“The Constitution does not say that a person can yell ‘wolf’ in a crowded theater. If you are endangering people, you don’t have a constitutional right to do that.”
—-Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi in an interview with KRON4’s Pam Moore, as the party leader explained why she believed that alt-right advocates should not have the benefits of freedom of speech and assembly.
- This is a classic. Biff and his various incarnations in the “Back to the Future” trilogy must be kicking themselves. They said,
“Eight o’clock Monday, runt. If you ain’t here, I’ll hunt you and shoot you down like a duck.”
(“Mad Dog” Tannen’s Gang Member : “It’s “dog”, Buford. Shoot him down like a dog.“)
“Why don’t you make like a tree and get outta here?
“I’m not one to look a gift horse in the butt.”
“It’s time to race the music.”
and Biff’s great-great-grandson Ziff Tannen said,
“I’m going to make like a banana and skedaddle!”
And more. But “crying wolf in a crowded theater” is funnier—and dumber— than any of them.
- The statement is triply ridiculous: it’s a mistaken interpretation of the law, it misstates the 1919 Supreme Court case Schenck v. United States, and it mixes up Oliver Wendell Holmes with Aesop.
Well, it’s not entirely ridiculous. It’s also scary.
- Here, once again, is Ken White’s definitive “Stop quoting this case to justify censorship, you idiots!” post. It concludes:
Holmes’ shocking callousness in this quote is different than his language in Schenck, but his casual and colloquial approach to endorsing government power over individuals is the same. As in Schenck, he offers a catchy slogan where a meticulous and principled standard is called for. Bear all of that in mind the next time someone name-drops Holmes and cites Schenck as part of a broad endorsement of censorship. The problem isn’t that they’re incorrectly citing Holmes. The problem is that they are citing him exactly right, for the vague, censorious, and fortunately long-departed “standard” he articulated. Justice Holmes, three generations of hearing your sound-bite are enough.
- What do you think is the likelihood that Pelosi has read the opinion she tried to quote, or knows that the case involved was affirming the criminal conviction under the Espionage Act. of socialist Eugene V. Debs, who was sentenced to ten years in prison for a speech criticizing the government? My guess: zero. Is it responsible for public officials to falsely and misleadingly refer to SCOTUS decisions that have neither read nor understand?
Of course not.
- Says Reason: “The whole thing is even better because, in this case, Pelosi is playing the role of the boy (or congresswoman) who cried wolf. She’s calling for a reaction against a threat that hasn’t materialized yet. That’s what all prior restraints on speech are, of course, but she’s calling for a very specific action to be taken against a very specific group of people who haven’t even gathered yet, much less done anything that could be rightfully called “inciting violence.”
Even mangled, Pelosi’s statement shows a support for speech suppression, which increasingly is the position her party advocates.
- Pelosi’s Biff-ism is signature significance for something; the question is what. My sister, a Democrat, immediately said, upon me reading her the quote, “She’s senile.” (Ironic, no, that Democrats have been periodically defaulting to the claim that the President is mentally unfit to lead?) Could a non-senile individual let such a stupid statement escape her lips without saying immediately–“Wait! That wasn’t right!” I think so. An incredibly ignorant person could, for example.
I think that Occam’s Razor applies here. Pelosi’s statement could only be made by an official who does not understand nor support the First Amendment.
That’s not funny at all.