If You Limit ANY Free Speech, This is What You Get

The Daily Bell – by Joe Jarvis

The law originally targetted the KKK. Now it has been used to arrest people protesting against white supremacists.

And that is why free speech is so important.

Plenty of people would love to see new laws to stop white supremacists from exercising their–albeit offensive–free speech.  

But as this 1951 law demonstrates, the law as it is intended is not always how it is applied.

Faced with hundreds of demonstrators rallying against a crowd of neo-Nazis in Newnan, local and state authorities turned to a little-known Georgia law adopted in 1951 to combat the Ku Klux Klan.

The law, which makes it illegal to wear a mask at most public events, was cited in several of the arrests of counterdemonstrators who joined a protest Saturday against white supremacists.

And the irony was not lost upon the organizers of the counterdemonstration, who were fuming Sunday that a law aimed at weakening white supremacists was used to arrest protesters who opposed a neo-Nazi rally.

There are so many problems with this law. Why are masks not protected forms of expression? What about hats, hoods, and sunglasses? At what point do those fit the definition of a mask?

Ironically, police routinely wear gas masks and face-covering riot helmets at these kinds of events. Apparently, the law doesn’t apply to them. But that is fitting since most laws don’t apply to the people who enforce them.

Have you ever threatened to shoot someone with a rifle because they had a mask on? Me neither. Police are a different breed.

A video posted on social media by freelance journalist Daniel Shular appeared to show authorities scuffling with counterdemonstrators. Authorities demanded that the counterprotesters remove their masks, and the footage showed an officer raising his rifle at demonstrators.

This is another good reminder that police will enforce any law handed down on high from politicians–even dead politicians who passed the law in 1951. The only actual violence at the rally was committed by police, in the name of the law.

But free speech, the very first amendment in the blueprint for this country’s government, is not so important to law enforcement. Police have no problem throwing people to the ground, handcuffing them, using pepper spray, billy clubs, and aiming deadly weapons at peaceful protesters because they wear a piece of cloth obscuring their faces.

And any other anti-free speech laws will be enforced with equal vigor.

Hate speech. Offensive displays. Fake news. Laws aimed at combatting these will absolutely limit free speech. Maybe, maybe, at first they will only be used against the neo-Nazis and the white supremacists, just like this anti-mask law was at first only used against the KKK.

But it is only a matter of time until innocent people find themselves in the crosshairs of these freedom crushing laws.

State law bans the wearing of masks, hoods or other devices that conceal a person’s identity if they’re on public property or on private property where the owner has not consented. It includes exceptions for holidays, theatrical productions, civil emergencies and sporting events.

The laws have been adopted by about a dozen states, most aimed at weakening the KKK in the middle of the 20th century. The Georgia Supreme Court in 1990 upheld the state’s ban after a Klansman donned a hood on the Lawrenceville Square, citing his First Amendment rights.

The law has mostly been used to target KKK demonstrations, though it has also been employed before to arrest demonstrators who are objecting to white power groups. At a 2016 rally, the law was used to arrest eight demonstrators protesting a white supremacist rally at Stone Mountain Park.

This is just one of many laws in the arsenal of the police state. There are enough laws that you can be arrested for basically anything. It gives an official appearance to entirely arbitrary policing. You can be arrested on any officer’s whim, and then he will be able to find an excuse.

Other counter-protesters were arrested for “resisting arrest,” a classic joke of a charge. How can you be charged with only resisting arrest? It means there was no reason for them to be arresting you, and only once they illegally tried to arrest you did you commit a crime.

If common law reigned supreme, where attacking someone is always wrong, these police would not have the protection of the state to shield their violent actions.

A blot of ink on a 70-year-old piece of paper would not protect these cops from charges that they threw people to the ground without provocation, that they chained and kidnapped people, that they aimed loaded guns at people who had done nothing aggressive or threatening.

Make no mistake, ANY anti-free speech law will be used against innocent, non-violent, peaceful people. And the American police state will enforce those laws on its victims with glee.

The Daily Bell

3 thoughts on “If You Limit ANY Free Speech, This is What You Get

  1. “You can be arrested on any officer’s whim, and then he will be able to find an excuse.”

    Once the sheeple figure this simple fact out, plus the fact that ANY encounter with pigs has a good probability of turning fatal, we’ll start to see pig corpses pile up.

  2. Matal v. Tam, USSC # No. 15–1293, 582 U.S. ___ (06/19/2017) Justice Alito wrote: “But no matter how the point is phrased, its unmistakable thrust is this: The Government has an interest in preventing speech expressing ideas that offend. And, as we have explained, that idea strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate.” United States v. Schwimmer, 279 U. S. 644, 655 (1929) (Holmes, J., dissenting).” … Justice Kennedy wrote: “A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence. Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society.” https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/15-1293_1o13.pdf

    Gathright v. City of Portland, No. 04-35402 (9th Cir. 02/24/2006) (Gathright challenged his evictions from the city park on First Amendment grounds. The City defended its ordinance as a legitimate “time, place, or manner” regulation of protected speech. The Ninth Circuit’s opinion rejects the City’s argument and invalidates the ordinance on its face, distinguishing the Supreme Court’s seminal case for such regulation in city parks (Ward v. Rock Against Racism, 491 US 781) and the Supreme Court case most closely on point (Hurley v. Irish-American GLB Group of Boston, 515 US 557), and then concluding without much more discussion that the City’s ordinance is not “narrowly tailored” enough to protect the permittees’ interest in exercising their right to gather peaceably in city parks.); http://caselaw.findlaw.com/data2/circs/9th/0435402P.pdf

    City of Nyssa v. Dufloth, 339 Or. 330 (2005) (In our substantive analysis, we stated that Article I, section 8, announces a broad and sweeping right of an individual to free expression. As we stated in Ciancanelli, the words are so sweeping, in fact, that “it appears to us to be beyond reasonable dispute that the protection extends to the kinds of expression that a majority of citizens in many communities would dislike — profanity, blasphemy, pornography — and even to physical acts, such as nude dancing or other explicit sexual conduct, that have an expressive component.” ___ Or at ___ (slip op at 42). http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/S49963.htm

    Kuba v. 1-A Abria. Ass’n., No. 02-16989 (9th Cir. 10/19/2004) (Defendant’s First Amendment Expression Policy, prohibiting individuals from demonstrating outside its arena except in designated “free expression zones” away from the entrances of the building, is unconstitutional on its face.); http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/circs/9th/0216989p.pdf

    Higgins v. DMV, 170 Or App 542, 13 P3d 531 (2000), aff’d 335 Or 481, 72 P3d 628 (2003) (Customized vehicle registration plates are communication by state and therefore subject to state regulation of content.); http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/S48149.htm

    Laird v. Tatum, 408 U.S. 1, 28-29 (1972) (This case involves a cancer in our body politic. It is a measure of the disease which afflicts us. Army surveillance, like Army regimentation, is at war with the principles of the First Amendment. Those who already walk submissively will say there is no cause for alarm. But submissiveness is not our heritage. The First Amendment was designed to allow rebellion to remain as our heritage. The Constitution was designed to keep government off the backs of the people. The Bill of Rights was added to keep the precincts of belief and expression, of the press, of political and social activities free from surveillance. The Bill of Rights was designed to keep agents of government and official eavesdroppers away from assemblies of people. The aim was to allow men to be free and independent and to assert their rights against government. There can be no influence more paralyzing of that objective than Army surveillance. When an intelligence officer looks over every nonconformist’s shoulder in the library, or walks invisibly by his side in a picket line, or infiltrates his club, the America once extolled as the voice of liberty heard around the world no longer is [408 U.S. 1, 29] cast in the image which Jefferson and Madison designed, but more in the Russian image, depicted in Appendix III to this opinion.); http://laws.findlaw.com/us/408/1.html

    Terminiello v. City of Chicago, 337 U.S. 1, 3-5 (1949) (The vitality of civil and political institutions in our society depends on free discussion. As Chief Justice Hughes wrote in De Jonge v. Oregon, 299 U.S. 353, 365, 260, it is only through free debate and free exchange of ideas that government remains responsive to the will of the people and peaceful change is effected. The right to speak freely and to promote diversity of ideas and programs is therefore one of the chief distinctions that sets us apart from totalitarian regimes. Accordingly a function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. Speech is often provocative and challenging. It may strike at prejudices and preconceptions and have profound unsettling effects as it presses for acceptance of an idea. That is why freedom of speech, though not absolute, Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, supra, 315 U.S. at pages 571-572, 62 S.Ct. at page 769, is nevertheless protected against censorship or punishment, unless shown likely to produce a clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest. See Bridges v. California, 314 U.S. 252, 262, 193, 159 A.L.R. 1346; Craig v. Harney, 331 U.S. 367, 373, 1253. There is no room under our Constitution for a more restrictive view. For the alternative would lead to standardization of ideas [337 U.S. 1 , 5] either by legislatures, courts, or dominant political or community groups.); http://supreme.justia.com/us/337/1/case.html

    Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 375-376, 47 S.Ct. 641, 71 L.Ed. 1095 (1927) (Those who won our independence believed that the final end of the state was to make men free to develop their faculties, and that in its government the deliberative forces should prevail over the arbitrary. They valued liberty both as an end and as a means. They believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty. They believed that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth; that without free speech and assembly discussion would be futile; that with them, discussion affords ordinarily adequate protection against the dissemination of noxious doctrine; that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government.3 They recognized the risks to which all human institutions are subject. But they knew that order cannot be secured merely through fear of punishment for its infraction; that it is hazardous to discourage thought, hope and imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies; and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones. Believing in the power of reason as applied through public discussion, they eschewed silence [274 U.S. 357, 376] coerced by law-the argument of force in its worst form. Recognizing the occasional tyrannies of governing majorities, they amended the Constitution so that free speech and assembly should be guaranteed.); http://laws.findlaw.com/us/274/357.html

    International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR/C/81/Add.4 24 August 1994) http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CCPR.aspx (Addendum UNITED STATES OF AMERICA*) (584. Freedom of expression. The freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment has been given a broad reading in its application by the courts. Perhaps its most obvious purpose is to prevent the government from restricting expression “because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content”. Police Dep’t of Chicago v. Mosley, 408 U.S. 92 (1972). “Regulations which permit the Government to discriminate on the basis of the content of the message cannot be tolerated”. Regan v. Time, Inc., 468 U.S. 641 (1984). The First Amendment also limits content-neutral or incidental infringements on speech and speech-related activities, subjecting them to an assessment of whether the regulation furthers a substantial government interest not related to the suppression of speech, and whether the regulation is narrowly tailored to accomplish that interest. O’Brien v. United States, 393 U.S. 900 (1968). 585. The First Amendment has been applied to a broad range of activities. Symbolic speech, moreover, is also protected, as evidenced by recent cases striking down state and federal legislation against flag-burning. Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989) (striking a state statute designed to protect the flag from desecration). United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990) (striking a federal statute enacted in response to Johnson attempting to protect the flag’s physical integrity). Other cases have emphasized that money is a form of speech, and that laws limiting campaign expenditures, by reducing the quantity of political expression, may unconstitutionally impact the quality and diversity of speech. Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976). 586. Freedom of speech also encompasses certain rights to seek and receive information. The most important means by which these rights are promoted is by the First Amendment’s special concern for freedom of the press, which is protected from prior restraint (that is, censorship in advance of publication) in the absence of proof of direct, immediate, and irreparable and substantial damage to the public interest. New York Times, Inc. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971). The press, and the public as a whole, have been held to have the right to gather information concerning matters of public significance. For example, the public generally has a right of access to observe criminal trials, since such access is viewed as instrumental to the effectuation of the rights to speak and publish concerning the events at trial. Richmond Newspapers v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555 (1980). This constitutional right has been supplemented by a number of laws promoting access to government, such as the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. section 552, the Government in the Sunshine Act, 5 U.S.C. section 552b, and the Federal Advisory Committee Act, 5 U.S.C. App. 2.); 589. Limitations on the freedom of expression. Constitutionally acceptable limits to the freedom of expression fall into at least two broad types. First, and perhaps the most important type of regulation, is that which does not regulate the content of speech – a type of restriction that is rarely upheld – but only incidentally burdens expression to promote nonspeech interests. Thus, for example, a law regulating the distribution of handbills may be intended to reduce litter, rather than suppress expression. Such regulations are permitted if they are content-neutral and promote a substantial governmental interest by the least intrusive means. Similarly, laws may regulate the time, place, or manner of speech if they are not attempts to censor content or unduly burdensome to expression. 590. A second category of permissible limitations describes types of speech that are afforded less protection under the First Amendment. One such type, speech posing a “clear and present danger” to public order, may be punished, but only if the government can establish that such speech was intended to incite or produce imminent lawless action and is likely to achieve that end. Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969). Another type of speech, “fighting words”, may be proscribed if the prohibition is content-neutral and the words would “by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace”. Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942). A third type of speech, obscenity, is entirely excluded from First Amendment protection. But obscenity, which is defined as patently offensive representations of sexual conduct without redeeming value, must be regulated in a manner consistent with due process. Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973). A fourth type of speech, commercial speech, is entitled to somewhat lesser protection than non-commercial speech, and may for example be regulated to avoid misleading or coercing consumers. City of Cincinnati v. Discovery Network, Inc., 113 S.Ct. 1505 (1993). 591. Although speech causing injury to the rights and reputations of others is also subject to some restrictions, in that the person who is injured may bring a civil action for libel or slander, the First Amendment values at stake have also been recognized in this context. An especially significant case, New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), and its progeny, have declared that public officials and figures may recover for defamatory statements – at least those relating to public controversies – only if it is proven that the defamatory statement was made with knowledge of or reckless disregard for its falsity. The U.S. Supreme Court has since indicated that the First Amendment also limits defamation actions alleging injury to private persons, and requires at a minimum that the false statement at issue be reasonably interpretable as a statement of actual fact about the individual and that the plaintiff establish fault on the part of the defendant. Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988). http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/385c2add1632f4a8c12565a9004dc311/da936c49ed8a9a8f8025655c005281cf?OpenDocument

    International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1976) (Article 19: 1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference. 2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice. 3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary: (a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; (b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.); http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/ccpr.htmhttp://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CCPR.aspx

    “It is our attitude toward free thought and free expression that will determine our fate. There must be no limit on the range of temperate discussion, no limits on thought. No subject must be taboo. No censor must preside at our assemblies.” — Justice William O. Douglas (1898-1980), U. S. Supreme Court Justice Source: Address, Author’s Guild, 1952 http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/William.O..Douglas.Quote.3912

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published.


*