Comment Of The Day (7): “An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods…”

Yes, there are more Comments of the Day emitting from the Holiday Challenge, which asked readers to answer Noah Berlatsky’s  essay on NBC’s website advocating the government censorship of “hate speech.” That’s not hard to do, or shouldn’t be. It is hard to do well, though. Many, many commenters did it remarkably well.

We talk about freedom of speech a lot here. The concept is not ethics, but it is a convergence of many ethical values—respect, fairness, autonomy, rights, process, empathy, openness, accountability, and citizenship. This is definitely a United States history and culture oriented blog, and no nation or culture elevates free speech to the priotity in its values that this nation does. That is one of its enduring strengths, That this strength has been increasingly under attack recently naturally sets ethics alarms ringing, or should.

After he authored the 2017 Comment of the Day that attracted more commentary, by quite a bit, than any of the thousand plus essays I labored over last year, I couldn’t omit this one by Zoltar Speaks! in response to the Challenge.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods And Outright Errors In This Essay Advocating Limits On Speech…:

The problem is that those that want to define “hate speech” these days don’t know the difference between free speech, hate speech, verbal threats, actively inciting riot/mayhem/chaos, and actual physical violence.

In my opinion…

1. Free speech as in sharing opinions, protesting, print, media, etc. etc. is clearly protected under the United States Constitution whether you agree with it or not. Period!

2. Hate speech in its simplest form is that which implies or states outright that the speaker(s) hate someone or something, this is clearly protected under the United States Constitution. Hate is an opinion/thought not an action and you and I have every right to think whatever the hell we like and hate is part of that.

3. Verbal threats are borderline protected speech, it can depended on the conditions surrounding the threat, the type of threat, the intent to follow through with the threat, and the physical ability to follow through with the threat. If some run-of-the-mill US citizen were to threaten to blow up NYC with a nuclear bomb, that would not likely be an achievable threatening goal because run-of-the-mill US citizens do not have possession of nor have access to nuclear devices, but if the same run-of-the-mill US citizen actually threatens to kill the mayor of NYC, the President of the United States, their spouse, the soccer coach, white people, black people, gays, their boss, or their asshole neighbor, or that drunken prick at the bar, that should be taken very seriously as an achievable threatening goal. If Jill threatens to tell Mom that Jack drank out of the milk container, it’s certainly a verbal threat that’s achievable but it’s certainly not an abusive verbal threat. Get the idea?

4. Actively inciting riot/mayhem/chaos is not protected speech. If I tell a crowd of people to go destroy Main Street stores and that crowd of people does what I told them to do, that is NOT protected speech. Where if I say the exact same thing to a different crowd of people that thinks I’m just a nut case and they don’t destroy Main Street stores I’m not actively inciting riot/mayhem/chaos although I’m sure there would be some kind of consequences to the speech, some known and some unknown.

5. Actual physical violence is not speech and is not protected under the Constitution.

I’m sure you can argue those points, but for now just take them for what they are and read on.

The part that people are having a real problem with is knowing when someone is abusing their right to free speech by using their right to free speech to squash the free speech rights of others or when their free speech goes beyond simple opinion or hate and turns into physical action or inciting physical action. There are coddled participation-trophy-bearing social justice warrior (SJW) complete idiots out there that are equating any kind of speech they disagree with as being actual physical violence against them. It seems that their defining line for violence is first, that they disagree with it, second, that they label it hate speech, and then they jump straight to it’s violent. Hate speech is not a violent physical action, and until these SJW idiots are put in their place in a very public way this nonsense is going to get worse.



Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Comment of the Day, Government & Politics, language, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

34 responses to “Comment Of The Day (7): “An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods…”

  1. One argument you didn’t touch on was the “fighting words” distortion. Some have claimed (as in Berkeley) that if one’s political speech is likely to move OTHERS to violence against the speaker, than the speaker’s speech is “hate speech.” It’s an intellectually dishonest argument, but, naturally, some lawyers have endorsed it.

    • Which lawyers have endorsed it?

    • Jack Marshall wrote, “One argument you didn’t touch on was the “fighting words” distortion. Some have claimed (as in Berkeley) that if one’s political speech is likely to move OTHERS to violence against the speaker, than the speaker’s speech is “hate speech.” “

      Them’s fightin’ words! An aggravated assault rationalization! Sicilian Ethics.

      I like it, it takes the place of #5 and #5 becomes #6.

      Good catch Jack.

    • dragin_dragon

      I would agree with that to an extent, but I also agree that the Texas law that a valid defense against assault is ‘provocative’ utterances has validity.

    • Isn’t it possible that even the basic use of “fighting words” as a legal defense should be completely scrapped at this point, having been on an historically downward trajectory for some time? It appears to hark back to times when murders and duels were accepted methods of responding to slights or insults. Over time, that type of response became taboo, and, by degrees, eventually “softened” into it only being sometimes socially acceptable (up through mid/late twentieth century or so?) to respond with lesser forms of violence to “defend your honor”, e.g., a punch in the nose for an insult to your wife.

      However, it seems that for a while now it has been expected (rightly, IMO) that a rational person should NOT feel free to respond to speech with violence (except, perhaps, when facing an actual imminent threat of physical harm). In addition to rejecting the current nonsensical arguments advocating violence in response to unapproved speech or ideas, perhaps we should now also advocate totally dropping the outdated idea that similarly subjective “fighting words” can legally justify a physical response.

      • Yes, I’ve thought the same thing, and thanks for raising it. The courts have been de-emphasizing the “fighting words” exception, I assume because it doesn’t fit very well. Fighting words dte back to the days of duels, and seem to be inspired by a tradition where a man would issue an insult, “You, sir, are a coward, a blackguard, a liar and a half-blood mongrel!” with the intent of prompting mana a mano fisticuffs or worse.

    • Glenn Logan

      The fighting words exception to free speech has defanged to the extent it no longer has any real meaning by several successive rulings by the Supreme Court. FIRE has a great piece on this, and here are the money grafs:

      In assessing the fighting words doctrine at this point, it is important to note the speech involved in Gooding [Gooding v. Wilson, 405 U.S. 518 (1972)]. While assaulting a police officer, Gooding shouted, “White son of a bitch, I’ll kill you.” “You son of a bitch, I’ll choke you to death.” and “You son of a bitch, if you ever put your hands on me again, I’ll cut you all to pieces.” If this speech doesn’t constitute fighting words, one would be hard-pressed to think of speech that would qualify.

      Gooding was the nail in the coffin—if the fighting words exception has any real vitality left at all (and many commentators, including Nadine Strossen, think it is essentially dead) the Supreme Court has effectively limited the exception to only include abusive language, exchanged face to face, which would likely provoke a violent reaction.

      The fighting words exception effectively no longer exists. There may be some paroxysm of excess which could revive it, but for now, that part of Chaplinsky v. State of New Hampshire, the case that defined “fighting words” in the First Amendment sense, is no longer meaningfully operative.

    • What makes this argument particularly facile is that once Chaplinsky (which was the decision the Fighting Words Doctrine was established in) was over, the courts almost immediately started backpedaling away from it, and have been ever since.

      The Fighting Words Doctrine (if it even exists today, because I’m not sure if would survive a test in court), only narrowly applies to face to face conversations where someone literally says some variant of “come at me, bro”. Pretending that the Doctrine evolved over time to encompass something that it never did, as opposed to having atrophied into something less than it once was, is a particularly negligent version of historical revisionism; it’s revisionism that isn’t even backed up by current context.

    • Matthew B

      This article is going on 11 years old now, but it seems well referenced and claiming that even the “fighting words” exemption isn’t particularly usable even in against a one-on-one situation.

  2. charlesgreen

    Nice work, Zoltar! Very useful to have some operational distinctions, and those seem very good to me.

  3. Wow, I had no idea this was coming!

    Thank you Jack.

  4. Wayne

    I can’t take credit for this but the speaker conclusions are sound:

  5. Pennagain

    Well done, Zoltar. I especially like the “in my own words” clarity of it.

    And thanks for the video pointer, Wayne. Too bad it’s not possible to slow it down to share with people who need more time to take in ideas that are new, difficult or unpleasant for them.

  6. Glenn Logan

    Nicely done, Zoltar.

  7. Hate speech is not a violent physical action, and until these SJW idiots are put in their place in a very public way this nonsense is going to get worse.

    Here is a comment on another blog.

    So tell that to the fascists.. Antifa doesn’t condone hateful ideology. Antifa doesn’t start violence.. Nor does it hold hate in it for types of people.. Look dude.. It’s blatantly obvious you’ve never met any antifa.. not one.. So your opinion on this subject is 100% lacking in foundation.. You’re full of shit because you are ignorant and believe listening to people with hate fueled ideologies is somehow virtuous. This isn’t about respect.. The people you believe antifa are disrespecting.. would not have one iota of respect for you.. ever. Just because you’ve never seen their physical violence doesn’t mean their verbal violence is any less poisonous.. In fact.. by allowing nazis to preach their hate allows their poison, their word to propagate.. Your opinion literally allows hate to be renewed.. Fuck nazis. and fuck you for condoning their existence.

    Here is my response.

    Verbal “violence”?

    I deal with Nazis regularly on Usenet newsgroups such as soc.culture.israel. They regularly call me a gook and a needledick and accuse me of “sucking rectums”, merely because I defend what is right and true.

    Temper tantrums from two-year olds are more “violent” than the rantings of a bunch of limp-wristed, meth headed, Nazi pedophiles.

    And here is where you people give them power. These meth-headed pedophiles blame the Jews®™ for not being able to get that sweet job cleaning toilets in gas stations, instead of maybe putting away the meth and the kiddie porn, and you people react in anger?

    That is a lame, pathetic response to lame, pathetic speech.

  8. “There are coddled participation-trophy-bearing social justice warrior (SJW) complete idiots out there that are equating any kind of speech they disagree with as being actual physical violence against them. It seems that their defining line for violence is first, that they disagree with it, second, that they label it hate speech, and then they jump straight to it’s violent.”

    The following photo is a perfect modern day graphic representation of exactly what I was talking about in those two sentences.

    I don’t know who that misguided young lady is in that photo that was indoctrinated at the age of 7, but she is likely going to rue the day she became the poster child for you can’t fix stupid or in more modern day terms she’s a prime example of “the deliberate dumbing down of America”. Life is all about choices and as the old Knight said in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade “[s]he chose… poorly”.

    Remember folks; if you can indoctrinate a child when he is 7, you’ll have him forever?

    What a screwed up world we live in these days. 😦

  9. luckyesteeyoreman

    People hate prophets, even more than communists hate capitalist profits.

    But, since “hate speech” is part of the topic, here goes…

    Free speech is losing, and will continue to lose, until free speech is extinct. Free speech had a good chance (I won’t say, “a good run”), in America.

    Lesson of history: the purpose of speech is mind-control by few over many. Hate will never die; only some hates will self-validate and self-exalt above all others. Even “love” is a kind of hate; even hell does not ban all love speech.

  10. JLo


    Well-done indeed. I especially liked the phrase ““There are coddled participation-trophy-bearing social justice warrior (SJW) complete idiots out there that are equating …” It may take awhile to have CPTBSJWCI replace SJW in the mainstream but I will work on it if you will.

    And I just watched “Big” again over the holidays and immediately thought of your user name and avatar during the movie. While it is a fun story, it certainly has its own ethical issues.

  11. luckyesteeyoreman

    Props to you, Zoltar! I just wish your clear differentiation was as clear to those such as the woman-with-the-“Hate Speech = Murder”-sign as it is to most of us reading here. But then, of course, someone as blind as that woman probably would not even recognize being beaten at her own silly game by a “counter-protester” with a sign that said “Censorship = Genocide.”

  12. luckyesteeyoreman

    I discovered this alarming, “triggering” page yesterday, in a comment in this blog by John Billingsley (thanks to John for exposing it):

    Talk about “D.E.A.!”

    Seriously: if we want certain hate to be discredited and marginalized such that it censors itself, then censorship of expression of hate via censorship of SPEECH (speaking and writing) is NOT the way to go.

    That censorship, or attempted censorship, stems from claims such as (from the page I linked to) “witness[ing] hate speech or activity that is disguised as free speech” and “mak[ing] a distinction between diversity of thought and disingenuous misrepresentation of free speech.”

    Both of those phrases quoted above, from that HECSA page, are virtue-signalling dog-whistle blowings designed to “otherize” particular speech that the “whistleblowers” simply object to and wish to be censored.

    That phrase, “activity that is disguised as free speech” is my early 2018 nominee for Insidious Embrace of Totalitarianism of the Year.

    That phrase, “disingenuous misrepresentation of free speech” is my early 2018 nominee for Gibberish of the Year.

    WHO DECIDES which speech is “hate speech?”

    WHO DECIDES which speech is hate speech that is “disguised as free speech?” (Mobs? Professors? “News”casters? Gallup polls? “Like”-counters in Facebook? “Thumbs-down”-counters in YouTube? The administrators of ostensibly “public” forums?)

    Who decides HOW to segregate “hate speech” (and its speakers?) from “free” speech?

    Speech (speaking and writing) that communicates hate absolutely must be, and absolutely must remain, FULLY FREE to be expressed. “Otherizing” certain speech for the sake of “hating hate” only makes more vulnerable the freedom of the “otherizers” to hate as they choose. Banning or punishing expression of alleged “hate speech” mocks, indeed eliminates, true freedom of speech.

    “Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech” is objectively “hate speech” against true freedom of speech.

    Being “free to speak,” EXCEPT NOT free to speak freely of one’s hate(s), is to NOT BE FREE.

    Attempting to segregate “hate speech” from free speech is to attempt THOUGHT CONTROL by certain “segregationist” people, of certain “other” people. “Carving out” so-called “hate speech” from all other speech is an ATTACK AGAINST BOTH free speech AND free thought, and is perpetration of FRAUD – namely, fraudulently claiming to support “diversity of thought.”

    I could just as easily accuse the supporters of the page I linked above, including all of those persons listed on the page, of committing HATE SPEECH against me and everyone who agrees with me. Using the “logic” of “Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech,” in follow-up to my accusation, I should have every right to insist on that page of “hate speech” being removed from view, its content destroyed (banned from future publication), and its authors and supporters PROSECUTED for CRIMES.

    I hate the hatred of free speech that compels people to be such militant segregationists about the speech of their choice.

    Said another way, being only partially facetious: I REALLY REALLY HATE hate speech against hate speech!

    So, I guess now it’s time for me to be arrested, handcuffed, and locked up forever, without a trial, for my thought crime and radical anarchism…

  13. Matthew B

    I consider ANTIFA far more dangerous. than any of the NAZI / far right / white supremacists. Zoltar Speaks nailed the ranking on the list perfectly. Through cognitive dissonance, ANTIFA advocates and participates in #5 – actual physical violence – in response to #2 – “Hate speech”. In their mind, they reversed the two in ranking.

    As if that were not bad enough, those on the right that are not actual racists distance themselves from the extremists. The left seems to embrace the extremists on their side and sees no issue with their behavior.

    We don’t have to worry about right wing extremists taking over social media, education, Hollywood, corporate HR departments and so on. But the radical leftists are nearly complete in their coup to do just that.

  14. Late to the party, Z, but great work, yet again.

    On the subject of “Hate Speech,” we’ve made it past this Holiday Season, but later this year, Lefty’ll be sharpshooting again.

    The target? Funny you should ask:

    ” ‘Merry Christmas’ Appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hashtags Hate List”

    • Chris

      Fake news, Paul. The list monitors trending hashtags among hate groups–it does not say that the hashtags themselves are inherently hateful, which is what that headline suggests. Today two of the hashtags are #cartoons and #obama. Obviously SPLC isn’t arguing that those hashtags themselves are hateful.

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