« The Lower Court Moment | Main | Remand in Haeger v. Goodyear »

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp

This is correct.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on June 14, 2017 at 05:50 PM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman, Law and Politics | Permalink


The two pieces are by separate named authors and published almost 6 years apart. I hardly think any disagreement between the two represents hypocrisy--on the part of anyone. If you want to highlight the point that "some liberals" said one thing in 2011 and "some [possibly different] liberals" said something else in 2017, fine. But, if you want to waive the hypocrisy flag, you're going to need to find one person speaking out both sides of his or her mouth, not two different people publishing opinion pieces six years apart in the same, high-volume publication.

Posted by: Anonymists Anonymous | Jun 16, 2017 10:48:16 AM

I'm calling them on their hypocrisy:

"it played out because after a tragedy, it hurts to think about how lightly you took the possibility of that tragedy.

In 2010, on the 15th anniversary of the bombing, Clinton reprised some of this and irritated conservatives again.

We are again dealing with difficulties in a contentious, partisan time. We are more connected than ever before, more able to spread our ideas and beliefs, our anger and fears. As we exercise the right to advocate our views, and as we animate our supporters, we must all assume responsibility for our words and actions before they enter a vast echo chamber and reach those both serious and delirious, connected and unhinged.
Civic virtue can include harsh criticism, protest, even civil disobedience. But not violence or its advocacy.

Like it or not, this is what our national conversation will now turn back to."

Posted by: biff | Jun 15, 2017 10:31:31 AM

A great many things are protected speech and it's simply a huge category error to argue that it follows from that alone that there's something wrong with encouraging people not to say them. It makes roughly as much sense as arguing that, because one has a constitutional right to date whomever one wants, your friends or family can't criticize your dating choices. Quite obviously there is lots of protected speech (and dating choices) which it's quite appropriate to discourage and shame - for example, the use of racial slurs to offend. However, I'm sure (seriously and not sarcastically) that Professor Wasserman and Slate aren't making that spurious category error and rather are saying that adopting or encouraging the adoption of a social norm against harsh personal criticism of Trump and pro-Trump Republicans is a bad idea for reasons other than that criticism's legal protection (though the reasons may be the reasons *for* the criticism's legal protection, or very similar reasons). The reasons being, I think, that such a norm would stymie productive political debate. And I think that that's right, although I also think a social norm against talking about killing the President (or anyone for that matter) in ways that don't quite rise to incitement or threats is probably a good norm that doesn't remotely stymie a robust debate about the President. So to get down to cases, while I'll miss Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin's New Year's Eve show, I think it's a pretty good idea for a major news channel to disassociate itself from someone who jokes about decapitating the President, while continuing to host a robust, vehement, often sharp, etc. debate about the President's policies, competence, and culpability of various crimes. I don't see any kind of a slippery slope there or think CNN has chilled debate one iota.

As for Slate, if you can identify what's "so Slate" with any precision you read way too much Slate.

Posted by: Asher Steinberg | Jun 15, 2017 12:19:55 AM

Rick: "Now" in what sense? Are you calling them on running it within the same day as the violence? Because it seemed to be responding to these calls from certain circles? Or are you calling them on similar calls to "cool it" after, for example, the Giffords shooting?

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Jun 14, 2017 11:37:01 PM

Act out fantasies? No. But fantasies, bad thoughts, and even violent depictions are protected speech. Just ask the Tea Party, some of whose rank and file depicted the Obamas as chimpanzees and the sitting president in a noose or hanged in effigy. Or Sarah Palin, she of the infamous bullseyes. There have even been plays depicting the death of a Caeser that bore a striking resemblance to President Obama. These were defended, sometimes vigorously, as political speech.

Posted by: Tim Zick | Jun 14, 2017 8:17:09 PM

So, just to be clear, we *should* continue allowing people to act out their fantasies of assassinating and/or decapitating a sitting U.S. president?

Posted by: YesterdayIKilledAMammoth | Jun 14, 2017 6:22:34 PM

Yes, it is. But, it's so Slate to run this now.

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Jun 14, 2017 6:17:42 PM

Yes, it is. But, it's so Slate to run this now.

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Jun 14, 2017 6:17:39 PM

Post a comment