An Ethics Alarms commenter with the evocative screen name of Fuck you, who is a bit behind on his surfing, or perhaps a really, really slow reader, was moved to author today’s Comment of the Day on a post from seven years ago regarding the tactics used by Mississippi law enforcement to foil a legal demonstration by Fred Phelps’ merry band of homophobes.
Why is this a Comment of the Day? It perfectly embodies the rudimentary, lizard-brain level of ethical analysis that predominates in the public, in much of the media, and among our elected officials. It is helpful, to me at least, to read such comments, for this is exactly the find of gut-level, emotion-based, legally and ethically ignorant reaction that my work exists to overcome. I’ll have more to say after the Fuck You has his say.
As an aside, it was nostalgic reading the names of the commenters on the original post. There, for example, fighting as usual, were liberal logic-cop tgt and uber-conservative Stephen Mark Pilling. Ah, those were the days…
Here is Fuck You’s Comment of the Day on the post, Don’t Cheer Mississippi’s Westboro Baptist Tactics Too Loudly: You Never Know Who Might Hear You—I’ll be back at the end:
Fuck you for this comparison. I know I’m coming in years later with this and I hope that others have already expressed a similar sentiment. I also understand the point you are trying to make. But still FUCK YOU. I sincerely hope that if you ever lose someone dear to you, these fucking hatemongers show up and protest that person’s funeral. FUCK YOU. Yes they have a right to protest but this type of shit should definitely qualify as a reasonable restriction, like yelling fire in a crowed theater.
FUCK YOU. This comparison is not only an insult to the Marine in question but also to the civil rights activists from decades ago that you just compared to the fucking WBC. FUCK YOU.
Once again Fuck you, you goddamn scum ass mother fucker. Oh, and FUCK YOU.
I’m back. Fuck You’s rhetoric reminds us, as do the current modes of expression favored by David Hogg among others, that angry and uncivil rhetoric is a lazy device to cover up weak positions and to invite listeners to stop thinking. Fuck’s—Can I call you Fuck?—objection to the post’s comparison between the Fifties era Mississippi law enforcement officials who fixed the system to allow KKK thugs and murderers to escape punishment for crimes against blacks and civil rights workers and the identical methods extolled by organizers of the illegal conspiracy to block the Phelpsians is classic double standard reasoning, and exemplifies ethics-free thought. He doesn’t like “this comparison” because it is 100% correct, and exposes what is so wrong about the plot to silence the Westboro Baptist Church. FY doesn’t support free speech, because he doesn’t get it. Like so many passionate citizens, he doesn’t want to guarantee freedom of speech that he doesn’t agree with. Fuck doesn’t “understand” my point, because if he understood it, he wouldn’t be throwing a tantrum. Free speech and freedom of assembly are illusory if they don’t protect everyone, no matter how vile or unpopular their opinions may be. If you understand that, then you agree with the post. If you don’t agree with the post, then you don’t understand it.
Then FY sinks to a popular tactic these days–I got it several times in Facebook exchanges regarding the post Parkland shooting freak-out. “How would you feel if your son was killed in a school shooting?” In other words, “Why don’t you think like the people who have been made irrational by anger and grief?” Fuck presumes that being personally affected negatively by someone’s exercise of their free speech rights would and should change my values. Well, Fuck old chum, that’s why integrity is important. (Look it up.) Its is also why people who are emotionally distraught are terrible public policy activists, unless, apparently, they are teenagers.
He gets bonus points for the vague, Constitutional illiteracy of “this type of shit should definitely qualify as a reasonable restriction, like yelling fire in a crowed theater.” Yelling fire falsely in a crowed theater is not speech, but a criminal act designed to cause a riot. Fuck couldn’t define what “this type of shit” means in any way that wouldn’t also chill rights to protest many other events. As for the post being an insult to the Marine whose funeral the Mississippi officials and citizens stomped on the Bill of Rights to protect, a sentence midway through post—to be fair, maybe Fuck couldn’t read that far—was clear and decisive:
“So Sgt. Jason Rogers was buried in peace and dignity. The price of the funeral he deserved, however, was a government-assisted conspiracy to withhold the sacred rights he had died for.”
(This story was later shown to be a hoax. I didn’t change my analysis one bit, however.)