The conceptual ambiguity of freedom in its many forms has always exacted a price that has managed to escape the fullness of its own ideology.
There have always been men and women who have and who will continue to die for the freedoms that we profess to have, and in an ironic sort of way they continue to pay the ultimate price for our maximum political gains here in the states. For instance the right to free speech, which is an intrinsic part of the Constitution that is sealed with the force of law, and the Bill of Rights, this is a political gain for free people.
It professes to regulate the cannabis that our politicians feast on just after the elections and just before the campaigns for election begins. But the real issues as they concern free speech is always kept silent and under control, and of course away from the general perceptions of the people. I think they (the government) have a very slick setup, or racket going on, they have gotten the public (through social perceptual engineering) to believe that they (the people) can talk freely while the political rulers were restricting or regulating their (the people) common speech in many respects.
Obviously you can not say anything that you wanted to or else you may find yourself behind a stone wall with very thick bars and a small toilet hidden obscurely in the shadowed corner of the room. I bet no one has cleaned that bowl out in years -- . Today many laws are brought into existence as a solution to social problems, problems that have never been rectified. So these resolution laws appear as band-aid remedies in American jurisprudence. The problems of racism, discriminations of every kind, and governmental abuse of every kind have utterly threatened the security of our freedoms, of our liberty or of our pursuit of a better society.
Besides the question remains solid and unexamined; what part of free speech does the law not understand? Even as they trampled on our right to peacefully assemble; who gave the government the power to regulate the speech of free men? The general but silent rules of law that seems to loom over the social atmosphere especially in any public setting or gathering is that there are certain words that are automatically flagged when they are spoken, or written, whether on the phone or in a crowd of people, and the effects that these certain words conjure up usually surmounts to a top secret investigation which will be conducted by the CIA, FBI, and many other government agencies.
If you happen to be talking on the phone (today everyone's phone is tapped by the government) to a friend or whoever, I would suggest that you be careful not to use words like "Allah, Al Qeida, Muslims, bomb, Constitution, etc, etc," and there are many others, since these words are nourishment for a big government computer which interprets these words as national security risk hypothesis. Because to this spy network (FBI, CIA)which currently disrupts the general Constitutional values of our rights and due to the premise of the war on terror the government has created that loop whole which has allowed them into private homes, confidential speech and personal affairs.
Although it is highly recognized that some words can be very inflammatory to society because of many historical reasons and because of this we find it essential to temper such language for the secured benefit of our general culture as a whole. The American society appears to stand as a delicate and fragile community, although strong in the way of war yet weak in the ways Of words (THEY SAY "STICKS ANS STONES MAY BREAK MY BONES BUT WORDS CAN NEVER HURT ME").
No country could ever hope to overcome America by physical confrontation. However it is easy to destroy the country through words, because words express issues that have never been resolved in this country, words that have the power to set the citizens one against another at a moment's notice, words that have historical racism, hatred, and genocidal calamities submerged in the root of their meanings.
I can understand the restrictions that are placed on many words in our society in order to maintain the peace and to head off or supercede the pending calamity that always lurks in the extremities of our culture, ready and eager to destroy all that has been built, the extremist of our nature has also been masked in the impetuous immaturity intrinsic of our society.
It really doesn't take much to start a powder keg; just the wrong word spoken out of season will set off a bomb within the walls of our social community, as a nation that is how vulnerable we have become, we are flanked on both sides as the government who monitors our speech on one side continues to threaten our constitutional security, on the other side sits the vulnerability of our social infrastructure that wades in the shadows of our culture for the trigger of just one word.
The ordinance, as currently drafted, would provide an up to $500 fine for people who "intentionally or knowingly use the word 'nigger' in an abusive, indecent, hurtful, degrading or insulting way in a public place, and the use of the word by its very utterance tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace."
A court might interpret the ordinance as implicitly limited to statements "directed to the person of the hearer," especially since a similarly worded state law (see below) has been so read. But the ordinance would still be unconstitutional even with this limitation: While a total ban on all fighting words would be permissible, a selective ban only on racist fighting words -- or only on this racist fighting word -- is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court so held as to a very similar ordinance in R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992).
1. Brazoria, Texas Proposal To Ban the Use of "Nigger" as a Fighting Word Withdrawn:
2. Proposed Brazoria, Texas Ordinance Banning Use of "Nigger" as a Fighting Word:
The ordinance is also superfluous. Texas Penal Code 42.01(a)(1) already makes it an offense if a person "intentionally or knowingly" "uses abusive, indecent, profane, or vulgar language in a public place, Texas courts have read this as limited to "fighting words," but of course covering all such insults, not just "nigger." The offense is "a class C misdemeanor," which may be punished by a fine of up to $500.
Notes on Hate Speech (Vikalp Delhi)
* Hate Speech- the faultline that divides the advocates of free speech
* There is often an assumption for instance that when we speak of free speech rights, it is justified but we take umbrage to the speech of those whose ideology we disagree with
* Renders any debate difficult; extremely difficult area since it is so heavily loaded but that should not preclude us from debating it substantively
* Taking a cue from Hasina Khan's presentation yesterday, and the call for self reflexivity in our own practices, that freedom of speech and expression entails not only the right to speak fearlessly but also the ability to listen fearlessly
* Pose some conceptual questions to the idea of hate speech, particularly the call for hate speech laws that require the state to play an intervening role
With many open opinions to be considered about government intervention as it concerns the governance of our speech we are presented with the dilemma of whether it is appropriate to say these fighting words in public or whether these words are outlawed all together. Very often, many urban African-Americans will use the term "nig---" as an endearing term or as a casual reference to a friend, while at the same time view whites who use that same word as racist in its motive and unethical by reason of the history of that word and the motivatioinal history of the people who invented it.
"I was listening to an argument in an appeal on a criminal libel conviction on this very point, my thought is that in context, a black person using n****" with respect to another black person is a use which would not ordinarily incite a breach of the peace, and is therefore not "fighting words." This seems pretty easy to me.
The hard question is how you can have a law which defines what is criminal based on the defendant's race. That is, how can the state convict "me" of a crime for saying something that would be perfectly legal to say if I were of another race? Or, to put it another way, can the state properly enforce by criminal sanctions social conventions which give different people different privileges based on race?
The prosecutor's answer to all of this is that it's a race neutral law on its face, and the fact finding (what is likely to incite imminent violence) should go to a jury, and the jury should be presumed, in the absence of solid contrary indications, to act out of proper, not improper motivations. Of course, this logic requires one to ignore what everybody knows, and could also be used to justify the convictions of blacks in the old South who were innocent of the crime actually charged, but "guilty" of resisting social subordination, if one believed, as many did at the time, that social peace and order were more important than racial justice.
One thing I am sure of, prosecuting black people for using the word n**** would be counter productive. I wish I had an absolute answer for the rest, but to be totally honest here, I don't.
PDXLawyer (mail) my views as well.
It is certain that with all of these laws and new restrictions coming about, the government will be the only one afforded free speech.
With the invasion of privacy that is staged everyday by our government, the growing laws that restrict our speech, and the powerful words (Words like "Queer", "Nappy" "Headed Holes" and "Nigger" which emerged as derogatory acts of power, are the basis through which identities and subjectivities are also mobilized) that controls the buttons of our emotions, we are beconing a progressive part of a community that unfortunately has built its societal foundation in the earth of soft clay.