Free Markets, Free People

Dissent and Hate Speech

Apparently signs equal threats to some of our police:

An Oklahoma City police officer wrongly pulled over a man last week and confiscated an anti-President Barack Obama sign the man had on his vehicle.

firstamendment-757857The officer misinterpreted the sign as threatening, said Capt. Steve McCool, of the Oklahoma City Police Department, and took the sign, which read “Abort Obama, not the unborn.”

Chip Harrison said he was driving to work when a police car followed him for several miles and then signaled for him to pull over.

”I pulled over, knowing I hadn’t done anything wrong,” Harrison said in a recent phone interview.

When the officer asked Harrison if he knew why he had been pulled over, Harrison said he did not.

”They said, ‘It’s because of the sign in your window,’” Harrison said. 

When did cops start pulling people over for political bumper stickers or signs?

Anyway, Harrison tried to explain what the sign meant, they disagreed and he was issued a a slip of paper that said he was a part of some sort of investigation. They took his sign. Later, he’s contacted by the police saying the policeman misunderstood and asking him if he wanted his sign back. They had contacted the Secret Service about the sign, and they had told the police it wasn’t a threat. Except apparently they were blowing smoke:

”The Secret Service called and said they were at my house,” Harrison said.

”When I was on my way there, the Secret Service called me and said they weren’t going to ransack my house or anything … they just wanted to (walk through the house) and make sure I wasn’t a part of any hate groups.”

Harrison said he invited the Secret Service agents into the house and they were “very cordial.”

”We walked through the house and my wife and 2-year-old were in the house,” Harrison said.

He said they interviewed him for about 30 minutes and then left, not finding any evidence Harrison was a threat to the president.

Walk through my house? Uh, get a warrant.

Hate groups? They knew what the sign was about, what was the rest of this about?

Which segues nicely into the next portion of the post – hate speech.

Eugene Volokh has a very interesting post up about a UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center study titled Hate Speech on Commercial Talk Radio.

It’s a fascinating post which demonstrates how hard certain groups are working another angle aimed at talk-radio (and read the comments, where commenters take the study’s assertions aparat). Hate-speech is a lever that various groups on the left have been trying to enable for years. From the study, here’s their definition of hate speech:

Types of Hate Speech

We identified four types of speech that, through negative statements, create a climate of hate and prejudice: (1) false facts [including “simple falsehoods, exaggerated statements, or decontextualized facts [that] rendered the statements misleading”], (2) flawed argumentation, (3) divisive language, and (4) dehumanizing metaphors (table 1).

Hate speech or controlled speech

Hate speech or controlled speech


Then the examples:

Table 1. Analysis of Hate Speech from The John & Ken Show

“And this is all under the Gavin Newsom administration and the Gavin Newsom policy in San Francisco of letting underage illegal alien criminals loose” (from the July 21, 2008, broadcast).

Vulnerable group: foreign nationals (undocumented people).
Social institutions: policy and political organizations (city policy and mayor’s office).

The sanctuary policy preceded Gavin Newsom’s tenure as San Francisco’s mayor, and neither Newsom nor the sanctuary policy supports “letting underage illegal alien criminals loose.”

Guilt by association is used to make the hosts’ point. Undocumented youth and those who are perceived as their endorsers at the institutional level are stigmatized by being associated with criminality.

Criminalized undocumented youth and their perceived validators (Gavin Newsom and the sanctuary policy) are depicted as a threat to San Francisco citizens, setting up an “us versus them” opposition.

ANALYSIS The language depicts the hosts’ targets (undocumented people, city policy, and Mayor Gavin Newsom) as dangerous, criminal, and collusive. In addition, the focus of that policy (undocumented people) becomes reduced to “underage illegal alien criminals.”

Talk about over-analysis. The bottom line is this matrix of assessment is based in pure biased opinion disguised as objectivity. Hate speech, in this case, is nothing more than saying “letting underage illegal alien criminals loose” is wrong.

As Volokh says:

The vagueness and potential breadth of the phrase “hate speech” is a pretty substantial reason — though just one among many — to resist the calls for a “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment. And the vagueness and potential breadth is also a reason to be skeptical of uses of the phrase even outside the law: It’s very easy to define “hate speech” as you like (or leave it undefined, as some arguments do), and use it to condemn people who express a wide range of views that you disapprove of.

One of the most defining phrases in the history of America free speech is “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

It has never been “I don’t like what you say and it sounds like “hate speech” to me so you should be silenced”.


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18 Responses to Dissent and Hate Speech

  • Walk through my house? Uh, get a warrant.

    Yeah, I feel the same way. I also realize that, even if the Secret Service deems the sign to not be clearly indicative of a threat, refusing them entry would immediately make me a threat. Right or wrong, that’s the way it would be.

  • Hate groups? They knew what the sign was about, what was the rest of this about?

    No, they really didn’t know.

    They may have suspected what the sign was about, but when it comes to the PotUS, the Secret Service really doesn’t have the luxury of picking and choosing.  Better they make 100 of these kind of “look, we just wanna have a quick chat, walk around, and we’re gone” visits than NOT make that one trip and end up not saying hi to some guy that actually DOES want to kill the President.

    As I understand it, they HAVE to investigate every single incident that comes up.  I bet if you asked the agents, they’d tell you that they thought it was a BS trip to make.  I would wager quite strongly that if the Agents ACTUALLY thought he was a threat, the phone call letting him know they were there would never have happened, and the man would have arrived home to find his house torn apart.

    • No. Do you agree or disagree that a person’s rights cannot trump another’s? As Jefferson said, paraphrasing, we have our individual rights that are limited only by the equal rights of others.

      If you agree, then you must agree that the President’s safety cannot trump another person’s right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures. If it were a credible threat, that’s different, but a bumper sticker or similar is NOT a reasonable basis for the jack-boots to stop and interrogate you. It doesn’t even come up to suspicion of a crime, let alone probable cause.

  • What to see where this will go?  See Canada.  You will get extra judicial tribunals with a very lax standard for evidence and in most cases, no evidence of offense will be required.  These tribunals will have broad powers of punishment.  For example, they can and have banned people from ever talking about a range of topics for the rest of their lives.  The state will pay all the expenses of those making a complaint and none (even if the accused is found to be innocent) of the accused.  Complaints will be accepted along ideological boundaries and rushed into trial without any checking (normally this would be a problem but with 100%rate of conviction, it rarely is as the accused is guilty before that show trial).

    And best of all, these tribunals will have a 100% rate of conviction.  Even North Korea didn’t have that.

  • Funny, did the Secret Service investigate every person and do walk throughs of everyone protesting at anti-Bush demonstrations?  I remember seeing quite a few images of death to Bush. 

    Or how about the movie depicting the assasination of Bush?

  • There’s 2 issues here. I understand the Secret Service aspect of it anyway, once they’re alerted they have to follow through (though the guy would’ve been right to ask for a warrant if he wanted)

    The real asshat is the cop.

  • Old – “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

    New – “I don’t agree with what you say, and I’m going to make damned sure that nobody ever hears you say it again.”

  • How ironic that the police violate  1st amendment rights in the name of protecting someone who is sworn to defend those rights. I think the Secret Service is getting a little overprotective. A little paranoia is a useful thing in that area, but from what I have read over the past few years they are starting to overdo it. I hope this doesn’t put me on the list for a home inspection as  I am overdue for a good housecleaning; I am tripping over the dust bunnies.

    False facts and flawed argumentation are hate speech? Erb had best watch his step. Being in the sacred halls of academia puts him at particular  risk.

  • OT

    In other news, the Swedes seem to have gotten the message on how to force reform on their auto industry

    STOCKHOLM (AP) — General Motors Corp.’s Swedish-based subsidiary Saab went into bankruptcy protection Friday so the unit can be spun off or sold by its struggling U.S. parent, officials said. The move comes after Sweden turned down GM’s request for government help for Saab.

    “They say” Sweden is the most successfully progressive country in the world and worthy of emulation. And they are right!…just not for the reasons they think.

  • I’d still refuse entry to the Secret Service.  There was no threat.  Despite the fevered mutterings of idiots like Begala, it is still legal to oppose the president’s policies.   What do you suppose happens when Obama gets his brownshirts, if this abuse is allowed? 

    The next step ought to be a lawsuit against the Oklahoma City Police Department.  I’d accept a public apology from the officer and the department, with some sort of official reprimand for  the officer.  This is not a "no harm, no foul" situation.  If it happens again, any  police officer involved should be finding a new career. 

    I’ll just note that this never happened despite equally antagonistic anti-Bush bumper stickers.   "A republic, if you can keep it."

  • I think the difference is the Secret Service was responding to the call by a law enforcement officer.  They didn’t see a copy of a posted sign.  I think he was smart to let them walk through.

    However, the question in my mind is can a charge related to the false report by the uniformed officer to the Secret Service be filed?  As one person noted, the one playing games with the system here was the cop – giving the sign back isn’t sufficient – he should be disciplined – not necessarily fired this time but definitely set up to be fired if he pulls this crap again.

  • Why on earth would we need a warrant? We’re the SA, after all.

  • What struck me as unusual, was that this happened in OKC.  Not Boston, Chicago, LA, or any other city more sympathetic to the Dems.  I’m not suggesting that OKC cops can’t be mind-numbingly stupid, on the contrary, this is the place where cops just can’t keep their guns in their holsters, and I’ve had more than a few run-ins with them when I lived there.  Hell, I half expected the cop to be the one with the bumper sticker on his car.
    After all, this is ruby red republican Oklahoma.  The only state in the union where every county went for McCain.


  • I pictured myself in that situation and asked myself WWBBD?  (What Would Billy Beck Do?)

    1.  Easy – kill the cop who pulled you over.

    2.  Drive home and kill the waiting Secret Service agents.

    3.  Kick back and enjoy your individual sovereignty.

    And SCENE.

    • Heh – Clearly, you went to the Tarantino film school.
      I’d pay to watch that.


  • The Empire of Jeff lurks around every corner.

  • The juxtaposition of these two stories contains a recipe for a police state.   Horrifying.

  • The hate speech study by the two Chicano studies professors at UCLA is obviously intended to squelch criticism of leftist ideology.  This documentary about Germany’s Institute for Social Research (aka the Frankfurt School)  is fascinating because it details the provenance of political correctness and the origins of the tactics used by these two thought policemen.  They are the intellectual progeny of that institute.  

    The Frankfurt School marxists were apparently disappointed by the failure of the working classes in Europe to resist their respective governments’ calls to fight each other in World War I. They decided to advance what they called “Cultural Marxism” and developed Critical Theory. They brought their ideas to the United States after fleeing Hitler’s Germany in the 1930’s. The Frankfurt School’s Herbert Marcuse was Critical Theory’s leading proponent in the US and he eventually became a professor at the Univ. of California-San Diego. In the 1960’s Marcuse found a constituency amongst student radicals and minorities. They served as a surrogate for the working class that had failed to sufficiently advance the cause of traditional communism. Marcuse published a paper in 1965 entitled “Repressive Tolerance” in which he argued that it was actually intolerant to be tolerant of intolerant ideas. He argued that real tolerance required one to squelch the expression of intolerant ideas.  Marcuse defined pretty much anything that contradicts or challenges leftist ideas as intolerant and he and his acolytes branded their opponents as hateful and bigoted.  The Frankfurt School even pioneered the practice of ascribing psychological dysfunction to non-leftists. 

    The 1960’s student radicals turned college professors ate this stuff up and they’ve obviously been very successful in implementing these principles in modern academia.  Canada and Europe may be ahead of the curve but I’m afraid we may not be far behind.  Jefferson warned us that “eternal vigilence is the price of liberty.”