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patrick_vecchio
Dec. 4th, 2010 05:52 pm (UTC)
Jeff, I enjoy tossing ideas back and forth with you, so:

Should this episode really be evaluated in the context of gangsta wrap and Dr. Wright? Isn't that the way we responded to our mom when we had done something wrong as little kids: "Well, Jeff did it too. Well, Pat did it too." We both know how well that went over.

A colleague of mine says the word "free" shouldn't be overlooked in the term "free speech," and I think you and I both agree that the First Amendment is designed to protect speech people might find offensive, not speech that everyone thinks is OK. But if I knock on your front door with a pistol in my hand and threaten to kill you, you very well could file a complaint with the police to have me arrested for harassment or menacing. (Of course, I know you wouldn't do that because you're well-armed enough to fend for yourself.) The question I'm leading to is: How is the gun I threaten you with different from the noose that the snowman threatens—let's face it—people of color with? And I do not use the word "threatens" lightly.

I was thinking about this snowman for a long time last night. If I lived in that town, I would step lively over to that guy's house and reduce the snowman to a pile of flakes because if building the snowman isn't a crime, then knocking it down shouldn't be a crime too. And it has no financial values, so it's not as if we're talking about criminal mischief.

No doubt there are many people who, if they were to become aware of my take on this, would sneer, "Political correctness." Well, if "political correctness" means respecting the dignity and worth of every person, then color me guilty. And a KKK snowman with a noose in its hand doesn't seem to respect people of color or people who believe as I do.



cam_1089
Dec. 6th, 2010 01:58 am (UTC)
I think, constitutionally speaking, the guy would probably be able to get away with it. Then again, it's been a couple of years since Media Law. I'd like to hear penshark weigh in on this one.

In an ideal world, we would be able to get rid of this snowman -- well, in an ideal world, it wouldn't exist. But I think the closest we're going to get to an ideal world is the rule of law, and I am pretty sure this guy, if he'd been arrested and chose to fight it, had a good shot at protecting his snowman under the First Amendment.

I think the key difference between your gun scenario and the snowman is *you* could shoot nokomisjeff, while the snowman could not lynch anyone. While I think, barring case law of which I am ignorant, a snowman with a noose would be protected, but perhaps a noose hanging from a tree -- a more direct threat -- would not be.

That said, I'm totally with you in kicking that snowman over. The last thing American "speech" needs is more ignorance.
patrick_vecchio
Dec. 6th, 2010 11:03 am (UTC)
If the snowman indeed is free speech, then by knocking it down, I'm depriving his builder of his right to free speech—or so it would seem. I wonder if there will be follow-up articles on this story?

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