July 17, 2007

Some speech is freer than other speech

and speech insulting to terrorists, gets you put on trial:

Most Americans know that burning our nation’s flag is protected by the First Amendment. No matter how distasteful to some, the Supreme Court has consistently held flag-burning to be protected as expressive political conduct.

So if burning an American flag is protected speech, burning other flags—say, the flags of political parties considered to be terrorist groups by our government—would also be protected speech, right?

Right—except at San Francisco State University (SFSU), where the First Amendment takes a backseat to Hamas and Hezbollah. As part of an anti-terrorism rally held on campus last October, SFSU’s College Republicans stepped on homemade replicas of Hamas and Hezbollah flags drawn on butcher paper. Unbeknownst to the group, both flags contain the word “Allah” in Arabic—prompting a student to file a complaint accusing the College Republicans of “walking on a banner with the word ‘Allah’ written in Arabic script.”

Even though the flag—stomping was protected speech—a fact pointed out twice to SFSU President Robert Corrigan in letters from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education—SFSU administrators decided to put the College Republicans on trial for “attempts to incite violence and create a hostile environment” and “actions of incivility.” An SFSU spokesperson even told the San Francisco Chronicle that the real issue was “the desecration of Allah.” The ensuing investigation and hearing lasted more than five months before SFSU finally dropped the charges against the group under intense public criticism.

The College Republicans filed a federal lawsuit this week, arguing that SFSU violated the group’s First Amendment rights by subjecting the group to an investigation instead of dismissing the charges out of hand. The suit also challenges SFSU’s speech code, which requires students “to be civil” to one another—a rule that can only be selectively enforced against dissenting opinions on a campus as polarized as SFSU.

Constitutionally speaking, this case isn’t even close: There’s no exception for Hamas, Hezbollah or even Allah under the First Amendment. Now SFSU has to answer for violating the Constitution in court.


And the people pushing federal hate crimes legislation say the current bill will NEVER interfere with free speech. Believe it?

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5 Comments:

Blogger Fyremandoug said...

Myra sometimes I just cant fathom the sheer amount of DUMB people can generate. But You find stuff that really makes me have to use my head for more than a spot to grow grey hair.... nice job, keep it up.

Wed Jul 18, 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger barista grazioso said...

Unbelievably ridiculous. Wait. I take that back. It's completely believable in our current political climate. I'm going to draw an islamic flag of some sort, buy a package of porkchops, get some blood on it and take pictures. I'll even post the pics. Or maybe not - it could hinder my potential job. Dammit.

Thu Jul 19, 05:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Jay said...

Made the flags out of butcher paper? Outrageous. The hidden message is, well, hidden too well.

Now, print them on TOILET paper, roll them up, and use them for the customary use of toilet paper...do you think there would be a market?

Thu Jul 26, 05:56:00 PM  
Blogger Myra Langerhas said...

Thanks muchly Doug. I find the things which irritate me the most and pass on the favor. I am the herpes blogger!!

Thu Jul 26, 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger Myra Langerhas said...

barista, under the proposed hate crimes legislation, you might eventually end up in jail. You probably already would in Canuckville.

jay, I like that idea. So long as it doesnt trail along my shoe as I leave the lavoratory!

Thu Jul 26, 08:33:00 PM  

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