Hate Speech AND Porn, Please


This—a blog post on Legal Schnauzer lauding Brett Kimberlin for his lawfare against Aaron Worthing—is simply stupid. Cheering people for taking advantage of an ignorant (and possibly senile) judge to shut down the free expression of people whose politics you disagree with is narrowminded and shortsighted. Even if you think your adversaries are more likely to engage in lawfare than people who agree with you? Especially then. If they’re less fastidious to you, you hurt yourself by countenancing the tactics.

(For my money, though, right-wing nutjobs and left-wing nutjobs are equally likely to resort to lawfare against those with whom they disagree. A nutjob is a nutjob is a nutjob.)

This—a blog post on The Daily Kos lauding Brett Kimberlin for lawfare and SWATting—is a little more interesting. A blatant troll (“In 1994, after 13 years of unjust imprisonment, a wise Judge recognized Kimberlin for his Activism and released him on parole”), the post has suckered the credulous—Donald Douglas of American Power and some of these folks—into taking it seriously. Which just goes to show: we are capable of believing preposterous stuff if it fits into the stories we tell ourselves.

Douglas asks, “Will People STFU About How Brett Kimberlin Affair is ‘Non-Partisan’?” I can answer that: no, people will not shut the fuck up. The fight over free speech is and, more importantly, should be non-partisan: a content-independent fight over tactics that we should all abjure.

Free speech may be a progressive good and a conservative good, but it’s neither a Conservative nor a Progressive good. There are people on both left and right who claim fidelity to the First Amendment on principled grounds but define protected speech to include only speech that isn’t immoral (“pornography,” for example, for some Conservatives) or upsetting (“hate speech,” for example, for some Progressives). 

A pox on both their houses. Most people strongly believe in the freedom to do what they want to do. I believe that they should all have the freedom to do what they want to do (as long as they don’t violate others’ rights).

If The Kimberlin Affair is truly, as Douglas would have it, “an epic partisan battle over how ‘free speech’ will be defined,” may neither side win.


One response to “Hate Speech AND Porn, Please”

  1. One of the lessons to come out of this sordid affair is the intractability of partisanship, and its abuse of such well-intended and principled people as Ken (and you) to serve an agenda.

    The worst thing about it isn’t that it’s disgusting, but that it’s tiring. No matter what is said, they just keep insisting on their agenda, whether it’s left or right. I’m with you, a pox on both their houses.

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