1998-08-26 - Re: Is Hate Code Speech?

Header Data

From: Xcott Craver <caj@math.niu.edu>
To: “William H. Geiger III” <whgiii@openpgp.net>
Message Hash: 3896e285f50491ad8ecf7da333b5c9f94b6b327742321808c19d4e9b4bf528d1
Message ID: <Pine.SUN.3.91.980826151513.4910A-100000@baker>
Reply To: <199808261919.OAA016.99@geiger.com>
UTC Datetime: 1998-08-26 20:59:18 UTC
Raw Date: Wed, 26 Aug 1998 13:59:18 -0700 (PDT)

Raw message

From: Xcott Craver <caj@math.niu.edu>
Date: Wed, 26 Aug 1998 13:59:18 -0700 (PDT)
To: "William H. Geiger III" <whgiii@openpgp.net>
Subject: Re: Is Hate Code Speech?
In-Reply-To: <199808261919.OAA016.99@geiger.com>
Message-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.91.980826151513.4910A-100000@baker>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

On Wed, 26 Aug 1998, William H. Geiger III wrote:

> >	Not trying to equate harassment with a severe beating, just
> >	pointing out that the lack of an explicit constitutional 
> >	right does not magically nullify the rest of the law.
> No, it does not, but unlike beating I *do* have a Constitutional right to
> be objectionable as I want with my speech.

	Right.  And other people have a legal recourse against
	you if your free speech does something tangibly damaging.
	Inciting a riot, for instance, or commiting slander, or
	committing mail fraud.  

	Now, something not tangibly damaging, like harassment,
	is not so clear cut.  But that's why a judge or jury of 
	your peers has to agree before you're forced to pay damages.

> A good example is the Nazi march in Skokie,IL.  The SC ruled that they 
> had a right to march despite
> the fact that the large Jewish community there was quite offended by it.

	Yes.  And those same courts would consider it harassment if
	a manager in a company, which has nothing to do with Hitler or 
	Nazis, started cc-mailing anti-Jewish diatribe where Jewish
	employees would see it.  

> I see, so if a company and it's employees exercise their Constitutionally
> protect right of free speech and does not stop exercising that right when
> someone complains then the courts should take over?

	You seem to be painting this as the government "stepping in,"
	rather than one of the parties involved going TO the gov't
	(i.e., taking it to the courts) for help.  The answer to your 
	question is YES:  the whole reason civil law exists is so 
	you can resolve disputes that can't get resolved otherwise.

> How does this match
> with your agreement that the 1st Amendment protects unpopular speech?

	The same way libel laws coexist with the 1st Amendment.
	It's a gross oversimplification to believe that the 1st 
	amendment absolves you of all legal consequences of the things
	you say.  Do you consider libel law unconstitutional? 
	how about copyright law?  Do you think it's wrong that you
	can get in trouble for sending people death threats?
	Obscene phone calls?  Publishing _Jurassic Park_ in your
	name?  Telling people that you can cure their cancer for 
	$100 cash?

	Hey, it's all speech.

	Maybe in an alternate universe where the constitution is 
	scribbled in crayon on 1-inch ruled paper, you can say
	anything you want and neener-neener to anyone who gets
	hurt.  But here in objective reality it's much more