Tagged: book burning

Lessons in Law 5

Dec 2020. EN-FR

The argument against censorship is clear: no person should dictate our tastes, ideas, or beliefs. No official has the right to say what is trash or what has value.” – Justice William O. Douglas

It’s more than just an argument against censorship in the sense of prior restraint:

It is impossible to concede that by the words ‘freedom of the press’ the framers of the amendment intended to adopt merely the narrow view then reflected by the law of England that such freedom consisted only in immunity from previous censorship.” – Justice George Sutherland

In about all Western countries previous censorship, i.e. prior restraint, is past, but the amount of public prosecutions for speech is appalling in about all Western countries but the USA. In those countries it’s still the “narrow view then reflected by the law of England.

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Invasive Moderation (Part II)

Read Part I here.

I

Seriously why do these people think nobody has successfully sued Twitter for First Amendment violations? ([A Twitter user named] The First Amendment)

Perhaps because people such as TFA, the Twitter user here quoted, spread the erroneous notion that Twitter can’t be sued for their moderation. But if such a suit can’t be a First Amendment issue as they claim, make no mistake it will be a free speech issue nonetheless and you’ll see it happen: The First Amendment vs Free Speech.

ii

The First Amendment suit to come:

1/ The First Amendment’s aim is to maintain a free “marketplace of ideas” (the first occurrence of the phrase was in Justice Holmes’s dissent on Abrams v. United States 1919);

2/ Trusts must be combated on that marketplace too, and “preferred freedoms doctrine” gives “greater protection to civil liberties than to economic interests.”

iii

What cause of action do you think exists against Twitter for moderating content, putting notices on tweets, or restricting the ability to like or retweet certain tweets? (The First Amendment)

The cause is invasion upon others’ rights.

Not admitting that a platform can be sued for moderation is like saying they can staff their moderation offices with maniacs and that would be just as good. I claim a staff of lunatics would do a less prejucided and prejudicial job than many a platform. They are an impediment to the free marketplace of ideas.

What rights? (The First Amendment)

a/ A notice on tweets could well be libel for ought I know, depending on the notice, but even a removal could have the same effect as to the person’s reputation. You tell me what rights libel laws protect.

One lawyer TFA has RTed said: Platforms’ moderation is by the First Amendment. I agree platforms must not be liable for users’ content but I disagree they must not be liable for moderation. Moderation is speech and not all speech is protected; moderation can be unprotected speech. A State of the Union address isn’t supposed to be libelous either but as a POTUS (President of the United States) once tweeted to advertize a certain pizza parlor we may see a future POTUS disparaging a burger parlor in his State of the Union address and that could be judged libelous by a court of law.

The worst scenario is platforms protected from liability both for users’ content and for their moderation – basically the current state of affairs.

b/ What rights? The same rights as here : “The conscious decision by an airline to deny a passenger a ticket for no good reason might justify the award of punitive damages.” (Encyclopedia of American Law, 2002, D. Schultz ed.: Punitive Damages)

Similarly the decision by a social media to deny a user speech for no good reason might justify the award of punitive damages. How could it be a good reason for a business set up with the corporate purpose of offering people a platform for speech, that it disagrees with what someone said?

II

i-a

I prevent Senator Ted Cruz (and the rest of Congress) from punishing private companies based on the content of the speech they allow or disallow on their websites. Companies have the First Amendment right to determine what speech is conveyed on their websites. (The First Amendment)

Take that statute: “In California, you [a business] also can’t discriminate based on someone’s unconventional dress.” This California statute goes beyond the Civil Rights Act’s protected classes. It’s still in vigor as of Sep 3, 2020. Dress, like an armband in the famous precedent, is speech, so in fact Cal companies don’t “have the First Amendment right to determine what speech is conveyed” on their premises already.

Besides, “The conscious decision by an airline to deny a passenger a ticket for no good reason might justify the award of punitive damages.” (See above for source and brief discussion.)

i-b

No, YouTube is not “violating Section 230” by deleting videos that question election results. YouTube could say that it won’t allow any uploads by professors named Jeff, and that wouldn’t “violate Section 230.” (It would, of course, be terribly short-sighted). (Asst. Prof J. Kosseff)

Short-sighted indeed: “The conscious decision by an airline to deny a passenger a ticket for no good reason might justify the award of punitive damages.” Perhaps it wouldn’t violate Section 230 but I wouldn’t advise it all the same.

ii

The SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) has stressed time and again that the First Amendment ensures the free flow of information and ideas. If private actors turn out an impediment to that free flow, I rest assured the Court will uphold “antitrust” statutes that combat the problem.

No. The First Amendment applies to state actors. To hold otherwise would require SCOTUS to reverse longstanding First Amendment doctrine. (TFA)

TFA’s is a quite correct inference from the First Amendment and yet it is also misleading, because a balancing must be made with another inference which is the free flow of ideas, and the result must depend on how these conflicting yet both necessary inferences are weighed against each other. There’s no doubt in my mind that the free flow of information and ideas will prevail, as common law never has construed private property as a source of entirely discretionary power.

As to the doctrine TFA stresses, it is right insofar as the two inferences were not conflicting in the past and it is only since recently that they have been.

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Des goûts et des couleurs

Le débat sur les « valeurs » communes a eu lieu il y a plus de 75 ans aux États-Unis, et ce pays libre a évidemment tranché dans un sens contraire à la majorité française actuelle avec sa loi contre le séparatisme :

While acknowledging that fostering national unity or shared values was important, the Court rejected the claim that it could force people to share or adopt values” Commentaire à l’arrêt West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnett (1943).

Aussi, quand on dit que le projet de loi contre le séparatisme est fait pour que nous restions un pays libre, c’est évidemment le contraire de la vérité : ce projet de loi est fait pour que la France reste un pays non libre.

Le contraire de rester un pays libre est en effet de rester un pays non libre, et non pas être un pays libre qui devient un pays non libre. Les Français ne savent pas ce qu’est la liberté et ne savent pas non plus qu’ils ne le savent pas.

Il y a devant nous plusieurs façons de rester un pays non libre : ou bien adopter la loi de sécurité globale puis la loi sur le séparatisme, ou bien ne pas les adopter, ou bien adopter l’une et pas l’autre et alors laquelle. C’est vrai qu’on a l’embarras du choix.

Quand l’État chinois a mis en place la reconnaissance faciale à tous les coins de rue, les commentateurs français n’ont pas fait des articles sur le thème : « Les Chinois perdent leurs libertés. » En effet, les commentateurs français ne sont tout de même pas demeurés au point de supposer des libertés aux Chinois de Chine maoïste avant la reconnaissance faciale et le système de crédit social. Ils voient bien de loin mais pas de près, je ne sais plus comment ça s’appelle.

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A Country Where Pornography Isn’t Obscene?

Given that “obscenity is not protected under First Amendment rights to free speech,” it is puzzling that U.S. law doesn’t affirm at the same time a presumption against the whole pornographic industry.

ii

That in American law obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment and yet most pornography is, is beyond my understanding. I honestly fail to see how the bulk of porn videos and pictures can pass the “redeeming value” test set up by the courts as I’m told they do.

So maybe scholars are wrong and it simply isn’t true that “pornographic materials are protected by the First Amendment” as far as as the bulk of them is concerned, and that so long as porn is cordoned off, “redlight-districted,” so to speak, authorities don’t prosecute.

That would be law enforcement discretion, choosing not to prosecute obscenity when it is cordoned off. The reason we would fail to see it this way is that such an extensive use of discretion is rather at odds with our sense of what the rule of law ought to be.

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Judicial Singlism

Single defendants are more likely to be convicted and more harshly by a court of law. I think I read it in an American law encyclopedia but forgot to mark the passage.

Anyway, the first thing a criminal judge asks defendants is their marital status and whether they have kids.

Given that “the first thing a criminal judge asks defendants is their marital status and whether they have kids” and what I have read about judicial discrimination against singles, all convicted singles can appeal convictions on the ground of singlism.

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The First Amendment Protection
of Speech and Assembly Which Advocate Violence

Otherwise, the First and Fourteenth Amendments protect even speech and assembly which advocate violence.” (Encyclopedia of American Law, D. Schultz ed: Brandenburg v. Ohio)

“Otherwise” = when speech is not intended to produce “imminent lawless action”(1) and not “likely to produce such action”(2).

The use of the negative form here (by me) is confusing. The decision poses (1) and (2) as compounded, not alternate conditions: there must be both the intent to produce imminent lawless action and, independent of the intent, an actual likelihood as to result. If one of the two conditions is missing, speech is protected.

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Depuis la chute du Rideau de fer, l’Union européenne est le dernier régime stalinien au monde.

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Un magistrat soumis au devoir de réserve, tu te demandes ce qu’il fait en dehors de la salle, s’il vient d’un meeting politique, d’une réunion d’association, d’écrire pour un journal, de publier un livre… Non, tu te dis qu’il sort d’un cercueil dans sa robe noire et qu’il y retourne.

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Un bon avocat ne gagne pas forcément plus d’affaires qu’un mauvais, car il faut aussi que le juge soit bon.

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Le meilleur des mondes meilleurs

Ce pays n’a pas d’autre nom pour le droit relatif à la liberté d’expression que « droit de la presse ». La presse que l’administration arrose de subventions. Comme c’est commode. Le meilleur des mondes.

C’était le meilleur des mondes… avant internet. L’État français fait aujourd’hui ce qu’il faut pour maintenir sa doctrine compte tenu d’internet : loi Avia, loi de sécurité globale, loi contre le séparatisme… Dire que l’État français devient autoritaire, c’est ne pas comprendre l’évolution. En effet, ce n’est pas parce qu’il adopte ces lois que l’État français devient autoritaire mais c’est parce qu’il est autoritaire qu’il adopte ces lois. Parce qu’il est autoritaire et qu’il entend le rester malgré internet.

S’agissant du droit de manifester, tant que les Français manifestaient encadrés par des syndicats subventionnés (les cotisations représentent moins de 30 % du financement des syndicats), ils croyaient à la liberté de manifester. Depuis qu’ils veulent se passer des syndicats, ils trouvent que l’État leur met des bâtons dans les roues.

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La justice pour mineurs suit un principe d’atténuation de la peine. C’est pourquoi un garde des sceaux parlera d’autant plus fortement des droits des victimes dans la justice des mineurs que le principe qui sous-tend cette dernière s’y oppose.

Dans la justice des mineurs, la peine est atténuée par principe mais, pour la victime, l’acte est ce qu’il est, les dommages sont ce qu’ils sont, peut-être même plus violents que si le coupable avait été adulte car « On n’est pas sérieux quand on a dix-sept ans »…

Et c’est pourquoi le grand sujet, dans la justice des mineurs, le grand sujet défendu avec ardeur par les ministres successifs, ce sont les droits des victimes – qui ne peuvent avoir en justice des mineurs et tant qu’elle existera qu’une place au rabais.

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Criminal penalties are illegal as they are grounded on the hubristic notion that the society is owned by its representatives, namely, at the date of the notion’s emergence, the king. Criminal law and criminal penalties are the artefact by which kings dispossessed traditional justices.

The consequence is that the judicial system is clueless about how to integrate “victim’s rights” => “victim justice, or what is often referred to as parallel justice“! It’s no integration at all but parallelization.

When you’ve got parallel justices but no double jeopardy doctrine, then you do the defendants an injustice. (To have parallel lines you need at least two lines, even in case they overlap.)

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A Chronology of Desegregation in the USA
Cut-ups from the Encyclopedia of American Law

(Read sections Brown v. Board of Education & Desegregation and One Bused Nation from Lesson 4 here.)

As late as 1992 the state of Mississippi was before the Court because it was continuing to maintain a dual university system (United States v. Fordice) (about 40 years after Brown v. Board of Education).

In 1991 the Supreme Court ruled that once a school district eliminated “the vestiges of prior discrimination,” it no longer had to maintain racial balances. Oklahoma City Board of Education v. Dowell (1991)

In September 1999 a judge of the district court involved in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklemburg Board of Education (1971) found that the Charlotte-Mecklemburg School District had eliminated all traces of intentional racial discrimination and so ordered it to stop its massive busing program.

Finally, a counterpart to de jure segregation is de facto segregation, which refers to division of races based on residential patterns. De facto is not mandated by the state or required under law. Instead it is a voluntary form of segregation. De facto has been recognized by the Supreme Court, which ruled that because it was based on private action it did not allow for a judicial remedy. In the case of Milliken v. Bradley (1974) the Court ruled that de facto segregation in residential patterns could not be remedied by forced busing of students from suburban schools to urban schools.

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Coroner-Elect

In the USA coroners are elected officials in a majority of states (“More than 80 percent of U.S. coroners are elected“). In 2016 the Progressives of ThinkProgress published a paper “Why do we still elect coroners?” which conclusion –no surprise from Stalinians– is to stop electing them.

They give the example of one coroner in whose reports “suspicious deaths in police custody were simply accidents or natural causes.” What those Stalinians don’t tell you is that in countries where coroners aren’t elected, they ALL declare such suspicious deaths as natural.

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The First Amendment Protection of Book Burning

Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn. Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. ” – Alfred Whitney Griswold

“They won’t burn”? Book burning is protected speech.

Picture: Comic books burning in Spencer W.Va. [West Virginia], 1948 (AP Photo via mtsu.edu Middle Tennessee State University’s First Amendment Encyclopedia)

COMIC BOOKS BURNING

Of course Griswold meant “books won’t burn as a result of state action.” However, I’m sure some people would cry foul state-sponsorship if a GOP local section carried out book burnings while the governor or POTUS is a Republican, for instance. Book burning is free speech.

“Books won’t burn as a result of state action without judicial redress” isn’t the same as “books won’t burn,” to begin with. People have the constitutional right to burn books. The ambiguity of Griswold (or is it GRIMswold?)’s words is unescapable. “Books won’t burn” has a smell of “You won’t burn books,” a threat at people who would exercize their First Amendment right to burn books in public in protest against those books spreading like morbid germs.