburg.”

      I don’t think anyone here, even those who find the billboard objectionable, have argued that it falls on the wrong side of Brandenberg.

      But let’s apply a Brandenberg style test to Tlaib’s tweet. Was it directed to inciting or producing imminent government action suppressing speech? Was it likely to incite or produce such action? Clearly not. The billboard company – a private actor – took action, but there is no suggestion that it did so because it was under threat of government action.

      The Senator’s speech is every bit as constitutionally protected as the gun store’s.

  24. I’m not sure that is right, Idiot should not be insulted like that.

  25. EV : And that’s so even for much harsher speech, such as calling people traitors or fascists

    It has not been proved to my satisfaction that being called a traitor or a fascist is much, or indeed any, harsher than being called one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Those are pretty mean dudes.

  26. Thanks for standing up for America and the Constitution Professor!!!

    Surprised (but not shocked) to see that many remarks show an immediate investigation is needed to determine if the posters have any ties to “America.”

    1. Getting the Constitution wrong is a long and very American tradition.

      1. Only through a “looking glass.”

    2. How is the Constitution relevant to this incident?

      If any of the subjects of the bigot’s billboard attempted to rely on government power to censor anyone, that point has not been clearly expressed.

      If one citizen engaged in expression, and another citizen criticized that expression and urged non-government entities to decline to associate with a bigoted statement, that seems to be the marketplace of ideas in action.

      Other than that, great comment, clinger!

  27. Left wing engages in year long campaign of provocative and divisive speech equating anyone who is to the right of say Obama as racist, sexist, bigot, deplorable, etc. and now they are surprised that no one gives a darn and thinks every leftist is an idiot. And anyone is surprised?

    1. One of the great American achievements during my lifetime is that our vestigial bigots no longer wish to be known as bigots, at least not in public.

      That, and stomping right-wing aspirations in the culture war.

      Carry on, clingers. So far as your betters permit, anyway.

      1. Are our betters represented by the social elite who fell for that Fyre Festival scam?

      2. Thanks for proving yet again that you are just a plain idiot Cuckland!

      3. One of the great recent accomplishments of the left is that Americans less and less care about being called “racists”, because if a bird poops on your windshield you call it a racist.

        1. While I tend to agree that the race card is sometimes overplayed, as usual the right is vastly overgeneralizing.
          Certain people have stopped caring about being called racist – or say they do. That’s not Americans generally.

          I’ll note the President sure seems to still care on twitter.

    2. Jimmy the Dane felt oppressed by Obama being President. He’ll no doubt feel oppressed when next a Dem gets into office.

      This, of course, gives him license to be as oppressive as he wants now that his guy is in the White House.

      The thought process of the bully – they always think they’re the real victim.

      1. This wins the award for the most incomprehensible internet comment ever!

        1. Dude, your entire original comment in reply to the OP was saying ‘they called me a bigot. Now it’s my turn!’

          1. No it wasn’t. That’s not what Jimmy the Dane said at all. What Jimmy the Dane said is that the left wing overplayed their hand, destroyed their credibility, caused people to think they were idiots, and shouldn’t be surprised by that. There’s nothing in there about bullying people, nothing remotely close. You are such a partisan hack that you are virtually incapable of understanding anyone who doesn’t agree with you.

            1. The billboard said idiot, chief. Jimmy is defending the billboard.

              Read better.

              1. Chief? I would be shocked that you would use such racist language, but just like how gay jokes are okay when they’re targeted at conservatives, we all know your concern about minorities is just pandering for political advantage.

                And what does defending the billboard have to do with Jimmy the Dane feeling oppressed or wanting to oppress others? How can a gun shop owner in the South, or an internet commentator, possibly oppress four members of the United States Congress through speech alone? I’m not the one with trouble understanding what I’m reading, you fucking moron.

                Again, “[w]hat Jimmy the Dane said is that the left wing overplayed their hand, destroyed their credibility, caused people to think they were idiots, and shouldn’t be surprised by that. There’s nothing in there about bullying people, nothing remotely close. You are such a partisan hack that you are virtually incapable of understanding anyone who doesn’t agree with you.”

                You, because you are a partisan piece of shit, claimed that Jimmy the Dane thinks that “[t]his, of course, gives him license to be as oppressive as he wants now that his guy is in the White House” and makes him into a bully. Nothing in the billboard is remotely oppressive and neither is anything in Jimmy the Dane’s comment. The billboard is a private citizen commenting on the national government. That’s the opposite of oppressive. Oppressive countries are the places where people aren’t allowed to put up billboards criticizing the government.

                1. and now they are surprised that no one gives a darn and thinks every leftist is an idiot. And anyone is surprised?

                  You think that use of idiot isn’t talking about the billboard?

                  So Jimmy is saying that he was sufficiently aggrieved during Obama that the billboard is justified.

                  To paraphrase Prof. Kerr, few things are more corrosive in politics than the conviction that you have been wronged so much that you’re justified in ignoring the rules to get even.

  28. From Twenty Nineteen by George Deplorable:
    O’Brien: “You must love Big Brother.”
    Cherokee Guns: “Even if they are idiots? And sisters?”
    O’Brien: “¿You do realize AOC’s heroine is Stormborn of Game of Thrones?”

  29. I agree with your conclusion, Professor, but even with the update you’re still missing the point of the thrust. It’s not just that “a gun store said it” as you seem to be focused on, the part that makes it more troubling and needs addressing is that the gun references are on the billboard themselves – it’s a political statement followed immediately by what’s essentially an invitation to come and buy a gun (and others go further – too far in my assessment – to conclude that it’s an invitation to come, buy a gun, and do something about the “Four Horsemen”).

  30. Unless I missed something, nobody has torn down the sign or arrested the people who put it up. One of the targets of the criticism on the sign doesn’t like it, and thinks it might incite some whackjob to do something stupid and dangerous. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. Whether it will or won’t is not a matter for philosophical argument or verbal hairsplitting — to the extent that those categories don’t overlap. There is no logical reason that it can’t; it will be a matter of fact whether it does or doesn’t. And none of us has any idea.

  31. “UPDATE: Some people seem to think that this speech becomes incitement of violence because it’s a gun store that puts it up, presumably because somehow viewers of gun store advertising are particularly likely to buy a gun and shoot a politician because she was called an “idiot””

    I should have thought it obvious that the Senator’s reading of the message was “These people are the agents of Satan. Get your guns here.”, with the implication that the guns were to be used against them. By all means disagree that this was the message intended, or understood by those who saw the billboard. By all means point out that even if the Senator’s reading was correct, the speech doesn’t fail the Brandenburg test.

    But please don’t pretend that the objection depended upon the the identity of the speaker. It was clearly directed at the speech.

  32. The discussion about this billboard seems fairly unproductive because I cannot really grasp the argument beyond the obvious “This doesn’t violate the 1st Amendment” part.

    The billboard seems like a pretty standard gun ad, “these politicians are gonna take your guns, better buy some quick.” Would people object less if this was 2012 and it was Obama and Pelosi on the billboard? What if it was an ad in California and it was Newsom? I guess the question is, what is acceptable political advertising by gun stores if this particular one is so offensive?

    1. Why are gun stores producing political ads? They sell guns.

      1. Because they want to stay in business and continue to sell guns.

      2. Why do car manufacturers drape bikini clad models on their cars ? You buy the car, you don’t get to keep the model. (Nor could you afford to.)

        Why do giant banks air adverts puffing their diversity cred with rainbow colours ? They’re selling mortgages and checking accounts. The mortgages and checking accounts come in black and white, not hot pink and lime green.

        Why do ads have music ? They’re not selling music.

        Why do women* wear lipstick ?

        Cos it helps sell the product.

        * of all genders, of course

  33. The authors error is commonly referred to by professionals as The Texas Sharpshooter. Who here likes to ignore the obvious because it isn’t useful when trying to prove their position, raise ur hand.

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