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Offensive Speech
Townhall.com ^ | May 7, 2014 | John Stossel

Posted on 05/07/2014 5:02:37 AM PDT by Kaslin

Last week, when the NBA banned racist team owner Donald Sterling, some said: "What about free speech? Can't a guy say what he thinks anymore?"

The answer: yes, you can. But the free market may punish you. In America today, the market punishes racists aggressively.

This punishment is not "censorship." Censorship is something only governments can do. Writers complain that editors censor what they write. But that's not censorship; that's editing.

It's fine if the NBA -- or any private group -- wants to censor speech on its own property. People who attend games or work for the NBA agreed to abide by its rules. Likewise, Fox is free to fire me if they don't like what I say. That's the market in action, reflecting preferences of owners and customers.

But it's important that government not have the power to silence us. We have lots of companies, colleges and sports leagues. If one orders us to "shut up," we can go somewhere else.

But there is only one government, and it can take our money and our freedom. All a business can do is refuse to do business with me, causing me to work with someone else. Government can forbid me to do business with anyone at all.

Of course, government never admits it's doing harm. Around the world, when government gets into the censorship business, it claims to be protecting the public. But by punishing those who criticize politicians, it's protecting itself.

That's why it's great the Founders gave America the First Amendment, a ban on government "abridging the freedom of speech."

But I wonder if today's young lawyers would approve the First Amendment if it were up for ratification now.

There is a new commandment at colleges today: "Thou shalt not hurt others with words." Students are told not to offend. At Wake Forest University, for instance, students cannot post any flyers or messages deemed "racist, sexist, profane or derogatory."

The goal is noble: create a kinder environment. But who gets to decide how much "hurt" is permissible? Recently, a fourth-grade teacher in North Carolina was ordered to attend sensitivity training after teaching students the word "niggardly." When the power to censor lies with the people most easily offended, censorship never stops.

A few years ago, I asked law students at Seton Hall University if there should be restrictions to the First Amendment. Many were eager to ban "hate speech."

"No value comes out of hate speech," said a future lawyer. "We need to regulate flag burning ... and blasphemy," said another. One student wanted to ban political speech by corporations, and another was comfortable imprisoning people who make hunting videos.

Only when I pulled out a copy of the Bill of Rights and slowly wrote in their "exceptions" did one student finally say, "We went too far!"

So does free speech mean that we must endure hateful speech in the public square? No.

I'll fight it by publicly denouncing it, speaking against it, boycotting the speaker. That's what the NBA's employees and customers demanded, and quickly got.

What convinced me that almost all speech should be legal was the book "Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought" by Jonathan Rauch. He explains how knowledge increases through arguments.

Rauch is gay. In an updated afterward to his book, he points out how quickly the world has changed for people like him. Twenty years ago, "gay Americans were forbidden to work for government, to obtain security clearances, serve in the military ... arrested for making love, even in their own homes ... beaten and killed on the streets, entrapped and arrested by police for sport."

This changed in just two decades, he says, because there was open debate. Gay people "had no real political power, only the force of our arguments. But in a society where free exchange is the rule, that was enough."

Fight bigotry with more speech.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: donaldsterling; freespeech; racism

1 posted on 05/07/2014 5:02:37 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
S"o does free speech mean that we must endure hateful speech in the public square?"

But Sterling's speech wasn't in the "public square". They were part of a private conversation.

2 posted on 05/07/2014 5:18:57 AM PDT by circlecity
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To: Kaslin
--same principle I have had to explain to union agitators at work-

-"Yeah, you have a constitutional right to free speech , but you don't have a constitutional right to work at Company X--"

3 posted on 05/07/2014 5:19:50 AM PDT by rellimpank (--don't believe anything the media or government says about firearms or explosives--)
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To: rellimpank

Sterling will be a very wealthy man when they come to take his team.


4 posted on 05/07/2014 5:22:37 AM PDT by scooby321
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To: Kaslin

The problem is that the “standard” is applied capriciously.

Some groups or people can be overtly racist and get accolades.


5 posted on 05/07/2014 5:25:18 AM PDT by fruser1
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To: circlecity

> But Sterling’s speech wasn’t in the “public square”. They were part of a private conversation

Unfortunate being recorded by a gold digging whore who was probably promised millions if she got him to say racist things on tape which then mysteriously appeared in the hands of the super popular gossip media giant, TMZ, to work its magic for Magic...

If I were Sterling I would pay a PR firm to destroy the goldigger’s reputation so she’d never find work as a professional whore ever again...: )


6 posted on 05/07/2014 5:28:57 AM PDT by jsanders2001
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To: Kaslin

And now “gay” people are not so gay. They want to shove their lifestyles down our throats. I think society was a lot better off when “gay” people were in the closet.


7 posted on 05/07/2014 5:36:58 AM PDT by driftless2
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To: jsanders2001
If I were Sterling I would pay a PR firm to destroy the goldigger’s reputation so she’d never find work . . .

I'm amazed that the young lady in question ever found work in that field. Silicone may be photogenic on the right person, but she is not such a person. "V" is thoroughly unattractive even when she's silent, and ugly plus gross when she talks. She'd be easy for someone with a billion dollars to destroy - and what multimillionaire would take the risk for someone who looks like that?

8 posted on 05/07/2014 5:38:43 AM PDT by Pollster1 ("Shall not be infringed" is unambiguous.)
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To: Kaslin
The goal is noble: create a kinder environment.

Stossel is being naive - this is not the goal.

In fact I think the goal is quite the opposite - they're just shifting targets.

9 posted on 05/07/2014 5:39:28 AM PDT by skeeter
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To: Kaslin
Stossel goes a little astray in this column. No, it is not a case of someone being denied their freedom of speech, and yes , the NBA does have a right to protect its interests and viability.

But because the NBA has the right to discipline its members and banish them if need be, that does not mean that its members cannot be treated unfairly. To dismiss Sterling as an old racist who got what was coming to him is to ignore the fact that he was less than nice for decades before this incident (which was conveniently ignored by the NBA) and is now being punished for something he said in the privacy of his home and illegally recorded. Even scoundrels have rights.

Many people say why feel sorry for a crud like Sterling who has billions? I don't feel for sorry for Sterling...I feel sorry for justice. If Sterling can lose his franchise for something he said in the privacy of his home, then who is safe from something similar happening to them? I think the league opened up a can of worms.

10 posted on 05/07/2014 5:46:27 AM PDT by driftless2
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To: fruser1
"overtly racist"

That is a major bone of contention. There have been a number of NBA affiliated people who have said or done things similar or worse than what Sterling did. They've never been punished. But they were black, and they got a pass.

11 posted on 05/07/2014 5:48:37 AM PDT by driftless2
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To: Kaslin

All a business can do is refuse to do business with me.

We all know that statement is false.

What you meant is you can refuse to patronize a business.


12 posted on 05/07/2014 5:52:44 AM PDT by bird4four4 (God Damn America!!! - Mr. Wright, your prayer has been answered 11-4-08)
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To: skeeter

F the “kinder environment”. Whatever happened to saying the damn bloody truth and sticking with it?

We live in an over-sensitive and foolish world where preaching the truth is mocked and called “hate”. Screw em’....

I’ll be burned at the stake before I ever play by the libs ridiculous regulating rules.


13 posted on 05/07/2014 5:53:41 AM PDT by Roman_War_Criminal (Bible Summary in a few verses: John 14:6, John 6:29, Romans 10:9-10)
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To: Kaslin
In America today, the market punishes racists aggressively.

No they don't. They punish whites aggressively.

14 posted on 05/07/2014 5:55:18 AM PDT by Altura Ct.
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To: Kaslin
This changed in just two decades, he says, because there was open debate. Gay people "had no real political power, only the force of our arguments. But in a society where free exchange is the rule, that was enough."

And now the homos who benefited from the open debate now want to close it and make any supposedly anti-homo remark a hate crime.

Liberals are willing to debate until they get power. Then the debate is over and they use the power to ensure that there will not be any opposing viewpoints.

Obama's climate change report is the end of the debate. Anyone disagreeing will be considered a heretic and possibly subject to criminal prosecution. That is where we are headed.

15 posted on 05/07/2014 6:14:56 AM PDT by P-Marlowe (There can be no Victory without a fight and no battle without wounds)
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To: P-Marlowe

> Liberals are willing to debate until they get power. Then
> the debate is over and they use the power to ensure that
> there will not be any opposing viewpoints.

One of the most succinct explanations of the process that I’ve read.

Thank you.


16 posted on 05/07/2014 6:20:30 AM PDT by Westbrook (Children do not divide your love, they multiply it.)
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To: Kaslin

‘There is a new commandment at colleges today: “Thou shalt not hurt others with words.”’...Unless they are White, Republican, Southern, Christian, Gun Owners, Heterosexual, etc. Then one may hurl invective with impunity.


17 posted on 05/07/2014 6:22:41 AM PDT by Wildcat Stevens
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To: bird4four4
I suggest you reread these two paragraphs, especially the parts in bold

-- snip --

It's fine if the NBA -- or any private group -- wants to censor speech on its own property. People who attend games or work for the NBA agreed to abide by its rules. Likewise, Fox is free to fire me if they don't like what I say. That's the market in action, reflecting preferences of owners and customers.

But it's important that government not have the power to silence us. We have lots of companies, colleges and sports leagues. If one orders us to "shut up," we can go somewhere else.

Isn't this what you meant by refusing to patronize a business?

18 posted on 05/07/2014 6:24:16 AM PDT by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
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To: Kaslin
Fight bigotry with more speech

Would that we could, John. "Open exchange" and "more speech" only antagonizes the Left and -- because they truly believe that those who disagree with them aren't just wrong, we're evil -- they use that "speech" to justify their pathological bullying. (Along the lines of that ridiculous "how to deal with a bully" advice from a few weeks back.)

19 posted on 05/07/2014 6:28:33 AM PDT by glennaro
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To: Kaslin

Stossel’s right. The problem is that millions of people are too stupid—or too morally lazy—to comprehend the difference between government censorship and the way the free market works.


20 posted on 05/07/2014 6:32:43 AM PDT by Savage Beast (Hubris and denial overwhelm Western Civilization. Nemesis and tragedy always follow.)
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To: Roman_War_Criminal

X2


21 posted on 05/07/2014 6:34:16 AM PDT by skeeter
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To: Savage Beast
I don't hear millions claiming what the NBA did is illegal under the Constitution.

However, what was done to the man was immoral and against the spirit of our basic founding principles.

And if tolerated WILL eventually lead to an environment where widespread governmental censorship is accepted practice.

22 posted on 05/07/2014 6:39:09 AM PDT by skeeter
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To: driftless2

That’s probably not all they want to “shove down our throats”.


23 posted on 05/07/2014 6:40:25 AM PDT by hal ogen (First Amendment or Reeducation Camp?)
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To: circlecity
By the reasoning in this article, which makes a lot of sense, I will exercise my right to have nothing to do with the NBA that is willing, even eager, to punish someone for what they say in their own home.

I wonder if this incident might make billionaire potential and current NBA owners very nervous about what would happen if someone wanted to buy their team.

24 posted on 05/07/2014 6:47:24 AM PDT by grania
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To: hal ogen

Yeah, I always want to put that in quotation marks, but it sounds a little more appropriate than say “forcing their lifestyle on people.”


25 posted on 05/07/2014 8:17:51 AM PDT by driftless2
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To: Kaslin
This changed in just two decades, he says, because there was open debate. Gay people "had no real political power, only the force of our arguments. But in a society where free exchange is the rule, that was enough."

If Stossel wants to argue for free speech; he sure is picking a bad example here. No other group wants to silence thoughts and words like the Gaystapo.

26 posted on 05/07/2014 8:25:29 AM PDT by Responsibility2nd (NO LIBS. This Means Liberals and (L)libertarians! Same Thing. NO LIBS!!)
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To: Wildcat Stevens

Unless they are White, Republican, Southern, Christian, Gun Owners, Heterosexual, etc. Then one may hurl invective with impunity.

...you left out number one on that list...male...


27 posted on 05/07/2014 12:47:51 PM PDT by IrishBrigade (')
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To: Responsibility2nd

Gay people “had no real political power, only the force of our arguments

...the writer of this statement is flat out wrong...gays have had tremendous political clout for the last two decades...and enormously deep pockets to pick in Hollywood and academia...


28 posted on 05/07/2014 1:15:20 PM PDT by IrishBrigade (')
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To: IrishBrigade
Precisely. Hollywood and numerous media outlets have been promoting homosexuality as if it is something normal; and relentlessly bashing Christian values. The objective is to get the individual to "perceive" that society accepts the abnormal behavior. It's taken a couple of decades to achieve that effect. In opinion surveys, people glaringly overestimate the percentage of homosexuals in society. No need to wonder why that is.

One more thing... Freepers know how to pick the BS out of the story.

29 posted on 05/07/2014 6:06:26 PM PDT by spindoctor
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To: Altura Ct.

In America today, the market punishes racists aggressively.

No they don’t. They punish whites aggressively.
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Totally politically incorrect but absolutely, unequivocally true! You can be as racist as you wannabe if you are or at least CLAIM TO BE nonwhite. Actually you can still be as racist as you wannabe and call yourself white as long as you are a self-hating racist who tells the world how ashamed he is to be white.


30 posted on 05/08/2014 5:59:03 AM PDT by RipSawyer
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