Monday, August 05, 2013

Anti-Race-Baiting Petition: Why I Don't Support It has a petition on-line to make race-baiting a Federal hate-crime. The full text of the petition is as follows
I (We) SUPPORT Making Race-Baiting A Federal Hate Crime.
Race-Baiting: The making of threatening and non-threatening verbal attacks against individuals or members of a racial group or minority that directly or indirectly triggers violence and/or the destruction of property. 
Sounds pretty innocuous, doesn't it?  I mean, who wouldn't support such a thing?

I wouldn't. And I'll argue why you shouldn't, either.

Firstly, it's unconstitutional and directly contradicted by your First Amendment right to free speech. Evelyn Beatrice Hall once wrote in a biography of Voltaire, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." This is the very essence of free speech. Today, many people believe they have the "right" not to be offended. They do NOT. They DO have the right to speak their minds. The fact that you disagree with a matter of opinion gives you no power over another speaker, just as the fact that they disagree with you gives them no power over your exercise of the self-same right. Once you start taking away the free speech rights of others, you give them carte blanche to take away your rights. You're a fool to let that happen... so don't.

And yes, I've heard the counter-arguments about limitations on your right to free speech. "You can't shout 'fire!' in a crowded theater, etc.. These arguments, to a tee, misunderstand those limitations. What is limited is the deliberate communication of misinformation vs. the expression of an opinion. And... by the way... you CAN shout 'fire!' in a crowded theater if there's a fire, or even just smoke that would lead you to believe there's a fire. If you didn't you might be held as a conspirator to arson. Those cliche'd examples aren't all they're cracked up to be.

Secondly, this petition perpetuates the lie that you are not responsible for your own actions. If you initiate a violent act, and it is not in defense of someone's life, you do NOT get to blame the victim of your violence for your criminal behavior. This is a solid case of "the first person who raises a fist loses the argument". I don't care what he said about your momma. I don't care what he said about you. You lose.

We already have laws that mitigate culpability if someone is enraged or provoked. This is why, for example, we have manslaughter in addition to murder. And I certainly think that if anyone initiates violence, they should be prosecuted and tried, and somebody talking smack doesn't relieve you of your crime. No way, no shape, no how.  So grow some skin... any color you like, so long as it's thick... and learn that hateful idiots are to be ignored, dismissed, derided, chided or educated: not physically attacked. And above all, learn to let the other guy be the one who is wrong.

The Federal government is not your Mommy, and it is not your Daddy. It is not, nor should it be, their job or responsibility to stop the car and play referee when you bicker in the back seat, whining and crying that somebody looked at you wrong or said something that hurt your widdle feewings. And you, dear Reader, are not the irresponsible child who needs them to step in. You're a mature adult who has reached the age of responsibility, so act like it. You get no sympathy for claiming that somebody else "made you do it." We all wish the world had nicer people in it. We all encourage civil discussion. One part of civil discussion is that it remain civil, and you don't go calling the cops every time someone says something that you disagree with. Sadly, this petition is one more step down the road to that very sort of frivolous, hyper-litigious silliness.

So no. No. A thousand times.... NO.

Now... does being against this petition mean I'm for race-baiting?  No. I'll remind you of the quote from Evelyn Beatrice Hall:
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
There is a world of difference between allowing that bigots have opinions and being a bigot yourself. Trying to equate the two would be a ridiculous statement, by which I mean one worthy of ridicule. So think twice before suggesting it.

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