Daily Linz 26—Death to Hate Speech Laws!

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Fri, 2006-02-10 03:59

“It is not very inspiring to fight for the freedom of the purveyors of pornography or their customers. But in the transition to statism, every infringement of human rights has begun with the suppression of a given right’s least attractive practitioners. In this case, the disgusting nature of the practitioners makes it a good test of one’s loyalty to a principle.”

-—Ayn Rand, Censorship: Local and Express.

For “purveyors of pornography,” substitute “advocates of hate-killing.”

On Monday, I wrote “Death to Islam,” describing Islam as “murderous maggotry” and calling for a philosophical crusade by decent, rational men and women everywhere to shame it into oblivion.

On Wednesday, Muslim maggot Abu Hamza as-Masri was jailed in London for promoting the killing of non-Muslims as a “religious duty.” Part of the case against him was that several other Muslim maggots had fallen under his sway and gone on to kill, or plot to kill, non-Muslims. One was a September 11 plotter. Another was “shoe bomber” Richard Reid.

Britain’s Libertarian Alliance then published a press release condemning the jailing, the charges that led to it and the legislation under which the charges were laid. It said in part:

"Mr Masri is a deeply unpleasant man. He hates our civilisation. It
is entirely valid to ask why he has been allowed into our country to
bring up seven children on welfare benefits paid by us. But there is
a clear common sense distinction between speaking and acting. Mr
Masri has not been convicted of doing any of the wicked things he
recommends. Nor has he been convicted of plotting attacks on any
identified individual. Therefore, he has been sentenced to seven
years imprisonment for expressing opinions. He is a prisoner of
conscience.”

I agreed with this, and published the press release here on SOLOPassion. Two SOLO stalwarts, Peter Cresswell and Andrew Bates, took issue with it, and me. I stand by my original position. The maggot has been jailed not for anything he did, but for what he said—and to any consistent, principled advocate of freedom of expression, this should be unacceptable.

I might—but don’t—advocate the killing of Muslims. If I did, the law should take an interest to the point of making sure that I was not actually killing Muslims—or making plans to do so, alone or with others. If I were, it should come down on me with swift and terrible ruthlessness. Advocacy alone should not trigger criminal charges. The law should prosecute not for what one says but what one does. Exhortations to actions must be kept distinct from the actions themselves. At the bottom of the “what one says” slippery slope lies the total censorship of which Ayn Rand warned.

The travesty in al Masri’s case is that there were “what one does” grounds on which to prosecute him—he had been charged in the United States with trying to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon, but the British charges took precedence over America’s extradition case. British prosecutors said the maggot was “a recruiting officer for terrorism and murder”—but that is not what he was charged with! Police say his mosque became a centre for credit card forgery, benefit scams and the raising of money for terrorist groups—but these are not what he was charged with! A police spokesman said, “To say he was divorced from operational terrorism would be wrong”—but involvement in “operational terrorism” is not what he was charged with! He was charged with encouraging murder and inciting hatred—by means of ... words!

The words were terrible, to be sure: “Killing of the Kaffir [non-believer] for any reason you can say it is OK, even if there is no reason for it,” among a torrent of similar vomit excoriating “Kaffirs,” Jews (“sons of monkeys and pigs”) homosexuals, women (“We teach our wives through television to answer back. Is that clever?”) and the material comforts of Western life to which he apparently felt entitled at taxpayer expense. But as far as they went, that’s all they were—words, which even human maggots should be allowed to utter in a free society. “I disagree with what you say [hold it in utter contempt, even] but defend to the death your right to say it.” The maggot is not accountable for the actions of those to whom he preached—if he is, then the whole notion of human beings as autonomous agents on which the law is based is out the window. If, on the other hand, he actively conspired in those actions, then he is accountable for that, should be prosecuted for it and, if shown to be guilty, punished severely. I personally would have no compunction in seeing him jailed for life and flogged weekly in the glorious tradition of Islamic “law.” Instead, tragically, he has been handed the martyr’s status of “prisoner of conscience.”

In the SOLOPassion discussion that ensued from the Libertarian Alliance’s press release, Ross Elliot said it very well:

“That somehow the act of speaking (in all its forms) entails an obligation or responsibility on the speaker, is corrupt. Down that path lies every justification for censorship, hate speech laws, etc., that has ever existed and will ever exist. What I say is no person's business but mine. If you choose to listen, to read, to repeat, then that is your decision regardless of my intent. To believe otherwise is to chain free men together as viciously as any statist has ever tried to do.”

He also said:

“I heard a report from London on the radio today. The reporter mentioned that weapons, bomb-making gear, etc., were found on al-Masri's premises. If that's the case then fine, lock him up, and for the same reasons that I won't be shedding a tear for Iran when Israel sends in the F16s. But if he was convicted purely on thought crime or hate speech laws, then his conviction, no matter how welcome, is wrong. New Zealand is currently contemplating hate speech laws and the recent cartoon fiasco is being used here to prime the pump, so to speak, for their eventual introduction. The language is subtle but the intent is obvious to those who have ears. The net is tightening in predictable ways and al-Masri and the Danish cartoons should be seen in the same light by those who seek to prevent the net from snapping shut.”

Wedge. Of. Thin end.

Consistency requires that we integrate our thinking on the existential dilemmas life throws at us. Inconsistency can only undermine the efficacy of our efforts in pressing for a fully free society. Consistency requires that we uphold the right of human maggots to speak unconscionable filth.


( categories: )

It is war

Richard Wiig's picture

"But there is
a clear common sense distinction between speaking and acting. Mr
Masri has not been convicted of doing any of the wicked things he
recommends. Nor has he been convicted of plotting attacks on any
identified individual. Therefore, he has been sentenced to seven
years imprisonment for expressing opinions. He is a prisoner of
conscience.”

No. He's a prisoner of war. The context is war, not a free society where he has the right to promulgate treason.

Commanding the Armed Forces

AdamReed's picture

wngreen:

Regulation of the armed forces includes legislating the distinction between legal and illegal orders - including legal and illegal orders from the President. It also comprises legislating procedures to be followed by the military, including the NSA, in its relations with the Judiciary - and that clearly includes FISA. It is hardly a "power grab" to limit what the government can do to individuals - including individuals officially suspected, perhaps by mistake or as a pretense for abuse of power, of collaborating with the enemy.

As for judicial review often not being enough, we agree that often judicial review is not an adequate restraint against abuse - but even an inadequate restraint is better than no restraint at all. Unreviewed power is not only likely, but practically certain to be abused. The citizen cannot vote against abuses that are not known to the citizenry - one reason why it is necessary to build a safety valve, such as the FISA court, into any system of secrecy, lest it implode and destroy the very individual freedom that governments are established to protect.

I agree that FISA was set up

I agree that FISA was set up to prevent unconstitutional action by the executive branch by using national security assets for things that had nothing to do with national security. In typical congressional ineptitude what should have been a framework for preventing the abuses turned into a congressional power grab. FISA as written is unconstitutional. Judicial review is not required, nor permited, while the President is executing his duties under the commander-in-chief role. This might seem frightening, which is why declerations of war are so very rare. Even the Supreem Court, not known for its restraint in extending its power, has upheld time after time that it can not enter into the debate between Congress and the Executive in true matters of national security. Congress retains it's role through its 'regulation of the military', but their options are to set regulations and funding. They can neither give up their role to the judiciary, nor grab the executive power from the President. This is one reason, along with the inevitable disclosure of classified material that would happen in a public review of such cases, that better whistle-blowing frameworks have been put in place since Carter signed FISA into law.

I agree that political power invites abuses and the problem of protecting national security and state secrets that enable life saving intelligence is a difficult one. After all, how can a transparent and open government keep secrets from individual citizens from whom they recieve their authority? I will not argue that the framework we now have has closed down the possibility of terrible abuses, but is judicial review sufficient to protect your rights? We need only to look at Kelo vs. City of New London to see that it is not. The key is to elect people to Congress and the President that will uphold the Constitution and hold them accountable at the ballet box when they do not. I do not belive this illiegal disclosure of classified information about intercepting terrorist communications demonstraits unconstitutional acts with or without FISA.

Breaking the law - and whistleblowing

AdamReed's picture

wngreen:

FISA was written to address the lack of judicial review in the prior regime, whose abuses included the use of National Security intercepts for purposes that had nothing to do with National Security - including a case in which National Security intercepts were used to prosecute an "illegal" gambling operation. Since Congress has clear constitutional authority to regulate the armed forces, including the NSA, the President broke the law. Classification for the purpose of concealing a breach of valid law is itself a criminal offense. The classification order was an illegal order, and the "leak" that exposed this breach of the law was itself legal under whistleblowing statutes. This, of course, is the reason why no attempt is being made to "prosecute" the whistle-blower.

Political power by its nature invites abuse, and any attempt to circumvent mechanisms that were set up precisely to prevent and expose such abuse is itself a criminal abuse of power. You write, "I would be the first one to call for investigation if there was evidence this type of private US person information was used in ways not authorized (like political blackmail or criminal prosecution...)" But if judicial review can be circumvented at will by the executive branch, then how will you or I ever know?

The claim that the NSA, with

The claim that the NSA, with foreign intercepts on which the warrant is based already on their computer, ready to be pasted into the warrant application, needs more than that - not even weeks, but more than 72 hours ever - is unbelievable.

Just becuase it is unbelievable doesn't make it false. From intercept to authorization, even heavily streamlined, is weeks. The reason is the protection of privacy, for even the hint that privacy is being violated, undermines the whole purpose of the IC -- they are here to defend the country -- they take their jobs very seriously. I think we are sidestepping the real issue though. The time it takes to get a warrent is not as important as understanding what FISA was to protect - the privacy (via the identities) of US persons. FISA is a tool to authorize the targeting of a US person by our nations powerful SIGINT system. There are other statutes and executve orders that provide a framework for the reporting on US persons. See as an example USSID 18. Even a reading of this redacted EO shows there are missing pieces to the puzzle that remain classified.

Benith all of this hand wringing over tracking terrorist calls to the US is a hidden agenda to undermine the very people protecting this nation from another terrorist attack. I support tracking this information for this limited purpose and no other. I would be the first one to call for investigation if there was evidence this type of private US person information was used in ways not authorized (like political blackmail  or criminal prosecution as a few examples) just like I have called for an investigation of who leaked classified information about how we track terrorist communications. Where is the outrage about the rule of law being broken regarding classified information? Were is the IG report from these leakers (surely they tried official wistle blower procedures?)?

[spelling edits]

Warrants: CHP cops get them in under 15 minutes

AdamReed's picture

wngreen:

The misbehavior of past Presidents - the reason why Congress established FISA when those misbehaviors came to light - is hardly an excuse now that FISA is law. Congress has clear constitutional authority to regulate the armed forces, including the NSA. And as for warrant applications taking weeks to prepare - what century are you talking about? I live close to the regional HQ of the California Highway Patrol, so I know how it is done by ordinary cops. The cop fills out the warrant form on the computer in the cruiser car, which takes less then 5 minutes. The warrant is sent through the cellular network to a judge, who reads it on her screen while it is being printed, signs it, and sends it back to the cop. The whole process takes 15 minutes tops - and warrant requirements are much stricter under California law than under FISA. The claim that the NSA, with foreign intercepts on which the warrant is based already on their computer, ready to be pasted into the warrant application, needs more than that - not even weeks, but more than 72 hours ever - is unbelievable.

Adam, I have to call you out

Adam, I have to call you out on this one:

Similarly, it would have been trivially easy for W's NSA to obtain, within 72 hours after each domestic communications intercept, an after-the-fact nominal warrant from the secret FISA court.

These warrants take weeks to prepare and are done all the time by the FBI (the domestic law enforcement and domestic intelligence agency).

But to obtain the required warrant would have preserved the principle that the Chief Executive is ultimately
bound to act within the law, and under judicial review.

And would not have fallen under the FISA jurisdiction, and would not align with past President's excercise of authority (with congress's explicit oversight). Are we forgetting the fact that congress has known about this specific program and comparable ones since FISA was passed? FISA is a tool for gathering information on Americans for criminal prosecution. The President's authority as commander-in-chief at no point involves the judiciary constitutionally and Congress had and continues to have every authority to defund the program.

So what did the "folly" of avoiding even totally secret judicial review accomplish? It accomplished the implicit assertion of the doctrine that the Chief Executive is sovereign in his exercise of the power of war, and that, unlike the officers of mere law enforcement, he may exercise his absolute power outside any authorization by the legislature, and outside any review by the judiciary.

We have to remember how the checks and balances were supposed to work as designed by the framers. The judiciary are unelected and have no part in matters of War. The congress is free to fund wars, not fund wars, authorize (declare) war and to remove the authorization.

Context

sjw's picture

Ross,

You claim: "Shayne, the problem with your argument is that it rests falsely on context to define a mythical line between free speech and some sort of non-free speech."

Wrong. My argument is: If you tell somebody who you know will carry out your wishes what you want, then you caused them to carry them out. Not by violating his free will, not because he's an automaton, but because you knew that he would do what you asked. If bin Laden asks someone to do a hit, which is just words, then he's responsible for the hit, as well as the guy who carried it out.

Now suppose bin Laden doesn't say "Carry out this hit." He just says, "Oh, I'd like it if this guy were dead." As a code for: Kill him. If a frustrated man says "I'd like it if he were dead", then typically there's no CONTEXT to determine that the guy is culpable; on the contrary, when bin Laden says the same thing, there's plenty of CONTEXT to know that he meant to kill. Nothing vague, nothing fuzzy.

I see that you are afraid of a slippery slope, but I do not see the slippery slope. On the contrary, it's your idea that is fuzzy and slippery and would let people get away with murder.

The Conviction You Can Get

Jon Letendre's picture

Robert,

In the last part of your post, you seem to say that the defendant is guilty of crimes both of us would call real crimes, it’s just that the justice system has this-or-that-snag (soon to be corrected, let’s hope)— and therefore the jury was right to convict as the occasion came to them, no? (That’s another “branch” of the justice system—the common sense juror.)

I intend that “no?” genuinely. I am not up to date on this particular UK case, so I appreciate the patience.

My point is that though you and I may be clear about someone’s guilt, let’s say Osama’s guilt, I wonder if Johnny Cochran couldn’t get him free.

Trying Osama in a US court might well involve repairing to aspects of his actions that look like mere “speech.” Including your “He is the public face of Al Quaeda and serves as a rallying point…”

Another snag in prosecuting Osama would be the “mafia effect.” So many intermediaries that you cannot establish anything. In the end, you have what looks like mere “speech”: Some fifth-level guy whose connection to Osama is difficult, saying, “Maybe Mohamed will bless your family with $25,000 from an ATM if you go to New York and await instructions.”

Common sense jurors.

Jon:

Robert's picture

No, instead Osama participated in setting up the Terrorist network that funded the assault on the Twin Towers to the tune of ~$500,000. He is the public face of Al Quaeda and serves as a rallying point both recruits and for those who those who fund Al Quaeda.

If that isn't an action, then I'm not actually sitting here typing this.

Osama is actively supporting terrorism. As did that nutter in London. I agree with Linz, his words ~on their own~ should not condemn a man. The combination of his words and any action designed to put his ideas into practice should be what condemns him.

As I implied on a previous thread, I believe there is more than enough evidence to arrest and convict this nut-job for breaking ~real~ laws, as opposed to trumped-up bogus ones designed to make it easier for the government to put unsavoury characters behind bars.

The problem being that governments are for ever redefining the term "unsavoury." This Hate-speech law does nobody any good.

Planning manifests in speech

Jon Letendre's picture

Ross,

Can you explain the criteria that separate cases of mere speech vs. speech that approaches planning/intention?

Osama did not fly planes into buildings. He may have uttered something about some such, but he never “acted,” he did not fly any planes. He may have said, “That badge will look good enough to airport workers,” but he never entered an airport. He may have said, “Air Traffic Controllers don’t become curious until you turn this way or that,” but he never deceived a Controller. He may have studied the designs of the World Trade Center and explained them to particular volitional agents, but he never…

Shayne, the problem with

Ross Elliot's picture

Shayne, the problem with your argument is that it rests falsely on context to define a mythical line between free speech and some sort of non-free speech.

You say there is a context in which persons are vulnerable to manipulation by incitement, by speech. I agree. Where we part company is that I don't believe the mere act of expressing a desire to see something happen is cause enough to criminalise it. Planning it, stating that you intend to do it and garnering the means to that end, now that's a different thing and should be criminalised.

"I'm talking about saying in so many words "I'd like it if you'd kill Jews in restaurants", knowing that you're surrounded by people who will do exactly that."

That ain't the same as planning and it shouldn't be punishable as such. Can't you see that it's exactly the blurring of context that hate speech advocates rely upon to achieve their aims? They contend that merely saying that all Jews deserve to die is the same as sitting down and planning it. That is their entire justification for advocating censorship, that the expression of a desire or the advocacy of a position is the same as a complicity to carry it out. Well, it isn't.

I'm not defending the right of a demagogue to cause harm, I'm defending my right to say, for example, that certain cultures are inferior or dangerous. Hate speech advocates translate statements like that to mean that I intend to commit actual harm to those cultures. And they criminalise my speech. There lies the danger, and it's a danger that is only made more real by your argument.

Parrots

sjw's picture

Ross: My point is: Just because the form of my argument superfically resembles to you the form of some anti-free-speech person's argument, doesn't mean it's the same argument.

Really, you haven't understood what I've said at all, you're just knee-jerk reacting to what you think I said. Case in point: I don't say jail people because they are a demagogue. On the contrary, I specifically said otherwise.

Irrelevant

sjw's picture

Ross, it's completely irrelevant that bin Laden happened to have admitted to it. What if he didn't admit anything? Does that change anything? Does that mean we're not morally allowed to hunt him down? Why focus on that irrelevant item of history?

I'll tell you why. You have no principled answer whatever and are just grasping at any fact, however irrelevant, to try to make a case.

Now, this is getting silly.

Ross Elliot's picture

Now, this is getting silly. You're evading the answer.

To be painfully clear, you said:

"...you'd have to let leaders like this off the hook and only punish those who did what the leaders exhorted them to do."

Bin Laden admitted his guilt. That's not an exhortation, that's complicity. Guilt. Hunt him down.

If he'd simply preached, "Hey, I know what! It'd be a really nifty idea to use a couple of planes as flying bombs. How about it fellas?", he'd be guilty of nothing except a sick rant.

Bin Laden's guilty because of his actions, his admissions, his complicity, his stated intentions and not because he's a demagogue.

Now, if that answer isn't good enough for you, Shayne, then your whole line of argument must be in serious bother. Perhaps you'd like to answer my query above regarding your "parroting" comments? I'm not clear at all what you're talking about.

Gee Ross

sjw's picture

It's only "words" not "actions".

You're evading the question.

Gee, Shayne, maybe we should

Ross Elliot's picture

Gee, Shayne, maybe we should hunt down and arrest bin Laden because he's not only admitted to being responsible for horrendous crimes but also stated a clear intent to commit more of the same. Or should we not take him seriously, in either his admission of culpability or intent?

From bin Laden's October 2004 videotape:

"And as I was looking at those towers that were destroyed in Lebanon, it occurred to me that we have to punish the transgressor with the same -- and that we had to destroy the towers in America so that they taste what we tasted, and they stop killing our women and children."

Lance, I'm perfectly clear

Ross Elliot's picture

Lance, I'm perfectly clear on the special cases of non compos mentis exceptions to the rule, but that's not what we're discussing here, is it? We're talking about people who for a variety of reasons choose a religion or an attitude to life and then allow the incitement of others to dictate their actions. Those people are not clinically insane or under any legal obligation or duress, yet they choose to act.

Legally, on a massive scale, that clear distinction is what we saw in the Nuremberg Trials after WW2. The Jodls and Goerings, etc. were held fully culpable while their underlings were often discharged or had sentences reduced because they were under a legal obligation to act. Colloquially, they had far less "wiggle-room".

I've said above that if a person shows clear intent, has threatened and has accumulated the means to make that threat real, then arrest them. Throw the book at them. But don't lock them up merely for saying that all the infidels should be stoned to death. That type of state power doesn't protect us; in the end it threatens us all.

Ross,

Lanza Morio's picture

"I think we should just classify all humans as volitional beings and assume them responsible for their actions. Contemplate the alternative."

Ross, I see where you're coming from and I want the world to be that way too. But there has to be a little flexibility in dealing with people who are insane. What do we do with kamikaze's? What do we do with lunatics at the insane asylum? We cannot treat these people as in control of their decisions and we cannot trust them. When such people demonstrate the will and the means to kill us the choice is clear that we ought to defend ourselves before it's too late.

Derek and Linz...

Lanza Morio's picture

This is not perfectly simple. This is a complex issue.

The case here is of a rag-tag army that wants you dead. They are unified in their cause. It is not a case of individual rights because the "individuals" in question do not recognize the individual rights of anyone (including themselves!).

Yes, the hate-crime charges are trumped up and wrong. The state ought to be honest and admit that we are in the middle of an ugly guerilla war and that we are going to round up all kinds of shady characters in the interest of making our homes safe again. But they won't do that because their philosophy won't allow them to. But, thankfully, their philosophy won't allow them to let evil masterminds go free either. They recognize that innocent people will die if this guy is let loose.

Shayne's point about Manson and bin Laden is a good one. And did Hitler actually shoot anybody? If he didn't does your principle stand? I mean all he did was make a bunch of fiery speeches, right?

What were they thinking?

jtgagnon's picture

Just why, I wonder, was he not charged with any of the other illegal things he did? I agree that he should've been nailed for any of a number of actual activities...unrelated to speech. Why they didn't, I think, should be the real question here. What was the motivation? This is deeply troubling.

Words vs. Deeds

sjw's picture

Linz & Derek: How exactly does your theory explain how we can rightly jail or execute someone like Bin Ladin or Manson? Because in my understanding of your idea, to be consistent with it, you'd have to let leaders like this off the hook and only punish those who did what the leaders exhorted them to do.

What is the "really quite simple" principle you use to distinguish?

Thought Police

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

The American version of this words-are-deeds nonsense is referred to as, among others,  "incitement to riot" and "creating a clear and present danger." (Both from the Supreme Court, I think.) This Thought Crime reasoning was used to bankrupt several divisions of the KKK maybe 15 years ago. It seems some people who attended KKK meetings eventually killed several blacks -- so the leaders and group were held liable in civil court (not criminal), and all property and wealth confiscated. If memory serves, no libertarian or Objectivist of prominence stood up to denounce it.

The one tricky issue here, of course, is determining at what point a general advocate of violent evil become a kind of commander who isn't just abstractly arguing, but actually, perhaps slyly, giving orders to a group which was organized for the specific purpose of violent action. But generally speaking -- it's easy to separate words from deeds, as Lindsay did in his article.

No matter how purely irredeemably false and evil the speech -- and no matter how irrestistibly persuasive and seductive -- free speech is utterly protected by Natural Law. This phenomenon is not a natural weakness is society, nor a flaw in the theory of freedom, because Good is stronger than Evil.

There IS more to this

Scott Wilson's picture

Yes he should not be charged for hate speech, but those were two of the crimes he was convicted for. He was also convicted of soliciting to murder, and the seven year sentence was for that - the other offences carried lower sentences.

In soliciting to murder he provided a haven and supplies for people to carry out terrorist attacks, and there was sufficient intent proven that he intended these to occur.

The question is whether it should only be an offence if you can prove that he was an accessory to attacks that have taken place or whether you can prove if there has been an attempted attack or intent to commit an attack.

If the current state of affairs in the UK is one of war - war with Islamic fundamentalism - then the state would be abrogating its prime duty to protect its citizens if it let someone who was actively taking steps to plan and commit mass murder to do so.

One parallel is Israel and Iran - Iran wants to destroy Israel, and gains the means of doing so. Does Israel have to wait until the Iranian plane reaches Israeli airspace before bringing it down, or does Israel have the right to bomb the facilities in advance in its own self defence? Do the Police in the UK wait until men walk out of the mosque to search them for bombs? or monitor them all to see if any with a package go into a tube station? or do you simply say - it is enough that you're planning to do this and have the means to do so.

I remember having a debate about this - a neo-Nazi group having meetings saying they want the local Jews dead, or publishing literature advocating it would be legal. However a meeting where they got the weapons and planned how they were going to do it becomes a threat - does the state step in there?

Absolutely spot on, Derek!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You certainly don't need Objectivism 101.

Of course, you had a good teacher! Smiling

Don't you have a plane to catch?? Smiling

Shayne & Lance: Look guys,

Derek McGovern's picture

Shayne & Lance: Look guys, it's perfectly simple. If I were to exhort you both to commit violence against an innocent person, and you went ahead & did precisely that, then the pair of you should be held accountable for your actions - not I. You have free will. You didn't need to listen to my ravings, much less act on them.

I should add ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I'm boggle-eyed at some of what I'm reading here. I can see that an Objectivism 101 is sorely needed by those of whom I would least have thought it. Ah yes, 'tis earlier than we think.

Si!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I understand, Adam. I always did. I told you that that was a given in our disagreement over the Namblaphile. That disagreement, as far as I was concerned, was about the propriety of his agenda of insinuating Namblaphilia into the Objectivist/libertarian agenda— a totally different issue from that of his right to publish his maggotry so long as it didn't involve the violation of rights. My concern, based on information that we canvassed at the time, was that you might have had an agenda to support that agenda.

What this "folly" accomplished

AdamReed's picture

Linz,

Since you began your article with an insight from Old Ayn, let me add another that may explain why, as you note, "(his actual, well-documented) involvement in operational terrorism is not what (Abu Hamza as-Masri) was charged with. He was charged with encouraging murder and inciting hatred - by means of words." Rand noted that, once you have identified an act of apparent folly, it is less useful to examine its details than to ask oneself what that folly accomplishes.

Had Abu Hamza as-Masri been charged with one of his many actual crimes, he would have received his due punishment - but the power of the state would not have been expanded any farther at all. Convicting him of evil speech, on the other hand, creates a legal precedent to abridge the speech of anyone whose opinion falls out of favor, at first out of favor with the opinion of the majority of citizens, and soon even only with the opinions of whatever government might happen to be in power one day or the next.

Similarly, it would have been trivially easy for W's NSA to obtain, within 72 hours after each domestic communications intercept, an after-the-fact nominal warrant from the secret FISA court. But to obtain the required warrant would have preserved the principle that the Chief Executive is ultimately bound to act within the law, and under judicial review. So what did the "folly" of avoiding even totally secret judicial review accomplish? It accomplished the implicit assertion of the doctrine that the Chief Executive is sovereign in his exercise of the power of war, and that, unlike the officers of mere law enforcement, he may exercise his absolute power outside any authorization by the legislature, and outside any review by the judiciary.

If one has not read Leonard Peikoff's The Ominous Parallels recently, then it is high time to read it again.

Applause

AdamReed's picture

Linz: Bravo!

Lance, is it up to the state

Ross Elliot's picture

Lance, is it up to the state to decide if one person has more volition than another? You and I both know that the average mystic isn't exactly a devotee of critical thinking, but would you like to posit a test that the state can use to judge that? I think we should just classify all humans as volitional beings and assume them responsible for their actions. Contemplate the alternative.

Shayne, I wouldn't have a

Ross Elliot's picture

Shayne, I wouldn't have a clue what you're talking about. Perhaps you could explain?

Parrots

sjw's picture

Ross: Just because someone parrots an argument that resembles mine does not mean it's the same argument and it doesn't mean there's something wrong with my argument.

As long as you wish to think in terms only of what you heard someone else argue when you listen to me then you're not listening.

Ross, careful with that optimism...

Lanza Morio's picture

"[The example of a general issuing orders to his soldiers is not applicable. The soldiers are under a legal obligation to do the general's bidding. Best of my knowledge, al-Masri's supporters are not. They have minds. They can think. They are responsible for their own actions. They are free to choose.]"

Ross, I think you are extending your optimism way far beyond the paw-paw patch. Volition is not the terrorist's specialty.

Shayne, with your last

Ross Elliot's picture

Shayne, with your last comment you have jumped into bed with every anti-porn, anti-drug, prohibitionist campaigner that ever lived. They have all used your exact same argument in their desire to see the state proscribe the limits of our speech and actions.

How would your rationale be any different than the hate speech campaigners that currently conspire to rob my country of it's freedoms?

Shayne, you're talking about

Ross Elliot's picture

Shayne, you're talking about two different things: incitement versus planning.

If we find someone with 20lbs of C4 strapped to his body we properly disarm & detain him in the reasonable belief that he is not a simple explosives salesman plying his trade. But do you arrest the person that wrote the instruction manual describing how to construct such an explosive device? Do you arrest the person who whispered in the bomber's ear: Why don't you go into town and blow-up a few folk?

The instructions are speech, the explosives and their context are action. If liberal thought holds two things as being crucially different then it is most surely words versus action. Every oppressive regime has sought to focus on the first believing it could protect itself from the second.

Al-Masri is a pig. No doubt. He would see me and all I hold dear dead. If you'd found him or his minions actually building a bomb and planning it's use then I'd lead the chorus of condemnation at his trial, but not if he simply advocates, desires or thinks that me, the infidel, should perish.

When Israel does eventually send in the F16s, I'll jump with joy, not because the Persians have merely said they hate the Jews but because they've confessed, explicitly, an intention to do terrible harm and demonstrably constructed a means to that end.

[The example of a general issuing orders to his soldiers is not applicable. The soldiers are under a legal obligation to do the general's bidding. Best of my knowledge, al-Masri's supporters are not. They have minds. They can think. They are responsible for their own actions. They are free to choose. Nail the fuckers to the wall if they step over the line but not if they merely think of doing it.]

Lindsay, your sources are impeccable.

Loaded Gun

sjw's picture

If it were consistent, empiricism would argue: people don't kill people, bullets do. But we blame the killer because his mind, with intent, caused the trigger mechanism to fire. There is a causal chain activated from the man's volitional intent and act all the way through to the person's heart he fires at.

There is no difference whatever between a man pulling the trigger of a gun, and a man pulling the "trigger" that is another man who is in such a state that he is, in effect, a machine that transforms words into actions that kill. It is a fact that the machine/man has volition and is responsible for that machine-like state; it is no less a fact that he is in that machine-like state, and triggering him on purpose and with intent is a culpable act. He is in fact a voice-activated gun that chose to be such, and if you know that and pull his trigger, you deserve to be held accountable along with him.

Linz, there is a culture of

Lanza Morio's picture

Linz, there are enemy warriors within our borders. They are not analogous to the pornagraphy-people Rand had in mind when discussing the defense of basic freedoms. A small group of porno-purveyors (who are no doubt chasing their own self-interest in big way Smiling) is no harm to anyone outside their little love-den. The culture of terrorism, on the other hand, is aggressively doing whatever it can to destroy the lives of free people everywhere. It's a war on a grand scale. It's a special category demanding special choices. Free speech doesn't apply to enemies. They shouldn't even have time to open their mouths!

The trouble in this case is that the state is not fighting the bad guys with principles but with underhanded bullshit laws like the hate-crime law. And so the enemy is not defined. Not explicitly anyway. Until we name the enemy and the principle involved it will only get worse.

Sigh...

sjw's picture

Just because someone expresses "hate" does not imply the kind of causal link I'm talking about. You're jumping to conclusions about what I've not spelled out. For example, it isn't necessarily jailable to say "I wish all Jews would die". It's contextual. If you declare it in a specific kind of context, then I think it should be jailable. Namely if you're surrounded by people who you know will do that because you said it. If on the other hand you're some kind of crackpot blogger and it's just the general world that's your audience, then there's not a direct causal link there; even if someone takes you at your word you're not responsible.

There must be a demonstrable and direct causal chain in order for what I'm saying to apply--just like the causal chain from general to soldier.

Being legally required to do what the general says is a non-essential. Informal "military-style" terrorists organizations are set up with no laws whatsoever, but it's clear that there are chains of command, and the guys at the top are most culpable not least, and this doesn't imply that the guys at the bottom aren't, it's not an argument against volition.

Integration

sjw's picture

Linz: I don't see how you can lump this under "failure to integrate" when I've integrated my idea all the way up to metaphysics--cause and effect. Words can cause actions, and I don't mean the indirect philosophical links here, I'm not talking about throwing Kant in jail, I'm talking about saying in so many words "I'd like it if you'd kill Jews in restaurants", knowing that you're surrounded by people who will do exactly that.

Because ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... a soldier is legally required to follow his general's orders. A Muslim maggot lay person is not obligated/predestined to act on the exhortations of a Muslim maggot preacher. Shit! This is pre-101 stuff!

And if you truly hold the position you're taking here, on what grounds do you oppose hate speech laws?

Chain of command doesn't deny free will

sjw's picture

Linz: I already said I agreed that the charge wasn't valid.

So how is holding a general responsible for the actions of soldiers acting on his command "take out that target" vicious and how does it deny free will?

Then ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... charge him with something that is truly a crime. Thinking/speaking something on its own is not/should not be a crime. Christ! Talk about failure to integrate!! Aaaaaaaaaargh!!!!!!!!

I'm with Shayne...

Lanza Morio's picture

Enjoyed the article very much, Linz. Laughed out loud a couple of times. I expect the state conjured up charges against this cat with an eye toward appeasing all sides. They know he's guilty of something but they aren't willing or able to admit that there's a war goin' on. So on the one hand they won't let him go free. And on the other hand they don't want to piss anyone off (be it the media, the Arab neighborhoods, the English neighborhoods). It's like there aren't any sides anymore. There is no right, no wrong.

The fight is inside our own borders and towns. And that's true of every semi-free country I know of. I agree with you Linz that hate-crimes are ridiculous. But from you say there this guy is an infiltrator from another culture who is determined to destroy our way of life as best he can. He's like a spy gone nuts (Think Brando in the end of Apocalypse Now!). That's an act war. Infiltrators from others cultures have no rights.

Shayne

Mark Dow's picture

Charles Manson comes to mind.

Of course!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

But he was not "planning to kill someone" in speech. Or if he was, he wasn't charged with that. If he did, the speech turned into action at that point.

Shayne, this bit:

If a person knows or should have known that by saying or writing something, it will ultimately cause the death of someone, then he is culpable to an extent (determinable at trial based on the context) for that death. He did in fact intend to cause that death, and he in fact did start the chain of events that led to the death.

is, unwittingly, vicious, & denies free will. You haven't truly taken in the import of my article.

But planning is done in words

sjw's picture

Linz: I definitely agree that charging him with some kind of "hate speech" violation is wrong. But I think part of your argument here is wrong and missing something important.

The idea that "The law should prosecute not for what one says but what one does" is wrong. Planning to kill someone can be purely done in words, in speech. So the says/does distinction doesn't work to isolate people who should be jailed from those who shouldn't.

I think the answer here is fundamentally rooted in cause and effect. If a person knows or should have known that by saying or writing something, it will ultimately cause the death of someone, then he is culpable to an extent (determinable at trial based on the context) for that death. He did in fact intend to cause that death, and he in fact did start the chain of events that led to the death. So for example, if a Muslim knows or should have known that the people around him are ready to do his bidding, and then he says he wants them to kill, and then they do, he is responsible to an extent, just as much as a general is responsible to an extent for solders acting under his command. This doesn't erase the culpability of the "solders" the bidding of course.

As you say though, such an act should not be prosecuted under "hate speech" laws, but under laws against planning and carrying out murder.

I Wonder

Mark Dow's picture

Back in the 1960’s, I read “Brave New World,” “Animal Farm,” and “1984,” and I know a little of the history of fascism, and I never thought I would see the return of that kind of insanity again, but after reading your post, I wonder.

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