Monday, 28 August 2006

The limits of free speech

American neo-Nazi rally"Adolf Hitler was the living instrument of God on Earth." Bill White, Commander of the American National Socialist Workers' Party, has the legal right to say this. I find it revolting, but I defend his legal right to say it. (No, I am not going to provide any links. I will not do anything at all to direct traffic to his site. Email me if it bothers you.)

Calling Canada a terrorist state that has to go makes me just snort in derision.

But what about this?

There is no actual published threat to kill Richard Warman. He has just made it up.

This means that, when you are searching my websites and looking for it, you will not be able to find it, and I can't send you the URL to it. It does not exist.

The irony here, which no one is grasping, is that there never was any "specific threat to kill Richard Warman" -- just the recommendation that all Jews, which, one would suppose, indirectly includes him, be legally executed after a revolutionary government takes power in Canada.

What annoys him is that I put up his home address, and people who have been threatening to kill him all along apparently have picked up on it. Not my problem.

But what do I think about it if someone uses this knowledge to kill him illegaly (sic)? I wish them luck -- and its (sic) no different to say that than it is to say that you wish Saddam Hussein were killed or the president of Iran were killed or Yassir Arafat were killed, et cetera.

Richard Warman is an Ottawa lawyer who brought a successful suit against Tomasz Winnicki for refusing to stop posting nasty things about non-Caucasians online. One of White's many responses was to publish Warman's address online.

So what do you think? Is this acceptable free speech? Death threats are not legal free speech, not even in the more lenient United States, but White has equivocated around that charge. He doesn't actually string the words together in one place at one time, but his actions have effectively put Warman in danger. "Not my problem." Could somebody south of the 49th please find a way to make it his problem? I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that there is a loophole here large enough to drive a truck through, if this actually constitutes legal free speech in the United States. Legislators should be taking a look at this.

Even if shutting down his websites would be akin to playing Whack-a-Mole, with new ones popping up as fast as they're shut down, I think it would be worth it. At least it would put a severe dent in his traffic. It takes search engines a while to find new sites.

Google, incidentally, provides this warning at the top of his Blogger-hosted blog:


Some readers of this blog have contacted Google because they believe this blog's content is hateful. In general, Google does not review nor do we endorse the content of this or any blog. For more information about this message, please consult our FAQ.
Makes you wonder why Google even bothers with the Flag function on Blogger websites, doesn't it?

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Patrick Martin said...

Right now, the state of American law is such that this is probably protected speech. The principle, fairly well-respected opinion from the court of appeals involved doctors who perform abortions and protesters who take their pictures and put them on posters and on-line, including their addresses, branding them as "baby-killers", and worse.

On the good news side, there was a jury verdict of $109 million entered in favor of the plaintiffs, and the life of the main defendant was made miserable by having that judgment hanging over his head for several years until it was reversed by the court of appeals.

I think it's just too difficult to draw the line any other way. Addresses are generally public information or are at least relatively easy to obtain. Do you make it illegal to publish them? Do you say that the guy publishing the phone book can publish them, but not the guy who hates abortion?

Janet said...

Aren't courts capable of understanding context? Aren't they frequently called on to do so? Why can't they allow something in one place and not in another? After all, I'm allowed to carry shampoo anywhere but in a plane.

There has got to be a way of drafting it that would work.

Sorry if I'm being difficult here, but a "fundamentalist" understanding of the absolute right of free speech is too much, and the spirit of the law limiting free speech is being violated, if not the letter. If the practical result of a deliberate action is to endanger someone's life, hasn't it become a death threat?

I suppose Warman could sue, but the precedent you cite would not encourage him much. In the meanwhile, I imagine he's put his house up for sale and will make sure his new address is NOT published in the phone book.

Bill White said...

What you don't understand is this:

If you make it illegal to say "Richard Warman should be killed", then you also make it illegal to say "Saddam Hussein should be killed".

What Judaeo-Christians like you don't seem to understand is that the same rhetoric that allows you to call for war against Iraq, or Serbia, or wherever, to accuse your enemies of genocide, and to demand they be tried and hung, allows your opponents to do the same thing.

Would it be illegal to publish Saddam Hussein's address on the internet and tell people to go assassinate him?

Then its not illegal to say the same thing about Richard Warman. Or you, for that matter.

American political discourse is and has never been anything but a series of death threats being lobbed back and forth. Its just when that rhetoric doesn't support the latest Jew-terrorist goal, from abolition to Zionism, then it becomes "criminal".

The irony is that you so dehumanize your "enemies" that you cannot even see your own hypocrisy.

And my website is I've had 3,000,000 visitors this year. Your blog isn't going to impact that.

Janet said...

I am amazed that Bill White would bother leaving a comment on a blog as obscure as mine. He's quite right - I won't affect his traffic at all. I also note that his URL has changed in the last few days.

I've decided to leave his comment up, but I would like to counter his main argument. Calling for the death of Saddam Hussein in the North American press has no practical impact whatsoever. It is just hot air even with an address list (it would have to have been an extremely long list; Saddam had a lot of residences). I can't imagine any North American readers responding by buying an airline ticket, hopping on the plane with his automatic weapon, gaining access to Saddam and shooting him.

On the other hand, if I say, "This guy deserves to die," to a roomful of armed followers and then supply them with his coordinates, it's a very different thing indeed.

Because the levels of will and ability and influence are extremely different, it is an entirely different thing. Equating the two different situations ignores so many pertinent details that it's absurd.


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